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Conversion of Units

Conversion of units: list of basic unit conversions, Time, Energy, Area, Power, Pressure and Temperature conversions

It is necessary to measure two or more quantities in the same units whenever we compare them. Comparing these units is only possible when one knows their introductory conversion rates. To understand better, let us take an example. A child cannot figure out how many kilograms of a commodity his mother asked him to bring from the market. However, he can figure out the quantity in litres because the packet has the quantity printed in litres. That is where unit conversions become necessary. One can easily convert a unit no matter how big the units are. Remember a basic rule of conversion from this example-

Convert 1 light year to miles

We know, 1 light year is equal to 0.946 x 1016 metres. Also, 1 mile is equal to 1.609 kilometres. And, 1 kms is equal to 1000m. Therefore, cancelling all the terms in the equation, 1 light year x 0.946 X 1016m1 light year x 1 km1000 m x 1 mile 1.609 km we get, 0.587x1013 miles.

Here is the list of some basic unit conversions-
















Volume units

1 gallon 

3.785 litres

1 cubic foot

28.316 litres


1 foot

12 inches


1 inch

2.54 cms

Length units 

1 Angstrom



1 light year

0.946 x 1016


1 mile



1 fermi


Mass units 

1 pound

453.592 grams


1 ounce

28.349 grams


Time conversions

1 min

60 seconds

1 hour

60 min

1 day

24 hours

1 week

7 days

1 year

365/366 (leap year) days


Energy conversions

1 BTU (British thermal unit)

1055 Joule

1 erg

1×10−7 Joule

1 foot-pound

1.356 Joule

1 calorie

4.186 Joule

1 kilowatt-hour

3.6×106 Joule

1 electron volt

1.602×10−19 Joule

1 litre atmosphere

101.13 Joule


Area conversions

1 sq. inch

6.4516 x 10-4 square meter

1 sq. foot

9.2903 x 10-2 square meter

1 acre

4.0468 x 103 square meter

1 hectare

1 x 104 square meter

1 sq. mile

2.5888 x 106 square meter

1 barn

1 x 10-28 square meter


Power conversions

1 erg/sec

1 x 10-5 watt

1 BTU/hr

0.2930 watt

1 foot-pound/ sec

1.356 watt

1 horsepower

745.7 watt

1 calorie/ sec

4.186 watt


Pressure conversions

1 atm 

101.3 kPa

1 atm 

760mm Hg

1 bar 

105 Pa

1 psi 

68.948 mbar 




9/5 °C + 32


5/9 (°F – 32)




5/9(°F-32) + 273


Points to be kept in mind while converting units-

1. Keep a factor of 1 for doing long-chain conversions. It will keep the conversions intact and straightforward.
2. Be careful while converting bigger chain units. Keep the actual numbers in proper places of numerators and denominators.
3. Do proper canceling of units from top to bottom or vice versa. Keep it clean and straightforward.
4. Accuracy is more important than speed. Be accurate while performing calculations. Speed will come after that.
5. Memorize the basic conversions thoroughly to avoid mistakes.

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