Smart Solutions

Tips for Choosing the Best Air-Handling Unit for the Job

Choosing the right air-handling unit for your customer’s setting (such as this YORK Solution XT unit from Johnson Controls) makes installation simpler, saving you time and money.

With lots of air-handling units to choose from, such as YORK® Solution units from Johnson Controls, HVAC contractors have the flexibility to find the best unit for some of the most demanding applications, including hospitals, theaters, schools and universities, government facilities, and office buildings. Contractors can customize the size and components of air-handling units to accommodate a building’s space constraints, performance needs, and budget. Choosing the right unit can make installation simpler and faster, saving you time and money. When selecting air-handling units for a project, consider the following questions:

1. Overall, what should I keep in mind when choosing an air-handling unit?

Consider the needs and requirements of the building or facility, as well as the features, benefits, and installation options of the air-handling unit. A unit specifically designed and manufactured for a certain application ensures speedy installation, reliable operation, and a satisfied customer.

2. Where will the unit be installed?

An air-handling unit in an office building, for example, requires different functionalities and levels of maintenance than one that’s located in a hospital operating room. Air-handling units designed and optimized for particular applications will perform more efficiently in the designated spaces.

3. What functions are required for the customer’s space, and what energy sources are available?

Depending on the application, various components can be added to the air-handling unit to address specific functions, including heating, cooling, filtration, humidification, and energy recovery. In addition, the unit can be designed to accommodate various energy sources to distribute conditioned air in the most cost-efficient way possible.

4. What size must the air-handler unit be for the customer’s application?

For the greatest degree of flexibility and ease on the jobsite, choose an air-handling unit that can handle the project’s architectural, mechanical room, and space constraints. If you use building information modeling (BIM), find out whether the manufacturer offers unit-specific digital models so designers can confirm in advance that the air handler will accurately fit the space.

5. Is the unit easy to install?

An efficient, smooth installation ensures that the job gets done on time without incurring any additional costs. Should the unit arrive at the jobsite in one piece, or should it be assembled onsite? If it will be assembled onsite, is it easy to put together?

6. Does the unit simplify the coordination of the controls’ installation?

Air-handling units with integrated controls that are tested and packaged at the factory eliminate the need for additional programming and extra hassle that contractors can sometimes encounter during installation. Available controls include intuitive sensors that measure the temperature, humidity, and service status; key diagnostics to measure the efficiency of the various components of the system; actuators that drive dampers and other components; and motors that control the fans and adjust fan speed to whatever the application requires.

7. What kind of installation, maintenance, and service support are available?

Besides the features and benefits of the air-handling units, consider the expertise and service that the manufacturer provides. Will you require assistance when installing the product? How does the manufacturer handle requests for additional parts or service?

8. How will the right air-handling unit help me as a contractor?

The ideal air-handling unit will be cost-efficient and reliable for both you and your customer. It will be designed and manufactured specifically for your customer’s application. Factory-installed and tested controls and a flexible configuration will simplify installation and offer reliability and efficiency for your customer.

Rob Tanner and Kevin Weaver of Johnson Controls® provided the information for this story. For additional information about YORK Solution air-handling units by Johnson Controls, please visit

MCAA thanks Johnson Controls for being a benefactor of MCAA 2012 and for sponsoring the opening breakfast.