Differences Between Common HVAC Units

We’ve seen the confusion in everyone’s faces when we say these words: air conditioners, air handlers, chillers, etc. I’m sure that these words to anyone that isn’t in the HVAC field is just nonsense. Let me break it down..

Air Conditioners

An air conditioning unit is designed to remove heat and dehumidify an area. The cooling process is done through a cycle of refrigerant/Freon inside the unit. A condenser is a basic component of the unit and is used to remove the heat from the system. These are use to transfer the heat to air or heat to fluid to carry the heat away.

Air Handlers

An air handler is used to circulate air. This usually contains a blower, filter racks, dampers, and a heating/cooling element. Air handlers are normally connected to duct work that distributes the cool air through the building or return to the handling unit.


A chiller uses vapor-compression or absorption to remove heat from liquid. This cooled liquid flows through pipes and coils in the air handlers and fan-coil in order to cool and dehumidify the air in the building. There are two types of chillers: air-cooled and water-cooled. Air-cooled chillers consists of condenser coils that are cooled by fan-driver air and are normally outside. Water-cooled chillers are usually inside a building and heat is transferred by re-circulating water to a heat sink.

If you have any questions, give us a call 310 530 0504.

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