Understanding how to calculate the volume of a box can come in handy when you least expect it. Perhaps you want to send someone a gift but don’t know how big a box you need. Maybe you are the owner of a parcel delivery box and want to make sure the item you are about to order fits inside. Maybe you are moving and need to source different box sizes to house all your belongings.
Whether you want to know how to work out the volume of a box for some immediate need, or are just curious about the basic maths involved, here’s how you get the volume of any box:
What is Volume?
Let’s first answer the obvious question: what is the volume of a box?
Volume is the amount of space that an object takes up. It’s measured in cubic units.
In order to calculate volume, you need to have three measurements: the width, length and height of the item (in this case, a box).
Also, in case you were unsure, measurements are always listed in the following order: length x width x height. Bear this in mind when you are looking at the dimensions of a box online, as it will save a lot of confusion.
How to Measure a Box
Now that you understand the requirements, grab yourself a ruler or tape measure, paper and pen, and your box.
You will be measuring the outside of the box, in the now-familiar order of length, width and height.
The length of a box is its longest side. It’s the one with the longer flap. The width also has a flap, but it is shorter than the length. Just turn the box by 90 degrees after getting its length to measure the width.
The height is the dimension without a flap, i.e. the last side you have not yet measured.
Make sure you are as accurate with your measurements as you can possibly be. Write them down in the required order too. While it won’t change the outcome of your volume calculations, it will help you understand the size of the box if you ever come across the numbers again, and it will help anyone else you show them to know what kind of box you are dealing with.
How to Calculate the Volume of a Box
To calculate the volume of a box, simply multiply its length, width and height.
For example, if the dimensions of your box are 7.62cm x 7.62cm x 3.18cm, its volume will be 184.644792 centimeters³.
It’s also worth noting that the internal volume of a box will actually be a bit smaller, as you have measured the outside and not the inside. Depending on your needs, you can either get super precise and measure the inside of your box, or subtract a couple of millimetres of box wall from the measurements you get.
How to Calculate the Volume of Cylindrical Boxes
What if the box you are trying to measure is a tube?
In that case, you will need the equation for calculating the volume of a cylinder, which is V = pi x r² x h, where pi equals 3.14, r is the radius of the top circle, and h is the height.
In other words, you will need to use your tape measure or ruler to figure out the height of the cylinder, and measure the radius of the cylindrical side. Not as complicated as the formula itself makes it sound, is it?
How to Calculate the Volume of a Pyramid
Just in case you ever need to calculate the volume of a pyramid, here’s the process for that as well.
The formula you need is V = ⅓ (base x height). You are multiplying the area of the base by the height, and then multiplying that by a fraction of ⅓.
To calculate the base of your pyramid, which will either be a square or a rectangle, you will need to multiply its length with its width. Simply measure these two sides and multiply the results.
Put Your Calculations to Use
Now that you know how to calculate the volume of different shapes of boxes, you can use your knowledge to improve your shipping efforts or to ensure you find the right box for any purpose. You may also just win a pub quiz with this knowledge.