Air Texas A/C & Heating

The Difference Explained: Air Handlers vs. Air Conditioners

Industrial air handler versus residential air conditioner unit.

There’s no place like home, especially when it feels comfortable.

Whether you’re looking for a calm haven in the summer heat or a cozy refuge from winter chills, our HVAC systems play a significant role in creating the perfect indoor environment.

In a previous article, we discussed the essential parts of an HVAC system. You can learn more about them by clicking our post.

But the inner workings of these comfort machines can get a little confusing. Take air handlers and air conditioners, for example. Although often used interchangeably, these two components are quite different.

Understanding the distinction can help you troubleshoot problems, make informed decisions about your system, and ultimately, breathe easier in a home that feels just right.

So ditch the confusion and join us as we explain the difference between air handlers and air conditioners!

Unveiling the Air Handler's Magic

Large industrial air handlers on a rooftop

Ever wondered how cool or warm air magically travels throughout your home? That’s the magic of the air handler! In simple terms, an air handler is the maestro of air movement in your HVAC system.

It takes in air from your home, guides it through a series of components, and then pushes it out through the ductwork to all your rooms. This ensures consistent air circulation, keeping your home feeling comfortable.

Inside the air handler, there’s a hardworking team:

  • A blower motor acts like a powerful lungs, pushing air through the system.
  • Filters work as vigilant security guards, trapping dust and allergens before they enter your breathing space.
  • There might also be additional components like dampers that adjust airflow to specific areas.

While we won’t delve into the details, remembering these key players will help you understand the air handler’s role in keeping your home comfortable.

Unveiling the Air Conditioner´s Magic

Wall-mounted indoor air conditioner unit in a modern room

The air handler keeps things moving, but what about the actual cooling? That’s where the air conditioner steps in.

Its main job is to combat heat and humidity lurking inside your home, creating that refreshing breath of cool air.

Imagine an excellent sponge soaking up hot water. That’s how an air conditioner works but with a special liquid called refrigerant.

Inside the air conditioner, there’s a component called the evaporator coil. Thanks to the refrigerant circulating through it, this coil gets super cold.

As warm, muggy air from your home passes over the evaporator coil, heat is transferred to the cold coil. This cool-down process also condenses some moisture in the air, reducing humidity.

The air conditioner then sends the now-cooled and dehumidified air back through the ductwork for the air handler to distribute throughout your house.

While other components are involved, this basic principle keeps your home refreshingly cool on hot summer days.

The Key Difference: Movers vs. Chillers

Now that we’ve covered the basics of air handlers and air conditioners, it’s time to clarify the biggest confusion: what sets them apart?

Air conditioners cool indoor air by removing heat, while air handlers distribute conditioned air throughout your home via ductwork. Though they work together, they have distinct functions: cooling vs. circulation.

Here’s an analogy to solidify the concept: Think of your air handler as a powerful fan and the air conditioner as a high-tech refrigerator. The fan circulates air, while the refrigerator removes heat to keep things cool.

By understanding this core distinction, you can better appreciate the teamwork between these two components.

Working Together for Comfort

Imagine a well-coordinated relay race where each runner has a specific task. That’s how air handlers and air conditioners work together in a split-system HVAC!

Here’s a simplified breakdown:

1.     Warm air is drawn in:

The air handler sucks in warm air from your home through return vents.

2.     Filtering the flow:

The air passes through filters in the air handler, trapping dust and allergens.

3.     Off to the chill zone:

The air handler then pushes the filtered air towards the outdoor air conditioner unit.

4.     Cool transformation:

Inside the air conditioner, the warm air gets treated to a cooling experience, losing heat and humidity.

5.     Back to the comfort zone:

The now cool and dehumidified air travels back to the air handler.

6.     Air Distribution:

The air handler distributes the refreshing air throughout your home via the ductwork system, reaching every room.

This teamwork ensures a constant circulation of cool air, keeping your home comfortable.

Breathe Easy with Knowledge: The Power of Understanding Air Handlers and Air Conditioners

So, there you have it! We’ve untangled the mystery surrounding air handlers and air conditioners. Remember the key takeaway:

Air handlers move air, ensuring consistent circulation throughout your home. Air conditioners chill, removing heat and humidity to create a cool and refreshing environment.

Understanding this distinction empowers you in several ways:

  • Informed Decisions:
  • Troubleshooting Prowess
  • Optimal Comfort

Ready to breathe easy in a perfectly balanced home environment? Contact our expert HVAC service company today!

We’re happy to answer any further questions or help you schedule routine maintenance to keep your air handler and air conditioner working together seamlessly.

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