What is an air handler and how does it help my system?

An air handler, or air handling unit (often called an AHU), is used to condition and circulate air as part of an HVAC system. An air handler usually contains a blower, heating or cooling elements, filter racks or chambers, sound attenuators, and dampers. Air handlers usually connect to ductwork that distribute the conditioned air through the building and return it to the AHU.

Small air handlers are called terminal units, and may only include an air filter, coil, and blower. These smaller units are also called blower coils or fan coil units. A larger air handler that conditions 100% outside air, and no re-circulated air, is known as a makeup air unit (MAU). An air handler designed for outdoor use, typically on roofs, is known as a rooftop unit (RTU).

The air handler employed in your air conditioner in part dictates efficiency, as well as your overall comfort level.

A variable-speed unit is one of the primary components you should be looking for when upgrading your air conditioner, in addition to a high seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), two-stage compressor and environmentally friendly refrigerant.

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