If you’re searching for heating and cooling services, you may come across confusing, sometimes contradictory information about various kinds of HVAC systems. One element that causes a lot 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 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 range in size, type and capacity, dependent on the application.
Some people use the words “air handler” and “blower” interchangeably, but this is not right. An air handler is an entire unit containing a blower and numerous 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 required. However, in climates where home heating is not required, an air conditioner may be the only HVAC equipment present. In this instance, the indoor air handler runs in tandem with the outside unit, known 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 deliver cooled, dehumidified air back into the building via ductwork. Refrigerant lines attach the air handler to the outdoor condenser, enabling the heat transfer to the outside. This enables 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 reliable, they are sometimes installed alongside furnaces, creating what’s known as a dual-fuel system. However, advancements in cold-climate heat pumps make dual-fuel systems less typical in recent times. Because there is no furnace to lend its blower motor, heat pumps need a dedicated air handler to move conditioned air.
Heat pumps work by pulling heat from the outside air and shifting it inside through the indoor coil. The air handler blows air across the coil to acquire heat before circulating it inside the building. A heat pump can also be used for cooling, where it pulls heat from the indoor air and transmits it outside, just like an air conditioner.
Does a Furnace Use an Air Handler?
No. Furnaces come with a blower motor to distribute conditioned air. The blower is typically located inside the furnace. It forces air across the heat exchanger, a metal component that moves heat from a fuel source to the air blowing across it. The fuel source can be natural gas, propane or oil, which is ignited to generate heat. Once heated, the air spreads back through the ductwork system and back 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 moves air through the ductwork. It forces air across the heating or cooling elements to control the indoor temperature.
- Heating or cooling elements: According to the type of HVAC system you own, the air handler may contain heating or cooling elements, including an evaporator coil or backup electric heat strip.
- Air filter: An HVAC air filter eliminates dust, dirt and other contamination from the air as it goes 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 structures with zoned heating and cooling. They can be manually or automatically operated to direct air to specific rooms as desired to uphold a comfortable temperature.
- Humidifier or dehumidifier: Some air handlers have a humidifier or dehumidifier, which controls the indoor relative humidity level. A humidifier puts moisture into the air in the winter, while a dehumidifier removes moisture in the summer.
- Control system: The control system is tasked with regulating the air handler. It sometimes will include a thermostat, humidistat or other sensors to gauge the temperature and humidity in the building.
Schedule Air Conditioner or Air Handler Repair
If you’re suffering from issues with your air conditioner, air handler or other HVAC components, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning is here to assist you. 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 back all repairs with a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to set your home up air conditioning repair in North America, please phone a Service Experts office in your neighborhood today.