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What Is An Air Handling Unit?

With the recent release of our combined air handling unit (AHU) and heat pump we thought it would be a good idea to write an explainer for what an AHU is and does.

What does an air handling unit do?

Essentially, and air handling unit is made up of several elements combined into one box unit. These elements have various functions related to the processing of air for a building – air conditioning, purifying or renewing would all be functions.

The main functions that an AHU would be installed for would be:

-Filtration and purification. You may want your AHU to control the air quality reaching the interior of your building.
-Air temperature management. You may want your AHU to regulate the temperature of your building.
-Humidity monitoring. You may want to control the humidity of the interior of your building for comfort or for certain industrial processes.

Or, a combination of the above.

What are the main components of an air handling unit?

The components will naturally depend on what functions you want your AHU to carry out. But here are some examples of the main elements:

Intake. The AHU needs to have an intake so it can draw in air from the outside, which is then processed and released inside.
Filter. The AHU may need a filter if you want to control the purity of the air coming into your building. It may be filtering out dust, pollutants, odours or viruses/bacteria.
Fan. Used to propel the air from the AHU into the interior of your building.
Heat exchangers: if you’re using your AHU to control temperature (as you would be with our Spruce combined AHU/heat pump) you’d have exchangers to transfer temperature between your refrigerant and the air.
Sound attenuators: You’d want sound attenuators to reduce the noise emitting from your AHU.
Humidifiers: often needed in colder climates where heating the air may make it drier. You’d want humidifiers to introduce moisture into the air blowing into your interior.

How does a combined air handling unit and heat pump work?

Our combined AHU/CO2 heat pump – the Spruce – has proven extremely popular since released in early 2023. As heat pumps become more and more popular as methods of decarbonisation, many commercial buildings are going to need to install one and then connect it to an AHU – which can be expensive and time consuming. It will require more components, more space and more structural/access/maintenance considerations.

Our combined AHU and heat pump would replace the existing AHU and make for a more efficient, more easily maintained unit. It’s a flexible unit, adjusted to the building’s specific air quality, humidity and temperature requirements, and produces an air off of 30 degrees C and an airflow of 8m3.

For more information about the Spruce combined AHU/heat pump, download the data sheet here or contact us to talk to a sales representative.