Air Conditioning Buzz Words and Jargon: The Ones You Need to Know

You may have looked at an air conditioner brochure and come across several terms that are difficult to understand if you are not an expert in this sector. If you have encountered some of this jargon that you found challenging to understand, then this article is for you. Below are some of the common buzzwords in air conditioning that are usually challenging for non-experts:

Nominal Capacity

Nominal capacity refers to the cooling capacity of the system as indicated by the manufacturer. It is measured in kilowatts(kW). An air-conditioner’s nominal capacity is the output level it can handle when functioning in either cooling or heating mode. If the capacity is higher, then the device has more power to provide both heating and cooling.

Looking for an AC that can cool down your tiny room or a spacious living area? We’ve got you covered! Our split systems range from 2.0kw, making them ideal for bedrooms, small lounge rooms, and bigger living areas. Need to beat the heat this summer? Choose the right capacity for your space and chill out in no time.

Power Source

The power source is the electricity that gives life to your air conditioning unit. Generally, air conditioning units in Australia work with standard household voltage, which is either 240 or 415 volts AC – alternating current. Nonetheless, some bigger air conditioning systems might need three-phase power supply.

The voltage standard for a single phase is 240v, while three-phase requires 380-415V. Different Australian homes have varying power needs, so it is best to seek advice from licensed installers who can assess your electrical needs and suggest the right products.

Power Consumption

So, when you’re looking at air conditioners, it’s advisable to pay attention to the average power consumption, which is measured in watts or kilowatts (kW). This tells you how much electricity the air conditioner uses on average when it’s either heating or cooling. Basically, the lower the power consumption, the less you’ll pay in electricity bills. So, it is worth noting.

An air conditioner’s energy consumption is closely tied to its EER rating; AC systems boasting a 5-star rating are considerably more eco-friendly than their 3-star counterparts. For example, when operating a 1.5-ton AC, a 5-star unit will utilise approximately 1.5 units per hour, whereas a 3-star option will consume around 1.6 units per hour.

Sound Power and Sound Pressure

“Sound Power” & “Sound Pressure” are two distinct and commonly confused characteristics of sound. Both sound power and sound pressure levels are expressed in decibels but they are not the same decibels. 

Sound pressure is a pressure variation in the atmosphere whose intensity is influenced not only by the strength of the source, but also by surroundings and the distance of the receiver from the source. Sound pressure is what our ears hear and what sound meters measure. 

Sound power is the total acoustical energy emitted by the sound source per unit of time, and is an absolute value. The unit of measure is the watt. Sound power is not affected by the environment.

Sound Power Level (Lw or SWL) is the level, in dB (usually given in octave bands), a source produces sound energy per unit of time. A power expressed in dB above the standard reference level of 1 Picowatt.



The EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures the effectiveness of an AC unit in cooling a space based on the energy it consumes. This calculation is derived by dividing the cooling output of the system, measured by the power it consumes in watts. Higher EER ratings indicate a more efficient system.

COP is a measure of the Heating energy efficiency. It is calculated by dividing the AC heating capacity divided by the power input it consumes. A higher COP means a more efficient heating air conditioner.

EER and COP can be handy when comparing the energy efficiency of different air conditioning systems. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that the real energy efficiency of a system can be affected by many factors, like the weather conditions, the space’s size and layout being cooled or heated, the temperature setting for cooling and heating, and the efficiency of the system’s parts. For that reason, it’s vital to examine these factors, together with the EER or COP ratings when deciding on an air conditioning or heat pump system.


Airflow is simply the movement of air throughout a heating or cooling system. It is responsible for directing air through the ducts and distributing it evenly throughout the space being conditioned. The process is facilitated through registers and grilles, which allow air to move in and out of the system. By carefully managing airflow, HVAC systems can provide consistent air quality and temperature control.

The flow of air in AC systems is gauged in litres per second. Several components impact airflow, such as the dimensions and structure of the room being regulated, the system’s form and capacity, the style of the ductwork, and the quality of the registers and grilles’ orientation.

To guarantee optimal airflow, it’s crucial to accurately size and set up the AC system and air ducts, along with routinely maintaining and cleaning the different parts. Seeking the assistance of a certified HVAC technician can aid in assessing and optimising the airflow of your AC system to guarantee its efficient and effective operation.

Energy Rating Label

Ever heard of an energy rating label? It’s a label that lets you know how good an air conditioning unit is at saving energy. The label usually has info about the energy efficiency ratio (EER) & sometimes even the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) or the coefficient of performance (COP).

This information is then used for calculating the star rating of a system. The higher the star rating the more efficient the system is.

The energy rating label is a useful tool for comparing the energy efficiency of different air conditioning units. By checking this label, you can make an informed decision when selecting the best unit for your needs. Additionally, the label might contain some details about the unit’s estimated annual energy consumption and operating costs, which are based on standard usage assumptions. Thus, utilising the energy rating label can help you save some money on your energy bills and lower your environmental impact.


Refrigerant is a term used in air conditioning to refer to the fluid that is used to transfer heat from one location to another in the refrigeration cycle. It is a chemical compound that is designed to absorb heat at a low temperature and release it at a higher temperature. The main refrigerant to date for comfort air conditioning has been R410a, but more recently there is a swing over to R32. 

R32, is more energy-conserving and environment-friendly than R410a. While R410a is still the main refrigerant most new systems are moving over to R32.

Air conditioning lingo can be perplexing for those not acquainted with the industry. Nonetheless, grasping these terms and ideas can be highly valuable in selecting, using, and upholding an air conditioning system. Whether you’re a homeowner seeking to acquire a new AC or an HVAC expert, taking the time to comprehend air conditioning jargon can aid in making well-informed decisions, communicating effectively with colleagues, and guaranteeing your system performs proficiently.

At ActronAir, we’re an Australian business that specialises in making air conditioning units for homes and businesses. We have a range of products that are approved by Australian Made and as a result, we’re a trusted player in the Aussie AC market with top-of-the-line and cutting-edge equipment.


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