# How much electricity does a 12000 BTU (1 ton) air conditioner use?

The electricity usage of an air conditioner can be broken down into two main aspects: Energy Consumption (measured in kWh) and Power Usage (measured in Watts).

While energy consumption represents the quantity of electricity used over time, power usage represents the rate at which electricity is consumed.

In this article, our main focus will be on 12000 BTU air conditioners. I’ll provide general estimates for their energy consumption (kWh) and explore a couple of methods to accurately determine it.

If you’re interested in understanding the costs associated with running a 1-ton air conditioner, I’ve got you covered with detailed information.

Additionally, I’ll discuss the power usage (Watts) and amp draw (Amps) of these units, which is particularly helpful for those in the process of selecting equipment like an inverter or a generator that’ll run the AC.

Let’s dive right in.

## How much electricity does a 12000 BTU air conditioner use?

Typically, a 12,000 BTU air conditioner consumes approximately 0.6 to 1.2 kWh (600 – 1200 Wh) of energy per hour of operation. However, it’s important to note that the precise energy consumption of such an AC unit can vary.

Factors such as the ambient temperature, insulation quality, and particularly the efficiency of the unit, determined by its type and model age, play significant roles in determining the actual energy usage.

For example, a 12000 BTU mini split air conditioner, will – on average – use between 0.6 and 0.8 kWh of energy per hour. Assuming a typical usage pattern of 8 hours per day, a mini-split of this cooling capacity will use between 5 and 6.5 kWh of energy on a daily basis, or around 150 – 195 kWh per month.

In comparison, a 12000 BTU window AC unit will use between 0.8 and 1.1 kWh of energy per hour. With 8 hours of usage per day, that’s around 6.5 to 9 kWh of energy consumed daily or around 200 to 270 kWh of energy consumption per month.

The typical difference in efficiency between a mini split AC and a window AC is due to the fact that most mini splits use inverter technology, which allows them to adjust their cooling capacity based on the current cooling requirements.

This feature enables mini splits to run at lower speeds when maintaining the temperature setpoint, therefore, consuming less energy. Contrary to window AC units, which can only turn ON and OFF.

A 12000 BTU portable air conditioner is even less energy-efficient and will consume more energy than a mini-split or a window air conditioner, with an hourly energy consumption of up to 1.3 kWh an hour.

Related:

How much electricity does a mini-split use?

How much electricity does a window air conditioner use?

– How much electricity does a portable air conditioner use?

The easiest way to get a quick and accurate estimate of the energy consumption of your 12000 BTU unit is to use its Energy Efficiency rating, which represents the efficiency at which the unit uses electrical energy to perform heat exchange.

This efficiency rating is usually specified by the manufacturer as an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), or a Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio (CEER).

In any case, the efficiency rating of your 12k BTU AC can be used to calculate its hourly energy consumption as follows:

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 12000 BTUs ÷ Energy Efficiency rating

Hourly Energy Consumption (kiloWatt-hours per hour) = (12000 BTUs ÷ Energy Efficiency rating) ÷ 1000

For example, let’s look at this 12000 BTU window air conditioner that has an EER rating of 12.1:

The hourly energy consumption of this unit can be estimated as follows:

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 12000 ÷ EER

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 12000 ÷ 12.1

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 991 Wh/hour

Hourly Energy Consumption (kiloWatt-hours per hour) = 0.99 kWh/hour

Let’s look at another example of an EnergyGuide label on a 12000 BTU mini split unit that specifies a SEER of 17.4:

We can then use this SEER rating to estimate the hourly energy consumption of this unit:

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 12000 ÷ SEER

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 12000 ÷ 17.4

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 690 Wh/hour

Hourly Energy Consumption (kiloWatt-hours per hour) = 0.69 kWh/hour

This particular 12000 BTU mini split unit is a heat pump, which means it can produce both cool and warm air.

The HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) rating on the EnergyGuide of the unit is also an energy efficiency rating, and it can be used to determine the hourly energy consumption of the unit in the heating season:

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 12000 ÷ HSPF

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 12000 ÷ 8.7

Hourly Energy Consumption (Watt-hours per hour) = 1380 Wh/hour

Hourly Energy Consumption (kiloWatt-hours per hour) = 1.38 kWh/hour

Notice that this unit is estimated to consume twice as much energy in the heating season. This is typical, as heat pumps require more energy to drive warm air inside than they do removing it.

Now, the method I’ve just explained should give you some pretty close estimates. However, if you want to determine the energy consumption of your 12000 BTU unit as accurately as possible, I recommend using an electricity metering device.

A device such as the Kill-A-Watt meter can be plugged in between your AC unit and the electrical outlet and will allow you to accurately measure the energy consumption of your air conditioner in kWh (kiloWatt-hours) over a certain period of time.

