If you’re looking for heating and cooling services, you may find confusing, sometimes contradictory information about various kinds of HVAC systems. One element that causes quite a bit of confusion is the air handler. Is this the same as 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 models of HVAC systems. It connects to a network of air ducts that circulate conditioned air inside the building. Air handlers vary in size, type and capacity, depending 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 a number of other elements, all of which operate together to condition and circulate the air.
Does an Air Conditioner Use an Air Handler?
Normally, an air conditioner shares the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is required. However, in weather where home heating is not needed in a home or commercial property, an air conditioner may be the lone HVAC equipment present. In this situation, the indoor air handler runs along with the outside unit, known as the condenser. In this setup, the AC unit’s air handler pushes indoor air along the outside of the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat and collects moisture, leaving the air handler to distribute cooled, dehumidified air back inside the building through ductwork. Refrigerant lines link the air handler to the outdoor condenser, assisting with the heat transfer to the outside. This makes it possible for the air conditioning to maintain a constant, comfy 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 occasionally installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s referred to as a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less prevalent in recent times. With no furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps will need a dedicated air handler to move conditioned air.
Heat pumps work by pulling heat from the outside air and transferring it inside using the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to obtain heat before circulating it inside the building. A heat pump can additionally be used for cooling, where it extracts 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 circulate conditioned air. The blower is typically housed in the interior of the furnace. It pushes air across the heat exchanger, a metal component that exchanges heat from a fuel source to the air blowing over it. The fuel source can be natural gas, propane or oil, which is ignited to generate heat. Once warmed, the air circulates back through the ductwork system and back 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 disperses air throughout 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 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 eliminates dust, dirt and other airborne debris 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 switch out 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 controlled to direct air to specific rooms as needed to uphold a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers include a humidifier or dehumidifier, which manages the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier puts moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier gets rid of moisture in the summer.
- Control system: The control system is a way to regulate the air handler. It might include a thermostat, humidistat or other sensors to keep track of 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 staff of talented technicians can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, making sure it runs safely and efficiently. We believe in our excellent work so much that we back all repairs with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to set your home up air conditioning repair in North America, please phone a Service Experts office in your neighborhood today.