Whether it’s AC repair or total AC system replacement, there are a variety of 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 improve your home’s energy efficiency and air quality. Of course we can’t write about all of the variations in a short blog post, so we’ll take a look at one of the routine inquiries we see at Stevenson 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 operates with both the heating and cooling components of your HVAC system. If you take a quick look at an air handler, it can closely resemble a furnace. Air handlers can work 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
Just like an air handler can work with an AC, an air handler works in tandem with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to regulate temperature by transferring heat, rather than generating it, and the air handler moves all that heated or cooled air.
Air handler vs blower
Air handlers are not blowers. This confuses some of our customers, but it's not too hard to understand 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 piece of the pie.
Here’s what you should know about air handlers: if you’re looking for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll probably never need to know what an air handler is because it’s feasible that 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 most likely be a part of your home’s HVAC system.
Air Handler vs. Furnace
Air handlers and furnaces aren't often found together. If you have a furnace you probably don't need to think about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be setup with heat pumps and help regulate 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 included blowers that move the warmed air into your ductwork and disperse throughout your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and make heat, they don't have some of the parts you'll find in a modern air handler.
Air conditioners contain the condenser and are traditionally situated 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 variety of components 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 drawn into the system through return ducts and then pass 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 complicated than that, but the process itself is easy to break down and comprehend.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling components for the Columbus climate is probably a little impractical, 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 Stevenson Service Experts a call at 614-334-3192 or set up a free appointment online today.