HVAC-R Terminology - Choice Aire HVAC

HVAC-R Terminology

September 20, 2016

Terminology used in any industry can be confusing and difficult to grasp, but when it is about something in your home that you use every day, it can be even more frustrating. We've compiled a list of commonly used terms in the heating and cooling industry to help you understand what they mean and how they affect your home.



-British thermal unit. One BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit and is equivalent to the amount of heat given off by a wooden match. This is used in both heating and cooling. For heating, this is the amount of heat given off by burning fuel. In cooling, it is the amount of heat removed from the air.

Condenser Coil

- Part of the air conditioner.  Removes heat from the refrigerant and forces it from a gas state to a liquid state.

Evaporator Coil

- Part of the air conditioner. Allows the cooled refrigerant in liquid state to cool tubing and metal fins. Air is then passed over the tubing and metal fins, which cools the air.

Energy Star

-Established in 1992 with the Clean Air Act by the EPA, Energy Star is an efficiency rating given to products that meet its standards. Products are tested in third-party laboratories which have been approved by the EPA.

Flame Sensor

-A safety device that detects the presence of a flame in the furnace. When the senor detects a flame, it allows gas to continue to be pumped and keep the flame lit. If it does not detect a flame, it stops the gas flow. This helps prevents unused fuel to enter the air and cause a safety hazard.

Heat Exchanger

-A device inside of the furnace that is heated by combustion. Air is the blown over it, which heats the air. That air is then circulated through the home.

Heat Pump

-a device which absorbs heat from the outdoor air and then transfers it to the heat sink in order to heat the air in a home.

Heat Sink

-where the heat from a heat pump is deposited. It is either inside the house or outside of it, depending on what mode the heat pump is set at.


-Stands for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration.

NATE Certification

-NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence. It is an organization that tests HVAC technicians on their knowledge about the industry and the systems they work on. It is an industry recognized standard of excellence for HVAC technicians.


- Gas used to cool air in an air conditioner. The gas is compressed to a liquid state and cooled. Air is then passed over the line the refrigerant is located in. That refrigerant absorbs the air's heat and cool air is pumped into the home.

SEER Rating

-SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is the measurement by which all air conditioner and heat pump cooling effects are rated. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the system. It is given in whole numbers.


-A measurement of energy equal to 12,000 BTUs per hour, or one ton of cooling.

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