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Air Conditioning Lingo: Are You Cool With It?

Air conditioning is vital to life in the Sunshine State. However, many people are not all that familiar with the A/C systems they use every day. When it comes time to repair or replace their A/C unit, they are faced with decisions that are based on concepts and terminology that they don’t fully understand.

To help, we’ve put together a list of air-conditioning lingo it would be good for every homeowner to know:

  • Refrigerant — This is the pressurized gas that makes air conditioning possible. The most common refrigerant for older systems is R-22, but R-22 is being replaced by R-410A in new systems.
  • Checking the charge — Using a pressure gauge to measure the level of refrigerant in an A/C.
  • Coil — The refrigerant flows through two coils: the indoor evaporator coil and the outdoor condenser coil. Each is somewhat similar to the radiator in your car.
  • Compressor — The electric pump that circulates the refrigerant through the two coils.
  • Thermal expansion valve — A valve that regulates the rate at which the refrigerant flows, and allows the refrigerant to expand (and thereby absorb heat) as it enters the evaporator coil.
  • Cooling load — The specific amount of cooling output required to lower the temperature in your home on a hot day. It is calculated according to a technical guide called Manual J.
  • BTU – British Thermal Unit (BTUs) are used to measure heat transfer. The cooling load is measured in BTUs.
  • Ton —  A unit used to measure air conditioning capacity. Is equal to 12,000 BTUs of heat removed from the indoor air in an hour.
  • CFM – Cubic feet per minute. Used to measure airflow through an A/C system.
  • Delta T — This term refers to the drop in air temperature as it passes through the evaporator coil.
  • SEER — Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rates the average energy efficiency of A/C units. A higher SEER number equates to higher efficiency.
  • NATE — North American Technician Excellence, a professional certification program for HVAC technicians.

If you have any questions or hear other air-conditioning terms that you would like defined, contact the experts at Rinaldi’s Air Conditioning in Orlando.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas 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.

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