Air Handler Vs Furnace: Let’s End The Debate

Air Handler Vs Furnace

Let’s take a minute and compare Air Handler Vs Furnace. You might have to control the temperature of your house through a certain device so that you will feel comfortable. During winter, the house’s heating will give a warm feel, while during summer, you need the interior temperature to be cool and less exhausting. Among various devices, the air handler and furnace are two appliances that will control the temperature inside the house.

Suppose you don’t know the difference between these two devices, then by reading the blog, you will see the comparison between air handler vs furnace. Suppose you are planning two purchase an air handler or furnace then knowing their similarities and differences will help you decide which one will suit your house.

Imagine during winter, if you don’t have a proper heating system in your house, how difficult it would be to withstand the shivering cold. Hence, it is important to install a suitable heating system for your house to warm the place.

When considering heating the house, you might have the air handler and the furnace on your list. So, if you are confused in deciding which one will be most appropriate, you can learn in-depth about both devices by reading the article.

What is An Air Handler?

Before stepping into the comparison, let’s look briefly at this appliance. The air handler, which resembles the shape of a furnace, is a device that will help to control the indoor temperature of your house. An Air handler is a device that will help to make the interior of your home warm or cool by handling the air inside.

Several components in the system will contribute to the performance of the device. Some parts are coil, blower motor, air supply and return plenum connection, filter, and option electric heat strips. The device’s air conditioning mode will help cool the air as the refrigerant will remove the heat and moisture. Whereas if you turn on the heating mode, then the appliance will function to heat the air in the interior.  

What Is Furnace?

Most of you might know that the sole purpose of having a home furnace is to heat your house’s interior. This appliance will produce heat through combustion. When purchasing, there are different types of furnaces, so it is better to have an idea of these types as it will be helpful to select the most appropriate one.

Gas furnaces, oil furnaces, and electric furnaces are some of the types that will use different mechanisms to heat the house.

Air Handler Vs Furnace

Since you can use an air handler and a furnace to heat the interior of your house, you might be confused about which appliance to choose. So, here are some comparisons between air handler vs furnace, which make the task easy to select.

Making Its Own Heat

If you think that an air handler and a furnace are the same appliances that heat the interior space of a house or building, then you must know about these two products as they have some differences. One of the major differences is that the furnace will produce its heat, whereas the air handler is not capable of doing it.

As already mentioned in the article, the furnace will use natural gas, electricity, or propane when producing heat. In contrast, when you take the air handler, it will not make its heat instead, with the support of the heat pump it will heat the air. So, the mechanism used in each of the appliances to operate will be different from one another.


The physical appearance is the main aspect that confuses most people between an air handler and a furnace. When you take any furnace, it will have the shape of a rectangle, and the housing will be made using gray or silver metal. Since the air handler will also have a quite similar appearance to the furnace, there are possibilities for you to confuse between them.

Air Handler Is Capable of Function as a Heater and an Air Conditioner

Another major difference you will observe between these appliances is that the air handler will have the capacity to perform as an air conditioner, which is impossible in a furnace. Both furnace and the air handler will perform well to heat the interior of your house.

If you are expecting a device capable of working an air conditioner and a heater, then the air handler is the suitable appliance among these two. As previously mentioned, you might know that the heat pump is the device that will heat the air, so how will the air handler cool the air? The heat pump will also contribute to the cooling process, which will remove the heat in the air, and as a result, cool air will enter your house’s interior space.

Climate and the Suitable Appliance

It will be a great option if you plan to get a heating system for your house. In case you struggle to choose between an air handler and a furnace, then by considering the climate in the place you reside, choose the most appropriate one.

If you live in a place with extreme cold, then you might want the interior house to heat well to feel the warmth. Hence in such a situation, it is better to purchase a furnace as this appliance will work more efficiently and reliably compared to the air handler.

In contrast, heating your house to a certain extent will be sufficient if you live in a place with mild winter. So, it is better to go for an air handler in such situations. Now you might understand that an air handler will not be suitable for a climate like frigid winter because it cannot perform efficiently as a furnace.


Most often, the customer will also check the cost of the product to check whether the performance is worth the price. Suppose you are looking for an affordable heating appliance, then options will be available in the market. Comparing the cost of a furnace with an air handler is not practical since the furnace might be sometimes lower in price but will efficiently function.

On average, it will cost around $800 to $3000 to purchase an air handler, and the installation cost will be around $3500 to $7000. When you take the furnace, it will cost around $700 to $1000 to purchase the equipment for installation, you will have to pay around $1700 to $2500.

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