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 talk about all of the variations in a short blog post, so we’ll take a look at one of the normal 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 parts 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 parts of your HVAC system. If you take a quick glance 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 working with.
Air handler vs Heat Pump
Exactly like an air handler runs 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 generating it, and the air handler assists in moving 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 too hard to understand and we're happy to explain the difference. An air handler contains the blower, and several other pieces inside. 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 need to know about air handlers: if you’re searching for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll probably 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 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 shouldn'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 air handlers also provide secondary heating and cooling parts to help out the heat pump. A furnace works differently. Instead of an air handler, furnaces have their own blowers that move the warmed air into your ducts and disperse through your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and burn fuel to 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 typically placed outside the home. One of the most common misunderstandings about 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 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 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 intricate than that, but the process itself is easy to break down and digest.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling components for the Shreveport 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 318-588-8163 or set up a free appointment online today.