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Ty Branaman gives the Kalos apprentices a lesson on BTU-watt conversion using a toaster. (Check out Ty’s YouTube channel at
Toasters are electrical conversion devices that transform electricity into heat. However, toasters are excellent training tools because they also contain contactors, levers, and terminals that are easy to observe in action.
Toasters also have a bimetal device on the inside. Bimetal devices are composed of two metals, and the device begins to warp when it comes into contact with heat. An example of a bimetal device in HVAC is the Snap Disc or snap switch thermostat.
As that bimetal device on the toaster warps, it also energizes an electromagnet, which props the toast out when it is ready. So, toasters are great learning tools for HVAC apprentices because they have so many parts in common with HVAC equipment. You can essentially turn the toaster into a heater by attaching a fan to it. The bimetal device would also act as a safety device if the toaster were attached to a fan.
In toasters, wattage (power) gets converted into BTUs of heat energy. Each watt yields 3.413 BTUs of heat energy. If a toaster were to use 900 watts of power, it would yield more than 3000 BTUs of heat energy.
In the HVAC industry, we perform load calculations to determine how many BTUs of heat our equipment must move (such as Manual J calculations). So, hypothetically, we could use these calculations to determine how many toasters could provide heat to a home. It’s impractical to use so many toasters with fans, but the wattage costs the same regardless of if you use several toasters to heat a home or a typical HVAC electric heater. The expense will come with energy efficiency, as large HVAC fan motors have become much more efficient in recent years.
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Hey thanks for watching once again, we've got ty branaman down teaching at the lake technical college apprenticeship program and he actually pulls apart a toaster and shows us how we can learn everything we need to know about. Electric heat strips on a straight cool or heat pump system by using a toaster once again, please subscribe to ty's channel. The link is down in the description. He has some really great applicable videos, teaching the basics of hvacr.

So here we go ty brannaman talking about electric heat using a toaster. Do we have any other kind of components that we use? Sorry somebody here that convert electrical energy into heat energy. What do we have right here? You may know what this is. It's a toaster, but really it's simply just a heat conversion or an energy conversion device.

It converts electrical energy watts and the heat energy btus all right. So we can check the same thing again and let's see what our energy user is going to be you guys ready i'm going to turn this one on, because it's it's not osha, approved all right. So let me let me do the controls on this one. All right, so, if we check oh i'm on amps, our amps over here is 7.5 amps and we'll check our voltage.

How many volts we got 115 volts? How many watts does that come out to 862. 862.5 watts of electrical power? This is nothing more than an energy conversion device, but here's what's really cool about this torch, there's a lot of hvac parts, let's unplug it, so i can explain it all right. So here we have our contactor when we press this lever down on this side. It moves a lever on the other side and this lever moves these little plastic terminals.

When i push this down notice, how this plastic terminal is going to be moving see, i push this down and these terminals now close, they touch there's two different terminals. What would you call that a switch? It is a switch 100, a switch. What else? What a contactor? Yes a contactor it made contact, it's essentially a contactor, it didn't have electromagnet coil on it, but it's still a contactor. That's your switch! It breaks both lines line.

One and neutral, or line two, depending how you're gon na work it right. That makes sense. So now we've connected our electrical power into our resistive heat elements, but here's. What else is cool.

We have another hvac component. You ever stay in the top of this. The poster it says one slice, if you're, only going to put one slice in it, says specifically put it on this one side in this case, it's going to be on this side. If we look inside of here, you see that metal strip at the bottom down that one side towards the bottom there's a metal strip, my finger's, pointing towards it.

You see it, none of the other lines have it, but that one right it's on the opposite side of my finger. You see it yeah, you see it. You see that it is a bi-metal. Yes, it's not a high metal to biometal and that bi-metal is made of two different electrical components: two different components, two different metals and when they heat it up, it's going to cause it to warp right.

It's going to warp. Do we use bi-metals in yeah? Give anything an example the something disk something like that snap, this yes, the snapdisk, that is a bi-metal also the older thermostats had bi-metal inside that would move with temperature uh the older gas furnaces had bi-metal or roll-out switch is used by metal lots of things use Bi-Metal and right here inside of here, we have a little piece of bi-metal at the very very bottom, there's a little rod and i'm touching that rod right now. Yes, there's that rod see that rod right in the very bottom of wiggling it that biometal is connected to that rod right there. This is beautiful.

This is this is so cool. So on this side we have this little dial right here and it's for a lighter or darker toast. What it's doing is changing the distance between that rod and this piece of metal right here, if i put it over here, the this piece of metal is very far from the rod. If i move it over here close that piece of metal is very close to that rod.

So if i move it close, this heats up just a little bit. A little bit of movement causes that rod to touch here. If i move it very far away, the bi-metal has to warp a whole lot before it touches this piece of metal. Here, definitely, that's awesome, but what does that metal go to it's essentially a timer based on temperature? Yes, exactly right, but if there was never any heat, would there ever be that would the timer ever work? No, you sit there all day long.

