If you’re hunting for heating and cooling services, you may encounter confusing, sometimes contradictory information about a variety of HVAC systems. One thing that creates 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 portion of some types of HVAC systems. It [[connects|links|attaches|hooks up] 11] to a network of air ducts that distribute conditioned air inside 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 correct. An air handler is an entire unit containing a blower and several other components, all of which function together to condition and circulate the air.
Does an Air Conditioner Use an Air Handler?
Typically, an air conditioner [shares|uses|utilizes]109] the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is required. However, in climates where home heating is not something that is necessary, an air conditioner may be the lone HVAC equipment present. In this instance, the indoor air handler operates in tandem with the outdoors unit, referred to as the condenser. In this setup, the AC unit’s air handler [blows|forces|pushes]110] indoor air [across|over|along the outside of]111] 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 attach the air handler to the outdoor condenser, facilitating the heat transfer to the outside. This enables air conditioning to preserve a constant, comfy 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 effective, 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 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 collect 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 come with a blower motor to circulate conditioned air. The blower is commonly located in the interior of 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 produce heat. Once warmed up, the air circulates back through the ductwork system and into the building.
What Are the Parts of an Air Handler?
The [main|major|basic]69] [parts|components|pieces]70] of an air handler include:
- Blower: The blower is a motor-driven fan that disperses air through the ductwork. It drives air across the heating or cooling elements to control the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: Based on the type of HVAC system you have installed in your home, the air handler may include heating or cooling elements, including an evaporator coil or backup electric heat strip.
- Air filter: An HVAC air filter eliminates dust, dirt and other contaminants 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 change your air filter routinely to prevent restricting airflow through the system.
- Dampers: Dampers are used to control airflow in buildings with zoned heating and cooling. They can be manually or automatically powered to direct air to certain rooms as needed to maintain a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers contain a humidifier or dehumidifier, which manages the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier infuses 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 having issues with your air conditioner, air handler or other HVAC components, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help out. Our staff of talented 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 guarantee every single repair 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.