Understanding the Functions of an HVAC Air Handler

An air handler is a part of an HVAC system. If you are new to this, HVAC means heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The system boosts the air quality and energy efficiency inside your house. An HVAC air handler is quite different from an air conditioner, and this article will cover the key differences and different types of Air Handlers.

What is an Air Handler?

Most HVAC systems have a split system, meaning they have an indoor as well as an outdoor unit. The air handler is the indoor unit. It takes care of operating the cooling and heating components of the HVAC system. Like most machines, an air handler has several components such as the evaporator coil and air filter that make up the blower, which moves the freshly conditioned air throughout the house. Looking a bit like a furnace, an air handler contains an indoor coil that runs with either a heat pump or an air conditioner to heat or cool the house.

Without the HVAC air handler, you’ll have poor air circulation inside your house. Moreover, the quality of the indoor air will be poor. A properly installed air handler ensures that you’ll stay comfortable inside the house during the summer and winter. The unit functions to move cool or warm air from your air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace into every inch of your house.

While the air handler has heat strips for added heating power, it is not an electric furnace. The heat strips in the air handler enable the unit to give off sufficient heat when the temperature outside gets a bit colder but still not that cold that you have to use a furnace.

Types of Air Handlers

Just like the other components of an HVAC system, there are several types of air handlers.

  • The single-speed one has a fan motor that runs at one fixed speed only.
  • Five-speed air handlers will be more precise in their operations, offering more efficient air circulation. It is quieter as well.
  • A variable-speed air handler that varies the fan speed according to the comfort requirements of the user. This type of air handler unit (AHU) is good in assuring a consistent temperature indoors, improving the air quality inside your house, and controlling humidity levels.

If you have a boiler system, the hydronic air handler is designed to work with it while the insulated air handler is for homeowners who want an AHU that’s super quiet.

Should you buy an air handler or a furnace?

Knowing what type of temperature is prevalent in your area will help you decide what type of heating or cooling equipment you need.

If you live in an area with mild temperatures, it is recommended that you invest in a split-type air conditioner that has an indoor air handler and an outdoor condensing unit. Homeowners in areas with cooler temperatures should have a heat pump and HVAC air handler installed so they can properly address their cooling and heating requirements. For Washington residents in the area where the temperature could turn frigid, a high-efficiency gas furnace will be a good investment.