Whether it’s AC repair or total AC system replacement, there are various terms within the HVAC industry that can get confusing 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 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 typically set inside the home and operates with both the heating and cooling pieces of your HVAC system. If you take a quick look 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 works with an AC system, an air handler works in tandem with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to control your comfort by transferring heat, rather than creating 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 too complex and we're happy to explain the difference. An air handler includes the blower, and several other components inside. 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 ought to know about air handlers: if you’re looking for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll likely never need to know what an air handler is because it’s feasible that 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 probably don't need to worry about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be paired up with heat pumps and help regulate air flow throughout the house. Some units also provide backup heating and cooling components 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 throughout your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and make heat, they don't need some of the parts you'll find in a typical 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 number of parts 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 comprehend.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling pieces for the Naples climate is probably a little impractical, but there are a number of 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 239-908-6991 or set up a free appointment online today.