Variable Speed Air Handler Pros and Cons

You’re probably thinking about switching to variable-speed air handlers, but you aren’t sure it’s the right move for you. That’s understandable since there are many factors to consider before making such an important decision. 

Variable speed air handlers have an adjustable fan speed, so they can help keep the indoor temperature more consistent throughout the day. They can also help reduce noise levels since they run at slower speeds when temperature adjustment is not needed. However, variable-speed air handlers are more expensive than regular air handlers.

This guide will reveal some pros and cons of variable-speed air handlers so you can decide if they suit your home or business.

What is a Variable Speed Air Handler?

A variable speed air handler is a type of HVAC equipment designed to provide more efficient cooling and heating to your home. It works by modulating the blower motor speed, which can help reduce energy use and improve indoor comfort. This type of air handler is usually part of an HVAC system that includes an evaporator coil and a condensing unit. It typically uses a thermostat to regulate the temperature in your home.

The Pros of Getting a Variable Speed Air Handler

A variable-speed air handler can be an excellent choice for those looking to improve their home’s air quality, reduce energy costs, and ensure their HVAC system runs efficiently. 

More consistent cooling

Variable-speed air handlers work depending on your home’s temperature and humidity levels. It means they can regulate indoor temperature more accurately and efficiently than standard models. They provide a consistent temperature throughout instead of blasting cool air even when the room is already cold. 

Operate quietly

Another significant benefit of variable-speed air handlers is their ability to run at lower speeds for extended periods, making them quieter than standard models. Also, this latest technology comes with sound dampeners that make their operation even quieter.

Improve air quality

Variable-speed air handlers filter the home air constantly. As these units run at a lower speed for longer cycles, they can purify the air more often and effectively than single-speed models, resulting in cleaner, healthier air in your home. 

Energy efficient

These variable speed units vary the fan speed based on the heating and cooling load. It allows for better air circulation and lowers energy consumption. Unlike traditional HVAC systems, variable-speed air handlers are designed to run slower and ramp up as needed to meet the cooling or heating load. It helps reduce energy costs because it uses less energy when the system is running.

The Cons of Getting a Variable Speed Air Handler

When considering a variable-speed air handler for your home, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons. While this type of system has many advantages, there are some potential drawbacks before making a final decision. 

More expensive upfront 

The primary con of installing a variable-speed air handler is the high cost. Variable-speed systems are more expensive than traditional single-speed systems and may require additional components, such as an electronic air cleaner. It can cause the overall price of the installation to rise significantly. 

Higher repair cost

While variable speed systems are designed to run more efficiently, they are still susceptible to the same issues as other heating and cooling systems. It means that you may still experience problems with the unit, such as breakdowns, noise, or other matters that will require repair or maintenance. And repair costs of variable speed units can go up as you need a professional to carry out the complex and time-consuming repairs.

More frequent maintenance

Finally, while variable speed systems can save money in the long run, they may require more frequent maintenance than traditional systems. To keep the system running at peak efficiency, you may need regular check-ups and filter changes more often than a conventional system. 

Are variable-speed air handlers worth it? 

Weighing the pros and cons of variable-speed air handlers, it is clear that they provide many advantages over traditional air handlers. However, their worth depends upon your situation and needs.

When are variable speed handlers worth their cost?

In most cases, variable-speed air handlers are worth their cost. They are a suitable choice in the following cases:

  • If you live in a climate zone with hot summers, variable speed units will be more effective and help reduce your energy bills. 
  • When you want to lower your high energy bills 
  • If your current traditional air handler is not operating efficiently in your particular climate zone

When aren’t variable-speed air handlers worth the investment?

There are many situations when investing in an expensive variable-speed air handler won’t give you the results you are expecting. The conditions where the variable speed units are not suitable are:

  • A single-stage or two-stage air handler might be enough for a comfortable interior if you live in a temperate climate zone with ideal humidity.
  • When your energy bills are already low, a variable-speed air handler will not significantly affect energy efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to get a variable-speed air handler depends on your individual needs and preferences. A variable-speed air handler is an excellent choice if you want an energy-efficient option with superior air circulation. However, a traditional air handler may be a better option if you’re trying to save money on upfront costs and don’t need the extra features. Also, consider your climate zone and current energy consumption before taking a final decision.

Charles John

Experienced HVAC technician with 8 years of experience in the industry. Capable of handling all sorts of heating and cooling equipment as well as proficient in operational management, construction-related techniques such as preventative maintenance, electrical troubleshooting and AutoCAD

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