Air Conditioning Terms: Can You Speak The Language?

Air Conditioning Terms: Can You Speak The Language?Does air-conditioning terminology leave you scratching your head? Your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractor, no doubt, can explain much of the technical details to you, but still, it’s nice to know some of the basic terms involved.

Here’s a handy cheat sheet for some of the air conditioning (A/C) terms that you may hear:

  • Air handler: This is the box that contains the indoor component of your air conditioner, and it houses the blower and evaporator coil.
  • Checking refrigerant pressure: Also known as checking the charge or measuring how much refrigerant is in your system. HVAC technicians use gauges to make sure that your A/C has the proper amount of refrigerant pressure according to factory specifications.
  • Compressor: This component heats and pressurizes the refrigerant, and is the noisy part that’s typically located outside your home.
  • Ductless mini-split: This is a small heat-pump system that includes an outdoor compressor and an indoor air handler. However, it doesn’t use ductwork to deliver the conditioned air. Rather, an evaporator-and-blower unit is installed on your ceiling or wall for the specific area that you want to target.
  • Heat pump: This is a refrigeration unit (air conditioner) that’s capable of running in reverse, which allows the unit to absorb heat from the outside air and transfer it inside, thereby heating your home. Geothermal heat pumps are ground-sourced rather than air-sourced.
  • Load calculations: The formula that your HVAC contractor should use to determine how much heat a house gains or loses overall. Losses from the duct system, air leaks around windows, and similar air-loss issues all are considered. Internal gains also are measured, including how many people live in the home, and actions that increase your energy load, including cooking, and washing and drying clothes. A load calculation is an essential part of design a home-comfort system that will work efficiently and optimally.
  • MERV: The minimum efficiency reporting value, which provides a measure that indicates the size of particles that a particular filter can remove from the air. The higher a filter’s MERV number, the more effective the filter at removing extremely small particles.
  • Refrigerant: The liquid that transports heat within your HVAC system.
  • SEER: The seasonal energy efficiency ratio that indicates the cooling power, in British thermal units (Btus) per hour, that your air conditioner provides, on average, divided by the electricity that it uses (in watts).
  • Tons of air conditioning: The capacity of your A/C unit. One ton of air conditioning capacity is equal to 12,000 Btu per hour. A 1-ton air conditioner is capable of removing 12,000 Btu from your house per hour.

Questions about your air conditioning equipment? Contact the experts at Paitson Bros. For more useful HVAC information, please visit our website or just give us a call. We’ve proudly served the Wabash Valley since 1922.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air conditioning terms and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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