What is an Air Handler, Anyway?
Okay, so maybe not everyone is interested in what makes up the typical HVAC system. But heck, we are! And if indoor comfort matters to you as a commercial building or home owner, well, you should be too. Today’s equipment can be complicated, so understanding some of the more common components of your system can be helpful.
First, what is a darn air handler, you may ask. The good news? If you have a conventional furnace or air conditioner, you probably don’t need to own one, let alone know what it is. However, if you are running a split-system air conditioner or have an electric heat pump, your system probably will use an air handler too.
Placed inside your home, it’s basically a metal box (also called a terminal unit) containing various important components of your HVAC system. Air handlers, complete with a blower mechanism, are responsible for moving both the hot or cool air around inside your home. This device (sometimes referred to as an AHU, if you want to use the lingo) also comes with an indoor coil used to heat and cool your home, along with a damper, filters, and the blower. The best (read: the most energy efficient) air handlers also come with a variable speed motor, too.
As mentioned above, air handlers aren’t used with a furnace. Furnaces typically have a combustion chamber, generating heat without the components you’d find inside an air handler. Air handlers aren’t used with conventional air conditioners either. Air handlers come with an indoor coil to blow cool air throughout your home. In contrast, air conditioners, typically placed outside the house, remove heat from indoor air and bring it outside. And hey, if you’re looking to really blow people away at a party, just mention the Joule-Thomson or Joule-Kelvin effect. This is the name for the process used in a conventional air conditioner to move warm air over a refrigerant coil in order to remove heat. Two guys named James Prescott Joule and William Thomson came up with this concept in 1852.
The bottom line? There are options beyond the typical air conditioner/condenser and furnace for heating and cooling your home. As technology gets more advanced, sometimes these other choices can be just as energy efficient, if not more so. If you’re considering a new HVAC system, get in touch with your Air-Tro professional today to discuss what makes the most sense for your home. And equipped with your new terminology, you’ll sound like a pro, whatever system you decide upon.
Air-Tro has the HVAC solutions homeowners trust. We’ve been keeping California comfortable since 1969. Call us today at (626) 357-3535.