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How Many Amps Does an Air Conditioner Use?

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how many amps does an air conditioner use

Have you ever wondered, “How many amps does an air conditioner use and how much does it contribute to my utility bill?”

Well, a 240V AC unit typically draws 15 to 60 amps, which may take up to 40% of your electricity bill during summer. However, if you want a clearer answer, you may consider the size and BTU rating of the unit.

To help you understand these ratings, here is a brief explanation.

How Many Amps Does an Air Conditioner Draw?

a-ac-unit

It is common for an air conditioning unit, such as a 24,000 BTU unit, to consume much power. As I previously stated, it may require 15 to 60 amps of current, which is why we generally use a dedicated circuit for it.

The best approach to determining the right amperage requirements of an AC is to perform your own calculation using the guide below.

However, to give you some idea about its power ratings, here is an air conditioner amperage chart. I’ve also listed other AC power requirements for different units you may find in the market nowadays.

Please note that the voltage requirement also depends on the model. Most low end units like window AC unit voltage may only require 110 or 120v circuits. However, high end appliances like a central type AC may require 230V setups.

BTU per AC Unit Estimated Watts Volts Estimated Amps
5,000 BTU AC 385 to 550 110-120V 3.62 to 5.43
6,000 BTU AC 462 to 670 110-120V 4.35 to 6.52
8,000 BTU AC 640 to 950 110-120V 5.80 to 8.70
10,000 BTU AC 800 to 1,170 110-120V 7.25 to 10.87
12,000 BTU AC 1,000 to 1,500 110-120V 9 to 13
13,500 BTU AC 1,230 to 1,700 110-120V 10.25 to 14.16
15,000 BTU AC 1,360 to 1,875 110-120V 10.87 to 16.30

Types of AC

air-conditioner-wiring-requirements

1. Central Air Conditioner

This is the most prevalent type of air conditioner used in most homes. It has a duct unit installed outside the house and is effective at cooling large or multiple rooms at the same time.

However, it is made for centralized function and generates higher energy consumption (often 15 to 20 amps, though 60 amps are possible).

2. Ductless Mini-Split

voltage-range

Although smaller in size, a ductless AC still has an exterior unit for the condenser. What’s nice about this type is that you can have many indoor units in different rooms of your house.

As a result, it’s possible to reduce the AC amp usage by cooling only one area of the home rather than multiple rooms. Usually, a small 110v unit of this type only needs a minimum of 15 amps, while a 240V one may take up to 45 amps.

3. Window Air Conditioner

amperage-requirements

Window-type ACs are another common type mostly seen in residential houses. They come in a single unit that requires installation through windows or walls to filter the air from outside to inside.

They are often inexpensive but require extensive care, since window ACs may increase energy usage if left filthy. The amp range for them may start from 3.8 amps up to 20 amps.

4. Portable Air Conditioner

As the names imply, a portable AC is a freestanding unit that can be placed anywhere in your home as needed. For its air conditioning feature, it typically makes use of a single or two sections of tubing that release air outside.

This portable unit is known for being energy-efficient, depending on its size. Typically, it only takes an average of 3.1 to 12.8 amp. However, it is only useful in tiny spaces or as a short-term cooling solution.

5. Hybrid / Dual Fuel Air Conditioner

A hybrid AC is one that uses a combination of traditional energy sources such as gas and electricity for cooling and heating. Having this device in your home will significantly lower your utility bill.

However, this type usually requires a significant expense for its installation.

6. Smart Air Conditioner

This type of AC has a smart feature that allows you to operate it with your smartphone via WiFi apps. With the use of advanced technology, you may use AC units in a more convenient and energy-efficient manner.

Typically, a smart AC with a 14,000 BTU 120V rating is rated at 15 amps.

How to Calculate the Number of Amps an Air Conditioner Needs?

To begin your calculation, you must first determine the capacity of the AC and convert it to BTUs if the rating is in tons. For example, converting a 3 ton air conditioner to BTU will result in 36,000 BTU/hour.

Next, determine how many watts the AC uses by dividing 36,000 BTUs/hour by 3.41 (1 watt = 3.41 BTUs per hour). You will get a total of 10,557 watts. Finally, divide the 10,557 watts by the voltage range of the AC. If we use 220V in this example, the result will be 47.9 total amp draw.

If you have a 2.5 ton or 2 ton AC, you must perform the same calculation. Just remember to convert tonnage to BTU first.

  • Tip: To determine the breaker size for your AC circuit, simply multiply the AC amps by 125% continuous load. Using 47.9 as the amperage, the breaker’s rating will be 59.9 amps. Since this is an unusual size, you’ll need a 60A breaker.

You may also use an online amps calculator to determine the amps of any device much more easily. All you have to do is enter the AC watts and voltage rating.

Advice on Buying Cost-effective Air Conditioners

If you want to save some energy in a AC unit, here are the things to consider when choosing an air conditioner.

Right Air Conditioner Size

Choosing the right size of AC is not only a great way to save energy but also make your unit work more efficiently.

When the area that needs cooling is too spacious, the AC will need to exert itself to reach the set temperature. But with the right size AC in the area, cooling will happen faster and more effectively.

Programmable Air Conditioner

Having a programmable AC that allows you to set your preferred temperature and auto-turning on and off is also a big factor that will let you save energy. This way, the unit will stop working when you no longer need it.

Energy Efficient Air Conditioner

Choosing an energy-efficient unit with an energy star certification or higher EER and SEER ratings is also good.

WiFi Enabled Air Conditioner

Nowadays, the most energy-efficient devices come with a smart Wifi function. Choosing such AC units not only lets you save energy but also allows you to have fun using advanced technology.

Conclusion

Knowing how many amps does an air conditioner use will help you determine the proper breaker size for your AC system. Furthermore, it will also give you knowledge on how much power it may consume.

However, when installing a circuit for your AC, it’s not just all about breaker sizing. You must also meet the air conditioner wiring requirements to prevent electrical damage. In this case, conducting more research or asking a professional is the best thing to do.

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