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Air Handler vs. Gas Furnace: A Complete Comparison

couple relaxing - Air Handler vs. Gas Furnace: A Complete Comparison

When it comes to the air handler vs. gas furnace debate, differences and similarities to consider. Many homeowners believe they are one and the same, which is not true, but they do share features that can make it tricky to differentiate. Here is a breakdown so you’ll know the difference the next time it comes up.

What is a Gas Furnace?

A furnace is an appliance designed to produce heat using a fuel source. In the case of a gas furnace, the fuel source happens to be natural gas. A furnace comes equipped with a blower fan, and when your thermostat calls for heat, the furnace burns the fuel source to create heat, and the blower fan distributes it throughout your home via the ductwork. Once the set temperature has been reached, the furnace shuts off. Byproducts like carbon monoxide are filtered out during this process.

What is an Air Handler?

An air handler functions similarly to a furnace but does not use any type of fuel source. It uses a blower to distribute the air over a heated or cooled coil through your ductwork and into the home. The air handler is engineered in tandem with a specific tankless water heater to heat the coil, which heats the air as it passes over it. For cooling, the air conditioner chills the coil, cooling the air as it passes over it. Have questions about air handlers or furnaces? Contact our team at DC Air today; we would be happy to answer your questions.

What are the Differences Between an Air Handler and a Natural Gas Furnace?

The main difference between an air handler and a gas furnace is that a furnace utilizes fossil fuels to operate, while an air handler is a hydronic-based system. Since it does not use any form of fossil fuel to function, an air handler is considered a “greener” option than a furnace.

Are There Any Similarities?

Despite the obvious differences, there are a few similarities:
  • They both contain a blower to circulate air through the house
  • Both use a coil for cooling (this coil is separate from the heating coil in an air handler)
  • They each have single and variable-speed models available
  • There are different sizes of both available to accommodate the size of the house
  • A thermostat controls each system
  • Price point for a newly installed system is fairly similar

Air Handler vs. Gas Furnace: Which Should I Choose?

The type of system you should choose depends on your specific situation, your needs and which factors are important to you. In some scenarios, an air handler would work best, while in others, a furnace makes the most sense. Typically, in a retrofit application, an air handler can be more difficult or not applicable to install on an already existing system where a furnace could swap in without issue. On a new build application, an air handler could be a more attractive option, being “greener’ and saving money on gas bills!

We’ve Got Options

Still not sure which is the right choice for your home? Get in touch with us at DC Air today, and we will help you go over your options.