Air Handling Unit

An air handling unit (or air handler) is a device that is used to regulate and circulate air in homes and/or commercial buildings. An air handling unit is part of a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system and usually contains features such as a blower, filter racks or chambers, heating/cooling elements, and dampers.

Features of an air handling unit:

  • Blower
  • Filter Racks
  • Chambers
  • Heating/Cooling Elements
  • Sound Attenuators
  • Dampers
  • Control Panel
  • Relay Switches

How Air Handler Units Work

Air handlers can run with either an air conditioner or a heat pump and typically connect to a building’s ductwork ventilation system. The air handler uses the blower to push conditioned air through the ductwork and distribute it throughout your home or building. The airflow then returns back to the AHU and it recycles. Sometimes, however, ductwork isn’t involved and instead, the AHU supplies and returns air directly to and from the area.

Air handlers vary their speeds based on your heating and cooling needs. In return, they contribute to the overall efficiency of your HVAC system; the more efficient your air handler is, the less work your outdoor unit will have to do and the more efficient your system will be.

Types of Air Handling Units

There are different types of air handlers, from small to large. Small air handlers are called terminal units and are often used for local use. Because of their size, they may only include an air filter, coil, and blower and can also be called blower coils or fan coil units.

Larger air handlers condition 100% outside air (instead of recirculated air) and are known as makeup air units (MAUs). Other air handlers that are designed specifically for outdoor use (often on roofs) are known as packaged units (PUs) or rooftop units (RTUs).

Types of air handlers:

  • Terminal Units: Smaller, designed for local use
  • MAUs: Larger, designed to condition 100% outdoor air
  • PUs/RTUs: Larger, designed for outdoor roof use

Do You Need One?

If you’re looking for a conventional air conditioner or furnace, you’ll likely not have to worry about an air handling unit. But if you’re in the market for an electric heat pump, it’s important to know what role the air handler plays – it will be the indoor unit that complements your outdoor unit. Deciding what type of system you need for your home or building can be confusing, so if you’re unsure of what would be best, don’t hesitate to contact our experts.