Air Handler placement in new build

piasanoJanuary 9, 2008

Hello there, everybody. :)

We are from the north, and are building a house in southern Florida. We have never had (or needed!) an air conditioner before, so I apologize in advance if my questions seem simple.

Our architect seems reluctant to position the air handler on a platform over a lower, rounder water heater than the usual tall, skinny ones. This is how the water heater/air handler placement was done in the condo we are renting here, and it seems like a very good way to save space.

Is there some reason why positioning the air handler on a platform over the water heater would be a bad idea?

Second question: On the part of the air handler that sucks the air in? We think it would be best to have that part facing into the main portion of the house. You know how they do, with a slatted bi-fold door to cover the part that pulls the air in. The architect feels that positioning the handler in that way will make the house less aesthetically pleasing. I am assuming because of the noise and maybe, a draft when the air handler is on? He continues to show the air handler pulling air in from the laundry room. The problem there as we see it is that the laundry room has a door which will always be closed, and is in a hallway with a pocket door which will generally be closed.

So how is the air handler supposed to pull air in from, or cool, the whole house?

Or am I wrong about how air handlers work altogether?

Third question: If the architect prevails and the air handler is positioned so that it pulls air from the laundry room, is it safe to put open shelving in front of it for canned goods?

Or should we insist that the part of the air handler that pulls the air in should open into the house?

Thank you so much.

Barbara

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cuffs054

Having grown up in FL and living with central AC/Heat my whole life, my opinion is that you can never have too many returns. When I had AC put in this house, I had a return put in every bedroom as well as main hall etc. While stacking HW and HVAC may save space, what about service/maintanance? Some installations can be really noisy. Have you discussed this with installer? Have you looked at "variable speed" air handler? I will never be without one again. Much easier to live with than regular fan system.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 9:23PM
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piasano

Is a return the vent the air comes out of once it has been cooled?

Maybe the noise issue is why the architect has enclosed the air handler and has it taking air in through the laundry room.

Can you explain a variable speed air handler?

The one we have here seems either to be on or off.

Is air handler placement (regarding air draw) less important than I think it is?

Would it be alright then to have it draw air from an encloed laundry room, rather than to have the part that draws the air in facing the main portion of the house?

I know some people put them in the attic.

Maybe I need to learn more about how they work.

Still, it's funny the architect has it set up that way when he knows that I wanted a shelving system in the utility room behind the air handler.

Or maybe they just aren't as complex as I thought.

Thanks!

Barbara

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 11:41AM
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garyg

Barb:

"Is a return the vent the air comes out of once it has been cooled?"
- No, that's the supply air. The return air (or recirculated air) is sucked from each room usually thru vents near the top of the walls (for summer).

"Maybe the noise issue is why the architect has enclosed the air handler and has it taking air in through the laundry room."
- Probably. Just make sure there is enough room in that closet for maintenance. You don't want to have to tear out the walls of that closet to replace a major part.

"Can you explain a variable speed air handler?"
- An air handler has either a fixed speed fan or a variable speed fan. A v-s fan motor can vary its speed to put out a constant volume of air under different ductwork conditions. A v-s fan can also be slowed down to remove more humidity in the summer time. They are now common in new residential installations but are very expensive to replace ($1000) if they fail out of warranty.

"Is air handler placement (regarding air draw) less important than I think it is?"
- It depends weather this is a furnace (gas/oil/propane) or just a plain air handler for a heat pump or straight a/c. If it's a furnace, then yes it matters because the furnace needs combustion air. If its not a furnace, then it doesn't really matter because the air handler is used to supply cooled/heated air and return/recycle the house air.

"I know some people put them in the attic."
- I don't recommend this. Too damn hot in the attic, especially in Florida. This will effect equipment operation as well as maintenance.

Keep asking questions.

Best to you.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 12:22PM
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piasano

Thank you ~ sincerely, thank you.

:)

Barbara

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 5:45PM
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stefanie_gardner

I have a similar query on air handler location. My AC company insists the only good location is my Garage and I'm told they'd have to put protective "Bollards" ? around it to protect it from my car hitting it. I asked how far these bollards would extend into my garage space , but frankly can't get a straight answer and concerned that I'll not get my car in. It's a smallish home with an attached, not so huge Garage.They'd have to allow some distance as the filter access is on the front of the air handler.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 7:14PM
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b2471057_klzlk_com

"You can't have too many returns"? thats ridiculos. returns are based on load calculations. Noisy installation? Get over it. those guys bust their ass and they'll be gone in 8 hrs.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 11:45AM
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