article banner

Essential Technical Terms When You Buy Air Conditioners

In a hot and humid country like Singapore, having an air conditioner is definitely a boon. Other than costs, making sure the model is a good fit would also be seen as a long term investment.

It is therefore a good idea for you familarise yourself with essential technical acronyms associated with air conditioners. This would also help you to better understand what those technical terms mean - while you are looking at which are the models that will suit your home best. 

BTU – British Thermal Units or BTU is a term for an aircon’s cooling capacity. A higher BTU means more cooling prowess. It is important to choose the correct BTU so that your aircon can function correctly. This is usually calculated using the room size as one of the inputs. 

System – This term is related to the number of indoor units for 1 outdoor unit. It could 2, 3, 4 or 5. System 1 means 1 indoor unit to 1 outdoor unit. This is also called single split. A system 3 would mean 3 indoor units to 1 outdoor unit.  

Having more than one indoor unit to 1 outdoor unit is called multi split. Depending on your requirement, you can chose to go with a single split or a multi split air conditioner. 

CDU and FCU – CDU is the abbreviated form of the Outdoor Condensing Unit and FCU is Indoor Fan Coil Unit. The CDU is the part of the air conditioner kept outside the home and includes the compressor.

The FCU or the indoor unit is the part inside your home. A multi split as explained above has 1 CDU and more than one FCU.

EER – Energy Efficiency Ratio or EER indicates your aircon’s efficiency with respect to the electricity it consumes. Most units have an EER of 10 or higher and some of the better units have numbers in higher 10s or 20s.

A better EER definitely indicates a more efficient unit but they also tend to be more expensive. The Energy Label will indicate the EER for a particular brand and model and will be represented with ticks, the highest being 5.

Grade – Grade or gauge is used to denote the thickness of the copper pipe. This will vary from G25 to G21. The standard for HDB flats is normally G23 or 0.61 mm. Ensure you have the right grade so that it does not affect the refrigerant flow. 
Refrigerant – These are cooling fluids inside the air conditioner. R22 or R410A is usually used but R22 will be gradually phased out because it produces HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). R410A on the other hand is environment friendly.

Inverter and Non-Inverter Air Conditioners - A non-inverter air conditioner’s compressor and motor can operate at a single fixed speed and tends to more affordable along with being easier to install.

The drawback being it is more power and electricity hungry and noisier. An inverter air conditioner in contrast has variable speed to modify the temperature and consumes much lesser electricity. 

Insulation – This is the rubber foam that covers the copper pipes to absorb the condensation due to cooling. Check that good quality insulation is used so that there are no leakage problems. 

It is good to know these terms and understand what kind of an air conditioner will serve your home the best. Also before installation, confirm that the technician is BCA (Building and Construction Authority) certified and knows his way around HDB guidelines.