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BEWARE: It weighs slightly more than six pounds.

Its size can intimidate almost anyone, even Chuck Norris. It's 11-1/4 inches in height, an eye-popping 8-9/16 inches in width, 2 inches deep and, if used as a bludgeon, it could send the victim to the emergency room.

I'm talking about a book, a tome really, that you should be familiar with even if you've never seen or read it.

In the HVAC/R industry, most know it as the Fundamentals of HVAC/R by Carter Stanfield and David Skaves. Prentice Hall is the publisher under the auspices of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute.

A little explanation. For more than 12 years, I've been covering the business side of the HVACR industry. I was utterly green when I started and wouldn't have gotten the job if Publisher Jeff Forker had tested me on what the initials represented in the magazine's name. Over the years, I hope we have provided solid business information for wholesalers on how to run their operations more profitably, a goal we intend to continue in the future.

But along the way, an obstacle arose. Sometimes conversations (I was usually a listener) between wholesalers or suppliers would include some technical issues that bedazzled me. I was either unsure or ignorant of the jargon. Other times, I would be editing copy, and there would be a reference to a piece of equipment that left me puzzled about its function. For example, what IS a condenser condensate line? I actually learned that it is “the line between a condenser and a liquid receiver.” It has two paragraphs describing its function in the Fundamentals of HVAC/R.

You might wonder why I'm relying on a book when everything today is digital. The answer is simple. I found specifics in our industry either difficult to search on the Internet or if there was an explanation, it sometimes carried a company bias if it involved a brand. And sometimes I just didn't feel like surfing for a half-hour to find the answer. (As an editor, it's not enough just to read the definition. You actually must try to understand the meaning.) After several unsatisfying searches, I finally deduced that there must be a one-volume source that explains it all. I called Richard Wirtz, HARDI's technical advisor, and he gave me a few suggestions. But he saved the best for last. “Call Warren Lupson at AHRI,” he said. I know Warren (he's even appeared in our magazine a few times) and told him about my problem. I wanted a one-volume compendium that answers (almost) everything that really matters.

He told me about the Fundamentals of HVAC/R and graciously sent me a copy, which I'm trying to balance on my knees as I write this column.

I should add that this text, used throughout the United States, is encyclopedic in depth and includes a profusion of photos, drawings and charts that really enhance the explanations.

I confess that it's not a cheap book, costing more than $90, but does a businessperson buy the cheapest computer or a carpenter an inexpensive hammer?

The book's value is many-fold, but for me (and for many of you or those who work with you), it plays the invaluable role of answering my questions, helps me understand a single issue in HVAC/R quickly, is ALWAYS available (even if my Internet connection has a sudden hiccup) and it also helps me to bone up on an overview of a broader subject (Just what IS hydronic heating, for example?). You also can use it to settle arguments or create a moment of contemplative learning while munching on your sandwich during lunch. According to Pearson, many trainers also buy MyHVACLab DVD for Fundamentals of HVAC/R by Carter Stanfield, David Skaves and Freddie Williams, (ISBN 0135054060) and Lab Manual for Fundamentals of HVAC/R by David Skaves (ISBN 9780132224109).

Everyone creates a go-to set of books, experts, advisors and friends. When you need a technical clarification in our industry, I can't think of a more reliable source than Fundamentals of HVAC/R.

For more information or to obtain a copy, visit

HVACR Distribution Business welcomes letters to the editor. Please send correspondence to: Tom Pericˊ, Editor 2040 Fairfax Avenue Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 856/874-0049 or email [email protected].

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