Varible Speed Vs. Non-Varible Speed Air Handler

Considering purchasing a new air conditioner system? With so many different technologies and equipment things can be confusing to the average homeowner. One thing in particular that many homeowners are unaware of is the type of motor inside the Air Handler Unit (this is the portion located inside your home for a split system, usually in a closet, garage or attic).

An air handler, or air handling unit, is a device used to regulate and circulate air as part of an air conditioning system.An air handler is usually a large metal box with the main components being a blower wheel with motor & heating or cooling elements, Air handlers connect to duct-work that distributes the conditioned air through the home. Let’s focus on the blower wheel with motor, in a majority of air handler units there are 3 different types of motors located inside: 1) PSC motor (GOOD) which offers 1 set speed, 2) X-13 motor (BETTER) which is a constant torque motor and 3) ECM Varible Speed motor (BEST).

  1. PSC Motors
    Your basic air conditioner contains a PSC motor, which has been an industry standard for many years. It is a simple, low-cost and reliable component. However, they lack the features designed to increase comfort, efficiency and durability that most homeowners desire. These are the least quiet type of motor, then tend to degrade faster than the other options and they do not allow high SEER ratings on equipment.
  2. X-13 Motors
    X-13 motors are quickly becoming a popular motor technology, and may completely replace your PSC motors in the near future, most reputable manufacturers have already made the switch. These X-13 motors (or constant torque motors) are a mid-tier product ranked just above your PSC in most cases. These motors can be “programmed” for different applications which helps when designing the system for a specific application. The benefits of your X-13 motor is they are slightly quieter and slightly more energy efficient than your PSC motor.
  3. ECM Varible Speed Motors
    These motors are designed to be the premium product for an air handler unit due to their performance, flexibility and reliability. These motors are built to be electronically controlled which is ideal for just about every application. They are the quietest motors on the market because they are able to automatically adjust the speed up and down slowly. They are also the most energy efficient motors on the market. Finally, these motors can also assist with humidity control and help keep a more balanced cooling inside your home.

Now the question still remains, which motor is right for you? Your ECM motor does come with a “premium” price, which can cost several hundred dollars on the initial purchase. But over the lifetime of your air conditioner system, that “premium” price will not only have paid it itself off with efficiency, but the comfort that it provides to your family is priceless.

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