So what happens is when it warps enough. It touches this piece of metal. What is this piece of metal connected to a coil, a coil, also known as electromagnet? It's an electromagnet so when it warps enough, it touches this electromagnet guess what this electromagnet pulls in right here, this little piece of metal do the do. The honors grab a little piece of metal with your finger and just pull it back.

Isn't that awesome? It's hvac! There's so much hvac components in this little piece of equipment, so we pull this down. It closes our contacts. We have energy at a full circuit, a resistive heat element. So it's getting hot.

Our biometal starts to warp when our bi-metal warps enough it energizes the electromagnet. The electromagnet pulls the switch and it disengages the circuit the spring pushes it back up. It's an hvac component right here, pretty cool right now. It's converting electrical energy watts and heat energy btus.

So how do you convert the energy to heat so with a resistive element? Nichrome this one's nichrome uh, i'm not exactly sure. It's probably just the deal. It's uh, it's i'm not sure, i'm not sure what's inside, but niachrome is typically what we're using in elect residential ac macro resistive wire. So as electricity flows through that nichrome, so it's getting hot yeah.

I wonder why you don't get electrocuted, you touch it. It gets hot! You you! So it's only on this path, so this material here is actually coated in a non-conductive uh material. So it's this metal is not touching the ground. If it was touching ground, it would be grounded right anywhere this metal, the heating almost anywhere, is touching metal.

It would be grounded. This is one thing we look for for a compressor or an electrical heat element. We look to see if it's grounded. I had a customer talking about that.

Had a customer complaining in the summertime, her electric bill is skyrocket high. She had several people come out to her house. Hey we've checked it. The ac is running great.

The ac is running great. She said ty, i've called you, everybody said you're expensive, but they said that you could solve it. If nobody else could so i go out to her house, i check ac and the ac was working fantastic. It's working great, so i thought.

Okay, let's check the heat. So while the ac is running, i start checking the main power coming in and one leg i'm getting a constant non-stop 15 amps wow. What do you think heat's running? That's exactly right. What happened was a two-story house upstairs somebody had dropped.

The quarter into the ductwork, the quarter rolled around the ductwork and dropped into the furnace and where you have your electrical heating elements, it was touching one of the heating elements and the metal and it welded itself in there. So electricity was flowing through the heat elements through the quarter to the ground and it was energizing the majority of that heat element. It wasn't enough amps to trip the breaker and just run into heat elements, so she had great dehumidification, but the problem was: she was running the heater while she's running the ac and her electric bill is high and she had to run ac even more to keep Up with it wow so sometimes you're going to think outside the box right so uh can i check the amps i saw hey. I shouldn't have amperage more.

I know that my blower is only pulling about four amps and i'm getting 15. So something else is running check the amps on one side of the heater i had 15 amps. Take the other side. It was zero.

So next thing i do is shut the power off, pull the heater out. There's a quarter. Sometimes a nickel will roll in there. You got to be careful if you lose your nickel, you can't get your nickel back tons of electrical energy now, let's think a little bit farther.

What would happen if i put a fan? I've left the toaster together and, as i take that little tray and i was to put a fan on the back side of this, what would happen? Do you have my hair dryer? Yes, i would have one of these. This is nothing more than resistive heat elements with a fan behind it right. It's a small fan, it's just getting started, but it still has a fan behind it. So you move air across the heating element and you have a heater.

If i put a small fan behind my toaster, would i have a heat element? Yes, yes, what's interesting about this, would it have a safety built in if it got too hot? Was there anything to save it? Yeah, yes, the bi-metal! Yes, that bi-metal would work as a limit switch. If it got too hot, it would close the temperature it would hit this and pull the top up and the unit would shut off. So much goes into this. This actually converts to electric heat.

Does anybody know how many watts there is how many b2s we get out of a what seven numbers? That's for a motor, that's good! I love that. You knew that number! That's good! I'm impressed 3.413. Okay, repeat the question: how many and i also won the answer, because i forgot it: how many bts do i get out of one watt of power? 300. 3.413.

Three. 3.4. I got a decent amount of b2s at a one watt of power. Now, how many watts of this toaster is anybody? Remember just approximately it's okay, 900., so times 3.413 about three close up, i'm i don't use my math.

You guys use your math right, three thousand you're good with math. You guys want to trust them. What should we use our calculator calculator, calculator? Yeah? What how many whites did we use? 900.? So, let's do that i'll use my calculator, you guys are going to pull yours out. We use mine all right, so we had 900 watts of power times.

3.413 btus equals 3 000 btus of heat energy. So do you know how we size a heater for a house? Anybody know manual, j, heat load, calculation or you can use right soft or you can use cool calories, heat load calculations, there's one for summer, heat loss and there's one for a winter's heat loss and summer is heat gain. You can actually do a heat load calculus. How many b2s you need? You can literally calculate how many of these toasters you would need to heat each individual room now.

