Most of the benefits of advancing technology in the HVAC industry are directly related to enhancing energy efficiency. There’s no better example than the variable-speed air handler, which is increasingly incorporated into forced-air cooling and heating systems. Variable-speed air handlers and multi-stage compressors allow your air conditioner or heat pump to adapt its running speed and output to conditions in your home rather than simply operating at 100 percent. Forced-air HVAC systems have two primary components: the equipment that heats or cools the air, and the motors and fans that distribute conditioned air throughout the home. A/Cs and heat pumps have some overlap because an air handler blows air across the evaporator coil to remove heat energy and humidity from the air before circulating it. A standard air handler uses a motor that can run at one speed only. This means it’s frequently cycling off after achieving the desired thermostat setting. Variable-speed technology, however, allows the cooling or heating system to adjust its output to temperature needs; when it kicks on, it will usually operate full blast until it reaches the desired temperature, then settle into lower-speed continuous operation.
Advantages of Variable-Speed Technology
- Energy efficiency: When the system is running continuously at a lower speed, it uses less energy than when it’s gobbling up power during frequent start-ups and full-bore operation. The technology in a variable-speed air handler is inherently more energy efficient than standard motors.
- Air circulation: The continuous operation does a better job of evenly distributing conditioned air throughout the house.
- Air filtration and humidity control: Continuous operation means that household air is running through the cooling or heating system more often than in a system that’s cycling on and off. This translates into more opportunities to filter and remove moisture from the air.
- Quieter operation: An HVAC system that’s frequently kicking into full operation during the day makes quite a racket.