Multi-Speed Blower vs Variable Speed – What’s the Difference?
Two popular choices of furnace blowers on the market today include the multi-speed blower and the variable speed blower. The type you choose largely depends on its operational efficiency and the price you want to pay. We will take a closer look at both of them.
Multi-Speed Blower Motors
In the past, most homes had a single stage furnace blower. This means it runs either “on” or “off” with no in-between speeds. When the heat drops below the thermostat setting the furnace starts up and blows warm air throughout the house. Once your home’s temperature reaches the thermostat setting the furnace stops blowing. There are cool spots or times between the two. You can compare this to cooking a pot of soup on the stove with the burner either on or off. This is not efficient and wastes energy. During the warm months, the cooling is also inconsistent.
A multi-speed furnace motor overcomes these problems because it has two operating settings instead of just one.
A multi-speed blower basically has a speed for cool and a speed for heat. This is more efficient and the home’s comfort level is more even throughout the day and night.
Multi-speed blowers are the new standard in furnaces. When it’s time to replace your old single stage system, this is a good choice. HVAC contractors are familiar with multi-speed furnace installation and may recommend them because they cost less than variable speed blowers.
ECM Blower Motors
An electronically commutated motor (ECM) is a technological advance for home furnaces and air conditioners. It improves much of the overall performance and efficiency of an HVAC system. General Electric developed ECMs in 1985. Since then they have played a major role in a number of leading brands of furnaces and air conditions.
When you upgrade your current AC or furnace do not keep the older blower because it is not as efficient as an ECM. You will be wasting money because it will not perform up to standards with a new system. Upgrade to an ECM motor and you will enjoy lower energy bills.
Variable Speed Blower Motors
A variable speed furnace blower motor is a step above a multi-speed blower. This new technology has an ECM motor with a speed controller. It is more like a continuous blowing approach. It provides the precise heat or cooling output your home needs at any given time day or night.
The air quality is improved in your home with a variable speed blower. This occurs because the blower circulates air even when the heat is not running. Air is continually passing through each room through the return ducts to the furnace filters that catch more dust, lint, and other debris. This is great for people with allergies or other respiratory disorders. It is also effective for homes with pets. Cleaner air means less dusting.
Benefits of Multi-Speed vs Variable Speed
A Multi-Speed blower has three main benefits over a single stage furnace blower:
- Lower maintenance costs
- Fuel efficiency
- Lower energy bills
- Better humidity control
- Better air quality control
Maintenance costs typically are lower because it is not an on and off system. Single stage blowers come on and off more often and this is hard on working parts. It tends to wear out your system earlier and also uses more energy to cycle more often or colder days and nights.
A Variable Speed blower has additional advantages over the single stage and multi-speed blowers.
- More consistent heating and cooling
- More noise reduction
- Clearer air in each room
- Greater Fuel efficiency
- Better electricity efficiency
These advantages come about because of how the blower system works. It starts blowing at a slow speed and increases as the heating or cooling needs to increase. You don’t notice the noise as much – in fact, it is less noisy than other types of blowers. The air is continually being cleaned with a variable speed blower.
Cost is the Difference
A major decision for most homeowners is the cost of any HVAC system. How much will your budget allow for furnaces and air conditioners for a new home or a replacement system? Shop around and you will find a very competitive price – especially online.
Multi-Speed Motor Cost
A multi-speed blower furnace will cost less than a variable speed furnace. It is the new standard in blowers. If your budget won’t allow the cost of a variable speed blower this is a good choice. If the noise, humidity, and air quality levels meet your needs, this is a good choice. When the electricity rates are lower than average in your area, this is another reason to buy this system.
Variable Speed Motor Cost
The “premium” in furnace blower systems is the variable speed. It costs more than single stage and multi-speed blower systems. If you want the best, this is the way to go. If you want the lowest noise level, clean air, and more humidity control, this should be your choice. The extra benefits may be worth the extra cost.
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