What’s the Difference Between an Air Conditioner and Air Handler?

Whether it’s AC repair or total AC system replacement, there are a number of 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 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 equipment that moves the air throughout your home, called the blower. It is typically situated inside the home and works with both the heating and cooling components of your HVAC system. If you take a quick peep 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 operating with. 

Air handler vs Heat Pump 

Just like an air handler can work with an AC system, an air handler works in tandem with your heat pump. Heat pumps are used to heat and cool you home by transferring heat, rather than creating it, and the air handler assists in moving all that heated or cooled air. 

Air handler vs blower 

Air handlers are not blowers. This confuses some people, but it’s not that complicated and we’re happy to explain the difference. An air handler has the blower, and several other parts 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 need to know about air handlers: if you’re in the market for a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you’ll likely 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 probably 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 worry about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be setup with heat pumps and help improve 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 their own blowers that move the hot air into your ducts and disperse through your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and create heat, they don’t have some of the parts you’ll find in a modern air handler. 

Air Conditioners 

Air conditioners contain the condenser and are typically 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 remove heat from inside your home through a host of parts inside 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 passes across 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 complex 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 Columbus climate is probably a little impractical, but there are a couple 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. 

Savings For You

See All Offers Here >
Offer

$50 OFF ANY REPAIR

  • Save $50 on a Paid Service
  • Written 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Plus, ask how to save an additional 15% and waive your trip charge!
print
Offer

MAKE NO PAYMENTS FOR 30 DAYS!

  • Upgrade to Worry-Free Comfort with the Advantage Program and make NO payments for 30 days!
print

© 2024 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.

Chat with a Service Experts Professional