What does HVAC/R mean?

This is a question that I get asked a lot, so I thought that I would write a blog post on the subject to explain it to you.

Five Letters and Four Concepts

HVAC/R stands for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration.

There are five letters and four concepts, and all four of these concepts revolve around the subject of controlling temperature.


HVAC/R mechanics are really only concerned with temperature.

Ultimately, all that a HVAC/R mechanic is concerned with is to control the temperature within a given space to produce a desired effect.

What the HVAC/R trade is attempting to accomplish

The effect may be to keep a residence at a comfortable 18 degrees Celsius during a hot summer day, or flash freezing fresh produce to -50 degrees Celsius within half a minute. The equipment that is used to achieve these effects can vary widely, but the general concepts are the same across all of the HVAC/R disciplines.

It is interesting to note that there are several sub-specialties and specializations within this trade – so much so that it is impossible for one person to know all of the aspects of the entire HVAC/R field. For example, I am well versed in commercial compression refrigeration equipment. There is a sub – specialty within the trade known as TAB, or Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing, which has to do with balancing air pressures and air flows within a building. That is already a challenging job on a small structure, so imagine attempting to balance the air flows in a large shopping mall. Although I have a good rough idea what Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing technicians do, I really would be lost if I attempted to perform their work. Better that I stick to repairing commercial refrigeration.

So now you know what HVAC/R stands for. Feel free to demonstrate your new knowledge at your next dinner party and impress all of your guests!

Until next time, stay warm (or cool).