Air Conditioner vs. Air Handler
If you’re hunting for heating and cooling services, you may come across confusing, sometimes contradictory information about various kinds of HVAC systems. One component that causes a lot 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 component of some types of HVAC systems. It links to a network of air ducts that deliver conditioned air inside the building. Air handlers range in size, type and capacity, based on the application.
Some individuals use the words “air handler” and “blower” interchangeably, but this is not right. An air handler is an entire unit containing a blower and several other parts, all of which work together to condition and circulate the air.
Does an Air Conditioner Use an Air Handler?
Typically, an air conditioner uses the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is needed. However, in environments where home heating is not something that is necessary, an air conditioner may be the sole HVAC equipment present. In this situation, the indoor air handler runs in conjunction with the outdoor unit, referred to 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 into the building via ductwork. Refrigerant lines link the air handler to the outdoor condenser, assisting with the heat transfer to the outside. This will permit the air conditioning to preserve a constant, comfortable 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 occasionally installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s called a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less popular these days. 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 pulling heat from the outside air and transferring it inside via the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to acquire heat before circulating it throughout the building. A heat pump can additionally be used for cooling, where it extracts heat from the indoor air and transmits 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 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 create heat. Once warmed up, 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 within the ductwork. It forces air across the heating or cooling elements to control the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: Depending on the type of HVAC system you have installed in your home, the air handler may contain 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 based on system requirements. Remember to replace your air filter on a regular basis 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 powered to direct air to specific rooms as needed to keep a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers include a humidifier or dehumidifier, which regulates the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier adds moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier takes out moisture in the summer.
- Control system: The control system is a way to regulate the air handler. It may include a thermostat, humidistat or other sensors to monitor the temperature and humidity inside the building.
Schedule Air Conditioner or Air Handler Repair
If you’re experiencing issues with your air conditioner, air handler or other HVAC components, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is here to assist you. Our crew of talented technicians can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, ensuring 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 set your home up air conditioning repair in North America, please contact a Service Experts office in your area today.