Frequently Asked Questions & HVAC Glossary
Buying a new air conditioner or purchasing a new HVAC system can be a major investment. Naturally, you have questions and want want to know as much as possible before spending your hard earned money. We’ve gathered together all the most common questions, answers and terms you may hear our experts at Central Heating & Air, LLC use.
Common HVAC Terms
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning are all represented in the industry term, HVAC. The term is used in several fields (like mechanical engineering), however for our purposes, HVAC refers to the heating and air conditioning equipment, AC services, and maintenance of central heating and AC systems.
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals reduce energy costs and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR is a voluntary labeling program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992 to promote awareness of energy-efficient products.
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency.
EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. Like SEER, the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of a cooling unit is determined by the output cooling divided by the electrical power input. As opposed to SEER which is calculated over a range of outside temperatures, EER is typically determined by a set outside air temperature, a set inside air temperature and a 50% relative humidity. For a comparison point, 11 EER is roughly equivalent to 13 SEER.
HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is used to measure the efficiency of heat pump . The HSPF is a ratio of the heat output to electricity use over an average heating season, and the higher the HSPF the greater the energy efficiency.
BTU / BTUH
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. One British Thermal Unit (BTU) represents the amount of heat required to raise or lower the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. The heat extracted from your home by an air conditioner is measured in BTUs. The cooling and heating capacities are referred to in British Thermal Units per hour, or BTUH. For reference, 12,000 BTUh equals one ton of cooling.
Common HVAC Topics
The air handler is an important part of your air conditioning equipment. Its job is to effectively circulate conditioned air throughout your home.
WHAT IT IS
Your central heating and cooling system consists of two main parts—an outdoor unit and an indoor unit, or air handler. When matched with a heat pump, it circulates both cool and hot air, depending on the season. With properly sized Trane air handlers, your family has the right amount of clean, comfortable air all year round. Plus, Trane air handlers make a significant contribution to the overall efficiency of your system. That’s because the more efficient your air handler is, the less work your outdoor unit has to do to make your home comfortable.
HOW IT WORKS
The Hyperion™ air handler is built unlike anything the market has ever seen. It is constructed more like a refrigerator than a typical air handler, with insulation between the walls of the innovative cabinet. This insulation prevents condensation that may cause damage to the air handler itself or your home. In addition to eliminating “sweating,” the cabinet also eliminates the loose fibers from fiberglass insulation that may enter the airstream with other air handlers. The exclusive double-wall construction provides families with peace of mind and cleaner, safer indoor air.
ALL-IN-ONE OR PACKAGED SYSTEM
Packaged systems are all-in-one solutions, with most of the components for heating and/or cooling housed in a single cabinet. Packaged systems are popular in certain regions, especially here in Louisiana!
Typically, packaged units are installed outdoors at ground level, in a crawl space, or they may be installed on the roof for horizontal or down-flow designs. Available in the same configurations, and utilizing the same components as split systems, packaged units also offer a variety of efficiency options. Unlike split systems, in a packaged system, most components are in one cabinet. According to your needs, you can select from the many types of packaged systems available:
PACKAGED AIR CONDITIONER
In parts of the country where the weather tends to be warmer, a packaged air conditioner is the perfect solution. Higher-efficiency units are also available with Comfort-R™ airflow mode, offering better humidity control.
PACKAGED HEAT PUMP
With heating, air conditioning and air-handling functions in one unit, a packaged heat pump can take care of all your home comfort needs. Trane’s XL16c high-efficiency packaged heat pump comes equipped with two-stage heating and air conditioning for maximum comfort and efficiency.
PACKAGED DUAL FUEL (EARTHWISE™ HYBRID)
A packaged dual fuel unit has what you might call a split personality. As a heat pump, it cools and dehumidifies your house in the summer. During the spring and fall, the heatpump provides high-efficiency heating. Then, when the temperature dips well below freezing, it can provide gas heat for greater comfort. If you live where natural gas is not available, you can use propane gas as fuel.
PACKAGED GAS ELECTRIC
A packaged gas electric unit offers you electric air conditioning and gas heating. In warm weather, it’s an all-electric high-efficiency air conditioner. In cold weather, it provides warmth from natural gas or propane, giving you the best of both energy worlds. Trane’s XL16c high efficiency gas electric packaged unit also comes equipped with two stage heating and air conditioning for more efficient energy use.
The Trane Climatuff® compressor was the world’s first successful heat pump compressor. The Trane Climatuff® compressor is the heart of our air conditioning and heat pump systems. It is part of the outdoor unit and pumps refrigerant in order to meet the cooling requirements of the system. To this day, the Climatuff® compressor is the only one Trane uses in its residential systems. It’s well known for its superior durability, its low noise levels and high efficiency.
