Just like any other appliance, the electricity usage of heat pumps and air conditioners can be measured in different ways, primarily:

**Power Usage of the Unit:**This is measured in Watts or kiloWatts (kW).**Energy Consumption of the Unit over Time:**This is measured in Watt-hours or kiloWatt-hours (kWh).

Both kiloWatts (kW) and kiloWatt-hours (kWh) are units that measure separate aspects of electricity usage, each serving its purpose. To learn more about the distinction between power (watts) and energy (kWh), you can read about it here.

In this article, I discuss the **Power Usage (Watts)** of 5-ton (60,000 BTU) air conditioners and heat pumps, their **Energy Consumption (kWh)**, and **how much it typically costs to run units of this size**.

Whether you are looking to size the equipment needed to operate your 5-ton AC/heat pump – like solar panels, batteries, an inverter, or a generator – or you are simply aiming to calculate the operational expenses, this article will provide you with all the essential information and estimates you’ll need.

Let’s jump right in!

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## How many watts does a 5-ton AC or heat pump use?

Watts (W) or kiloWatts (kW) are the standard units used to measure how fast a device consumes electricity—more precisely, how quickly it consumes energy (kWh). This consumption rate of energy is referred to as Electrical Power, Power Usage, and Wattage.

The amount of work a device must accomplish determines the rate at which it consumes Electrical Energy (kWh), i.e., the amount of Electrical Power (Watts) it requires.

For example, a 5-ton (60,000 BTU) heat pump will perform more work than, say, a 3-ton (36,000 BTU) heat pump, and will therefore require more watts.

**Typically, a 5-ton (60,000 BTU) air conditioner or heat pump will use around 5,000 to 7,000 Watts of power while operating. However, this range represents only the “Running” Wattage of these units, meaning the power they consume during operation. **

**During the startup phase, a 5-ton air conditioner might momentarily need as much as 35,000 Watts (35 kW) of power.**

You can determine both the running and starting wattage of your 5-ton unit by referring to the electrical specifications provided by the manufacturer.

As an example, let’s take a look at the nameplate on the condenser (outdoor) unit of a 5-ton (60,000 BTU) heat pump and highlight the relevant specifications:

On the nameplate, take note of the following manufacturer’s specifications:

**A voltage of 208/230 Volts:**This rating indicates that the unit can function on either a 3-phase 208 Volts circuit or a split-phase 230 Volt circuit. Residential air conditioners and heat pumps typically run on a dedicated 230 Volt circuit.**A Compressor RLA of 24.4 Amps:**RLA stands for Rated Load Amperage, and this rating specifies the maximum amount of current (in Amps), that the compressor might draw during operation.**A Compressor LRA of 144.2 Amps:**LRA stands for Locked Rotor Amperage, and it represents the maximum amount of current that the compressor may potentially need to start up.

The RLA (Rated Load Amperage) rating of the compressor can be used to determine the maximum amount of power that the compressor is expected to use during normal operation. This is achieved by multiplying the RLA rating of the compressor (in Amps) by the Voltage:

**Compressor’s Running Wattage (Watts) = Compressor RLA (Amps) x Voltage (Volts)**

**Compressor’s Running Wattage (Watts) = 24.4 Amps x 230 Volts**

**Compressor’s Running Wattage (Watts) = 5612 Watts**

**Compressor’sRunning Wattage (kW) = 5.61 kiloWatts**

On the other hand, the LRA (Locked Rotor Amperage) rating of the compressor can be used to calculate the maximum amount of power that the compressor might potentially require during startup:

**Compressor’s Starting Wattage (Watts) = Compressor LRA (Amps) x Voltage (Volts)**

**Compressor’s Starting Wattage (Watts) = 144.2 Amps x 230 Volts**

**Compressor’s Starting Wattage (Watts) = 33166 Watts**

**Compressor’s Starting Wattage (kW) = 33.16 kiloWatts**

While the primary power usage of an AC or heat pump can be attributed to the compressor, there are two additional components that also consume power and should be accounted for:

**The condenser fan, also known as the outdoor fan.****The blower fan, also known as the indoor fan.**

The power usage of these fans can also be determined by using their amperage ratings, specified as FLA (Full Load Amperage).

**Fan Wattage (Watts) = FLA (Amps) x 230 Volts**

As a general guideline for simplicity, when both of these fans are operational, **they might collectively consume around 1500 Watts of power**.

