What does an air handler do?
If you have a split-system air conditioner or heat pump, you’re probably familiar with an air handler – even if you ended up going with a gas furnace. This is one of the indoor systems that can be paired with your heat pump or air conditioner to make a complete HVAC system.
But, what exactly does an air handler do and how does it differ from a gas furnace?
Well, unlike a gas furnace, an air handler doesn’t heat on its own or use natural gas. Instead, it is powered by electricity (often being mistaken for an “electric furnace”). Air handlers also help provide heat when necessary through electric backup heat strips or, can facilitate heat creation when paired with a heat pump. However, backup heat strips should be used sparingly as they use electricity to create original heat (which can be much costlier than the heat transfer process employed by a heat pump or the heat creation process using natural gas).
Basically, an air handler houses your indoor, evaporator coil and parts of your air distribution system. It is generally housed in a closet, attic or basement and connects to your air distribution network (i.e. ductwork). This is also one of the places your filter could be located. These systems can be great options for homeowners who only need the heating and cooling power of a heat pump. Or, if you can meet your year-round HVAC needs with an air conditioner.
Did you know that your air handler and your air conditioner (or heat pump) must be properly matched in order to provide expected efficiency and performance levels? That is why it is critical that you replace both your outdoor and indoor equipment when buying a new system.
As always, if something seems off with your air handler, call a professional heating and air contractor. They will be able to let you know if something is wrong.
Did you already know this about air handlers? What else do you want to know about air handlers?