If you’re looking for heating and cooling services, you may find confusing, sometimes contradictory information about different HVAC systems. One element that creates a lot of confusion is the air handler. Is this the equivalent of an air conditioner? We’re here to help sort this out.
What Is an Air Handler?
An air handler is the indoor component of some types of HVAC systems. It [[connects|links|attaches|hooks up] 11] to a network of air ducts that distribute conditioned air through the building. Air handlers vary in size, type and capacity, based on the application.
Some individuals use the jargon of “air handler” and “blower” interchangeably, but this is not accurate. An air handler is an entire unit containing a blower and a number of other parts, all of which work together to condition and circulate the air.
Does an Air Conditioner Use an Air Handler?
Usually, an air conditioner [shares|uses|utilizes]109] the furnace’s blower motor, so no air handler is needed. However, in weather where home heating is not something that is necessary, an air conditioner may be the sole HVAC equipment present. In this instance, the indoor air handler works along with the outdoor unit, called 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 distribute cooled, dehumidified air back to the building through ductwork. Refrigerant lines attach the air handler to the outdoor condenser, assisting with the heat transfer to the outside. This allows air conditioning to uphold a constant, comfortable indoor temperature and humidity level.
Does a Heat Pump Use an Air Handler?
This is where air handlers are most typically found. In cold climates where heat pumps are less dependable, they are sometimes installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s called a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less typical as of late. Without a furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps will need a dedicated air handler to circulate conditioned air.
Heat pumps work by removing heat from the outside air and transferring it inside via the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to obtain heat before circulating it throughout the building. A heat pump can additionally be used for cooling, where it pulls 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 move conditioned air. The blower is usually found inside 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 generate heat. Once warmed, the air spreads 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 circulates air within the ductwork. It drives air across the heating or cooling elements to regulate the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: According to 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 takes dust, dirt and other impurities from the air as it enters the air handler to be heated or cooled. Air filter types and efficiency ratings vary based on system requirements. Remember to switch out your air filter regularly 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 particular 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 infuses moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier takes out 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 throughout 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. Our crew of talented techs can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, ensuring it runs safely and efficiently. We believe in our excellent work so much that we guarantee all repairs 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 near you today.