Kelvin temperature conversion formulas
Conversion from to Formula
kelvins degrees Celsius °C = K − 273.15
degrees Celsius kelvins K = °C + 273.15
kelvins degrees Fahrenheit °F = K × 1.8 − 459.67
degrees Fahrenheit kelvins K = (°F + 459.67) / 1.8
Note that for temperature intervals rather than temperature readings,
1 K = 1 °C and 1 K = 1.8 °F
Additional conversion formulas
Conversion calculator for units of temperature

The kelvin (symbol: K) is the SI unit of temperature, and is one of the seven SI base units. It is defined as the fraction 1/273.16 of the thermodynamic (absolute) temperature of the triple point of water.

A temperature given in kelvins, without further qualification, is measured with respect to absolute zero, where molecular motion stops (except for the residual quantum mechanical zero-point energy). It is also common to give a temperature relative to the Celsius temperature scale, with a reference temperature of 0 °C = 273.15 K, approximately the melting point of water under ordinary conditions.

The kelvin is named after the British physicist and engineer William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin; his barony was in turn named after the River Kelvin, which runs through the grounds of the University of Glasgow.

Typographical conventions[]

The word kelvin as an SI unit is correctly written with a lowercase k (unless at the beginning of a sentence), and is never preceded by the words degree or degrees, or the symbol °, unlike degrees Fahrenheit, or degrees Celsius. This is because the latter are adjectives, whereas kelvin is a noun. It takes the normal plural form by adding an s in English: kelvins. When the kelvin was introduced in 1954 (10th General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), Resolution 3, CR 79), it was the "degree Kelvin", and written °K; the "degree" was dropped in 1967 (13th CGPM, Resolution 3, CR 104).

Note that the symbol for the kelvin unit is always a capital K and never italicised. There is a space between the number and the K, as with all other SI units.

Unicode includes the "kelvin sign" at U+212A (in your browser it looks like K). However, the "kelvin sign" is canonically decomposed into U+004B, thereby seen as a (preexisting) encoding mistake, and it is better to use U+004B (K) directly.

Conversion factors[]

Kelvins and Celsius[]

The Celsius temperature scale is now defined in terms of the kelvin, with 0 °C corresponding to 273.15 kelvins.

  • kelvins to degrees Celsius

Temperature and energy[]

Strictly speaking, the temperature of a system is well-defined only if its particles (atoms, molecules, electrons) are at equilibrium and obey a Boltzmann distribution (or its quantum mechanical counterpart). In a thermodynamic system, the energy of the particles of a perfect gas is proportional to the absolute temperature, where the constant of proportionality is the Boltzmann constant. As a result, it is possible to determine the average kinetic energy of the gas particles at the temperature T, or to calculate the temperature of the gas from the average kinetic energy of the particles:

The temperature of equilibrium electromagnetic radiation, a system of photons, is determined by the energy intensity, as given by Planck's blackbody distribution law.

See also[]

  • ITS-90 International Temperature Scale

External links[]

SI multiples[]

Template:SI multiples