An air conditioner does not just cool indoor air but regulate and monitor the air temperature through the means of a thermostat. The system has an onboard filter that removes harmful particulates from the circulating air. It also functions as a dehumidifier because temperature is a key factor of humidity. What the system does is to reduce the temperature of a substantial amount of humid air, which in turn causes it to release a part of its moisture. That's why if you notice there are drains and moisture-collecting pans or drains attached to air conditioners or situated near them. Air conditioning systems are known to discharge water when they function on humid days.
When you’re replacing your air conditioner unit or having it repaired/serviced, you may run into some unfamiliar terms. Here is a list given below to help you understand some basic air conditioning terms that will help you familiarize with technical terminologies:
- Air handler - It houses many critical components of the air conditioner and is the central part of the system. It includes the controls and the blower motor. However, it does not include the ductwork through which the conditioned air travels indoors to keep it cool.
- Charge – This constitutes the total amount of refrigerant in your cooling system.
- Coil - The pipes or tubes that pass through the area where the refrigerant flows and where heat transmission takes place.
- Compressor - The heart of the system is housed in a metal casing fitted outside your home. It compresses refrigerant gas and transmits via the condenser coils, where it’s converted it into liquid form. The heat from the refrigerant is removed and dispersed into the outdoor air.
- Ductwork - The distribution system that helps in carrying cooled air from the conditioning unit to the various areas in your home.
- Evaporator – The coil where the heat is absorbed by the refrigerant and transformed into gas.
- Expansion device – This device reverses the working process of the compressor as the temperature drops when the refrigerant’s pressure is decreased. The device is located inside the ducting accompanied with the presence of the furnace, where the same air handler is used without a dedicated fan.
- Thermostat – It is an automated switch with adjustable controls which can be preset to a desired range of temperature.
- MERV – Also called as the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, it provides a numerical rating of a filter’s ability to capture airborne particles that are very minute in size for e.g. 0.3 to 10 microns. The higher the MERV ratings, the better the filter performance.
- Refrigerant - The liquid that flows through the cooling system and assists in heat transfer. The refrigerant either absorbs or gives off heat when it changes from a liquid to a gas and vice versa.
- Register - The covering made of metal found over supply vents in the various areas of your home. Registers dampers or louvers for controlling the amount of air coming out.
- SEER – Also knows as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, it indicates the cooling efficiency of an air conditioner. There is a rule that air conditioning systems manufactured after January 2006 should have a SEER rating of 13 or higher. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the air conditioner.
The world of air conditioning systems has its own language and terminologies. It’s helpful and useful for homeowners to acquaint themselves with relevant terminology when upgrading their air conditioners.