What is meant by ‘ton’ of refrigerant?

Originating during the transition from stored natural ice to mechanical refrigeration, the term is used in many countries, particularly in North America, to describe the heat-extraction capacity of cooling equipment – whether it be refrigeration or air conditioning.

One ton of refrigerant refers to 12,000 B.T.U.s/hour (British Thermal Units per Hour) of cooling effect.

Example:                                                                                                                                A condensing unit with a cooling capacity of 60,000 B.T.U.s / hour has the capacity of 5 tons.

In, “What is HVAC and what does it mean?” we describe briefly that the cooling effect you feel from your air conditioner doesn’t come from the freon itself, but rather the effects of heat transfer.

References:                                                                                                                 Wikipedia contributors. “Ton of refrigeration.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 12Oct12. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ton_of_refrigeration>.

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What is SEER & EER?

Introduction

The Department of Energy (DOE) is directed by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to establishing minimum efficiency standards for various consumer products; including central air conditioners and central air conditioning heat pumps. SEER and EER is a rating system created to measure the efficiency of an air conditioner or heat pump.

Both ratings should be considered in choosing cooling products. The rating is a ratio of the cooling output divided by the power consumption and measures the cooling performance of the system. The Federal government developed an ENERGY STAR program for high efficiency central air conditioning systems that in order to qualify must have a SEER of at least 14.

SEER rating

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and is basically a number describing where an air conditioning unit falls on the efficiency scale, in regards to power consumption. It is calculated using the ratio of output cooling (Btu/hr) to input electrical power (watts).

Unlike EER, which is evaluated using a specific operating condition, SEER represents the overall expected performance of a unit, in a given location, for a typical year’s weather. It is measured using the same indoor temperature, but with an outdoor temperature range from 65 to 104 degrees fahrenheit.

The easiest way to think of a SEER number is by comparing it to how many miles per gallon a specific car is capable of handling. You might consider buying a Prius instead of a Hummer if gas prices is an issue. The same goes for a/c units – you would buy a unit with a higher SEER rating if you want a lower energy bill.

Concerning residential air conditioners, as of January 23rd 2006, new units sold in the United States by law must have a SEER rating equal to or greater than 13. Before 2006 the minimum standard was 10 (NOTE: A unit with a SEER rating of 13 is 30% more efficient than a unit with a SEER rating of only 10).

Homeowners are not required to upgrade to a higher efficiency model, but with an average lifespan of about 15 to 20 years low efficiency units (at least the ones below SEER 13) will eventually go away completely.

EER

EER is the abbreviation for Energy Efficiency Ratio and unlike SEER it does not take into consideration the time of year, but rather the system’s energy efficiency at a specific operating point. Just as SEER it is the ratio of output cooling (Btu/hr) to input electrical power (watts).

Recommendations by Laponica Refrigeration

While a consumers wallet is the number one deciding factor in purchasing a new unit there are some things a consumer should know about higher SEER ratings and the benefits of purchasing them.

If money is hard to come by Laponica Refrigeration recommends you at least try to purchase a SEER 16 unit. The savings you gain at that level will help pay for the extra cost in a minimal amount of time.

A unit with a SEER rating of higher than 16 may not necessarily provide the savings necessary to account for the extra cost, but they do tend to provide extra comfort accessories such as a variable fan speed on your indoor unit.

A variable fan speed keeps a more stable temperature in your house. In a standard air conditioner unit your indoor temperature will vary by approximately 3 degrees between cut-in and cut-out of the unit. Let’s say it is hot outside and you set your thermostat to 75 degrees. Your unit will cut off once it reaches 75 degrees. A normal unit will not turn back on before it reaches 78 degrees. This keep your house +/- 3 degrees from what you set it at. With a variable fan speed this does not happen and you end up with a more stable temperature inside your house.

 

References: 

United States of America. Department of Energy.ENERGY-EFFICIENT AIR CONDITIONERS: NEW STANDARDS COMING IN 2006 . Web. <http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/residential/pdfs/ac_factsheet.pdf>.

