Monday, November 7, 2011

When the Metric System isn't as handy.

Recently a wonderfully complete wood BTU chart was shared with me.  You can see it here:

Even better than the wood BTU chart, the comments.  Read them below.

BTUs? What century was your chart produced? I thought the world measured energy in Joules(J), Kilojoules (KJ), Megajoules (MJ) these days!

I am 70 next birthday, and can distinctly remember learning about energy in high school science classes around 1955~59. We did learn the BTU at first, but the next year we changed to Joules for energy, and were told that the reason was that all science throughout the world was done in metric units, so we better get used to it!

The next few years were an exciting time, as New Zealand changed over to the metric system for everyday use. By this time I was myself a high school teacher and we had the challenge of converting all teaching to metric units. Metric measurement is now universal throughout the country.

OK, I do actually realize you are in the US, and the US has farther to go down this road than any other country in the world. I will just say when the change finally comes your way, embrace it wholeheartedly. It may seem difficult initially, but once you are used to it you will NEVER want to go back to the old system. I have heard literally hundreds of old diehards utter similar sentiments a short time after they have had to change!


We might be tempted to convert our firewood rating chart over from MBTUs to MegaJoules, but for one consideration: how many times have we been sitting at our favorite tavern, glass in hand, and found ourselves engaging in some version of the following exchange?

Bob: "Say, during my last sip I noticed that my pounder of Budweiser has warmed up exactly one degree F while I've been holding it. How much energy did my body have to give up to make that happen?"

Tom: "One BTU."

An easy exchange, no? Now let's try the same conversation in a NZ pub:

Kevin: "Say, during my last sip I noticed that my 0.453592 kg glass of Mac's Gold has warmed up exactly .55555 degrees C while I've been holding it. How much energy did my body have to give up to make that happen?"

Graeme: "1,055 Joules."

Posted by Don Squire - Hawken Energy Outdoor Wood Furnaces
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