Therefore, the “potential” running wattage of a 5-ton heat pump can be calculated as follows:

**Potential Running Wattage (Watts) = Compressor’s Running Wattage (Watts) + 1500 Watts**

**Potential Running Wattage (Watts) = 5612 Watts + 1500 Watts**

**Potential Running Wattage (Watts) = 7112 Watts**

**Potential Running Wattage (kW) = 7.1 kiloWatts**

Similarly, the “potential” starting wattage can be calculated by considering the condenser fan and blower fan power draw:

**Potential Starting Wattage (Watts) = Compressor’s Starting Wattage (Watts) + 1500 Watts**

**Potential Starting Wattage (Watts) = 33166 Watts + 1500 Watts**

**Potential Starting Wattage (Watts) = 34666 Watts**

**Potential Starting Wattage (Watts) = 34.66 kiloWatts**

In kiloWatts, the potential running wattage becomes 7.1 kW, and the potential starting wattage becomes 34.66 kW.

It is important to understand that the unit won’t always require such a high amount of power every time the compressor activates; typically, it will only require around 12,000 to 15,000 Watts (12 to 15 kW).

However, if for any reason, the motor within the compressor struggles to start up, its amp draw will reach the LRA value specified by the manufacturer. Consequently, the unit will demand the full 34.66 kW of power to start up.

When sizing equipment that can run your heat pump, such as an inverter or a generator, the right way to do it is to base the sizing on the potential starting wattage calculated using the LRA rating.

Now that we have an idea of the electrical power usage (Wattage) of these units, let us discuss the actual amount of electricity that they use.

## How much electricity (energy) does a 5-ton AC or heat pump use?

While power (measured in watts) indicates how fast electricity is used, energy—measured in Watt-hours (Wh) or more commonly kiloWatt-hours (kWh)—represents the actual quantity of electricity consumed by your heat pump over a specific timeframe.

In fact, your utility provider invoices you based on the total energy your appliances consume monthly, rather than their power usage.

**During cooling months, a 5-ton (60,000 BTU) AC/heat pump will use approximately 3 to 4.5 kWh of energy per hour of operation. Assuming the unit is used for around 12 hours daily, this hourly energy consumption accumulates to 36 to 54 kWh per day, which translates to 1080 to 1600 kWh per month.**

**In heating months, a 5-ton heat pump will consume around 5 to 7.5 kWh of energy per hour of operation. Assuming the heat pump operates for 12 hours daily, this hourly energy usage corresponds to 60 to 90 kWh daily, or 1500 to 2700 kWh of energy per month.**

Whether it’s the cooling or heating season, the specific hourly energy consumption of your unit will be influenced by factors like:

- The outdoor temperature
- The indoor temperature setting
- The insulation quality of your home
- The unit’s efficiency

However, if we set aside most of these variables, it’s possible to estimate the hourly energy consumption of your AC/heat pump using its efficiency rating. Here’s how it works:

Each air conditioner or heat pump is assigned an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), which gauges how efficiently the unit cools or heats the air. The relationship between this efficiency ratio, the unit’s capacity, and its hourly energy consumption is as follows:

**Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours/hour) = Unit’s Capacity (BTUs) ÷ Energy Efficiency Ratio**

**Hourly Energy Consumption (kWh/hour) = (Unit’s Capacity (BTUs) ÷ Energy Efficiency Ratio) ÷ 1000**

ACs and heat pumps of this size typically come with 2 efficiency ratings:

**A SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating:**This indicates the efficiency of the unit during cooling months. SEER ratings can be used to estimate the energy consumption of air conditioners and heat pumps during the cooling season.**An HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) rating:**This indicates the efficiency of the unit during heating months. HSPF ratings can be used to estimate the energy consumption of heat pumps during the heating season.

Air conditioners, which are essentially heat pumps that can only push heat to the outside, will understandably only have a SEER rating. Actual heat pumps, on the other hand, will come with both a SEER and an HSPF rating.

In any case, these ratings should be indicated on the EnergyGuide (yellow) label that comes with the unit.

