What Is An Air Handler In HVAC?

Whether it is an HVAC repair or a total HVAC system replacement, there are plenty of different terms associated with the HVAC industry.

It can get pretty confusing to a lot of consumers and not to mention all various pieces of heating and air conditioning equipment that boost our home’s energy efficiency and quality.

One of these is your air handler that is most likely the indoor component system that keeps your indoor temperature comfortable all year long.

What is an air handler in HVAC? Air handlers resemble a furnace that can run with an air conditioner containing an indoor coil. It is installed inside your home, operating with both heating and cooling components of your HVAC systems.

A Must Read: What Is The Difference Between AC Compressor And Condenser?

In this article, you will be able to learn more about air handlers. I will also discuss every part of this equipment, as well as its different types.

Also, look forward to the part where I will tackle the best time to replace air handlers and how to do it properly.

The Definition Of An Air Handler

The most straightforward definition of an air handler is that it works with the heating and cooling unit to deliver controlled temperature in your home.

It is a system that is used locally in your HVAC unit, and the installation typically occurs in some well-ventilated areas or areas without condensation or humidity.

Air handlers are responsible for regulating the temperature of the air before sending it to your ducts in your ventilation system.

Air moves through the air handler, passing through a filter to trap all the pollutants before the air passes through your ducts.

Your HVAC will then perform efficiently, and you will enjoy a much higher quality of air in your home.

Parts Of An Air Handler

Your air handler is responsible for regulating the circulation of your indoor air and the temperature of the air in your home. It is based on the temperature that you have set on your thermostat or control system.

Air handler consists of evaporator coils, blower motor, air filter, and the electrical and electronic components that are required to enhanced the indoor comfort level.

Here are some of the parts of an air handler and its definition and purpose:

Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils are most commonly known as the indoor coil, and it is a crucial component in the refrigeration cycle of your HVAC systems. It contains low-pressure, low-temperature refrigerant gas.

As the air passes over these coils, excess heat is absorbed by the refrigerant to cool the air.

One of the primary elements of an air handler is its ability to absorb heat to start the cooling process.

When your home needs cool indoor air, the coil is cold, and it will remove humidity as the indoor air passes through it.

It is what makes the conditioned air feel colder in your entire home. On the other hand, when your house requires warm indoor air, the coil is warm, and it transfers the heat to the air that passes over it.

It makes the conditioned air to feel warmer throughout your house.

Blower Motor

The blower motor moves the air to the connected ductwork that circulates it into your indoor area. The blower motor can be a single speed, multi-speed, or variable speed model depending on the circumstance.

Single Speed

Single-speed operates at one fixed speed, and these motors usually are cycled on and off as required by the thermostat or the HVAC control system. It uses a motor and a fan that operates at one constant and continuous speed.


Multi-speed can function at multiple speeds depending on the demand. Most multi-speed blowers operate at 100% to meet all the high-demand thermostat or the control system settings.

A low-stage demand will only reduce the speed of the blower motors, and the low speed associated with it may reduce humidity levels.

As a result, it can provide sustained comfort and can be more energy-efficient compared to using a single-stage system.

This type of speed offers several speeds with greater accuracy when operating. The more speed it has, the more effective it will be in circulating the indoor air in every room in your home. This process will be more efficient and quiet.

Variable Speed

Variable-speed varies the fan speed to precisely take control of the flow of cooled or heated air.

It can be throughout your home and is based on your indoor comfort requirements.

This type of motor can help control all indoor humidity levels and can achieve a consistent temperature throughout your home.

According to studies, variable speed motors that are continuously running at half speed uses up to 25% of the power to move the same amount of air given.

This type of speed can guarantee precise functions that can meet any requirement.

It can adjust to varifying humidity levels while still being consistent in the temperature, and it can give you healthier indoor air quality.

Air Filters

Your HVAC unit’s air filter sits within your air handler between the fan and the intake ducting.

The air drawn to your HVAC system passes first through the filter to remove all the contaminants which are meant to protect the system.

Before you air-conditioned or heated air enters your ductwork, the filter is the one getting in contact with it.

This process is intended to minimize the wide number of particulates that are circulating your indoor area, accumulate in the ductwork, and it lands on the indoor components of your heat pump system.

Electric Heat Strips

These electric heat stips are an optional part, and it provides an auxiliary and electric heating option when conditions arise that require some activation.

Difference Between Air Conditioner And Air Handler

What makes air handler and air conditioner different are easy to determine. Both perform a different process. But most of the time, people believe these systems are the same.

