HVAC HVAC Terminology A – Z

It is vital to understand the ‘lingo’ in any job or industry you find yourself in. In the commercial HVAC world, it can be the difference between a quick fix and an expensive problem.

It is common for large commercial buildings to come equipped with their own on-site maintenance staff that remain on-site during the hours of operation. This staff typically has a well-rounded knowledge of all the facilities operations and equipment.

Amps: The basic unit of electricity that is equal to a constant current draw.

BTU: British Thermal Unit. The amount of heat needed to change 1 pound of water, by 1 degree, in one hour.

Capacity: The ability of the heating or cooling system to heat or cool a given amount of space.

CFM: Cubic feet per minute. The quantity, or mass of air moving in one minute

DOE: The Department of Energy is a United States federal agency responsible for setting industry efficiency standards and monitoring the consumption of energy sources.

Efficiency: The amount of energy an HVAC system uses to operate.

ENERGY STAR®: a label attached to HVAC systems that meet or exceed the EPA guidelines for energy efficiency. Applies to products 20 tons or less.

EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency develops and enforces federal environmental regulations for the United States. The EPA oversees the nationwide ENERGY STAR® program.

Freon: Trademark name for older types of refrigerant.

Gauges: An HVAC technicians’ tool to measure refrigerant pressure and in some cases the temperature in relation to the refrigerant pressure.

HEPA: High-Efficiency Particulate Air is a type of efficient air filter

High Voltage: There is not a set voltage to be considered high but usually in HVAC voltage > 50 volts is a good place to start.

Insulation: A type of material that slows down the heat transfer process.

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a green building rating system, with certification indicating a building’s sustainability through high-efficiency and cost savings.

Low Voltage: Usually in HVAC any voltage < 50 volts

Metering Device: A device in the refrigeration cycle that meters the amount of refrigerant that enters the evaporator coil.

MERV: Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value is a rating used for air filter, the higher the MERV rating the more efficient the filter.

Preventative Maintenance: A series of preventative measures to keep your system operating efficiently.

Return: Return air is sucked in the return vent by the blower to be either dehumidified or heated

Supply: The air leaving the air handler or furnace; directed through the supply grills.

Ton: A refrigeration ton is also referred to as 12,000 BTUs per house.

USGBC: Stands for U.S. Green Building Council.

Zoning: A way to increase comfort an energy efficiency by controlling when and where heating and cooling occurs.