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

The HVAC system is developed to pursue the thermal satisfaction of occupants by regulating and altering the outdoor air conditions to the suitable/favorable conditions for intended places.

The HVAC appliance includes a heating device, ventilation device, and cooling device. HVAC systems are vastly used in different types of installations such as industrial, residential, commercial and institutional, etc.

What is an Air Conditioner?

An air conditioner is a machine that distributes cold air inside an enclosed area by eliminating/ transferring heat and dampness from the indoor air to the outside.

In the air conditioner, warm air inside an area goes through return ducts and then crosses the refrigerant coil. When the warm air blows over the cooled coil, heat pulls out and refrigerant cords send the heat outside.

Air Conditioner Components & Their Functions:

  • Blower:

    The purpose of the blower is to stimulate air movement to the area that is being conditioned. It circulates cooled air inside the area and pulls warm air back for re-cooling.

  • Evaporator coil:

    This segment is placed near the blower and is responsible for removing warmness and humidity from the air.

  • Compressor:

    The absorbed heat then passes through the compressor, which is placed in the outdoor unit, it circulates the refrigerant for heat conversion through the indoor coils to the outdoor coil unit, it also distributes the energy of the refrigerant.

  • Condensing coil:

    This is the outdoor component of the evaporator coil. As the refrigerant moves from the compressor to the condenser, it removes the heat obtained from the indoors to the outside. When the refrigerant is cooled to a liquid, it circulates back inside to receive more heat in the evaporator coil.

  • Air filter:

    Air filters prevent damage to AC components caused by dust and dirt. Air Filters also improve indoor air condition while the air conditioner is working.

  • Thermostat:

    This is the command center of the whole air conditioning system. It goes over the indoor temperature and instructs the air conditioner when to turn on and off. You can fix the temperature scale as per your need. The higher you set the thermostat, the lower your cooling charges will be.

Types of Air Conditioners:

Air conditioners come in various structures and sizes, with all their unique advantages and disadvantages;

  • Window Air Conditioners:

    These are used to maintain the temperature in a small space. They incorporate the compressor, condenser, coils, and evaporator all in one unit. Window air conditioners are formulated to fit into the window of a room, so they normally do not require any considerable home amendments for installation.

  • Portable Air Conditioners:

    Portable air conditioners are quite manageable to change positions when compared to other units, yet they still need a window kit to be installed.

    Portable air conditioners have a relatively low up-front cost. Though, if they run long, they are likely to cost you more in electricity consumption as compared to others.

  • Split Air Conditioners:

    These ductless structures are rather popular in modern homes. They are inferred as split systems because they are comprised of two units, one is kept inside your home and one outside. They can either be used to cool or heat individual areas, otherwise, multi-zone systems can be installed.

    Despite the primary cost, they tend to be more cost-effective than window or portable segments. A split air conditioner will need minor changes to your home, like holes for the piping.

  • Central Air Conditioning:

    Central air conditioning can be the most productive in multiple conditions. It is comprised of a large compressor on the exterior of the building, an interior evaporative component, and openings /chimneys that carry conditioned air to several rooms through vents. The central air conditioning will require some notable transformations to your home and uphold a high upfront cost.

What is an Air Handler?

An air handler, or air handling component regulates and circulates the air as an aspect of a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system.

An air handler is a large metal box having a blower, heating or cooling items, filter racks or chambers, sound attenuators, and dampers.

It usually fits inside the house and regulates the heating and cooling units of the HVAC systems.

The air handler assembly in indoor components of your HVAC system can improve air quality and ventilation.

Components of an Air Handler:

Depending on the area following elements can change but most commonly they're the basic components of an air handler;

  • Blower Motor:

    It helps to move air through the corresponding ductwork to distribute air throughout the house.

  • Connectors:

    Air-collection unit that attaches the supply and returns ductwork throughout the indoors to the air handler. The supply ducts give away conditioned air to ventilation and the return ducts bring unconditioned air back into the system to be screened and reconditioned.

  • Air Filter:

    Safeguard the inner segments by deterring particulates from the incoming air.

  • Air handlers can be paired with an air conditioner, heat pump, and occasionally with a mini-split network for both heating and cooling purposes. Further, air handlers can also be fitted with a heating coil to provide extra heat.

    • Air handler vs Heat Pump:

      As an air conditioner can only cool the heat pump can function as a cooling and heating component. It operates simultaneously with the air handler to circulate the warm or cool air to interior areas.

    • Air handler vs blower:

      Air handlers are not blowers. An air handler encompasses the blower and many other pieces of the component. An air handler contains the components like dampers, filters, and mixing chambers.

      The blower is just one part of the system that moves the air throughout the space. It usually fits inside the house and runs with both the heating and cooling elements of the HVAC system.

    • Air Handler vs Furnace:

      Air handlers and furnaces are not always set up together. If there is a furnace then there is no need for an air handler.

      Furnaces have constitutive blowers that drag the warmed air into the ventilation unit and distribute it throughout the area. Also having combustion chambers that can create heat and additional factors too that an air handler doesn't have.

    Types of Air Handlers:

    Air handlers come in different types. You can have a single-speed, two-speed, or variable-speed version.

    • Single-speed:

      Operates at a single, static speed. These motors are regulated on and off as instructed by a thermostat or command system. It is an economical option having two different modes either 100% on or 100% off.

    • Two-Speed or Multi-Speed:

      It Has the ability.to perform at multiple speeds, depending on the need. It operates at 100% to satisfy a high-command thermostat. A low-stage pressure will decrease the speed of the blower motor. This low speed reduces humidity levels and lends sustained assistance and is more energy-efficient than a single speed.

    • Variable-Speed:

      Air handlers have many blower settings that alter the speed of the fan to control the flow of hot or cool air throughout your space on the basis of your requirements. From 100% power to as low as 40%. They modulate between speeds to deliver optimal satisfaction. The variable-speed motor running continuously at a half-speed consumes 25% of the energy to run the similar percentage of air.


AJ Milbes

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