Whether it’s AC repair or total AC system replacement, there are a variety of terms within the HVAC industry that can get puzzling 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 single blog post, so we’ll take a look at one of the more common inquiries we see at Air Engineers Service Experts: what’s the difference between an air conditioner and an air handler?
What is an Air Handler?
An air handler contains the components that move the air throughout your home, called the blower. It is typically set inside the home and operates with both the heating and cooling parts of your HVAC system. If you take a quick look at an air handler, it may 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 running with.
Air handler vs Heat Pump
Just like an air handler works with an air conditioner, an air handler works in tandem with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to regulate temperature by transferring heat, rather than creating it, and the air handler assists in moving all that heated or cooled air.
Air handler vs blower
Air handlers are not blowers. This puzzles some folks, but it's not that complicated and we're happy to explain the difference. An air handler includes the blower, and several other components in the unit. You may have dampers, filters, mixing chambers and more in an air handler. The blower is just one piece of the pie.
Here’s what you ought to know about air handlers: if you’re searching for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll likely never need to know what an air handler is because it’s probable you won’t need one. However, if you’re in the market 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 don't normally pair together. If you have a furnace you shouldn't need to be concerned about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be paired up with heat pumps and help improve air flow throughout the house. Some models also provide backup heating and cooling elements to help out the heat pump. A furnace works on a different concept. Instead of an air handler, furnaces have their own blowers that move the heated air into your ducts and disperse into your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and make heat, they don't require some of the parts you'll find in a modern air handler.
Air conditioners contain the condenser and are typically set outside the home. One of the most common confusions with air conditioners is that they cool the existing air in your home. Air conditioners actually take heat from inside your home through a variety of pieces within 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 brought 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 complex than that, but the process itself is easy to break down and understand.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling parts for the Jacksonville climate is probably a little unrealistic, 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 professionals at Air Engineers a call at 904-450-5672 or set up a free appointment online today.