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Air Conditioning Jargon Buster

The following explanations of terms will make it easier to understand brochures and salespeople.

ACOUSTIC INSULATION: A lining in the cooler or duct that absorbs sound and so reduces the noise level of the cooler.

BYPASS: If talking about a portable evaporative cooler, this is air which blows straight into the room, without going through the cooler. This air then heats the room up.

AIR CONDITIONER: Used to mean a refrigerative air conditioner (see below), but nowadays could mean either an evaporative cooler (see below) or refrigerative air conditioner.

AIRFLOW: The quantity of air that a cooler blows into a room or building. The bigger the number the better, but you need to be sure you are comparing apples with apples.

COOLING CAPACITY (COOLING WATTS): This refers to the amount of heat removed from a room by an air conditioner. The quoted cooling capacity of an evaporative cooler is the actual amount of heat removed, whereas the quoted cooling capacity of a refrigerative air conditioner is the capacity before a number of items are subtracted, and they can't be directly compared. In fact an evaporative cooler generally needs to be about half the quoted capacity of a refrigerative air conditioner.

DUCTED AIR CONDITIONING: The air conditioner blows the air into ducts (see below) to carry it to several rooms. The ductwork allows lots of acoustic insulation (see above) and this type of air conditioner should be relatively quiet. Ducted air conditioners can be either refrigerative or evaporative.

DUCTED SPLIT AIR CONDITIONER: A refrigerative air conditioner with an indoor part, generally located in the roof space (attic), and an outdoor part, which may be located at ground level, bolted to a wall or sometimes on the roof. The indoor part blows air through ducts.

DUCTS/DUCTWORK: tubes down which air can be blown to take air from a ducted air conditioner to the different rooms.

EVAPORATIVE COOLER: An evaporative cooler cools by evaporation of water from a wetted pad. The cooling effect is like the cooling you feel when you get out of the water after swimming if the wind is blowing. Because you only need a fan and pump, the energy used is much less than for a refrigerative air conditioner. It also means the air is always fresh from outside and not recirculated.

INLET VENTURI: A curved surface leading into a fan to maximise airflow and minimise noise.

INDIRECT EVAPORATIVE COOLER: A cooler that uses a heat exchanger to separate the air which goes into the room from the air which has water evaporated into it. In principle this should give a higher level of comfort, but in practice, the difference between a conventional cooler and an indirect cooler becomes less at high humidities, and the high cost is rarely justified.

PORTABLE EVAPORATIVE COOLER: (Sometimes called a portable cooler). An evaporative cooler that can be moved around and is not permanently attached to the building. (In practice, don't count on moving it from room to room. to be effective you need to know what to buy and how to use a portable evaporative cooler).

PORTABLE REFRIGERATIVE AIR CONDITIONER: (Sometimes called a portable air conditioner.) An air conditioner that can be moved around. They are normally only for cooling (i.e. not reverse cycle). There performance is generally much less than a conventional air conditioner. For more information go to portable air conditioners.

RECIRCULATION: the process where air is sucked from a room into an air conditioner and the same air is then blown back into the room. This can lead to a stale feeling and is typical of residential refrigerative air conditioners. This is a problem with portable evaporative coolers, but can be addressed.

REFRIGERATIVE AIR CONDITIONER: An air conditioner that uses a compressor to compress a refrigerant. Because the refrigerant is hard to compress, this requires a lot of electricity. As cooling fresh air is expensive, most residential refrigerative air conditioners don't provide any fresh air and recirculate the air (see above).

REVERSE CYCLE AIR CONDITIONER: Any type of refrigerative air conditioner that can reverse the refrigerant flow to provide heating. The disadvantage of a reverse cycle air conditioner when used for heating is that it is designed for cooling and the heating performance is compromised. For example: for optimum heating the air should be blown into the room at floor level, due to the fact that hot air rises. However, most air conditioners blow the air in at a high level.

ROOFTOP EVAPORATIVE COOLER: A ducted evaporative cooler, where the cooler is located on the outside of the roof.

ROOM AIR CONDITIONER (RAC): Usually refers to the old fashioned rectangular box through the wall type of refrigerated air conditioner. Because the compressor is located in the box, the compressor noise travels directly into the room so they are generally fairly noisy. The term room air conditioner could be used to describe any type of air conditioner that serves a single room, however we recommend that the term be restricted to the above type to avoid confusion.

WALL HUNG SPLIT: this is a type of refrigerative air conditioner where there is an indoor part and an outdoor part. Because the compressor is located in the outdoor part, they are generally much quieter inside than a room air conditioner.

WALL MOUNTED EVAPORATIVE COOLER: This is an evaporative cooler mounted on the outside of the wall with a duct connecting straight to the room. If the fan is located on the outside, like the COOLMAX CM50 then the noise level can be acceptable. However if the fan blows directly into the room, as it does in most of these coolers, the noise level is high.

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