Having a heating or cooling system in place in your home is all well and good. After all, there’s nothing better than the sweet relief of shutting out the outdoors to enjoy some brief moments of freshly cooled air on a hot summers’ day or curling up on the couch feeling toasty and warm even if it’s basically wintering wonderland out there.
Still, your AC or heat pump is bound to have its own bout of imperfections from time to time, and these are brought to notice when you start experiencing things like ineffective cooling or heating, inconsistent temperatures, lesser efficiency, and so on.
The good news is, you don’t have to give in and actually bear these conditions. Not with easily accessible, variable speed air handlers around.
Variable-speed air handlers are quick solutions to most problems posed by an HVAC heating or cooling system, though their main concern is to ensure that temperature and airflow remain balanced in your home.
Whether you’re desperately seeking a solution or simply looking to upgrade your HVAC system, variable speed air handlers are useful to accessorize your AC or furnace and reap benefits like energy savings, modulated temperature, and so on.
Air Handlers- What Are They?
Before we start justifying right away why this ‘variable speed air handler’ will turn your life around, it’s only fair we introduce you to the concept properly. You can perceive air handlers to be add-ons to forced-air heating or cooling systems like AC’s, heat pumps, or furnaces.
The air handler works within a ducted system and concerns itself with moving and circulating heated or cooled air through the ducts and out of the vents into the room.
An air handler essentially pulls in uncooled or unheated air (or air of room temperature) into the ductwork, and through its refrigerant, heats or cools the air by adding or removing heat as per the requirement.
The air handler also treats humid air and removes moisture so as to improve the air quality. Once this process is completed, it sends the cooled or heated air to the room.
Variable Speed Air Handlers
Air handlers come in conventional single-speed models, as well as more advanced variable speed ones. The source of this difference is the blower motor, which runs at different speeds to generate effects variably between the two types.
Single-speed motors are equipped to work at a constant maximum speed mode. The blower fans in these systems run on a single speed, and it is the highest that the handler can manage.
Unlike them, variable speed air handlers adopt a fashion wherein they can run and switch between multiple speeds as needed by your home.
This is to serve the need that arises because of conditions like varying outdoor-indoor temperatures which can cause the heating/cooling to be unsatisfactory.
In such cases, variable speed blowers work to ensure that the HVAC system provides your home with the precise amount of air needed for utmost comfort.
These air handlers, instead of directly launching into the highest possible speed, start out at a lower speed and consistently raise or lower the temperature of a room.
When the thermostat sends a signal with a set amount of temperature to be reached, the device kicks into a higher speed until it has been achieved, then reverts to a slower speed to maintain the state instead of shutting off entirely.
This process of being able to switch between different speeds is considered extremely beneficial, and also incredibly compatible with multi-zone units and smart thermostats.
Why Do You Need A Variable Speed Air Handler?
To put it simply, a variable speed air handler bought as an attachment to your Air Conditioner or furnace can be beneficial in the way that it can tackle many problems inhibiting your HVAC system and improve the overall performance.
One of the main reasons many customers have admitted to experiencing better results with a variable speed air handler around is that they excellently bring up the efficiency of even a poorly graded heating or cooling system, and help homeowners save plenty of money on bills.
Of course, there could be some drawbacks to such an arrangement as well, but these air handlers show certain advantages which cannot be ignored:
Temperature Modulation and Consistency
One of the most infuriating things about single-speed Air Handlers is that they work faster externally than they do internally.
In other words, these models can blow out air at the highest speeds before the internal heating or cooling process is even finished. This process is called Quick-cycling, and it often leads to uneven temperatures and discomfort.
Additionally, it can also cause quick start-ups and shutdowns in the AC or furnace without effective heating or cooling.
Fortunately, this problem faces a massive roadblock in the variable speed system, which, through its slow and gradual speed setting, makes sure that the absorbed air is heated or cooled thoroughly before departing to the room.
Using longer cycles, variable speed handlers ensure that a constant rate of temperature is kept up for a longer period of time, and abrupt start-ups and shut-downs are avoided.
Improved Air Quality
Another great upside to variable speed handlers is that the air quality is massively uplifted. Why? This is large because of the longer cycles. Longer cycles keep the air running to and fro from the forced air system throughout, and this includes the air filters.
As the air frequently travels through the filters, every new wave of fresh air entering and even exiting a room is treated for dust, debris, pollutants, and any other particles that could otherwise contaminate your surroundings.
Additionally, the air quality is also affected by a higher rate of dehumidification. Humid air is the enemy of comfort, and a variable speed handler entirely combats this problem by letting your dehumidifier have more time with the air due to the longer cycles. Thus, moisture removal is more efficient and thorough.
It is often mistakenly assumed that because a variable speed air handler runs constantly, instead of switching on and off, it consumes more power. This could not be farther from the truth.
In fact, single-speed blowers demand more energy to start up and shut down multiple times throughout the day than variable speed systems, which run constantly but at a low speed instead of draining electricity at the highest mode.
Also, the variable speeds much more compatible dehumidification process makes higher efficiency possible. For instance, if your handler was paired up with an AC, your handler already does much of the cooling by removing the humidity.
This reduces the need to set the AC at lower and lower temperatures which would drain more energy. Now, you can set the thermostat to a higher degree and save yourself some extra electricity costs.
As mentioned previously, much of an air handler’s operation has to do with its blower fan motor. Now, in a single-speed air handler, where the unit is designed to run at an all-time high speed, the blower fan, which is turned up to the maximum, is prone to make a lot of scuffle and noise as it works.
Variable speed handlers are designed to avoid this because they are always running at lower speeds. So you can expect to avoid the common whistling noises that accompany blower fans running at full speeds.
Compatibility with different systems
Another advantage of variable speed handlers is that they can work well with multi-stage and multi-zone ACs and heat pumps. Because of the multiple speed settings, they can gel with systems like dual-stage HVAC equipment, and sync up the speed with the stage.
Additionally, variable blowers are also considered to work great when paired up with multi-zone mini splits, as they can aid in providing heating/cooling at different speeds as required in different zones/rooms of the house.
The Bottom line
Despite their apparent advantages, variable speed air handlers are not completely devoid of faults. Most customers become hesitant about buying one when they get a glimpse of the price tag.
You can’t buy better quality at cheap prices, so don’t expect to be able to purchase a variable speed handler without paying more initial and upfront costs.
Thankfully, evidence points to the fact that despite initial expenses, variable speed air handlers cost less operation-wise due to their greater efficiency, pushing the agenda of ‘less is more.
Also, due to its longer cycles, variable speed handlers are prone to lesser damage to their internal parts, as they’re not blasting out air at full speed or turning on and off multiple times throughout the day. All these perks of variable air handlers make this higher MRP worth it.
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