It is commonly believed that the air heating and air conditioning system in your home is collectively called the air conditioner. But in reality, the system consists of two separate entities that work together to cool your home. The team of professionals at ADA Heating and Air can help you learn the differences between air conditioners and handlers, as well as how they work together. ADA Heating and Air provides services to the following areas: Danville, Nicholasville, Versailles, Lexington, Harrodsburg, Stanford, Winchester, Lancaster and the surrounding areas.
What is an Air Conditioner?
Apart from what most people believe, the air conditioner is the condensing unit that is placed outside of the home. The air conditioner does not blow cold air into the home. Instead, it removes heat from the home by supplying compressed refrigerant, formally the very well known chemical Freon, to the evaporator coil, which removes the heat from the air and returns the now cool air in the home.
When the thermostat tells the unit to cool the home, the air conditioner contains a compressor that is used to convert the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid so it can be used to absorb heat in the air, and thus supplying cool air to the home. If you have a heat pump in your home, when in heating mode, the process is reversed. The heat pump absorbs heat from the outdoor air, condenses it into a liquid and pumps it into the air handler, which supplies warm air to the home.
What is an Air Handler?
In an air heating and conditioning system, the air handler is the indoor component that has the components to move the air throughout the home. The air handler contains the evaporator coil, the blower, the air filter, and other safety components. The evaporator coil consists of tubing that contains the refrigerant and connects the evaporator coil inside the air handler to the outdoor unit. The blower is the main component of the air handler that physically moves either air over the evaporator coil, or through the furnace, to supply treated air throughout the home. The air filter ensures that all air that enters the home is filtered from debris in the air.
There are a variety of different air handlers that vary the speed settings of the blower. The single speed unit has a fan motor that operates at a single speed. The five-speed unit is more precise and provides more effective air circulation compared to the single speed motor. Finally, the variable speed fan motor is run consistently throughout the day at low speeds to maintain the interior temperature. Variable speed fan units are more efficient and quieter, but they can cost up to 30 percent more than the single speed unit. However, the energy savings it provides can recoup the upfront cost in the unit quickly.
Air handlers also include gas or electric furnaces within the unit. If an air handler contains a furnace, there will be different components depending on if it is gas or electric. A gas furnace including components such as the burner, a heat exchanger, ductwork, and a flue or vent pipes. Electric furnaces simply have the series of coils that are heated to high temperatures, similarly to how a stove works.
How do the Air Conditioner and the Air Handler Work?
First, the condensing unit compresses the refrigerant that is present in the air handler line set. Once the refrigerant is liquefied, it is passed back into the home to the air handler evaporator coil. After passing through the air handler evaporator coil, the refrigerant is converted into a gas. As the refrigerant is converted into a gas, it is able to absorb heat from the air flowing over the evaporator coil. Finally, the refrigerant gas is passed back to the outdoor air conditioner unit and is compressed back into a liquid.