Whether it’s AC repair or total AC system replacement, there are various terms within the HVAC industry that can get baffling for homeowners. Not to mention all of the different pieces of heating and air conditioning equipment that can be used to increase your home’s energy efficiency and air quality. Of course we can’t speak to all of the variations in a single blog post, so we’ll take a look at one of the routine inquiries we see at A-PLUS 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 normally located inside the home and runs with both the heating and cooling components of your HVAC system. If you take a quick glance at an air handler, it may closely resemble a furnace. Air handlers can operate 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 air conditioner, an air handler works as a team with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to regulate temperature by transferring heat, rather than creating it, and the air handler moves all that heated or cooled air.
Air handler vs blower
Air handlers are not blowers. This confuses some people, but it's not that complicated and we're happy to explain the difference. An air handler has the blower, and several other pieces within. You may have dampers, filters, mixing chambers and more in an air handler. The blower is just one component of many.
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 searching for an electric heat pump, it’s helpful to know that an air handler will most 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 won't need to worry about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be setup with heat pumps and help improve air flow throughout the building. Some models also provide extra heating and cooling elements to help out the heat pump. A furnace works differently. Instead of an air handler, furnaces have included blowers that move the warmed air into your ventilation and disperse through your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and burn fuel to make 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 mix-ups with air conditioners is that they cool the existing air in your home. Air conditioners actually take heat from inside your home through a host of parts inside 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 passes across a refrigerant coil. As the warm air is blown across the cooled coil, heat is removed. Refrigerant lines then send 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 comprehend.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling parts for the Waldorf climate is probably a little impractical, 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 experts at A-PLUS a call at 301-747-3140 or set up a free appointment online today.