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Replacing the Furnace Motor: ECM or PSC

Replacing the Furnace Motor: ECM or PSC

If you’re considering replacing your furnace in the near future, you’ve got a variety of different options you can choose from. One option that can greatly affect energy efficiency is the furnace’s blower motor.

There are two main choices when it comes to furnace motor replacement: PSC or ECM. We’ll discuss the differences between the two motors and look at the benefits of each.

What Does a Blower Motor Do?

The furnace blower motor is the part of the furnace that moves the heated air into your ducts. It is also one of the main energy users in the furnace system.

What is a PSC Motor? 

A PSC motor, also known as permanent split capacitor, is an “old-style” motor that does two things:

  1. It turns on
  2. It turns off

Essentially it runs at a continual speed unless it's off. The main benefit of a PSC motor is that it costs less upfront than an ECM motor. However, as we’ll see in the next section, there are some hidden costs to consider.

What is an ECM Motor? 

 An ECM, or electronically commutated motor, uses variable speeds to help increase energy efficiency. One of the main ways an ECM uses less energy is during start-up. ECMs are typically programmed to start up slowly, gradually increasing speed until they reach the speed needed to maintain the thermostat’s set temperature. This draws less energy than a hard start-up at full speed. In the world of furnace motor replacement, ECM is definitely the rising star.

Comparing Upfront Cost vs. Hidden Costs

ECMs are the higher-priced option when purchasing, but the energy savings are one way that they can actually end up saving you money. An ECM has an expected efficiency of up to 75%, while PSC motors only have a 45% efficiency.

How Long Do Furnace Blower Motors Last?

An ECM has an expected lifespan of roughly 10 years, while a PSC motor only has an expected lifespan of eight years.  A PSC motor’s hard start and stop wears it out faster, while the fewer maintenance issues contribute to the ECMs longer life expectancy 

For more information about furnace motor replacement or any other HVAC issues in the Trenton area, contact Elite Air today.


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