If you’re hunting for heating and cooling services, you may encounter confusing, sometimes contradictory information about different HVAC systems. One thing that creates quite a bit of confusion is the air handler. Is this another way to describe an air conditioner? We’re here to clear things up.
What Is an Air Handler?
An air handler is the indoor portion of some types of HVAC systems. It [[connects|links|attaches|hooks up] 11] to a network of air ducts that circulate conditioned air throughout the building. Air handlers differ in size, type and capacity, based on the application.
Some individuals use the terms “air handler” and “blower” interchangeably, but this is not correct. 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 required. However, in weather where home heating is not required, an air conditioner may be the only HVAC equipment present. In this case, the indoor air handler operates in conjunction with the outdoors 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 circulate cooled, dehumidified air back to the building using ductwork. Refrigerant lines connect the air handler to the outdoor condenser, enabling the heat transfer to the outside. This allows air conditioning to preserve 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 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 common as of late. Because there is no furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps need a dedicated air handler to circulate conditioned air.
Heat pumps work by pulling heat from the outside air and shifting it inside using 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 distribute conditioned air. The blower is most likely housed in the interior of the furnace. It pushes 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 create heat. Once warmed up, the air is dispersed back through the ductwork system and 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 disperses air through 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 have installed in your home, 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 airborne debris 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 replace your air filter on a regular basis to prevent 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 powered to direct air to specific rooms as needed to maintain 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 gets rid of 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 in 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 assist you. Our staff of Expert technicians can diagnose and repair any problems with your climate control system, so that it runs safely and efficiently. We believe in our exemplary 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 area today.