Is An Air Handler A Furnace? A Comprehensive Analysis


Rima Chatterjee

An air handler is a part of the heating or cooling system in your home. It has a fan to circulate air and an evaporator coil to cool it. A furnace is different – it heats the air with fuel or electricity. It doesn’t have the same components as an air handler. So, an air handler isn’t a type of furnace. But, an air handler can be used to distribute warm air when used with other heating devices.

Pro Tip: Before buying any HVAC equipment, understand what each component does. Get help from an experienced HVAC professional.

Is An Air Handler A Furnace

What is an air handler?


To understand what an air handler is and how it may benefit your home’s HVAC system, I’ll walk you through each key component of an air handler. Additionally, I’ll briefly introduce you to the different types of air handlers, so that you may select the best one for your home.

Components of an air handler

An air handler is a device to control and moves air inside a building. Its components are varied and vital for proper operation.

  • Filters – These stop dust, dirt, and other unwelcome things from entering the system.
  • Blower – Centrifugal force from the motor drives air through ducts.
  • Dampers – They regulate or close off some ducts for the right airflow.

Air handlers can change to meet needs like humidity control or temperature adjustment in different weathers.

For efficiency, clean filters regularly and replace them if necessary. Inspect dampers, belts, and bearings regularly to avoid malfunctions, which could cost more energy and lower performance. Air handlers come in all shapes and sizes, like your exes.

Types of air handlers

Air handlers: a must for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. They control the temperature and air quality of a building. Here’s an overview of the different types of air handlers, their applications, and features.

Packaged Air Handlers:

These are great for smaller commercial and industrial spaces. Compact design with limited features.

Custom Air Handlers:

For large commercial and industrial spaces. Can be designed for specific functions, like humidity control.

Modular Air Handlers:

Perfect for variable air volume HVAC systems. Can adapt to changes in load requirements.

Plus, there are special air handlers for specific applications, like clean rooms or laboratories. Each type of air handler has distinct features, so it’s essential to choose the right one for your space. It’ll help optimize energy consumption and ensure a comfortable indoor environment. Don’t forget to consult an HVAC technician to get the ideal furnace cuddle for your needs!

What is a furnace?


To understand furnaces and how they work, with the various types available, let me tell you about the components of a furnace and the different types of furnaces that exist. Understanding each component, like the heat exchanger, blower, and control system, of a furnace, is essential in identifying potential problems with your device. Meanwhile, knowing the types of furnaces available – gas, electric, and oil furnaces, will help you decide which of these you may need.

Components of a furnace

Furnaces are essential to any home or building, so it’s vital to understand the parts. Here’s a look at what makes up a furnace:

ComponentDescription
ThermostatControls temperature by switching furnace off/on
BurnerGenerates flames that heat air moving through the furnace
Heat exchangerTransfers heat from combustion gases to the air. Air is then circulated throughout the building
BlowerBlows warm air throughout the building
DuctworkSends hot air to different areas inside

Modern furnaces usually have extra features like air filters, humidifiers, and electronic ignition systems. It’s amazing to think of how furnaces have changed over time. One homeowner found an old coal-fired furnace in their basement that had been blocked off for decades. Although it couldn’t be used, it was a great reminder of how much heating tech has developed! From blast to vacuum, furnaces come in all types – showing heat and variety always go together.

Types of furnaces

Various furnaces are available for home and business use. Each has different features and advantages to meet different heating needs. Here’s a look at the common furnace types:

Types of FurnacesDescriptionProsCons
Gas FurnaceBurns gas to heat air circulated through ducts.– Efficient- Low fuel costs- Reliable- Warms quickly– Need gas line- Costly upfront
Electric FurnaceUses electric coils for heat, circulated through ducts.– Lower cost upfront than gas models- Easy installation– High electricity usage
Oil FurnaceTurns oil into heat, then sends it through ductwork.– Energy efficient- Heat is strong and steady.- Versatile burner designs.– Needs maintenance.- Expensive fuel.- Regular oil delivery.

Before choosing a furnace, take into account factors like your home size and the climate you live in. If it’s cold, you may want a high-efficiency furnace. Get help from a professional before buying and fitting a furnace.

Don’t let the chill get you down! Choose the right furnace and stay warm all winter.

Differences between an air handler and a furnace


To understand the key differences between an air handler and a furnace, it is essential to understand how they work. Knowing how each heating device works can help you figure out which type of home each device is best suited for. In this section, we will explore the two sub-sections: how air handlers and furnaces work and which homes are best suited for each type of device.

