Air Handling Unit (AHU)

The Air Handling Unit is the Heart of a Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning System in air coolers. It takes fresh air from outside and conditions it before it is pumped into rooms through ducts.

An air handling unit is a vital component of HVAC systems responsible for circulating and conditioning the air within a building. This arrangement consists of various components such as fans, filters, coils, dampers, and controls. These parts work together to make sure the air is circulated properly, the temperature is controlled, and the air quality is maintained at a good level. For a long time, conventional Air Handling Units (AHUs) have been employed. However, recent progress has resulted in notable enhancements to their performance and effectiveness.

Energy Efficiency Improvements

AHUs are a vital component of commercial ventilation and air-conditioning system. They manage ventilation by collecting outdoor and room (air already present in the building) air, separating them from waste air, filtering it, adjusting temperature and humidity and then distributing a fresh supply of conditioned air throughout a building using ductwork.

They are particularly useful in large spaces that have limited natural ventilation, such as hotel dining rooms and conference or convention centres, where there are many simultaneous visitors. They also help to maintain ‘clean rooms’ such as laboratories and operating theatres by removing contaminated air and replacing it with fresh air.

Advances in energy efficiency mean that today’s air handling units are now designed to consume less energy. They do this by combining a range of technologies in an efficient package, including heat recovery and advanced control systems.

Variable-speed drives (VSDs) are now integrated into AHUs, allowing fans to operate at varying speeds based on demand, resulting in significant energy savings. Additionally, advanced control algorithms and sensors enable precise control over temperature and airflow, reducing energy wastage.

Smart Controls and Automation

Air handlers are massive indoor units of HVAC equipment that condition and circulate a building’s interior air through ductwork. They can either draw in fresh air from outside, or recirculate and condition existing indoor air to filter, cool, and heat it.

The air handlers fan blows air through its internal system of a mixing box, filters and cooling coil before it is blown into the ventilation ductwork network. They can be sized to meet different energy efficiency and comfort goals.

The most advanced air handling units feature variable blower speeds to match demand and reduce starting and stopping. These units can be controlled by a standard on/off thermostat or by an advanced building automation system. Moreover, advanced algorithms enable predictive maintenance, alerting facility managers about potential issues before they escalate.

Air Handlers in Building Ventilation and Temperature Control

An air handler regulates and circulates as part of a building’s ventilation, heating and cooling system. It’s critical for industrial settings like warehouses and manufacturing plants to keep employees safe and productive.

Fresh, conditioned air is distributed to indoor spaces through ductwork. During times when outdoor air (OA) is not needed for space conditioning, OA is recirculated back to the AHU through return and exhaust ductwork. This air is reconditioned in the mixing box and sent to non-hazardous indoor spaces.

The AHU contains a hot/cold water coil; reheat coil, air filter, humidifier and blower fans. The mixing box utilizes a thermal wheel or cross plate heat exchanger to exchange heat between chilled/heated water or refrigerant and OA to adjust the temperature. Labeling HVAC components is an effective method to help facilities personnel identify potential issues and prevent them from occurring. This is especially important for a facility’s most critical systems such as AHUs.

Role of Air Handling Units in HVAC Systems Enhancing Comfort and Safety

Air handling units are at the heart of a heating, ventilating and air conditioning system. They collect and condition air to circulate throughout the building, removing heat, adjusting humidity and ensuring high quality fresh air for the occupants.

AHUs can also help protect people and property in large facilities visited by many people, such as theatres or shopping malls, where the amount of carbon dioxide is strictly controlled. They can do this by filtering the air, ensuring that dangerous viruses, bacteria and odours are excluded.

Advanced technologies and custom features are packed into a streamlined package that’s easy to install and maintain. They combine energy recovery technology with a humidification solution, unit control and dampers that are fully compliant with ERP (Ergonomics of the Working Environment) requirements. The result is an AHU with a high quality air supply, meeting stringent hygiene standards and delivering maximum energy savings.


Q1. What is an air handling unit (AHU)?

A. Air handling unit is a crucial component of HVAC systems that circulates and conditions the air within a building. It consists of fans, filters, coils, dampers, and controls that work together to ensure proper air circulation, temperature control, and air quality maintenance.

Q2. How does an air handling unit improve energy efficiency?

A. Advancements in energy efficiency have led to improved performance in air handling units. They achieve energy savings through technologies such as variable-speed drives (VSDs), which allow fans to operate at varying speeds based on demand. Additionally, advanced control algorithms and sensors enable precise control over temperature and airflow, reducing energy wastage.

Q3. What are the benefits of smart controls and automation in air handling units?

A. Smart controls and automation enhance the functionality of air handling units. They enable variable blower speeds to match demand, reducing starting and stopping cycles. Air handling units can be controlled by standard thermostats or advanced building automation systems. Advanced algorithms also facilitate predictive maintenance, notifying facility managers about potential issues before they escalate.

Q4. How do air handlers contribute to building ventilation and temperature control?

A. Air handlers play a crucial role in regulating and circulating air within a building's ventilation, heating, and cooling system. They distribute fresh, conditioned air through ductwork and can recirculate and condition existing indoor air. Air handlers contain components such as a hot/cold water coil, air filter, humidifier, and blower fans to adjust the temperature and maintain indoor air quality.

Q5. What are some key features to consider when selecting an air handling unit?

A. When selecting an air handling unit, key features to consider include energy efficiency ratings, the presence of variable-speed drives, advanced control systems, filtration capabilities, ease of maintenance, and compliance with hygiene standards and regulations.


The advancements in Air Handling Unit (AHU) technology have revolutionized the field of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. AHUs, often regarded as the heart of such systems, have undergone significant improvements that enhance performance and efficiency. These units are essential for maintaining optimal air quality and comfort in various indoor spaces, especially in large areas with limited natural ventilation.

The integration of the latest technology has led to remarkable progress in AHU design. Energy efficiency has taken center stage, with features such as variable-speed drives, heat recovery mechanisms, and advanced control systems becoming standard components. These innovations enable AHUs to consume less energy while effectively conditioning and distributing fresh air throughout buildings.

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