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Our Vocabulary


Air Conditioner: Assembly of equipment for the simultaneous control of air temperature, relative humidity, purity, and motion.

Air Cooled: Uses a fan to discharge heat from the condenser coil to the outdoors.

Air Handler: The unit located in the house that provides hot and cold air. It is usually located in the attic, closet or garage. The heating element is located in the air handler.

Btu: British Thermal Unit. The amount of energy needed to change the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In practical terms, it represents a unit of measure of heat extracted from your home for cooling.

Central Air Conditioner System: System in which air is treated at a central location and carried to and from the rooms by one or more fans and a system of ducts.

Compressor: The pump that moves the refrigerant from the indoor evaporator to the outdoor condenser and back to the evaporator again. The compressor is often called "the heart of the system" because it circulates the refrigerant through the loop.

Condenser: The outside unit of your air conditioning system. This is located on the ground or on a roof. It consists of compressor, condenser and a fan.

Condenser Coil: A series or network of tubes filled with refrigerant, normally located outside the home, that removes heat from the hot, gaseous refrigerant so that the refrigerant becomes liquid again.

Cooling Capacity: The output or producing ability of a unit to remove heat from an enclosed space.

COP: Coefficient of Performance of a heat pump means the ratio of the rate of useful heat output delivered by the complete heat pump unit (exclusive of supplementary heating) to the corresponding rate of energy input, in consistent units and under operating conditions.

Damper: A movable plate that opens and closes to control air flow.

EER: Energy Efficiency Ratio means the ratio of the cooling capacity of the air conditioner in British Thermal Units per hour, to the total electrical input in watts under ARI-specified test conditions.

Evaporator Coil: A series or network of tubes filled with refrigerant located inside the home that take heat and moisture out of indoor air as liquid refrigerant evaporates.

Flex: Flexible duct tubing that comes in various sizes.

Heat Pump: An air conditioner capable of heating by refrigeration. It may or may not include a capability for cooling. Outside air or water is used as a heat source or heat sink, depending upon whether the system is heating or cooling.

Heating Capacity: A measure of the ability of a unit to add heat to an enclosed space.

HSPF: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor means the total heating output of a heat pump in British Thermal Units during its normal usage period for heating divided by the total electrical energy input in watt-hours during the same period.

Humidistat: A device that controls the air conditioning system by monitoring humidity levels.

Low Voltage Wiring: This is the wire that runs from the thermostat and controls your air conditioning system.

SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio means the total cooling output of a central air conditioner in British thermal units during its normal usage period for cooling divided by the total electrical energy input in watt-hours during the same period as determined using the ARI-specified test procedure. This rating is only for units with cooling capacity less than 65,000 Btu/hr. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit. The more efficient the unit, the lower the operating cost.

Package Unit: A central air conditioner which combines both condenser and air handling capabilities in a single packaged unit. Found commonly on manufactured housing.

Plenums: Supply and Return boxes that are affixed to the air handler for distribution of air flow.

Refrigerant: This is the real name for what people call freon. It is the fluid and gas that evaporates and condenses throughout your system, absorbing heat in the evaporator coil and then releasing heat to the outside with the condenser coil.

Split System: The most common residential system in the country. The system usually consists of an air handler (usually located in the attic, a closet or in an attached garage), a condenser which contains the compressor located outside the building and they are both connected with copper.

Strip Heating: Heating coils located in the air handler that can be energized to provide instant heating.

Thermostat: A thermostat consists of a sensors and relays that monitor and control the functions of a heating and cooling system.

Ton: The unit of measurement for air conditioning system capacity. One ton of air conditioning removes 12,000 Btu's of heat energy per hour from a home. Central air conditioners are sized in tons. Residential units usually range from 1 to 5 tons.

Zoning: A method of dividing a home into different comfort zones so each zone can be independently controlled depending on use and need.


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