A major trend of new HVAC technology in recent years has been increasing efficiency, which probably comes from an overlap between environmental and budget concerns. And one recent innovation that is coming to dominate new system installations is the variable speed air handler.

First, what is an air handler?

The air handler is the part of any forced air heating and cooling system that moves the air through the vents, as opposed to the part that actually heats or cools it. There would be no circulation without the air handler.

Most air handlers, like many tabletop fans, have only one speed: “on.” The power level is all or nothing. But just like many fans have multiple speeds, manufacturers have started making air handlers for HVAC systems that have up to three speeds, meaning two intermediate speeds between 0% and 100%. And it turns out they actually have some advantages over conventional one-speed systems.

Variable-speed Advantages

  • Circulation – Single speed air handlers turn off when the target temperature is reached, and the vents stop blowing. By continuing to blow air at a lower speed once the temperature is reached, a variable speed blower maintains constant circulation and therefore more uniform temperature in all parts of your home.
  • More consistent cooling – With a start-stop system, the temperature fluctuates between when the system is running and when it isn’t. The continuous low-level running keeps the temperature pretty constant.
  • Humidity control – With the system running continuously at a low level, more humidity is sucked out of the air and turned into condensate than would happen with a single-speed system that turns on and off.
  • Air quality – By the same token, more air is passed through your filter means more allergens and pollutants removed from your air.
  • Reduced wear and tear – Speaking of turning on and off, that puts more strain on a system than running continuously, so your whole system with a variable speed blower should last longer than a conventional one.
  • Quieter – With less of the stop-go routine, when your blower is working to play catch up every time the temperature rises, your system will make less noise.
  • Energy efficiency – The conventional system uses a lot of energy turning on and off all the time. By running at lower speeds and cycling less often, variable speed air handlers use less energy than a single-speed system sucking up lots of power to retroactively cool a space that has gotten too warm.

Why Invest?

Replacing an air handler is not a small upgrade. It’s almost as much work and expense as replacing the whole system, so this isn’t something you’d do now just because it’s June and the weather is getting hot. But if you need a new system anyway and you’re already hiring technicians and laying out that much expense, then the decision to go with variable speed will save money in the long run and make your home more comfortable.

If you are about to get a system replaced or want to know how much longer your current one has, give Twin Air in Manassas a call at (703) 754-1062 or reach out on our website. We’ve been serving Northern Virginia with skill and professionalism area for over 15 years and we look forward to serving you.

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