A frequently asked question is what is the difference between an air conditioner and an air handler? Well, you most likely are aware if you have a Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system in your home or business. An HVAC system is composed of several different elements. Today, we’ll explain to you what all those different elements are and how they help to heat or cool your home or office.

An AC unit or air conditioner is designed to dehumidify and cool down an area by removing heat. The cooling system works by using a simple cycling of the air through refrigeration. AC units use a condenser, a component of basic refrigeration systems that effectively removes heat from the air that is circulated through the system. The condenser is used in the heated side of an air conditioner. They are basically heat exchangers and can be used to transfer heat to air or to fluid, like water or glycol, to disperse and carry heat away from the air and unit.

So, Air Conditioner vs. Air Handler: What’s the Difference Now?

On the other hand, we have an air handler, oftentimes referred to as an AHU. AN AHU is a component that has the purpose of conditioning and circulating air. Air handlers are part of the entire HVAC system and made up of several components themselves. Components that compose up an air handler are the blower, heating and cooling elements, filter racks and chambers, sound attenuators, as well as dampers. An air handler will usually connect via the ductwork that is used to disperse the conditioned air and circulate it back through the system. Once it is circulated through the building and ductwork it will return to the AHU.

Smaller air handlers are also used, they’re known as terminal units, they most likely only have an air filter, coil and blower. These units which are smaller, may also be referred to as blower coils, or fan oil units. Bigger air handlers, which are used to condition 100% of the outside air, and use zero re-circulated air, are known as a makeup air unit or MAU. There is also the rooftop unit, which as the name implies, is an air handler found on a rooftop.

There is one more component of the system which I want to touch on briefly. The chiller, a chiller is used to remove heat from a liquid by the process of vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycle. The chilled liquid flows through pipes of a building and passes through the coils, fan-coil units, air handlers and other parts of the system. It cools down, and most often dehumidifies the air of the building.

Now that you have a better understanding of the different components of an HVAC system and know what the difference is between an air conditioner and air handler, do you remember when you last had yours serviced? Because without regular, routine maintenance and inspection, your unit will not run at its peak performance.

To get any questions answered, please Contact Us and we’ll be glad to set up a time to come pay you a visit and inspect your system. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!