Air Conditioning - Major terms 1
Air changes per hour (ACH)
The number of times per hour that the volume of a specific room or building is supplied or removed from that space by mechanical and natural ventilation.
Air handler, or air handling unit (AHU)
Central unit consisting of a blower, heating and cooling elements, filter racks or chamber, dampers, humidifier, and other central equipment in direct contact with the airflow. This does not include the ductwork through the building.
British thermal unit (BTU)
Any of several units of energy (heat) in the HVAC industry, each slightly more than 1 kJ. One BTU is the energy required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit, but the many air conditioning different types of BTU are based on different interpretations of this definition. In the United States the power of HVAC systems (the rate of cooling and dehumidifying or heating) is sometimes expressed in BTU/hour instead of watts.
A device that removes heat from a liquid via a vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycle. This cooled liquid flows through pipes in a building and passes through coils in air handlers, fan-coil air conditioning units, or other systems, cooling and usually dehumidifying the air in the building. Chillers are of two types; air-cooled or water-cooled. Air-cooled chillers are usually outside and consist of condenser coils cooled by fan-driven air. Water-cooled chillers are usually inside a building, and heat from these chillers is carried by recirculating water to outdoor cooling towers.
Equipment that performs heat transfer when mounted inside an Air Handling unit or ductwork. It is heated or cooled by electrical means or by circulating liquid or steam within it. Air flowing across it is heated or cooled.
A component in the basic refrigeration cycle that ejects or removes heat from the system. The condenser is the hot side of an air conditioner or heat pump. Condensers are heat exchangers, and can transfer air conditioning heat to air or to an intermediate fluid (such as water or an aqueous solution of ethylene glycol) to carry heat to a distant sink, such as ground (earth sink), a body of water, or air (as with cooling towers).
Constant air volume (CAV)
A system designed to provide a constant air volume per unit time. This term is applied to HVAC systems that have variable supply-air temperature but constant air flow rates. Most residential forced-air systems are small CAV systems with on/off control.
A device that controls the operation of part or all of a system. It may simply turn a device on and off, or it may more subtly modulate burners, compressors, pumps, valves, fans, dampers, and the like. Most controllers are automatic but have user input such as temperature set points, e.g. a thermostat. Controls may be analog, or digital, or pneumatic, or a combination of these.