When it comes to heating your home, there are a lot of different options for systems. You may have heard of variable speed heating systems, or 2-stage systems, in the past, but don't exactly know what they are. We want to tell you about what a variable speed furnace is, and how it can be a huge benefit to your home when it comes to keeping you cozy.
What Is A Variable Speed Furnace?
You can gather from the name, a variable speed furnace has varying speeds! Traditional furnaces have one speed, and it goes off and on as your temperature needs to be adjusted.
A variable speed system, also known as a 2-stage system or a dual stage system, uses different settings to keep a home or business comfortable. The reason there are different settings is to allow the system to easily maintain the desired temperature. The use of a lower setting, or a low power mode, is to maintain the temperature once it is set properly. Instead of waiting for the temperature to dip below the desired level, then re-heating the space like a single stage system, the variable speed system uses a low power mode to keep the air at the same temperature as it should be.
This will help you to keep even temperatures and save money on energy bills.
Single Speed VS Variable Speed Systems
Single speed systems work just fine and do the job that is needed, but it can come at a cost. For instance, a single speed furnace will turn on when the temperature gets too low, but it only has the one setting to heat. Even if you only need to bring the temperature up a degree or two, you are still using the full amount of energy because the system only has one setting. This can be detrimental in a few ways.
Uneven Temperatures - Because a single stage system only has one setting, temperatures will fluctuate more frequently than with a variable speed system. With a single speed system, there is no low power setting, the system will kick on to heat the space, then turn off once it's heated. Pretty normal. But, once the temperature drops under the thermostat setting, the system will kick back on. Because the system only has one speed, it will heat the space as quickly as possible, and likely put you a few degrees over. Then this up and down temperature will repeat itself over and over.
More Money On Energy Bills - Since the single speed system only has the one setting, it will likely use more energy than necessary to maintain the temperature you are looking for. It doesn't have a low power mode, and the shutting off, turning back on, plus the one full speed setting will lead you to pay more in energy bills than with a variable speed system.
More Wear & Tear - Since a single speed system has to turn off and on so frequently, there will be more wear and tear on your system. This can lead to repairs being needed, as well as a shortened lifespan.
More Noise - Because a single stage unit has to kick off and on so much, plus it only runs at full speed, it is going to be much noisier than a variable speed system. Variable speed systems run at a lower setting to maintain temperatures. This means it will run softer, and not kick off and on with such frequency.
Worse Indoor Air Quality - Your central heater uses an air filter to prevent dust and airborne irritants from flowing through your home. A variable-speed unit does a better job of capturing these particles. When it’s running on the lower speed setting, it can trap more of those particles. That’s because the air is moving slower, and it forces less dust through it. When the air is moving at full speed, it forces more of these particles through the filter, decreasing the quality of the air in your home.
So What's the Take Home?
At the end of the day, both a single speed system and a variable speed system will do the job of heating your home or business. The take home here is this:
A variable speed system will likely cost a little more than a single speed system but will run more efficiently, save money on energy bills, heat your home more evenly, and cause less hassle. If you are in the market for a new furnace, be sure to ask your HVAC contractor what their opinion is of variable speed furnaces, and which one works best for you!