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 speak to 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 Commercial HVAC: 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 usually located inside the home and runs with both the heating and cooling pieces of your HVAC system. If you take a quick peep at an air handler, it may closely resemble a furnace. Air handlers can work with an air conditioner and holds 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 system, an air handler works together with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to heat and cool you home by transferring heat, rather than generating it, and the air handler helps move 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 complex and we're happy to explain the difference. An air handler contains the blower, and several other parts inside. 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 need to know about air handlers: if you’re looking for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll more than likely never need to know what an air handler is because it’s feasible that you won’t need one. However, if you’re looking for an electric heat pump, it’s helpful to know that an air handler will probably be a part of your home’s HVAC system.
Air Handler vs. Furnace
Air handlers and furnaces are usually mutually exclusive. If you have a furnace you won't need to worry about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be used with heat pumps and help manage air flow throughout the building. Some models also provide backup heating and cooling components to help out the heat pump. A furnace works a little differently. Instead of an air handler, furnaces have included blowers that move the hot air into your ductwork and disperse into 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 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 remove heat from inside your home through a variety 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 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 understand.
Understanding all of your home’s heating and cooling parts for the Toronto climate is probably a little idealistic, 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 professionals at Service Experts Commercial HVAC a call at 905-453-6700 or set up a free appointment online today.