. “Seasonal energy efficiency ratio.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, 13 2012. Web. 26 Nov 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_energy_efficiency_ratio>.

Mellow Mushroom

These photos are taken from 05Nov-09Nov2012 @ the Mellow Mushroom. It’s going to be a new pizza place in the old Borders Book store at the corner of Causeway Blvd & Veterans. Right across the street from Lakeside Mall.

From unloading the truck on Monday ’til putting up the box Friday took us 5 days. All we have to do now is wait for them lift our units up on the roof and making us a platform, run the lines and we’re done. Special thanks to Patrick & his dad for the awesome and speedy work done on this job. There might be a fruit basket or something coming 🙂

Remember: Laponica Refrigeration handles both residential and commercial HVACR systems. Follow the respective links to view more information of our product(s) and services.

A/C Terminology

Introduction
For those of us who needs a little more help with the air conditioners jargon – Laponica has compiled a list and explanation of some of the most common terms. Some terms get a little technical, so we will discuss those in greater detail at a later time. For now we have tried to make things as simple as possible.

In this article we will be covering the terms: air handler, furnace, coil, compressor, condenser, evaporator, expansion valve, refrigerant, and SEER rating.

Excited? You should be…

Air Handler / Furnace
When you have electric heat it is called an air handler. When you have a gas heater it’s called a furnace. Up north you may have an oil burner, but that is also called a furnace. What they all have in common is a fan that circulates air in the house.

Coil
A coil is a heat exchanger. Think of it as the radiator in your car. The radiator is also a coil only with a different name because it’s in your car 🙂

Compressor 
The compressor is a pump. Think of the air compressor you use to fill air in your tires or a high pressure washer. An HVAC compressor is made to pump freon. It may perhaps have a few more fancy attachments to it, but it’s still a pump. When you pump liquids it’s called a pump and when you pump gasses it’s called a compressor.

Condenser
The condenser is where the compressor sits in the outside unit. Later on we will discuss in more detail what a condenser does besides house the compressor. It gets a little more technical.

Evaporator
Your evaporator sits inside with either an air handler or a furnace. This piece will also be discussed in more detail at later time.

Expansion valve
The expansion valve is a metering device. The compressor pumps freon to the expansion valve under high pressure. In the expansion valve pressure is released causing the temperature in the freon to drop several degrees.

Refrigerant
Refrigerant is simply a chemical used in cooling systems for mechanical devices such as the air conditioner in your home or car, refrigerators, or walk-in cooler and freezers.  Simply said: the stuff you put in your a/c to make it cold. The first types of air conditioners used toxic and flammable gases, such as ammonia, methyl chloride, or propane. Most have understandably been taken off the market due to their health and environmental risks, but some are making a come back such as ammonia. Larger refrigeration systems such as ones used in warehouses may use ammonia.

The portion of the Clean Air Act that applies to the Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry encourages the development of ozone-friendly substitutes for chemicals that contain ozone destroying chlorine, which are called hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The chemical refrigerant of choice for more than four decades, referred to as R-22, is in the HCFC category. R-22 is widely used in heat pumps and AC condensing units to heat and cool homes. Today, a refrigerant called R-410A is used because of its ozone-friendly properties.

SEER rating (more detail)
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and is basically a number describing where an a/c unit falls on the efficiency scale – how much energy an air conditioner unit requires to cool your home. The easiest way to think of this is comparing it to how many miles per gallon a specific car is capable of handling. You might consider buying a Prius instead of a Hummer if gas prices is an issue. The same goes for a/c units – you would buy a unit with a higher SEER rating if you want a lower energy bill.

Concerning residential air conditioners, as of January 26th 2006, new units produces today by law must have a SEER rating equal to or greater than 13. Homeowners are not required to upgrade to a higher efficiency model, but with an average lifespan of about 15 to 20 years low efficiency units (depending on ones definition) will eventually go away completely.