Whether it’s AC repair or total AC system replacement, there are various terms within the HVAC industry that can get confusing 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 talk about all of the variations in a short blog post, so we’ll take a look at one of the normal inquiries we see at All American Air Service Experts: what’s the difference between an air conditioner and an air handler?
What is an Air Handler?
An air handler contains the parts 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 pieces of your HVAC system. If you take a quick glance at an air handler, it might closely resemble a furnace. Air handlers can run with an air conditioner and holds 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 system, an air handler works in tandem with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to control your comfort by transferring heat, rather than generating it, and the air handler moves all that heated or cooled air.
Air handler vs blower
Air handlers are not blowers. This puzzles 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 parts 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 should know about air handlers: if you’re in the market for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll likely never need to know what an air handler is because it’s possible you won’t need one. However, if you’re looking for an electric heat pump, it’s helpful to know that an air handler will likely 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 won't need to think about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be used with heat pumps and help manage air flow throughout the house. Some units also provide backup heating and cooling elements to help out the heat pump. A furnace works a little differently. Instead of an air handler, furnaces have built in blowers that move the warmed air into your ducts and disperse into your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and create heat, they don't require some of the parts you'll find in a typical air handler.
Air conditioners contain the condenser and are traditionally placed 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 remove heat from inside your home through a number of components in 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 pulled into the system through return ducts and then go over a refrigerant coil. As the warm air is blown across the cooled coil, heat is removed. Refrigerant lines then transfer 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 complicated than that, but the process itself is easy to break down and digest.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling pieces for the Daytona Beach climate is probably a little idealistic, but there are a couple 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 All American Air a call at 386-310-2061 or set up a free appointment online today.