MADISON, Wis. — Beginning July 3, 2019, the Department of Energy (DOE) is requiring a maximum fan energy rating (FER) for furnace fans. The goal of this mandate is to reduce energy consumption as well as CO2 emissions. To comply with the new standards, furnace manufacturers are eliminating permanent split capacitor (PSC) motors and moving to electronically commutated motors (ECM). This will result in substantial energy savings and improved system performance.

“This is great news for contractors as well as homeowners, and of course the environment, stated Damian Mannino, product manager at Aprilaire. “ECM’s have been in the marketplace for many years, and contractors already know the benefits they provide.”

In addition to energy savings and motor efficiencies, the shift to ECMs will also benefit the delivery of humidification.

“With single and multi-stage ECM systems, as duct pressures change from things like loaded filters, zoning, closed registers and the like,” explained Aprilaire Humidification Engineer Nick Balazs, “the fan ramps up and down in order to maintain constant airflow and temperature.”

“As has always been the case, all three types of humidifiers, bypass, power, and steam, provide excellent performance on both PSC motors and ECMs,” Balazs continued, “and when the HVAC system is sized and maintained properly, they all tend to perform better with ECMs because airflow is consistent regardless of fluctuations in resistance. So naturally, with more consistent air flow comes better delivery of humidity.”

“The takeaway here is, when choosing which type of humidifier to install, there are four factors to consider; air flow, climate (which affects system run time), plenum temperature and size of home,” said Balazs. “With the exception of variable speed ECMs used on modulating furnaces, where we recommend steam or power evap, the type of motor is not a factor.”

Publication date: 6/12/2019

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