If you’re searching for heating and cooling services, you may encounter confusing, sometimes contradictory information about different HVAC systems. One thing that creates quite a bit of confusion is the air handler. Is this the equivalent of an air conditioner? We’re here to help sort this out.
What Is an Air Handler?
An air handler is the indoor part of some kinds of HVAC systems. It links to a network of air ducts that distribute conditioned air through the building. Air handlers range in size, type and capacity, dependent on the application.
Some people use the jargon of “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?
Usually, an air conditioner uses the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is necessary. However, in climates where home heating is not needed in a home or commercial property, an air conditioner may be the lone HVAC equipment present. In this instance, the indoor air handler works in tandem with the outdoors unit, known as the condenser. In this setup, the AC unit’s air handler forces indoor air over the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat and collects moisture, leaving the air handler to circulate cooled, dehumidified air back to the building via ductwork. Refrigerant lines link the air handler to the outdoor condenser, assisting with the heat transfer to the outside. This allows 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 frequently found. In cold climates where heat pumps are less dependable, they are sometimes installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s known as a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less common these days. Without a 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 transferring it inside via the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to obtain heat before circulating it inside the building. A heat pump can also be used for cooling, where it extracts heat from the indoor air and moves it outside, just like an air conditioner.
Does a Furnace Use an Air Handler?
No. Furnaces come with a blower motor to circulate conditioned air. The blower is typically housed inside the furnace. It blows air across the heat exchanger, a metal component that moves 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 generate 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 basic components of an air handler include:
- Blower: The blower is a motor-driven fan that moves air within the ductwork. It forces air across the heating or cooling elements to regulate the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: According to the type of HVAC system you have, the air handler may include heating or cooling elements, including an evaporator coil or backup electric heat strip.
- Air filter: An HVAC air filter takes dust, dirt and other contamination from the air as it enters the air handler to be heated or cooled. Air filter types and efficiency ratings vary depending on system requirements. Remember to swap out your air filter on a regular basis to prevent 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 controlled to direct air to certain rooms as necessary to maintain a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers contain a humidifier or dehumidifier, which controls the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier puts 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 monitor the temperature and humidity throughout 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. Our team of experienced technicians can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, ensuring it runs safely and efficiently. We believe in our excellent work so much that we guarantee all repairs with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to request air conditioning repair in North America, please contact a Service Experts office in your area today.