For example, let’s take a look at this EnergyGuide tag from a 5-ton (60,000 BTU) heat pump:

Notice that the manufacturer specifies a Cooling Efficiency Rating (SEER) of at least 15.5, which we can use to get a conservative estimate of the hourly energy consumption of this unit during cooling months:

**Hourly Energy Consumption in Cooling Season (Watt-hours/hour) = Unit’s Capacity (BTUs) ÷ SEER**

**Hourly Energy Consumption in Cooling Season (Watt-hours/hour) = 60000 BTUs ÷ 15.5**

**Hourly Energy Consumption in Cooling Season (Watt-hours/hour) = 3870 Wh/hour**

**Hourly Energy Consumption in Cooling Season (kWh/hour) = 3.87 kWh/hour**

Additionally, the manufacturer specifies an HSPF of 8.5, which we can use to estimate the hourly energy consumption of the unit during the heating season:

**Hourly Energy Consumption in Heating Season (Watt-hours/hour) = Unit’s Capacity (BTUs) ÷ HSPF**

**Hourly Energy Consumption in Heating Season (Watt-hours/hour) = 60000 BTUs ÷ 8.5**

**Hourly Energy Consumption in Heating Season (Watt-hours/hour) = 7058 Wh/hour**

**Hourly Energy Consumption in Heating Season (kWh/hour) = 7.05 kWh/hour**

Based on your regular daily usage patterns, these hourly energy consumption estimates can be employed to estimate the unit’s daily or monthly energy consumption.

For example, if you typically run the AC/heat pump for 16 hours daily, you can calculate the daily energy consumption of the unit as follows:

**Daily Energy Consumption (kWh/day) = Hourly Energy Consumption (kWh/hour) x Daily Usage Duration (hours/day)**

**Daily Energy Consumption (kWh/day) = Hourly Energy Consumption (kWh/hour) x 16 **

Having a daily energy consumption estimate is especially helpful if you’re trying to size equipment that’ll run the 5-ton unit, such as solar panels or batteries.

Likewise, you can determine the monthly energy consumption of the unit using the following formula:

**Monthly Energy Consumption (kWh/month) = Daily Energy Consumption (kWh/day) x 30**

By combining the monthly energy consumption of your 5-ton heat pump with the electricity rates in your region, you can estimate the monthly expense of operating the unit.

Speaking of which, let’s discuss cost estimates.

## How much does it cost to run a 5-ton AC or Heat pump?

The cost of operating a 5-ton AC/heat pump will naturally depend on the exact energy consumption of the unit and its usage. Additionally, the cost will also vary depending on the electricity rates in your area (cost per kWh).

**For instance, using the U.S. national average rate of around 16 cents/kWh, a 5-ton air conditioner or heat pump would roughly consume $0.6 worth of electricity per hour of use during the cooling season. In the heating season, a 5-ton heat pump would use around $1 of electricity per hour of operation.**

However, these figures are based on the U.S. national average cost per kWh. Depending on your location, the actual electricity rate could range anywhere from 10 to 30 cents per kWh.

For a more precise estimation of the hourly, daily, or monthly operating costs for your 5-ton unit, multiply its corresponding energy consumption by the cost per kWh in your area:

**Cost ($/Timeframe) = Energy Consumption (kWh/Timeframe) x Cost per kWh ($/kWh)**

For example, let’s say you have a 5 ton heat pump that uses an average of:

**1200 kWh**of energy per month in the**cooling season**.- And
**2000 kWh**of energy per month in the**heating seasons**.

Let’s also make the assumption that you live somewhere in the state of Pennsylvania.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average cost per kWh in Pennsylvania is around 18 cents/kWh, equivalent to $0.18/kWh.

For the average monthly cost of operating the heat pump in the cooling season:

**Cost ($/month) = Energy Consumption (kWh/month) x Cost per kWh ($/kWh)**

**Cost ($/month) = 1200 kWh/month x 0.18 $/kWh**

**Cost ($/month) = 216 $/month**

Similarly, the average monthly cost of running the heat pump in the heating season would be:

**Cost ($/month) = Energy Consumption (kWh/month) x Cost per kWh ($/kWh)**

**Cost ($/month) = 2000 kWh/month x 0.18 $/kWh**

**Cost ($/month) = 360 $/month**

To simplify the process, I’ve developed a calculator that estimates the daily and monthly operational costs of your 5-ton heat pump during both cooling and heating seasons. You only need to select the season, input your typical daily usage, and pick a location:

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