What Is an HVAC System & What Does HVAC Stand For?

What Is an HVAC System & What Does HVAC Stand For?

Many people throw the term “HVAC” around like everyone knows what they’re talking about, but few people want to admit that they may not be as knowledgeable about what the term means and why it is so often associated with heating and air conditioning companies. So, we will ask the question for you.

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What Does HVAC Stand For?

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. This system is designed to provide heating and cooing to residential and commercial buildings. HVAC systems are everywhere. Practically every building uses some kind of HVAC system, and it's important to know what all goes into these complex systems. Proper usage and ventilation from an HVAC system removes smoke, dust, odor, bacteria, carbon dioxide, and more while also keeping the temperature comfortable.

That explains everything, right? Not necessarily. Knowing what HVAC stands for does not necessarily explain what it is, what it does and how it keeps us comfortable indoors.


HVAC System Components

While heating, ventilation, and cooling are all lumped together in one acronym, these three functions are interrelated but rely on different equipment and principles to keep you toasty in the winter and cool in the summer.

  1. Furnace – The furnace takes up the most space in an HVAC system and uses the most energy. Usually hidden in a space that no one uses, the furnace is responsible for moving air from the heat exchanger through the air ducts and into the rooms of a building or home. Using a heat exchanger to add heat to the air that is being pushed from the combustion chamber, furnaces create heat in a faraway closet or room of a building then force warm air through a series of ducts. However, forced air furnaces are not the only type of heating available to home. (More on that later.)
  2. Air Conditioner – Interestingly enough, an air conditioner and furnace work on the same principles. Air passes over refrigerant filled tubes and forced through the ductwork into the rooms of a building. Again, while air conditioning is commonly associated with cooling a building, home, or even vehicle, it is not the only method that works. Evaporative coolers (also known as swamp coolers), heat pumps and attic fans can also effectively cool a home without air conditioning.
  3. Ductwork & Vents – Remember, the V in HVAC stands for ventilation. The ductwork in a building is responsible for moving air from the heating or cooling appliance throughout the home. It is not enough for air to travel one way. It must also travel back to the heating and cooling appliances for them to function properly. Vents accomplish this via rectangular covers that direct airflow back to the heating and cooling appliances.

What is an HVAC System?


While forced air systems are the most efficient at heating and cooling a home, they are not the only type of HVAC system on the market. Gravity systems rely on gravity to heat a home, but are inefficient in cooling it and cannot be used with an air conditioner. When switched on, gravity systems force warmed air through the ceilings of a basement level to warm the home. When turned off, the cool air sinks and is reheated. Radiant systems also cannot be used with most air conditioning systems, but use heated water rather than heated air to warm home through radiators or other heat transfer devices. Forced air systems, particularly American Standard and York HVAC systems efficiently warm and cool a home with a furnace and air conditioner.

To find out more, contact Farnen and Dermer at (410) 600-7964 for your free consultation.

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