Knowing the ins and outs of your furnace are a great idea when it comes to identifying issues within your home’s HVAC system. This can save you time and money because you can troubleshoot any heating system problems faster. So it’s always good to know a few HVAC terms, like furnaces and air handlers. It’s easy to think that these two are interchangeable terms when actually they are two different things.

The team at Sanborn’s answers your questions about air handlers and furnaces and explains the difference between these two systems.

Is a Furnace and Air Handler the Same Thing?

The difference between a furnace and an air handler is that a furnace creates heat while an air handler moves air. They are two different pieces of HVAC equipment. If you own a furnace, you don’t need a dedicated air handler because the furnace blower works to circulate air, both heated air and cooled air from your air conditioning system throughout your home. If you have a heat pump and not a furnace, then you may need a dedicated air handler to circulate the air.

How Does a Furnace Move Air?

Furnaces contain a blower and a heat source. The heat source is generated by natural gas, propane, electricity, or oil. Cold air is circulated by the blower across the heat source and the warm air circulates throughout your home. The blower is very similar to an air handler.

In most central air conditioning systems, the blower fan in furnaces circulates cool air. In this way, furnaces and air handlers are very similar. Cold air created by the air conditioner is moved into the home by the blower and old air is moved out via return ducts. A furnace may also be used with a heat pump. This is where many people become confused.

Air handlers move air throughout HVAC systems instead of a furnace. These appliances look very similar and typically mount in the same location as an air handler.

When Do You Need an Air Handler?

For new homes, remodels and system replacements, some homeowners are eliminating furnaces and for air handlers and heat pumps. An air source heat pump needs either a furnace or an air handler to move air within your home. Many older homes and homes in colder climates use a furnace alongside a heat pump. If you do not have a furnace you will need an air handler to circulate air throughout your HVAC system.

An air handler has some unique characteristics that appeal to many homeowners. For homeowners focused on the most energy-efficient and dependable heating and cooling system, the combination of a heat pump and air handler is a popular choice. These systems are exceptionally efficient and do not produce any direct emissions. Air handlers are quiet, improve indoor air quality, and are specifically designed to prevent energy loss.

How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling System?

Choosing the best heating and cooling system requires careful research and consideration of your goals. In many areas of the country and throughout much of California heat pumps and air handlers replace furnaces. For some climates, conventional furnaces and air conditioner combinations are the most efficient way to protect your family and property from extreme weather. Some homeowners choose a dual heating system that capitalizes on the efficiency and lower carbon footprint of a heat pump alongside a conventional furnace to heat on the most frigid days.

Talk to Sanborn’s About Your HVAC System Options

For many homeowners, the purchase of heating and cooling equipment is an emergency replacement. When a furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner breaks during extreme weather fast installation is necessary. If you have time to consider the best option, working with a professional HVAC expert is best. Sanborn’s has an experienced and knowledgeable team. We stay up to date on the most recent data and regularly train with our manufacturers on advances in technology. Contact Sanborn’s today to learn more about which heating and cooling system would be best for your Redlands home.