Common Air Conditioning Terminology and What Each Means

If you’ve ever had an HVAC technician over to your home to work on your heating and cooling system, the conversation may have been a bit confusing. We know not everyone is familiar with the air conditioning terminology professionals often use to discuss home heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, but it’s important that you understand the basics so you feel comfortable with the information you receive and the product or services recommended to you during a service call.

Below, we’ve taken the time to better explain the common parts of your air conditioning system so you’ll know just what we’re talking about next time we visit your home.

Air Conditioning Terminology – HVAC System Components

When you call Hans Heating and Air for air conditioning installation, maintenance, or repairs, it’s guaranteed we are going to have to discuss parts of the system. A better understanding of air conditioning terminology will help you feel more comfortable with your system and capable of meeting its ongoing maintenance needs. Here are the important parts you need to know:


If you have a central air conditioning system, the home’s ductwork or ducts deliver conditioned air from the air conditioner to the living areas. Ducts also deliver heat for forced air furnaces and heat pump heating systems. Basically, the duct system is a distribution system – it distributes the conditioned air from the HVAC unit to the home’s living areas.


While this air conditioning terminology may sound broad, we use the term ‘efficiency’ to discuss the energy efficiency of your air conditioner. How efficient an air conditioner operates is based on how much cooling it produces compared to the amount of electricity it consumes over equal periods.

SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) is the term we use for an air conditioner’s energy efficiency, which is determined by dividing cooling output by energy input over a period of time. In Montgomery, the minimum SEER available for new air conditioners is 14 – in 2023, the minimum SEER will increase to 15. SEER ratings extend into the upper 20s – the higher the number, the more efficient the AC unit.


Refrigerant is used by air conditioners to transfer heat. Refrigerant absorbs heat from indoor air and carries it outside to be released. Older air conditioners built before 2010 typically have Freon refrigerant which is harmful to the environment if leaked. Newer units use environmentally safe refrigerants like Puron. If the system leaks refrigerant, the leak will need to be repaired and the system recharged with refrigerant or else it will not cool correctly – the system needs a specific amount of refrigerant.

Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil is also known as the indoor coil. At the first step of the cooling process, warm air passes over the coil. Refrigerant within absorbs heat, converting from liquid to gas under low pressure.

Drain Pan

As the air temperature drops due to heat absorption by the refrigerant in the evaporator coil, water vapor in the air can condense into liquid form. This moisture must have somewhere to go, so it drips down the evaporator coil and into a collection pan. The drain pan is connected to a condensate drain line that carries this moisture out of the home.


After heat is absorbed by refrigerant in the evaporator coil, the air is cooled and is ready to be sent back into the home. The blower, which is composed of a fan and motor, is responsible for pushing the conditioned air through the ductwork and into rooms throughout the house.


The compressor is a component in the outdoor air conditioning unit that increases the temperature and heat of refrigerant circulating from the evaporator coil. This allows the refrigerant to effectively release heat into the atmosphere. 

Condenser Coil

Refrigerant arrives at the condenser coil in the outdoor unit from the compressor. Here, the heat held in the refrigerant is released by the condenser coil into the surrounding air. As this occurs, the refrigerant loses temperature and converts back to liquid form.

Contact Hans for Air Conditioning Help in Montgomery, AL

We hope the above explanations help you make better sense of air conditioning terminology. Anytime you have questions or need clarification about air conditioning terminology, please feel free to ask! Call Hans Heating and Air whenever you need air conditioner services in the Montgomery area.

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