Air Conditioner vs. Air Handler

If you’re hunting for heating and cooling services, you may come across confusing, sometimes contradictory information about a variety of HVAC systems. One component that causes a lot of confusion is the air handler. Is this the equivalent of 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 links to a network of air ducts that deliver conditioned air all through the building. Air handlers range in size, type and capacity, depending on the application.

Some consumers use the terms “air handler” and “blower” interchangeably, but this is not right. An air handler is an entire unit containing a blower and a number of other components, all of which function together to condition and circulate the air.

Does an Air Conditioner Use an Air Handler?

Normally, an air conditioner [shares|uses|utilizes} the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is required. However, in environments 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 works along with the outdoor unit, referred to as the condenser.

In this setup, the AC unit’s air handler [blows|forces|pushes} indoor air [across|over|along the outside of} the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat and collects moisture, leaving the air handler to deliver cooled, dehumidified air back into the building through ductwork. Refrigerant lines connect the air handler to the outdoor condenser, assisting with the heat transfer to the outside. This will permit the air conditioning to uphold a constant, cozy indoor temperature and humidity level.

Does a Heat Pump Use an Air Handler?

This is where air handlers are most typically found. In cold climates where heat pumps are less dependable, they are at times installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s known as a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less prevalent in recent times. Because there is no furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps need a dedicated air handler to circulate conditioned air.

Heat pumps work by removing heat from the outside air and moving it inside using the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to acquire heat before circulating it throughout 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 come with a blower motor to distribute conditioned air. The blower is usually housed inside the furnace. It forces 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 produce heat. Once heated, the air spreads back through the ductwork system and back into the building.

What Are the Parts of an Air Handler?

The major components of an air handler include:

    • Blower: The blower is a motor-driven fan that disperses air through the ductwork. It forces air across the heating or cooling elements to manage the indoor temperature.
    • Heating or cooling elements: Based on the type of HVAC system you have installed in your home, 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 contamination from the air as it flows into the air handler to be heated or cooled. Air filter types and efficiency ratings vary according to the system requirements. Remember to swap out your air filter on a regular basis to protect against 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 controlled to direct air to certain rooms as desired to keep a comfortable temperature.
    • Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers contain a humidifier or dehumidifier, which manages the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier adds moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier gets rid of moisture in the summer.
    • Control system: The control system is responsible for regulating the air handler. It might include a thermostat, humidistat or other sensors to monitor the temperature and humidity in the building.

Schedule Air Conditioner or Air Handler Repair

If you’re suffering from issues with your air conditioner, air handler or other HVAC components, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help. Our squad of experienced 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 back all repairs 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 in your area today.

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