When most people hear the term “air handler,” they often confuse it with air conditioning. While an air handler can be part of an air conditioning system, there are many different kinds of air handlers and many different uses for an air handler.

What is an Air Handler for?

The most common use for an air handler is when it is paired with an outdoor air conditioning unit to complete an air conditioning system. Air handlers can be installed in the basement, attic, or closet, depending on the style and construction of your home. When combined with a properly-sized outdoor air conditioning unit and ductwork, they can distribute cool conditioned air throughout your home.

While this is the most common use for an air handler, there are other options available.

Air Handlers for Heating and Cooling

You can also install an outdoor heat pump unit and use the air handler for both the heating and cooling seasons. With this option, a back-up heat source, such as electric heat strips, may be needed as a heat pump may lose heating capacity as the outdoor temperature drops. When combined with a properly-sized outdoor heat pump unit and ductwork, they can distribute either heated or cooled conditioned air throughout your home. This option can be cost effective and help lower energy costs for those that heat their homes with hot water baseboard or electric heat and still desire the home comfort of air conditioning.

Another option if a home is heated with a hot water boiler, is to have an air handler installed that has both a hot water coil for heating and an evaporator coil for cooling. This option requires an outdoor air conditioning unit so that the system can also be used for cooling. When combined with a properly sized outdoor air conditioning unit and ductwork, air handlers can distribute either heated or cooled conditioned air throughout your home.

Air handlers can come equipped with variable speed ECM blower motors that use far less energy than conventional multi speed blower motors. They can automatically adjust the speed they are running at to offer more precise control of the airflow throughout your home, while reducing sound and maximizing energy efficiency. The ECM motor can run continuously on low speed when the system is not in use, and when installed with an air filter or purification system, can deliver clean and comfortable air to your family year round.