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Is It Worth Upgrading To A Variable Speed Blower Motor?

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A brand-new HVAC system can benefit your home, but you might not be ready to let go of your old system just yet. In cases like these, you may be able to extend the life of your HVAC system by upgrading your current blower fan motor to a variable speed version. Upgrading to a variable speed blower can help enhance your home comfort and save energy, but it's important to weigh the pros and cons before upgrading your heating and cooling system.

How It Can Benefit Your HVAC System

Unlike the typical single-speed blower motors commonly found in most HVAC systems, variable speed blowers are capable of adjusting their speeds according to your heating and cooling needs. Some variable speed blowers offer a "high" and "low" speed while others equipped with electronically commutated motor (ECM) technology can adjust their speed throughout a wider range.

There are plenty of ways that a variable speed blower motor can benefit your household. For instance, quiet blower operation is one advantage of retrofitting a variable speed blower into your current HVAC system. These blowers can circulate air at low RPMs, making them quieter than their conventional counterparts.

Thanks to their ECMs, variable speed blowers are also able to ramp up gradually. By using slower speeds at start up and slowly increasing operating speeds until temperature demand is met, the blower motor components experience less stress and use less energy. As a result, variable speed blowers are able to last longer in between repairs and offer lower operating costs.

By operating at lower speeds, variable speed blowers can run for lengthy periods. This makes them ideal for circulating a continuous supply of fresh air. The potential for continuous operation can also help your HVAC system provide effective filtration, thus improving the indoor air quality of your home.

Understanding the Potential Drawbacks

Despite the potential upsides of replacing your current blower motor with a variable speed replacement, there are plenty of downsides to consider:

  • Depending on the age and type of HVAC system you have, it could be incompatible with your current HVAC system.
  • HVAC systems with other existing performance issues may not benefit from the efficiency gains offered by variable speed blowers.
  • Some homes may suffer from design flaws that prevent variable speed blowers from performing effectively. For instance, undersized ductwork can create extreme static pressures that prevent proper air flow and get in the way of a variable speed blower's performance.
  • Variable speed blowers can also be expensive when compared to their conventional counterparts. A standard blower motor can cost anywhere from $200 to $400 to purchase and have installed, whereas a variable speed blower motor with an ECM can cost up to $950 installed.

Keep in mind that the overall performance of a variable speed blower could be hindered by another low-performing HVAC component. For instance, installing a variable speed blower within an oversized or undersized HVAC system may not offer the performance or efficiency boost you're looking for.

Don't Rule Out a Complete HVAC Upgrade

Although it may seem cost-effective to get the most out of your current HVAC system, there are times when your home may better benefit from a complete HVAC system replacement. This is especially true if you're faced with a variety of outdated or failing HVAC components, such as highly inefficient ductwork or a severely outdated furnace.

If you have had your current HVAC system for more than 15 years, then you may benefit better from having a complete new HVAC system installed. Although the cost of a complete HVAC system upgrade may exceed the cost of simply adding a variable speed blower motor to your current system, the long-term energy and maintenance savings may make a complete upgrade more sensible in the long run. For more information, contact a company like Getzschman Heating, LLC


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