Would it be more expensive to heat uh with these toasters or with a full-sized heater ac? What are these electric heaters be more expensive with the toasters, more expensive? The toasters? Yes, toasters! No, i don't know well yeah more expensive with toasters, hey. What do you think? Have a fan and everything else well we're going to add a fan to it, but you're going to need too many and separate which one's more expensive, the toasters. Everybody agree, that's a hard one because do you factor in the cost of the toaster and the cost of the unit we're separating. I love that, though i love that he's thinking about the costume, that's cool separating that just simply to actually use the heat.

We have two identical houses. This one didn't care about, looks they had little fans with little toasters all over the house, and this one had one unit centrally with ductwork through the house same exact, um wattage. Well, you would have heat loss in your ductwork. Okay.

I have a feeling they would cost the same. It would just take a lot longer to do it with the toaster than it would they would come because they mentioned wattage. If i need a thousand watts. Well, it's a thousand watts here or it's a thousand watts there.

It's the same wattage times three point four and threes the same btus now burt was really cool because he was thinking outside the box. What about duck loss right? So your your heat goes through the duct work, you would have duck loss and obviously obviously you wouldn't want to put little heaters all over the house, because you know kids and forks and moisture it would be a huge safety issue. But what i wanted you thinking about was thinking about electricity thinking about heat conversion, thinking about the scienceman electric heaters, so i had an electric heater from 1973 electric heater from today straight electric. The heaters themselves are the same they're 100 efficiency.

Every watt of power is three point: four and three b: two, the heat, whether it's a hundred years ago or today now what's different about a unit, that's from a straight electric heat unit from the say the 70s to today safer, safer sure, yes, 100 on the Electric heat side: it's the same. What else? So i love your thinking, keep thinking, keep thinking. I love you thinking about it. Come on give me something give me something.

I don't know what difference. Let's think about how we move there, how do we get the air to move across those heat elements? The fan right fan motors motors have become way more energy efficient. So, in the old days we used to talk well, those old ac units lasted forever. Well, they had these big old, thick blower fans and you picked that blower motor it was like.

Oh i better bend with my knees. These huge heavy fans feel like. Oh, i love those fans. They lasted forever, but they weren't very energy efficient because it took a ton of more power to keep that fan.

Turning when they started up the fans today are a lot thinner, but they're also lighter and easier to move the fan blades. Today we use these aluminum fan blades because they turn a little easier right and also the motors themselves. We learned how to make motors more energy efficient, so what makes uh electric heat only more efficient today is the fan, how removing the air all right thanks again to tai, please go down and click the link in the description and subscribe to his channel we'll catch. You on the next video thanks for watching our video, if you enjoyed it and got something out of it, if you wouldn't mind hitting the thumbs up button to like the video subscribe to the channel and click, the notifications bell to be notified when new videos come Out hvac school is far more than a youtube channel.

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14 thoughts on “Learn btu – watt conversion using a toaster w/ ty branaman”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars shine says:

    Awesome 👌. Could u use 1 watt = 3.413 to find overall system btu capacity. For example a refrigeration system w= v × a so 120v × 15a = 1800w. Then 1800w × 3.413 = 614.34 btu. Am I in the ballpark or parking lot?

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Sam Andrew says:

    This makes you question those sensational claims about those modern hi tech space heaters that claim to keep your house warm on a fraction of energy.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Nina McClure says:

    That was pretty cool to see that a toaster is basically a little mini furnace lol. I have been trying to learn a/c voltage for a little while now. I've been to 2 automotive schools and got DC volts down pretty good. Ac trips me up now and again because it's hard for me to imagine how its flowing through a system. My brain wants to see it work like a battery and it's hard to turn that off. I'm getting there though with the help of you guys explaining things. Thank you so much.

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Ted Lahm says:

    Both the same exactly. A watt is a watt. Wonderful video. Thank you. Service area Kanata??

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Pramod Mutha says:

    Video shooting from long distance so we couldn't see which component what its work

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Rick Reid says:

    I'd love it if someone could explain how a nickel caught in the heating element should cause current flow when it wasn't called for. If the heater was driven by 240 volts off of a single pole contactor, I could see it. But wouldn't something like that be normally powered through a 2 pole contactor? Or is it customary for the HVAC industry to leave one side of the heater hot? Are you in Orleans ?

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars HK HSM says:

    Ty is the legend of HVAC teaching

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars razani says:

    He is the best teacher

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Thunnas Albako says:

    Very useful information thank you very much sir. I like you teaching style keep it up

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars t lech says:

    If Ty was my grammar school science teacher he would’ve been my favorite teacher. We need more instructors like this in public schools.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars John Blaisdell says:

    LOL. can't get your Nickleback…. Very Good

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars shubham saini says:

    Thanku.. Are you in Ottawa ?

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jericosha says:

    Watt a good teacher

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Trust_Jesus1213 says:


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