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 baffling 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 speak to 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 normally located inside the home and operates with both the heating and cooling parts of your HVAC system. If you take a quick look at an air handler, it may 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 working with. 

Air handler vs Heat Pump 

Just like an air handler works with an AC, 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 assists in moving all that heated or cooled air. 

Air handler vs blower 

Air handlers are not blowers. This can be confusing for some folks, but it’s not too complex and we’re happy to explain the difference. An air handler has the blower, and several other parts in the unit. 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 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 looking 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 don’t normally pair together. If you have a furnace you won’t need to be concerned about an air handler. Air handlers tend to be paired up with heat pumps and help improve air flow throughout the building. Some models also provide extra heating and cooling parts to help out the heat pump. A furnace works a little differently. Instead of an air handler, furnaces have built in blowers that move the hot air into your ductwork and disperse through your home. Since furnaces have combustion chambers and make heat, they don’t have some of the parts you’ll find in a typical air handler. 

Air Conditioners 

Air conditioners contain the condenser and are usually 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 take heat from inside your home through a host of pieces 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 pulled into the system through return ducts and then go over 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 complicated 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 Columbus climate is probably a little unrealistic, 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 professionals 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.