Most people have air conditioning. But not everyone knows an AC air handler and an air conditioner are different pieces of equipment. It’s important to know what each is when selecting a system. If these critical components are mismatched, your HVAC system will be much less efficient. We’ll look at the differences between the air handler and your AC below.
How Does an AC Air Handler Work?
An air handler is the part of your HVAC system that controls airflow. Located inside your home, its primary purpose is to circulate and distribute air evenly. Most units are connected to your heating and cooling system, but some furnaces incorporate a blower that’s part of the air handler. The air handler doesn’t heat or cool air (unless your model integrates a cooling coil or heating element).
Generally, an air handler is closely integrated with the evaporator coil, which is a crucial component of an air conditioner. It helps remove humidity when cooler air passes over it. When warm air is required, the coil transfers heat to the air that moves around it, helping your home feel warmer.
An AC air handler also consists of these components:
- Blower Motor: The motor moves air from the air handler into the ductwork. It can be a single-speed motor that only cycles on or off, a multi-speed motor that can operate at 100% or a lower stage, or a variable-speed motor that can adapt to your comfort requirements at incremental levels to conserve energy.
- Air Filter: Air passes through a filter before it is pushed into the ductwork, reducing the number of particulates circulating in the system and your home. It also prevents these particulates from building up in ducts and other HVAC components.
- Ductwork Connections: The air handler features an air supply and return plenum connection, so it can deliver conditioned air to interior rooms and accept return air that is to be heated or cooled.
How Does an Air Conditioner Function?
An air conditioner is a machine that removes heat. To do so, it moves warm air over a coil that contains refrigerant. This coolant absorbs heat so the air around it is cooled. The warmed refrigerant circulates to an outdoor unit where the heat is released (via coils in an outdoor unit). In the process, the refrigerant cools once again, and the cycle repeats. It involves the removal of heat (so it feels cooler), rather than the movement of lower-temperature air.
An air conditioner is just one component of your HVAC system. Even if your air handler has coils, it can’t significantly change the air temperature on its own. The AC has the job of cooling the air. Or, if you have a heat pump, it will provide cool air when it’s in cooling mode.
Like an air conditioner, an AC air handler must be properly sized and matched with other components in the system. Otherwise, you could end up with insufficient airflow in your ductwork. Improper sizing can also reduce efficiency, indoor comfort, and the lifespan of HVAC equipment.
Air Stars Can Install, Maintain, and Repair AC Air Handlers
Air Stars provides AC replacement and installation, HVAC repair, and other heating and cooling services in the Willamette Valley. Whether your air conditioner or AC air handler needs repairs or it’s time to install or update your HVAC system, you can trust our trained professionals for high-quality service. We provide financing options and the Star Treatment Maintenance Plan to ensure your system gets the service it needs. To request help, book service online or call (503) 744-5879 today.