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 quite a bit of confusion is the air handler. Is this the equivalent of an air conditioner? We’re here to clear things up.
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 circulate conditioned air inside the building. Air handlers differ 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 several other components, 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 necessary. However, in climates where home heating is not something that is necessary, an air conditioner may be the sole HVAC equipment present. In this situation, the indoor air handler runs in tandem 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 into the building via ductwork. Refrigerant lines connect the air handler to the outdoor condenser, assisting with the heat transfer to the outside. This will permit the 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 effective, they are occasionally 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 typical in recent times. With no furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps need a dedicated air handler to move 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 throughout the building. A heat pump can also be used for cooling, where it retrieves heat from the indoor air and transmits 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 usually located 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 over it. The fuel source can be natural gas, propane or oil, which is ignited to produce heat. Once heated, the air is distributed 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 moves air by way of the ductwork. It moves air across the heating or cooling elements to regulate the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: According to the type of HVAC system you have, the air handler may have 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 flows 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 regularly to avoid 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 particular rooms as needed to keep a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers have 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 throughout 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 out. Our squad of experienced technicians can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, ensuring it runs safely and efficiently. We believe in our exceptional work so much that we stand behind every repair 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.