Converting Cubic Meters to Liters - m3 to L Example Problem

Meters Cubed To Liters Worked Volume Unit Example Problem

Cubic meters and liters are units of volume. There are 1000 liters in 1 cubic meter.
Cubic meters and liters are units of volume. There are 1000 liters in 1 cubic meter. PM Images, Getty Images

Cubic meters and liters are two common metric units of volume. The method to convert cubic meters (m3) to liters (L) is demonstrated in this worked example problem. Actually, I'll show you three methods. The first does all the math, the second does the immediate volume conversion, while the third is just how many places to move the decimal point (no math required):

Meters To Liters Problem

How many liters are equal to 0.25 cubic meters?

How To Solve m3 to L

One good way to solve the problem is to first convert cubic meters into cubic centimeters. While you might think this is just a simple matter of moving the decimal point of 2 places, remember this is volume not distance!

Conversion factors needed

1 cm3 = 1 mL
100 cm = 1 m
1000 mL = 1 L

Convert cubic meters to cubic centimeters

100 cm = 1 m
(100 cm)3 = (1 m)3
1,000,000 cm3 = 1 m3
since 1 cm3 = 1 mL

1 m3 = 1,000,000 mL or 106 mL

Set up the conversion so the desired unit will be cancelled out. In this case, we want L to be the remaining unit.

volume in L = (volume in m3) x (106 mL/1 m3) x (1 L/1000 mL)
volume in L = (0.25 m3) x (106 mL/1 m3) x (1 L/1000 mL)
volume in L = (0.25 m3) x (103 L/1 m3)
volume in L = 250 L

Answer:

There are 250 L in 0.25 cubic meters.

The Easiest Way To Convert Cubic Meters To Liters

So, I went through all that unit stuff to make sure you understand how expanding a unit to three dimensions affects the conversion factor.

Once you know how it works, the simplest way to convert between cubic meters and liters is simply to multiply cubic meters by 1000 to get the answer in liters.

1 cubic meter = 1000 liters

so to solve for 0.25 cubic meters:

Answer in Liters = 0.25 m3 * (1000 L/m3)
Answer in Liters = 250 L

Or, you could just move the decimal point 3 places to the right!

If you're going the other way (liters to cubic meters), then you simply move the decimal point three places to the left. You don't have to break out the calculator anything.

Check Your Work

There are two quick checks you can do to make sure you performed the calculation correctly.

  • The value of the digits should be the same. If you see any numbers that weren't there before (except zeros), you did the conversion incorrectly.
  • 1 liter < 1 cubic meter
    Remember, it takes a lot of liters to fill a cubic meter (a thousand). A liter is like a bottle of soda or milk, while a cubic meter is if you take a meter stick (approximately the same distance as how far apart your hands are when you stretch your arms out to your sides) and put it into three dimensions. When converting cubic meters to liters, the liters value should be a thousand times more.