What Is the Meaning of Error Converting Data Type Varchar to Float?


Scott Campbell

What Is the Meaning of Error Converting Data Type Varchar to Float?

If you have ever encountered the error message “Error converting data type varchar to float” while working with SQL queries or database operations, don’t worry, you’re not alone. This error typically occurs when you try to convert a varchar (string) value to a float (numeric) value in a SQL statement, but the conversion fails due to incompatible data types or invalid input.

Causes of the Error

There can be several causes for this error:

  • Data Format Issues: The most common cause is when the string value contains characters that cannot be interpreted as numbers, such as alphabets, special characters, or whitespace.
  • Data Type Mismatch: Another possible cause is when the varchar column contains values that are not strictly numeric. For example, if the column allows both numbers and non-numeric values like ‘N/A’ or ‘NULL’, attempting to convert these non-numeric values to floats will result in an error.
  • Inconsistent Decimal Separators: In some cases, the error can occur due to inconsistent decimal separators.

    Different countries use different symbols as decimal separators; for instance, some use a period (.) while others use a comma (,). This inconsistency can lead to parsing errors during conversion.


To resolve this error, consider the following solutions:

1. Validate and Clean Data

If your varchar column contains non-numeric values mixed with numeric values, you need to clean and validate your data before attempting any conversions. You can use SQL functions like ISNUMERIC or regular expressions to identify and exclude non-numeric values from your query.

2. Handle Invalid Input

If your data contains invalid input, such as alphabets or special characters, you can either remove them or replace them with appropriate values before converting to float. For example, you can use the REPLACE function in SQL to substitute invalid characters with empty strings or zeros.

3. Convert with Correct Format

If the error is caused by inconsistent decimal separators, you can use the REPLACE function to replace one decimal separator symbol with another that matches your desired format. This will ensure that the conversion is successful regardless of the regional settings of your database.


If you’re using SQL Server 2012 or later versions, you can take advantage of the TRY_CONVERT or TRY_CAST functions.

These functions attempt to convert a value to a specified data type and return NULL if the conversion fails instead of throwing an error. This allows you to handle failed conversions gracefully and perform alternative actions as needed.

By carefully analyzing your data and applying appropriate solutions, you can overcome the “Error converting data type varchar to float” issue effectively. Remember to always validate and sanitize your data before attempting any conversions to ensure accurate results.

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