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To retrofit or not to retrofit? That is the question.

Air handlers are complex beasts and require care, maintenance, and planning. Aging air handlers are even more of a concern.

If cost, access, and downtime were of no concern, aging air handlers would most likely be replaced with the newest unit available. Yet, it is rare to encounter a situation where cost, access, and downtime concerns don’t play a major role in decision making.

So what are you to do? Refurbishing an aging air handler is a great solution to eliminating problems by replacing just those components of the unit. But where to start?

Let’s further explore why retrofitting aging AHU proves to be a better solution for many clients.

Renewing an air handler can take many forms:

  • Fan replacement
  • Coil replacement
  • Controls replacement
  • Drainpans replacement
  • Cabinet sections replacement
  • A combination of the above options


Air handlers are expensive, but why replace the entire AHU if only parts of it are failing? AHUs cabinets often outlast internal components like fans and coils, so replacing the cabinet can be an unnecessary expense. Not just for the physical unit, but for the labor too.

Controls are also often replaced when retrofitting AHUs. New controls can provide significant energy savings and comfort enhancement without having to replace the whole AHU.


Replacing an entire AHU can be a logistical nightmare. In some cases, it may lead to street closures, cranes, helicopters, and other complexities.

Retrofitting an AHU is much simpler. You simply remove the old components and install the new components. Surface treatments and other services may be performed as well.

Lead Time

When it comes to delivering EC fan and fan arrays quickly, no one has Mainstream beat. We can deliver fully built and tested custom fan arrays in less than 2 weeks, and work incredibly hard to ensure we are immune to global supply chain disruptions of rare earth materials and other necessary raw materials. To accomplish this goal, we ensure are on the forefront of EC motor technologies at all times, developing relationships with international and domestic motor suppliers to offer both traditional EC motors as well as next-generation PMEC synchronous reluctance motors.

What does this mean for your next project?

In a world where some AHU manufacturers are quoting up to 100-week lead times, Mainstream is able to deliver fans and fully kitted fan array systems in just a few weeks. Your project can’t wait.


The amount of downtime and labor required to remove an old AHU and replace it with a new unit is substantial. Instead of replacing the whole air handling unit unnecessarily, retrofitting provides all of the same benefits in a fraction of the time of full replacement. Depending on the size of the AHU, a fan system retrofit can take between a few hours and a weekend. This is very quick compared to full AHU replacement timelines.

IntelliCUBE fan arrays are a key component to extending the service life of your AHUs while minimizing the cost and downtime associated with replacement. Together with HVAC AHU restoration services like replacing coils, drain pans, and cabinet sections, you can retrofit an AHU to meet or beat the performance and longevity of a new AHU at a fraction of the cost.

Want to learn more about the process of retrofitting?

Chat with one of our experts today to get started.