How do they work?

Air handlers and furnaces are two distinct ways of providing warmth to your home. Air handlers distribute hot or cold air, while furnaces heat metal coils with combustion or electricity. Air handlers are usually paired with heat pumps. Furnaces are often powered by gas or electricity. But, maintenance is needed for both systems to work properly.

Air handlers are more than just ‘air conditioner boxes.’ They filter dust, improve air quality, and integrate with other HVAC equipment. Furnaces come in different efficiency levels, ranging from 98% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE).

A friend recently experienced a furnace breakdown due to a lack of maintenance. The repair came with an expensive price tag. To prevent this from happening in the future, filters should be replaced every three months and annual inspections must be done by professionals.

The best choice between an air handler and a furnace depends on the particular heating and cooling needs of your home.

Which homes are best suited for each?

Air handlers and furnaces are two common heating systems for homes. Each has features that make it suited for certain types of houses.

Air HandlerFurnace
Homes in warmer regionsHomes in colder regions
Houses with ductwork and air conditioning systemsHouses without ductwork or air conditioning systems
Saves space – indoors in attics, basements, or garagesTakes up more space – outdoors or in the dedicated mechanical room
Energy efficient – less power to run, good for large housesMay consume more energy to operate compared to air handlers
Better air quality due to filters and humidifiers – great for people with respiratory problems like asthmaExcellent heating – venting out harmful gases like carbon monoxide

If you need a compact heating system, an air handler is perfect for homes in hot climates. Furnaces are ideal for homes in colder regions. They heat up faster due to their high BTU output. The use of furnaces dates back to ancient Rome; they used wood, coal, or natural gas.

In the end, you must choose the system that fits your needs best. Learn about the unique features of each system and make an informed decision. It’s like deciding between a snow blower or a shovel – both work, but one is more efficient.

Advantages and disadvantages of using an air handler and a furnace


To make an informed decision, in order for you to choose between an air handler and a furnace for your home heating needs, knowing their advantages and disadvantages is key. We will explore the pros and cons of each. The first sub-sections will delve into the air handler’s advantages and disadvantages, while the second will address the pros and cons of using a furnace for home heating.

Air handler advantages and disadvantages

An Air Handler Unit (AHU) is an inside device that regulates and moves air as part of a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. They come in many sizes, shapes, and configurations for residential and industrial use. Here are the pros and cons of using an AHU.

  • Advantages:
    • Better air quality due to better circulation and filtration.
    • Can be used with different heating sources.
    • Increased efficiency from variables like zoning or fan speed.
    • Lower start-up cost than other HVAC systems.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Frequent filter changes are needed for proper airflow.
    • Higher energy use from constant blower operation.
    • Noisy due to constant airflow.
    • Not much flexibility in home design.

AHUs work best in places that need a central heating system, despite the drawbacks. Hospitals, hotels, schools, and other businesses with high ventilation requirements use AHUs. Changing the filter every three months stops buildup and keeps the airflow going. Cleaning coils and lubricating motors often are also necessary.

Pro Tip: Get accurate load calculations before buying your AHU. This helps ensure even heating and lower energy costs in the long run. Furnaces may keep you warm, but they can be expensive.

Furnace advantages and disadvantages

Furnaces make your home toasty during winter! But they have pros and cons. Benefits include:

  • Providing effective heating fast
  • Power options such as natural gas, oil, propane, or electricity
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years

Drawbacks:

  • Require regular maintenance
  • Noisy

When picking a furnace, choose one that fits your living space. My friend had a misadventure with their new furnace. The contractor failed to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, causing malfunctions. It cost them time and money, plus headaches.

Conclusion


Air handlers and furnaces both work to heat, cool and ventilate a home. However, air handlers just move air through the house without providing heat. Furnaces create hot air to keep the house warm. Homeowners have several options when selecting between an air handler or a furnace. These include house size, needs, budget, and location. Air handlers remove contaminants from the air. They come in various shapes and sizes. Electric heat or hydronic coils can be used to increase energy efficiency. When choosing air handlers or furnaces, homeowners should consider things like heating source, cost, fuel type, and how often they’ll need replacement parts. Different HVAC brands produce components for specific preferences.

About the author

Debarghya Roy: A heating systems author, Passionate about energy efficiency and sustainability, Sharing insights and empowering readers through informative blog articles.