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 component that garners plenty of confusion is the air handler. Is this the same as an air conditioner? We’re here to clear things up.
What Is an Air Handler?
An air handler is the indoor portion of some kinds of HVAC systems. It hooks up to a network of air ducts that distribute conditioned air all through the building. Air handlers range in size, type and capacity, depending on the application.
Some people 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 elements, all of which work together to condition and circulate the air.
Does an Air Conditioner Use an Air Handler?
Normally, an air conditioner utilizes the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is required. However, in climates where home heating is not needed in a home or commercial property, an air conditioner may be the sole HVAC equipment present. In this case, the indoor air handler works in tandem with the outdoors unit, known as the condenser. In this setup, the AC unit’s air handler pushes indoor air over the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat and collects moisture, leaving the air handler to circulate cooled, dehumidified air back inside the building through ductwork. Refrigerant lines link the air handler to the outdoor condenser, facilitating the heat transfer to the outside. This makes it possible for the air conditioning to uphold a constant, comfortable indoor temperature and humidity level.
Does a Heat Pump Use an Air Handler?
This is where air handlers are most commonly found. In cold climates where heat pumps are less dependable, they are occasionally installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s called a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less common in recent times. Without a furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps need a dedicated air handler to circulate conditioned air.
Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the outside air and moving it inside through the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to collect 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 transfers it outside, just like an air conditioner.
Does a Furnace Use an Air Handler?
No. Furnaces are equipped with a blower motor to move conditioned air. The blower is usually housed within the furnace. It blows air across the heat exchanger, a metal component that transfers heat from a fuel source to the air blowing across it. The fuel source can be natural gas, propane or oil, which is ignited to create heat. Once warmed up, the air spreads back through the ductwork system and into the building.
What Are the Parts of an Air Handler?
The main pieces of an air handler include:
- Blower: The blower is a motor-driven fan that circulates air within the ductwork. It drives air across the heating or cooling elements to regulate the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: Depending on the type of HVAC system you have, the air handler may have heating or cooling elements, including an evaporator coil or backup electric heat strip.
- Air filter: An HVAC air filter eliminates dust, dirt and other impurities from the air as it enters the air handler to be heated or cooled. Air filter types and efficiency ratings vary based on system requirements. Remember to switch out your air filter regularly to protect against restricting airflow through the system.
- Dampers: Dampers are used to control airflow in structures with zoned heating and cooling. They can be manually or automatically operated to direct air to particular rooms as desired to keep a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers include a humidifier or dehumidifier, which controls the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier adds moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier removes moisture in the summer.
- Control system: The control system is a way to regulate the air handler. It sometimes will include a thermostat, humidistat or other sensors to track the temperature and humidity in 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 out. Our team of Expert professionals can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, so that it runs safely and efficiently. We believe in our excellent work so much that we guarantee every single repair with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to schedule air conditioning repair in North America, please phone a Service Experts office in your area today.