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Will A Variable-Speed Air Handler Improve Comfort?

Choosing a furnace with a variable-speed air handler offers homeowners significant benefits in terms of operating costs and home comfort. Find out how the variable-speed air handler works, and what advantages you can expect from choosing an upgrade with this unique feature.

How it works

To understand how a variable-speed handler works, it’s helpful to learn how standard blowers function. Standard-efficiency furnaces generally utilize a single-speed air handler. When it cycles on, the air handler operates at full speed, releasing a strong blast of air into the home. This blast of air is often not yet fully heated, resulting in cooler air first blowing into the home. Once the home is heated according to the setting on the thermostat, the air handler shuts down.

Variable-speed air handlers bypass this all-or-nothing type of heating cycle. Able to operate at a variety of speeds, hence the name “variable speed,” this type of air handler employs a different kind of heating cycle. Instead of starting up at full blast, the air handler slowly ramps up to full speed when the home’s temperature has dropped, for instance, overnight. In this way, it bypasses that blast of cooler air upon startup. Once the air becomes sufficiently heated, it operates at higher speeds to quickly warm up the home. Then, instead of shutting down completely, the handler drops back down to lower speeds.

Learning the perks of the air handler

It is this lower-speed operation that extends comfort benefits. The air handler is designed to operate nearly continuously at the lower stages all day long. As a result, it:

  • Allows for even distribution of heat throughout the home over the course of the day.
  • Never allows the home’s temperature to drastically drop, whereas single-stage air handlers may allow temperature variances of several degrees.
  • Optimizes home comfort in the winter, while helping to manage relative humidity.
  • Lowers energy costs, as the lower-speed cycles don’t consume as much energy.

For more information about variable-speed air handlers, or other furnace features that optimize savings and comfort, contact Arpi’s Industries today! We’ve served greater Calgary homeowners since 1963.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about variable-speed air handlers and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock