If you’re searching for heating and cooling services, you may find confusing, sometimes contradictory information about a variety of HVAC systems. One thing that garners a lot of confusion is the air handler. Is this the same as an air conditioner? We’re here to help sort this out.
What Is an Air Handler?
An air handler is the indoor portion of some kinds of HVAC systems. It [[connects|links|attaches|hooks up] 11] to a network of air ducts that deliver conditioned air through the building. Air handlers differ in size, type and capacity, dependent on the application.
Some people use the terms “air handler” and “blower” interchangeably, but this is not right. 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?
Generally, an air conditioner [shares|uses|utilizes]109] the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is required. However, in environments where home heating is not something that is necessary, an air conditioner may be the sole HVAC equipment present. In this case, 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 [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 inside the building through ductwork. Refrigerant lines connect the air handler to the outdoor condenser, facilitating the heat transfer to the outside. This makes it possible for the air conditioning to maintain a constant, comfortable 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 at times installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s called a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less prevalent as of late. Because there is no furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps require a dedicated air handler to circulate conditioned air.
Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the outside air and transferring it inside via the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to collect heat before circulating it inside the building. A heat pump can even be used for cooling, where it retrieves heat from the indoor air and transfers it outside, just like an air conditioner.
Does a Furnace Use an Air Handler?
No. Furnaces are equipped with a blower motor to circulate conditioned air. The blower is typically housed in the interior of the furnace. It forces air across the heat exchanger, a metal component that transfers heat from a fuel source to the air blowing across it. The fuel source can be natural gas, propane or oil, which is ignited to generate heat. Once heated, the air circulates back through the ductwork system and back 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 moves 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 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 depending on system requirements. Remember to change your air filter on a regular basis 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 specific rooms as needed to uphold a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers contain a humidifier or dehumidifier, which manages the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier puts moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier takes out moisture in the summer.
- Control system: The control system is tasked with regulating 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 having issues with your air conditioner, air handler or other HVAC components, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is here to assist you. Our staff of knowledgeable specialists can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, so that it runs safely and efficiently. We believe in our exceptional work so much that we back each and every repair with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to schedule air conditioning repair in North America, please contact a Service Experts office in your neighborhood today.