What is an air handling unit?

An air handler, or air handling unit (often abbreviated to AHU), is a device used to condition and circulate air as part of a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. Usually, an air handler is a large metal box containing a blower, heating and/or cooling elements, filter racks or chambers, sound attenuators, and dampers. Air handlers usually connect to duct work that distributes the conditioned air through the building, and returns it to the AHU. Sometimes AHUs discharge (supply) and admit (return) air directly to and from the space served, without ductwork.

Small air handlers, for local use, are called terminal units, and may only include an air filter, coil, and blower; these simple terminal units are called blower coils or fan coil unit. A larger air handler that conditions 100% outside air, and no recirculated air, is known as a makeup air unit (MAU). An air handler designed for outdoor use, typically on roofs, is known as a packaged unit (PU) or rooftop unit (RTU)