1(770) 969-9600

HVAC Terms

AIR HANDLING UNIT (AHU)
Equipment with a heating element and/or cooling coil and other components in a cabinet or casing.

AIR BALANCING
Adjusting an air conditioning system so that the right amount of air is delivered to the right places in your home in order to achieve the right heating or cooling effect.

BTU
British Thermal Unit, the measurement of heating and air conditioning capacity. A BTU is the amount of heat that must be added to one pound of water to raise its temperature one degree Fahrenheit.

CFC
Chlorofluorocarbons, used as a refrigerant in air conditioners and heat pumps, linked to the depletion of the ozone layer.

COIL
A heating or cooling element made of pipe or tubing, usually with plates or fins.

CONDENSER (HEAT EXCHANGER)
The outside unit of a heating or air conditioning system. Here the refrigerant condenses from a gas to a liquid and hot or cold air from the building is released to the outside.

DUCT
Conduits used to carry air. They can be round or rectangular, sheet metal or fiberglass or vinyl tubes. In air conditioning systems they carry air from the home to the air conditioning system or furnace and back to the home.

ENERGY STAR
A government supported branding used to identify energy efficient products. The branding was developed by the US Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

FURNACE
A self-contained heating unit that is designed to deliver heated air to a home.

HCFC
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons, used as a refrigerant in air conditioners and heat pumps. HCFCs were thought to contribute to the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer.

HEAT EXCHANGER
1. The part of a furnace that transfers heat from burning fuel to the air used to heat your home. Also, from a boiler to water for hydronic heating.
2. A device, such as a condenser or evaporator, in which heat is added or removed in order to heat or cool your home.

HEAT PUMP
A single refrigeration system designed to provide both heating and cooling. Compare to a furnace and an air conditioner, separate units that only heat or cool.

HUMIDIFIER
A device that adds moisture to warm air for your home.

HVAC
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

HVACR
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration

INFILTRATION
Air that enters your home through holes, gaps, and cracks, (e.g., plumbing or electrical holes, the heating and air conditioning system, doors, and windows).

IAQ
Indoor air quality

LOAD CALCULATION
A mathematical determination of how much cooling and heating (BTUs) an HVAC system must deliver for occupant safety and comfort. It is based on a variety of factors: square footage, building orientation, number of occupants, size and placement of rooms, number and size of windows and doors, amount of insulation, number of floors, and climate.

R-22
A refrigerant containing chlorine used in air conditioning systems. The EPA has mandated that R-22 cannot be manufactured after 2010 because it has been linked to the depletion of the ozone layer and global warming. Most commonly referred to by its trademarked name, Freon.

R-410A
The refrigerant that replaces R-22. It does not contain chlorine and is not hazardous to the environment.

REFRIGERANT
A fluid that absorbs heat at low temperatures and rejects heat at higher temperatures.

REFRIGERANT CHARGE (or, charging the refrigerant)
The procedure an HVACR technician performs to ensure that the system has enough of the right kind refrigerant for peak operating performance.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY (RH)
The percent of moisture actually in the air compared to the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold at that temperature.

RETURN, RETURN AIR, RETURN SIDE
The path the air takes to get to an air-handling unit or furnace so it can be cooled or heated. It is the return path. The return side should be balanced with the supply side to ensure proper air flow and comfort.

SEER
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, an equipment efficiency rating that measures how much energy it takes to cool the air. As with MPG on a car, the higher the number the more efficient the unit.

SEER 13
This is the minimum efficiency standard (effective January 2006) for an air conditioner or heat pump. All new units must now meet this standard. Previously manufactured equipment may be used, sold, and installed. SEER is defined later.

SPLIT SYSTEM
A two-component heating and cooling (heat pump) or cooling only (air conditioner) system. The condensing unit is installed outside, the air handling unit is installed inside (preferably in conditioned space). Refrigerant lines and wiring connect them together.

SUPPLY or SUPPLY SIDE
The part of an HVAC system that takes (supplies) the conditioned air from the air-handling unit or furnace to your home. The supply side should be balanced with the return side to ensure proper air flow and comfort.

VARIABLE FREQUENCY DRIVE (VFD)
Automated speed control for electric motors like fans, pumps and centrifugal chillers for precise control and energy savings

ZONES, ZONED SYSTEM, ZONING
A single HVAC system that can meet different heating and cooling needs in different areas (zones). Each zone of a home has its own thermostat with which it can regulate the temperature and humidity in its area. One zoned air conditioner could be set for a high temperature in one zone and for a lower temperature in the other zone. Zone systems have two or more zones.