In a general sense, they are two systems that work together closely. Air conditioners are the outdoor portion of your house’s cooling system while the air handler is the indoor portion.

These units and systems are both linked by refrigerant lines, and handlers help to facilitate the cooling process.

To be able to start the cooling process, the refrigerant in your unit’s evaporator coils absorb the heat from the airflow. The refrigerant will then cycles through the lines to the outdoor air conditioner.

Once it is at the outdoor unit, the air conditioner’s compressors raise the temperature and the pressure of the refrigerant and then sends it to the AC’s condenser coils.

The condenser coils will allow the heat to be released from the refrigerant into the outside air.

As a result, this lowers the refrigerant’s temperature and pressure before it cycles back to your indoors to the air handler.

The Impact Of Air Handler To The HVAC System

Without proper knowledge about air handlers, it can lead to complications and worst-case scenario.

It can break your heating and air conditioning system. For the central air system to excellently operate, all of the components of the system must be running to its highest level of performance and efficiency.

When units are not properly maintained, it suffers damaged components. As a result, your HVAC will operate less efficiently.

Especially when most parts inside are worn out and compromised, it prevents it from regulating the right temperature and the dispersal of your indoor air throughout your house.

Here are some of the common air handler issues that can impact the overall HVAC system’s performance:

  1. A faulty blower mother can’t circulate cool air properly and even draws too much power to be able to do its job.

  2. Evaporator coils that are covered in debris will end up not functioning at all and can limit the system’s ability to exchange heat properly.

  3. Last but not least is dirty filters that prevent air from flowing freely through the system correctly. As a result, this forces the HVAC systems to use more energy to generate cooler air for your home.

The Right Time In Replacing Air Handler

Older components of your HVAC systems simply do not work well as the new ones come out.

Over the past few years, air handlers lose their effectiveness, and older models do not have the capacity compared to the new ones.

It becomes less effective in filtering the contaminants, reduce noise, and generate a cooling environment.

When you decide to upgrade your home’s air handler, it gives your HVAC systems the high-performing components to be able to deliver the kind of cool comfort you need.

Aside from that, it helps in making sure that your energy consumption is still at a minimum level. If you plan to replace your air handler or the entire HVAC system, it is best to replace both at the same time.

It is because when they are installed together, they offer similar warranties to benefit you as a homeowner.

Meanwhile, if you wish to upgrade to a higher-efficiency unit, you are improving the overall performance of the unit. It is especially when all components are evenly matched.

Replacing one and not the other only compromises the unit’s efficiency and it will cost you more money on your energy utility cost in the long run.

When you decided to replace AC units or even heat pumps, a new unit will be needed every 10 to 12 years.

Air Handler Installation

When it comes to getting the best optimal performance for your HVAC systems, air handlers, and all other cooling components should be properly paired.

Plenty of manufacturers design handlers and outdoor heat equipment to work optimally as a matched system.

When you decided to replace your unit, you should also replace all central air components and vice versa if you are planning to replace your outdoor components.

MAtching air handlers with their respective HVAC systems is vital to any air conditioning performance in a lot of ways. The efficiency settings of HVAC systems are based on the performance of its counterpart system.

In coordination with your HVAC system’s ductwork, your air handler creates a recurring cycle at the same time.

It delivers air out to your indoor species through supply vents and draws air in your return vents.

On the other hand, even if your air handler is properly sized together with your hear pump, you should contact your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

They can give you inputs in making sure that the air supply and movement through your air handler are appropriately balanced.

Getting The Best Prices For Air Handlers

If you decided to upgrade, replace, or get a new air handler, it is essential to know how to get the best of the best out in the market today.

Making it your top priority to find the cheapest one can lead to some serious problems.

Contractors who offer affordable services typically cut corners when it comes to installation, and they don’t size the unit properly. These issues can lead to physical and mechanical failures.

When looking for the best deals for an air handler, you should keep in mind that installation quality is always the most important thing for an HVAC project.

You should never sacrifice contractor quality for a lower price. It is also very important to always look up some tax credit and rebates.

Lastly, you should ask for at least three bids from different contractors before making the decision.


Overall, air handlers are a vital part when it comes to delivering high-quality air in your indoor area.

They work hand in hand with your HVAC systems in making sure you are living your most comfortable life inside your home.

It is why it is essential always to check your air handlers as an inadequate amount of airflow in your supply vents can reduce the HVAC systems’ balance that could potentially ruin your unit.

Always check in with your licensed professional HVAC dealers if longevity, energy costs, and indoor comfort is your priority.

Recent Posts