Common HVAC Terms
We’ve all been there, whether it’s was when your car was in the shop, when you went to the local electronics store, or yes, even when the HVAC Contractor is at your home repairing your air conditioner or heating system. The technician, or mechanic starts using terms that don’t make sense and you start to lose interest or feel overwhelmed because you don’t know what in the world they’re talking about
When you have an HVAC Contractor at your home and they start using terms that make it sound like they’re speaking a foreign language, don’t be afraid to stop and ask them what “EER”, “MERV”, or what a heat exchanger is. Your HVAC Technician should be able to explain to you what these terms are, or if possible, show you what the different things are in your HVAC system.
Here are some common HVAC terms that we use on a frequent basis that you should know before your Technician arrives at your home:
BTU – “British Thermal Unit” or BTU is a method of measuring the heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree F. The higher the BTU, the greater the system’s capacity.
Capacity – A heating or cooling system’s ability to heat or cool a specific space.
Central Air – A cooling system that is centralized, allowing air to reach other locations by fans and ductwork.
CFM – “Cubic Feet per Minute” or CFM measures the air flow rate of an air conditioning system. The higher the CFM, the more air is moved through the system.
Compressor – Part of an outdoor air conditioning unit or heat pump that pumps and compresses refrigerant.
Condenser – Part of a refrigeration system that transfers unwanted heat out through air, water, or a combination of air and water.
Ductwork – A series of pipes that carry air throughout a home or other building.
EER – “Energy Efficiency Ratio” or EER is the rate measurement of air conditioners’ cooling capacities.
Electric Heat – Electric heat in air conditioning systems can often prove energy efficient, especially in hot weather.
Filter – Used to remove particles of dust, dander, dirt, etc., from the air in an HVAC system.
Furnace – A system which converts gas, electricity, oil, etc., into heat.
Heat Exchanger – Part of the furnace that transfers heat energy from the furnace to the surrounding air.
Heat Pump – An HVAC system that alternates between heating and cooling.
Humidity – The Percentage of moisture in the air.
HVAC – “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning” is frequently abbreviated as HVAC.
Indoor Unit – Located inside a building, this contains the indoor fan, filtering device, coil and motor.
Ions – Molecules that have gained/lost an electric charge. When distributed in the air, negatively charged ions have been reported to help improve indoor air quality.
MERV Rating – “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value” or MERV is used to rate the size of the holes in the filter. The higher the MERV rating, the higher the filter’s efficiency.
Refrigerant – A chemical (e.g., standard R-410A refrigerant, Freon) that produces cooling while expanding or vaporizing.
Relative Humidity – The ratio (expressed typically as a percentage) of the vapor amount of the air to the most the air could hold at that temperature.
Return Air – The air that has been drawn into a heating unit after it has circulated throughout a room.
SEER – “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” or SEER is a rating for air conditioners. The higher the SEER number, the better the energy efficiency.
Split System – An HVAC system consisting of 2+ major components, including a condenser and compressor-containing unit. The components are often inside and outside.
T-Stat – Abbreviation for thermostat.
Upflow – Air conditioning system (e.g., air handler, furnace) installed and circulating air through the side/bottom and out the top. (Often installed in basements, attics and closets.)
Zone System – A system of dividing a building into “zones” so each zone’s temperature can be controlled.
Zoning – The partitioning of a home or business into independently controlled heating and/or cooling areas.