Converting Cubic Feet to Liters

Worked Unit Conversion Example Problem

Example of equal one liter (1,000 cubic centimeters) volumes in different containers.
Example of equal one liter (1,000 cubic centimeters) volumes in different containers. Matt Meadows / Getty Images

This example problem demonstrates how to convert cubic feet to liters. The cubic foot is a US and Imperial unit of volume that is the volume of a cube that has sides that are one foot in length. The liter is a SI or metric unit of volume. It is the volume of a cube that has sides that are 10 centimeters in length. The conversion between the two systems is fairly common, particularly if you're working with liquefied gases.

Cubic Feet to Liter Conversion Problem

What is this volume of 1 cubic foot in liters?

Solution

Many conversion factors are difficult to remember. Cubic feet to liters would fall into this category. The unit cancelling method is useful to perform this kind of conversion. It uses multiple easily remembered conversions to relate the original units to the final units.

1 foot = 12 inches

1 inch = 2.54 centimeters

1000 cubic centimeters = 1 liter

Using these steps we can express a feet to centimeters as:

distance in cm = (distance in ft) x (12 in/1 ft) x (2.54 cm/1 in)

distance in cm = (distance in ft) x 30.48 cm/ft

Now we need to convert these distances into volume measurements of cm3 and ft3.

Cube Volume = (linear measurement)3, so

volume in cm3 = [(distance in feet) x 30.48 cm/ft]3

volume in cm3 = (volume in ft3) x 28316.85 cm3/ft3

Now we can convert cubic centimeters to liters

volume in liters = (volume in cm3) x (1 L/1000 cm3)

volume in liters = (volume in cm3)/1000 L/cm3

Insert the cubic volume from the previous step: volume in liters = [(volume in ft3) x 28316.85 cm3/ft3)]/1000 L/cm3

volume in liters = (volume in ft3) x 28.317 L/ft3

Now we have our conversion factor of cubic feet to liters. Insert 1 cubic foot into the volume in ft3 part of the equation

volume in liters = (1 ft3) x 28.317 L/ft3

volume in liters = 28.317 L

Answer

One cubic foot is equal to 28.317 liters of volume.

Liter to Cubic Feet Example

The conversion factor works the other way, too. For example, convert 0.5 liters to cubic feet.

Use the conversion factor 1 cubic foot = 28.317 liter.

cubic feet = (0.5 liters) x (1 cubic foot / 28.317 liter)

The liters cancel out on the top and bottom, leaving you to divide 0.5 / 28.317 and giving an answer of 0.018 cubic feet.

Tip for Success

The key to working the unit conversion correctly is to make certain the unwanted unit cancels out and leaves the desired unit. It's also worthwhile to keep track of significant digits (although I did not in this example). Finally, remember there are about 28 liters in a cubic foot. If you're converting from cubic feet to liters, expect to get a larger number than you started with. If you're converting from cubic feet to liters, your final answer will be a smaller number.