The evaporator coil works with the indoor unit, functioning with the air conditioner or heat pump to cool and condition indoor air that flows over it by drawing out heat and moisture.
WHAT IT IS
The coil, also known as an evaporator coil or an indoor coil, is the unsung hero of any home heating or cooling system. Its job, heat transfer, is one of the most important factors in achieving heating and cooling efficiencies that keep your home comfortable all year long.
HOW IT WORKS
An evaporator coil is located indoors and is either installed with your furnace or as part of your air handler. Inside the coil, the refrigerant evaporates as it absorbs heat from the indoor air that passes over it. The coil essentially serves as a “heat exchanger,” working with your heating system in the winter and your cooling system in the summer.
THE DIFFERENCE OF A TRANE COMFORT™ COIL
Each Trane All-Aluminum Comfort™ Coil is designed to provide your family with outstanding comfort all year round.At Trane, we strive to bring you the highest quality and performance through innovative technology and precision engineering. So when you choose the right comfort coil perfectly matched for your Trane system, you can be sure you’ll enjoy the benefits of the best home comfort system money can buy.
Like all of the components in our high-quality home comfort systems, each coil goes through rigorous testing to guarantee the greatest durability and protection against refrigerant leaks. We test each coil with pressurized helium to 325 pounds per square inch. This allows us to detect a leak as small as .10 ounces per year. A small amount, we know, but because any leak will lower your system’s efficiency, any leak is unacceptable. Durability means your home will be comfortable now and for years to come.
KEEPING IT CLEAN
A dirty indoor coil lowers the efficiency and performance of your total system. To keep your system operating at design performance, have your coil cleaned regularly. Indoor coils are often dirty because they’re usually so difficult to access. But Trane Comfort™ coils are designed to slide out on the integrated rail system for easy cleaning. Because the insulation is encased the cabinet can be wiped down, making the job much easier for your dealer, and a clean coil will yield higher performance and cleaner air in your home.
A control does more than just monitor and adjust temperature settings. Trane products like ComfortLink™ II controls can manage energy use, adjust temperature and humidity levels by room and floor, turn on and off lights, lock and unlock doors and check security cameras. And all of this can be managed remotely via internet-enabled computers, tablets and most smartphones. So, it really is more than just a thermostat. It’s total control at your fingertips.
Dual fuel refers to a system having the option of two fuel sources to maximize efficiency. Dual-fuel systems optimize energy use by selecting the best source of fuel, like Trane EarthWise™ Hybrid systems that combine an electric heat pump with a high-efficiency gas or oil furnace.
HEAT PUMP BASICS
A heat pump, as part of a central heating and cooling system, uses the outside air to both heat a home in winter and cool it in summer.
WHAT IS A HEAT PUMP?
Technically, a heat pump is a mechanical-compression cycle refrigeration system that can be reversed to either heat or cool a controlled space. Installation for this type of system typically consists of two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit similar to a central air conditioner, but referred to as a heat pump. A compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.
HOW DOES A HEAT PUMP WORK?
Think of a heat pump as a heat transporter constantly moving warm air from one place to another, to where its needed or not needed, depending on the season. Even in air that’s seems too cold, heat energy is present. When it’s cold outside a heat pump extracts this outside heat and transfers it inside. When it’s warm outside, it reverses directions and acts like an air conditioner, removing heat from your home.
One advantage of a heat pump is that it moves heat instead of generating heat, giving you more energy efficiency. Also, it is powered by electricity, so you can save substantially on fuel consumption. For example, a Trane XL20i heat pump is among the HVAC industry’s most efficient, with a rating up to 19.00 SEER and 9.00 HSPF.
Note that heat pumps are best for moderate climates, and a supplemental heating source may be needed for lower temperatures. As a year-round solution for home comfort, Trane heat pumps can become a key part of your matched system. Central Heating & Air can help you decide if a heat pump system is right for you.
A matched system takes a more holistic and efficient view of answering your comfort needs and providing energy savings by combining components that are made to work seamlessly together.
Different houses have different needs. You can choose from many components to create the right matched system for you. Depending on your region, a matched system can be composed of the following: an air conditioner and furnace, a heat pump and furnace, a heat pump and air handler, an air conditioner and air handler, or an all-in-one “packaged” system.
Packaged systems are the most popular choice here in south Louisiana.
The air conditioner/furnace system is suited to the Northeast, Midwest, Northwest and some South regions. The heat pump/furnace system is a good choice for Southeast, South, Southwest and some California regions. The heat pump/air handler system is ideal for the Southeast region. The air conditioner/air handler system is an option for some South, Southwest and California regions.