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How to Size a Spot Cooler

Posted by: Tina Behnke on Jul 23, 2010

How to size a spot coolerGood question.  And one we often receive. 

The "size" of a spot cooler or portable air conditioner is rated in terms of British Thermal Units, commonly known as BTUs.  

The British Thermal Unit is a measure of the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. 

There are 12,000 BTUs to 1 Ton.  Don't panic.... this has nothing to do with the actual WEIGHT of the unit!  A ton of refrigeration (remember... that's 12,000 BTUs) is the amount of heat required to melt a ton (2,000 pounds) of ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Sorry you asked?  The main thing you need to know (so you have some idea what the AC tech is talking about) is that 1 ton of air conditioning = 12,000 BTU. 

Spot coolers come in several different sizes.  To figure out what size spot cooler you need there is a three step process.  Think of the three "S" process. 

  1. SIZE  -- What is the physical size of the space you need to cool?  Is it an office area, a wedding tent, a retail space, a health care facility?
  2. SURROUNDINGS -- What is the evironment and construction of the space?  Is the room an interior space with no ezterior walls and windows?  Is the tent on asphalt or a grassy meadow?  Is the surrounding space conditioned or is this a contained room in an unconditioned warehouse?
  3. STUFF -- What stuff do you need to cool?  Are we talking about critical servers, dressy wedding guests, shoppers in a store, lab equipment?

Once you have this information, you figure out your heat load which is a fancy term for the heat you have to get rid of.  This is nothing more then plugging numbers in and applying some general rules of thumb.

The Cooling Guides below will get you started.  We're anxious to help you keep cool.

 Cooling Guide for Commercial Spaces


Cooling Guide - Tents and Events




Tags: Server Room Cooling, Special Event Cooling, Spot Coolers