BTU: What Does It Mean & How Many Do You Need?

By on October 6, 2016

stove burner

What in the World is a BTU?

  If you’ve checked out any of our stoves, you’ve probably seen a BTU figure associated with each one. And if you’re here at this article, you probably looked at it and had no clue what it meant. Let us explain it to you.   BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It is used in North America (not in Europe, despite the name) as a way to measure energy output. A single BTU is equal to the energy released by burning one match. To put things in perspective, your household stove burners are probably around 10,000 BTUs—that’s like burning 10,000 matches at once.  

How Many BTUs Do I Need?

  For basic outdoor cooking and groups of only a few people, you’ll need a stove that has an output of at least 10,000 BTU per hour. Matching your kitchen stove in power, you’ll be able to cook pretty much anything you’d whip up indoors. This is the minimum amount of heat you should have with your camp stove.   But why settle for the minimum? Most of our stoves feature burners with an output of 30,000 BTU/hr each. That’s 3 times more than your kitchen burners. Our double burner and triple burner stoves with this kind of cooking power are perfect for families and larger groups because you have the heat and surface area you need to cook a ton of food. Pro tip: these burners are also great for home canning.   We also carry a couple of high-output stoves with burners that can pump out 60,000 BTU/hr. That’s a ton of power. In fact, that’s more than you would ever need for basic outdoor cooking. These stoves are best for specialty situations like home brewing, high capacity boiling, and extreme cold temperatures. You should only use heavy duty pots with a 60,000 BTU burner rather than accessories like our grill boxes, griddles, or pizza ovens. The high heat output can warp and burn out some of these more lightweight materials.   Check out our infographic for a quick look at how many BTUs you need for your outdoor adventures.   Your guide to BTUs on a camp stove