If you’re looking for heating and cooling services, you may encounter confusing, sometimes contradictory information about various kinds of HVAC systems. One element that creates quite a bit 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 models of HVAC systems. It [[connects|links|attaches|hooks up] 11] to a network of air ducts that distribute conditioned air throughout the building. Air handlers differ in size, type and capacity, depending on the application.
Some people use the words “air handler” and “blower” interchangeably, but this is not correct. An air handler is an entire unit containing a blower and a number of other elements, all of which work together to condition and circulate the air.
Does an Air Conditioner Use an Air Handler?
Normally, an air conditioner [shares|uses|utilizes]109] the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is needed. However, in climates where home heating is not required, an air conditioner may be the lone HVAC equipment present. In this instance, the indoor air handler runs in tandem with the outside 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 link the air handler to the outdoor condenser, facilitating the heat transfer to the outside. This allows 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 commonly found. In cold climates where heat pumps are less dependable, they are sometimes 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 these days. Because there is no furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps need a dedicated air handler to disperse conditioned air.
Heat pumps work by pulling heat from the outside air and moving it inside through the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to obtain heat before circulating it all over the building. A heat pump can also be used for cooling, where it extracts heat from the indoor air and moves it outside, just like an air conditioner.
Does a Furnace Use an Air Handler?
No. Furnaces are equipped with a blower motor to distribute conditioned air. The blower is usually housed inside the furnace. It pushes air across the heat exchanger, a metal component that transfers 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, the air is dispersed back through the ductwork system and inside 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 by way of the ductwork. It drives air across the heating or cooling elements to manage the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: Based on the type of HVAC system you own, 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 enters the air handler to be heated or cooled. Air filter types and efficiency ratings vary according to the system requirements. Remember to change your air filter routinely to avoid restricting airflow through the system.
- Dampers: Dampers are used to control airflow in properties with zoned heating and cooling. They can be manually or automatically operated 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 controls the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier infuses moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier removes moisture in the summer.
- Control system: The control system is responsible for regulating the air handler. It sometimes will include a thermostat, humidistat or other sensors to track 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 help you out. Our squad 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 exceptional work so much that we back all repairs with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to request air conditioning repair in North America, please reach out to a Service Experts office in your neighborhood today.