An accurate measurement of the energy consumption of the AC will be especially helpful for those of you who are considering alternative sources of energy for their 12000 BTU unit, such as solar panels or batteries.

In any case, let’s discuss how much it actually costs to run a 12K BTU air conditioner.

## How much does it cost to run a 12,000 BTU air conditioner?

Based on an estimated average energy consumption of 0.9 kWh (900 Wh) per hour, and considering the average electricity price of 16 cents per kWh (U.S. average), a 12,000 BTU air conditioner is projected to consume approximately 14.5 cents of electricity per hour of operation.

If we assume a daily usage duration of 8 hours, the hourly cost translates to around \$1.15 per day. Over the course of a month, this accumulates to an estimated cost of \$35.

However, keep in mind that the actual cost of running your 12,000 BTU air conditioner will also depend on the electricity prices specific to your area.

For instance, based on the 2023 data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the cost of 1 kWh of energy can range from approximately 10 cents in North Dakota and Idaho to around 43 cents in Hawaii.

To obtain a more accurate calculation of your air conditioner’s operating cost, I recommend using an electricity monitoring device to measure its energy usage over a specific period. Then, multiply that consumption by the cost per kWh applicable to your location (available from your local utility provider).

Alternatively, for a quick estimate, you can use the calculator below, which takes into account factors such as the type of your 12,000 BTU air conditioner, daily usage, and your state of residence. This calculator will provide you with an estimate of the monthly cost associated with running your AC unit.

## How many watts does a 12000 btu air conditioner use?

A general guideline, a 12000 BTU air conditioner will have a Power Rating, or Wattage, ranging from 1200 Watts to 1800 Watts. The exact power usage of an AC with this cooling capacity will depend on the specific model and its type.

The most accurate method for determining the power usage of your air conditioner is by referring to its nameplate, as it provides detailed information about the different electrical specifications of the unit.

On the nameplate, look for terms such as “Power Input,” “Rated Power,” “Power,” “Watts,” “W,” or “Wattage”, which will indicate the maximum amount of power that the air conditioner may require during normal operation.

For example, let’s take a look at this nameplate from a 12000 BTU portable air conditioner and highlight the relevant specifications:

At the bottom of the nameplate, the manufacturer specifies a “Rated Input” of 1530 Watts, which signifies that this portable air conditioner may require up to 1530 Watts.

The manufacturer also provides other electrical specifications, such as a “Rated Current” of 8 Amps, and a Voltage of 220 to 230 Volts.

In some cases, where the Wattage of the air conditioner is not directly specified, it can still be calculated using the Amperage and Voltage of the unit:

Wattage = Amperage x Voltage x 0.85

For example, if we assume a median Voltage of 225 Volts, the Wattage of this air conditioner can be calculated as follows:

Wattage = Amperage x Voltage x 0.85

Wattage = 8 Amps x 225 Volts x 0.85

Wattage = 1530 Watts

Now, please note that this Wattage represents the “Running” Watts of the air conditioner, or in other words, the watts that AC uses when it’s up and running.

However, when sizing equipment, such as an inverter or a generator that can run the air conditioner, what you need to consider is the Starting Watts of the unit. When starting up, an air conditioner will require an amount of power that is much greater than its regular power usage.

For air conditioners that use inverter technology, this start-up wattage is not much, if at all, higher than their regular full-load power usage. However, for non-inverter air conditioners, this instantaneous start-up wattage may reach up to 6 times their rated power usage.

## How many amps does a 12000 btu air conditioner use

A 12000 BTU air conditioner rated at a typical voltage of 110-120 Volts, will have a full load amperage of anywhere between 9 and 14 amps. However, air conditioners that run on a voltage of 220-240 Volts, will typically use between 4.5 and 7 amps of current.

You can determine the rated amperage of your air conditioner by referring to its electrical specification label. The Amp draw of the AC unit will usually be indicated as “Current”, “Amperage”, “Amps”, “FLA (Full Load Amps)”, “RLA (Running Load Amps)”, etc…

As mentioned above, air conditioners will generally require a relatively high amount of power to start up. Since Power is the product of Voltage and Current (Watt = Volt x Amps), and Voltage is constant, this start-up power usage also reflects on the Amp draw of the air conditioner.

The start-up amp draw of your 12000 BTU air conditioner is usually specified as “LRA”, which stands for “Locked Rotor Amps”.

The LRA rating of your AC unit is useful when trying to determine its potential start-up wattage. This can be done using the following formula:

Potential Start-up Wattage (Watts) = Voltage (Volts)LRA (Amps)

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##### Younes

Hi! My name is Younes. I'm an electrical engineer and a renewable energy enthusiast. I created renewablewise.com with a mission of delivering digestible content and information to the people who seek it.