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Your Furnace Replacement: Why Choose an ECM Motor?

Posted on November 28, 2013

Perhaps surprisingly, Wichita lies on the northern limits of the U.S. “humid subtropical” climate zone. It certainly doesn’t feel that way with average lows at or below freezing November through March, and many homeowners consider upgrades to their heating systems when winter approaches. Some innovative technology could make furnace replacement an even better idea: the electronically commutated motor, or ECM.

ECM Technology

In this context, “commutated” means to convert alternating current (AC) into direct current (D/C). A steady rotating force is used by DC rotating machines, and because D/C is also typically a much lower voltage current, less energy is used.

The Motors

A furnace ECM is brushless, and they have built-in speed and torque controls. The motor itself adjusts its own speed according to demand, ensuring optimal airflow through your system at all times.

The combination of DC power and intelligent speed selection means an ECM typically uses only around 80 watts of electricity when it’s running (the same as a fairly dim light bulb). In comparative terms, that’s approximately only one quarter of the energy consumed by a standard blower motor, running on “high” most of the time, yet the same amount of treated air is delivered.

Why Choose an ECM?

Compared to conventional furnace fans, an electronically commutated motor is :
• Considerably quieter
• Far less expensive to operate than PSC (permanent split capacitor) motors

You can thus run the blower all the time, rather than just when actively heating or cooling. This serves to even out hot and cold spots, and increases air filtration (particularly valuable for allergy sufferers and people with pulmonary illnesses).

Retrofitting

If your current furnace is less than ten years old, it’s very likely your HVAC contractor can replace the standard motor with an ECM.

It’s important to remember that most central — whole-house — HVAC systems are set up so that the air conditioner uses the same air mover as the furnace. This means that savings are made all year round after an ECM has been installed. Contact Comfort Systems to learn more about ECM technology, and discover more about why you should choose a furnace ECM for your upgrade.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about furnace replacement and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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