What is an Air Handler on an Air Conditioner: Explained

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Have you ever wondered how your air conditioner effectively cools and circulates air throughout your home? Well, the secret lies in an essential component known as the air handler. In this article, we will delve into the world of air handlers, unraveling their significance and how they contribute to the efficient functioning of your air conditioning system.

Components of an Air Handler

Understanding the Main Components

To grasp the role of an air handler, it’s crucial to understand its key components. An air handler typically consists of four main parts: the blower, evaporator coil, air filter, and housing.

  • The blower is responsible for circulating the conditioned air throughout your home. It draws warm air from the rooms, passes it over the evaporator coil, and then blows the cooled air back into the rooms.

  • The evaporator coil plays a vital role in the cooling process. It contains refrigerant that absorbs heat from the air, transforming it into cool air before being circulated back into your living spaces.

  • The air filter is an essential component that helps trap dust, pollen, and other airborne particles, ensuring cleaner air quality. It prevents these contaminants from entering your living spaces and potentially causing respiratory issues.

  • The housing houses all the components together, providing a protective casing for the air handler.

Understanding how these components work together is key to comprehending the functionality of an air handler.

How an Air Handler Works in an Air Conditioner

The Air Handling Process

Now that we’re familiar with the components, let’s explore how an air handler works in conjunction with your air conditioner.

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When you adjust the thermostat to a desired temperature, the air conditioner kicks into action. The air handler initiates the cooling process by drawing warm air from the rooms through the return ducts. As the warm air enters the air handler, it passes over the evaporator coil. The refrigerant within the coil absorbs the heat from the air, transforming it into cold air. The blower then circulates this cooled air back into the rooms through the supply ducts, effectively lowering the temperature and maintaining a comfortable indoor environment.

Beyond temperature regulation, the air handler also helps manage humidity levels. As warm air passes over the evaporator coil, moisture condenses on the coil’s surface. This condensation drips into a condensate pan and is drained away, reducing the humidity in your home.

Benefits of Having an Air Handler in an Air Conditioner

Enhanced Indoor Air Quality

One of the significant advantages of incorporating an air handler into your air conditioning system is the improvement in indoor air quality. The air filter within the air handler captures various airborne particles, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. By removing these contaminants from the air, the air handler ensures that you and your loved ones breathe in cleaner, healthier air.

Optimal Comfort and Efficiency

Another benefit of having an air handler is the enhanced comfort it provides. By effectively distributing the cooled air throughout your home, the air handler helps maintain consistent temperatures across different rooms. This eliminates hot spots or uneven cooling, ensuring a comfortable environment in every corner of your house.

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Moreover, an air handler contributes to the overall energy efficiency of your air conditioning system. With a well-functioning air handler, your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard to cool your home, resulting in lower energy consumption and reduced utility bills.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about Air Handlers

1. What is the lifespan of an air handler?

The lifespan of an air handler can vary depending on various factors, including usage, maintenance, and quality. On average, a well-maintained air handler can last between 10 to 15 years.

2. Can I replace just the air handler without replacing the entire air conditioning system?

Yes, it is possible to replace just the air handler without replacing the entire air conditioning system. However, it’s essential to consult with a professional HVAC technician to ensure compatibility and efficiency.

3. How often should I change the air filter in my air handler?

It is generally recommended to change the air filter in your air handler every 30 to 90 days, depending on factors such as air quality and usage. Regular filter replacements help maintain optimal performance and indoor air quality.

4. Can an air handler be used without an air conditioner?

Yes, an air handler can be used without an air conditioner. In such cases, it can be employed as part of a heat pump system or in conjunction with other heating or cooling devices.


In conclusion, an air handler is a vital component of an air conditioning system, working behind the scenes to ensure optimal indoor comfort and air quality. By understanding its components and functionality, you can appreciate the crucial role an air handler plays in cooling and circulating air throughout your home. So, the next time you enjoy a refreshing breeze from your air conditioner, remember to thank the air handler for its unwavering contribution to your comfort.

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