Whether it’s AC repair or total AC system replacement, there are various 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 speak to all of the variations in one blog post, so we’ll take a look at one of the routine inquiries we see at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning: 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 runs with both the heating and cooling parts of your HVAC system. If you take a quick glance at an air handler, it might closely resemble a furnace. Air handlers can operate with an air conditioner and contains the indoor coil, used to cool and heat your home depending on which system it’s operating with.
Air handler vs Heat Pump
Exactly like an air handler runs with an air conditioner, an air handler works together with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to heat and cool you home by transferring heat, rather than producing it, and the air handler helps move all that heated or cooled air.
Air handler vs blower
Air handlers are not blowers. This can be confusing for some people, but it's not that complicated and we're happy to explain the difference. An air handler contains the blower, and several other components 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 ought to know about air handlers: if you’re in the market for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll probably never need to know what an air handler is because it’s probable 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 shouldn't need to be concerned about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be paired up with heat pumps and help regulate air flow throughout the building. Some air handlers also provide backup 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 ducts and disperse into your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and create heat, they don't need some of the parts you'll find in a modern air handler.
Air conditioners contain the condenser and are usually set 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 pull out heat from inside your home through a host of pieces 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 passes across a refrigerant coil. As the warm air is blown across the cooled coil, heat is removed. Refrigerant lines then carry 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 understand.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling components for the Raleigh climate is probably a little unrealistic, but there are a few 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 Service Experts a call at 919-578-4329 or set up a free appointment online today.