The Language Of Air Conditioners: Are You Cool With All Those Terms?

In the language of air conditioners, unique terms are used to describe how these systems function. When you know more about how AC's work, you can make better decisions, whether you're purchasing, servicing or operating your system.

When you're choosing a new air conditioner, pay attention to these terms:

  • SEER and EER. SEER is short for seasonal energy efficiency ratio and applies to central cooling systems including air conditioners and heat pumps. EER stands for energy efficiency ratio. While SEER measures A/C efficiency over an entire cooling season, EER measures efficiency during the hottest periods. Higher ratings indicate better efficiency.
  • Size. Central systems and some portable units go by tons. Each ton is equivalent to 12,000 Btu's. If you're in the market for new equipment, make sure that your HVAC contractor uses Manual J to size it. Oversizing your cooling system can be just as bad as undersizing it.
When you need to maintain or service your system, use these terms:
  • Delta T. This measures the difference between the room temperature and the air coming from the A/C when it's running. This is one of the most important measurements in the language of air conditioners. The air coming from the ducts should be 20 degrees (F) cooler than the room's air. If it's warmer than that, your air conditioner probably needs professional servicing.  
  • Refrigerant charge. Manufacturers specify exact pressure ranges for the refrigerant in your system. The correct pressure helps your system operate at the efficiencies for which it was engineered. Refrigerant removes the heat from your home. 
  • Airflow. Too little airflow through your A/C's blower lowers the system's efficiency. Check for a dirty filter. If it's clean, the blower motor may need adjustment or the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating for your filter may be too high. Your HVAC technician can tell you the maximum density to use to trap airborne particles.
To learn more about the language of air conditioners, contact Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating. We've provided HVAC services for the mid-Ohio area since 1965.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air conditioners and other HVAC topics, visit our website.

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