Air Handlers Vs. Gas Furnaces: 10 things you should know about these two indoor units
Did you know that air handlers and gas furnaces can look similar, but do VERY different things? Do you know what’s in your home? As we’ve discussed before, knowing which system you have can influence how you heat and cool your home, how high your utility expenses are, how you go about routine maintenance, etc. And it so happens, that if you are in a cold area – knowing the difference is a big deal.
Both air handlers and gas furnaces pair with your air conditioner or heat pump, and are located in either a closet, attic or basement. This is why it can be confusing to tell the difference between the two. In fact, the two systems can look so similar you may think you have an “electric furnace” when in actuality, you have an air handler.
If you have a heat pump, remember, if temperatures frequently drop below freezing it is a good idea to pair your heat pump with a gas furnace – not an air handler. This is so you prevent your heat pump from frequently switching over to emergency heat mode. This is when backup heat, usually in the form of strips, kicks on – using electricity to create original heat. Generally, this is the least monetarily-savvy way to heat your home (when compared to electric heat transfer or original heat from gas).
There are only a few places around the country where an air conditioner is going to be paired with only an air handler. This includes the most southern parts of Florida and Texas – places that rarely see temperatures shy of 60F. With heat pumps,there may be many places in the South that you can get away with having a heat pump paired with an air handler. Again, these are places that generally don’t see temperatures south of freezing. For the rest of the country, if you have a split system, you most likely have some form of a furnace – whether that is gas, electric or oil-powered.
Still don’t know which type of system you have? You can talk to your local heating and cooling contractor. If it seems like maybe the wrong type of system is in your home (i.e. you need the power of gas heating) you can also talk to your local heating and air contractor.