Whether it’s AC repair or total AC system replacement, there are a number of terms within the HVAC industry that can get puzzling for homeowners. Not to mention all of the different pieces of heating and air conditioning equipment that can be used to boost your home’s energy efficiency and air quality. Of course we can’t speak to all of the variations in one blog post, so we’ll take a look at one of the more common inquiries we see at Eveready Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning: what’s the difference between an air conditioner and an air handler?
What is an Air Handler?
An air handler contains the components that move the air throughout your home, called the blower. It is usually located inside the home and works with both the heating and cooling parts of your HVAC system. If you take a quick glance at an air handler, it might closely resemble a furnace. Air handlers can operate with an air conditioner and contains the indoor coil, used to cool and heat your home depending on which system it’s working with.
Air handler vs Heat Pump
Just like an air handler runs with an AC, an air handler works together with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to control your comfort by transferring heat, rather than generating it, and the air handler helps move all that heated or cooled air.
Air handler vs blower
Air handlers are not blowers. This can be confusing for some folks, but it's not too hard to understand and we're happy to explain the difference. An air handler contains the blower, and several other components within. You may have dampers, filters, mixing chambers and more in an air handler. The blower is just one part of a greater whole.
Here’s what you ought to know about air handlers: if you’re in the market for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll probably never need to know what an air handler is because it’s possible you won’t need one. However, if you’re in the market for an electric heat pump, it’s helpful to know that an air handler will probably be a part of your home’s HVAC system.
Air Handler vs. Furnace
Air handlers and furnaces aren't often found together. If you have a furnace you shouldn't need to worry about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be setup with heat pumps and help improve air flow throughout the building. Some air handlers also provide extra heating and cooling parts to help out the heat pump. A furnace works on a different concept. Instead of an air handler, furnaces have their own blowers that move the heated air into your ducts and disperse throughout your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and make heat, they don't have some of the parts you'll find in a typical air handler.
Air conditioners contain the condenser and are usually set outside the home. One of the most common misunderstandings about air conditioners is that they cool the existing air in your home. Air conditioners actually take heat from inside your home through a host of components inside your system and expel it outside. The removal of heat is what makes the air feel cool, not the addition of cold air.
The warm air inside your home is brought into the system through return ducts and then passes across a refrigerant coil. As the warm air is blown across the cooled coil, heat is removed. Refrigerant lines then carry the heat outside. Now you’re left with cool, comfortable indoor air that you can enjoy on the hottest of days. And that’s pretty much it. Sure, the equipment is more intricate than that, but the process itself is easy to break down and digest.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling parts for the Richmond climate is probably a little idealistic, but there are a number of things that can be helpful to you as a homeowner. If you’d like more information about your current system and whether an air handler or air conditioner is right for your home, give the pros at Eveready Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning a call at 804-548-4480 or set up a free appointment online today.