Air Conditioner vs. Air Handler
If you’re searching for heating and cooling services, you may come across confusing, sometimes contradictory information about a variety of HVAC systems. One thing that garners plenty of confusion is the air handler. Is this another way to describe an air conditioner? We’re here to set the record straight.
What Is an Air Handler?
An air handler is the indoor component of some types of HVAC systems. It attaches to a network of air ducts that deliver conditioned air through the building. Air handlers differ in size, type and capacity, based on the application.
Some individuals use the terms “air handler” and “blower” interchangeably, but this is not right. An air handler is an entire unit containing a blower and numerous other components, all of which function together to condition and circulate the air.
Does an Air Conditioner Use an Air Handler?
Usually, an air conditioner shares the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is necessary. However, in weather where home heating is not needed in a home or commercial property, an air conditioner may be the sole HVAC equipment present. In this situation, the indoor air handler runs in conjunction with the outdoor unit, called the condenser. In this setup, the AC unit’s air handler blows indoor air across the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat and collects moisture, leaving the air handler to distribute cooled, dehumidified air back inside the building via ductwork. Refrigerant lines connect the air handler to the outdoor condenser, assisting with the heat transfer to the outside. This allows air conditioning to preserve a constant, cozy indoor temperature and humidity level.
Does a Heat Pump Use an Air Handler?
This is where air handlers are most frequently found. In cold climates where heat pumps are less reliable, they are at times installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s called a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less prevalent these days. With no furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps need a dedicated air handler to move conditioned air.
Heat pumps work by pulling heat from the outside air and shifting it inside through the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to acquire heat before circulating it through the building. A heat pump can also be used for cooling, where it pulls heat from the indoor air and moves it outside, just like an air conditioner.
Does a Furnace Use an Air Handler?
No. Furnaces are made with a blower motor to distribute conditioned air. The blower is commonly housed inside the furnace. It pushes air across the heat exchanger, a metal component that exchanges heat from a fuel source to the air blowing past it. The fuel source can be natural gas, propane or oil, which is ignited to create heat. Once heated, the air circulates back through the ductwork system and inside the building.
What Are the Parts of an Air Handler?
The major pieces of an air handler include:
- Blower: The blower is a motor-driven fan that circulates air by way of the ductwork. It moves air across the heating or cooling elements to regulate the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: According to the type of HVAC system you own, the air handler may have heating or cooling elements, including an evaporator coil or backup electric heat strip.
- Air filter: An HVAC air filter removes dust, dirt and other impurities from the air as it goes into the air handler to be heated or cooled. Air filter types and efficiency ratings vary according to the system requirements. Remember to replace your air filter regularly to avoid restricting airflow through the system.
- Dampers: Dampers are used to control airflow in properties with zoned heating and cooling. They can be manually or automatically powered to direct air to specific rooms as necessary to keep a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers contain a humidifier or dehumidifier, which controls the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier infuses moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier removes moisture in the summer.
- Control system: The control system is responsible for regulating the air handler. It may include a thermostat, humidistat or other sensors to gauge the temperature and humidity inside the building.
Schedule Air Conditioner or Air Handler Repair
If you’re having issues with your air conditioner, air handler or other HVAC components, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help you out. Our team of Expert technicians can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, so that it runs safely and efficiently. We believe in our exemplary work so much that we guarantee every repair with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to request air conditioning repair in North America, please phone a Service Experts office near you today.