If your furnace or other forced-air heating or cooling equipment is older than 10 years, it's probably operating on a permanent-split capacitor (PSC) blower motor. Though this type of motor has been a standard in HVAC equipment for many years, the more efficient electronically commutated motor (ECM) is fast becoming the energy standard.
What is an ECM?
An ECM operates differently than a PSC motor in several ways. The motor control converts alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) power to drive the motor. An ECM contains a microprocessor that measures and regulates the speed and power output of the motor without any external controllers. The electronically commutated motor is brushless with permanent magnets that rotate and a fixed armature that carries the current. This eliminates potential problems that happen with a moving armature usually in a PSC motor.
For the purposes of HVAC efficiency, ECMs are usually matched with variable-speed controls that allow heating or cooling equipment to deliver just the amount of conditioned air that's needed. This results in the equipment running usually at a slower but continuous speed that uses less energy while providing more even heating and cooling, better air filtration and quieter operation.
The benefits of an electronically commutated motor
- Increased efficiency
- Increased durability
- Decreased heat generation, resulting in a cooler environment and less stress on the motor
- Reduced noise – runs at a lower RPM
- Less vibration
- Longer life – up to two times the life span of a PSC motor
One good reason to switch to a brushless motor, as in an ECM, is a dramatic reduction in the power required to run the motor. This big power reduction conserves energy and saves money. In addition, the brushless motor greatly increases the motor's efficiency, especially in HVAC systems that have variable-speed controls. The microprocessor in brushless motors allows for better internal controls including programmability and airflow control.
If you are experiencing problems with your heating or cooling equipment, or thinking of a replacement, Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating can assist you. We have been servicing and installing residential heating, cooling and plumbing products in the Mid-Ohio area for 45 years. For more expert advice on the benefits of an electronically commutated motor or other HVAC needs, please contact us at Joe Behr Plumbing & Heating in Lexington.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about electronically commutated motors and other HVAC topics, visit our website.