How A Modulating Air Conditioner Controls Temperature & Humidity More Effectively

image of a modulating air conditioner installation

The technology that powers air conditioning systems is improving quickly, especially when it comes to energy efficiency. Standard cooling units are a thing of the past. Whatever technology these units have are being replaced by variable-speed or modulating air conditioner designs.

Modulating air conditioners offer smart energy consumption and stable performance, on top of other benefits. These cooling units are designed to offer better temperature and humidity control, which results in better comfort. Let’s take a closer look at variable-speed AC systems.

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Standard AC Units Compared to Modulating Air Conditioning Units

In a standard air conditioning unit, the speed of the compressor is fixed. Once the unit is turned on, the compressor will function at 100% capacity. Once the unit is turned off, the compressor shuts down completely.

While this may seem like a practical energy-saving solution, this process actually requires plenty of energy. One cycle, from which the AC unit starts from zero, consumes a high amount of energy. This, in turn, translates to a higher energy bill.

The fixed speed at which standard units run means that there is no flexibility in the high and low temperatures that the unit generates. The airflow of the air conditioner is either very cold or nothing at all – there is barely a means to adjust the temperature to the desired level. With a standard air conditioning unit, you likely will experience hot and cold spots.

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What is a Modulating Air Conditioner?

family feeling comfortable due to their new variable-speed air conditioner

Modulating air conditioning units, unlike standard AC units, can be adjusted so they only run about 40% to 120% capacity, depending on necessity and preference. This allows you to enjoy a more ideal indoor temperature at home. With balanced temperatures, you have improved comfort and higher airflow quality.

The compressor on modulating air conditioners has a variable speed or capacity. The compressor speed can be adjusted easily to change the indoor temperature to cater to your cooling needs. Since the output can be controlled, it is also possible to control the electricity it consumes.

Which is Better: Fixed or Flexible Temperature Control?

A common expression used with standard units is, “Blast the AC”. What this means is that once the unit is on, it will blow the air at high speed. Air temperature at this speed is generally kept at the same level.

Since the temperature settings are limited, the airflow tends to be too strong. This causes certain areas of the home to have cold and hot spots. As a result, certain areas in the home will be uncomfortable, especially at night time.

Modulating air conditioner technology rectifies this, thanks to adjustable settings in its design. A/C units with variable speed can adjust the airflow indoors depending on the needs of the occupants. The output is not as intense, so any extreme temperatures are avoided, along with any cold and hot spots.

Air conditioning units with at least two speeds can provide a steadier and more consistent airflow. These units can be customized to achieve your preferred temperature. Since the output of the AC unit can be controlled, it can be matched to your cooling needs.

Note that there are several factors that affect airflow quality. Modulating air conditioners have to be installed properly so they can perform optimally. The A/C unit has to match the specifications of your home. To find out what your home needs, we recommend that you talk to a professional HVAC technician for the best solution.

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A standard air conditioning system has to cycle on and off frequently. Each time the unit switches off and reboots, it does not always eliminate moisture from the air. Because it fails to dehumidify an enclosed space, your home will experience higher humidity.

Homes that use traditional AC units typically fail at keeping your home cool and comfortable. Usually, you will experience warmth and clamminess. The problem with humidity is that it increases the risk of mold growth. Mold, as we all know, can cause damage to affected areas in your home and pose potential health risks to its occupants.

Variable-speed or modulating air conditioners are very effective at eliminating humidity, thereby preventing mold growth. These air conditioning units only require a few cycles, so they can effectively reduce moisture from indoor air. Since there is less moisture, humidity is kept to a minimum. If you want a warmer environment indoors, you can adjust the thermostat without suffering from clamminess or mold. Modulating air conditioners also run longer, which means they can filter air pollutants better, thereby improving indoor air quality.

There are modulating AC features that keep humidity at a maximum of just 50%, which is the level that regulating authorities highly recommend. Standard air conditioners that run at a fixed speed, however, allow as much as 60% humidity. This increases the likelihood of mold growth. However, this problem can be eliminated or at least, avoided, with regular HVAC maintenance.

Remember that there are different modulating air conditioner models with different features and capacities. Some models will likely perform better at reducing humidity than others. If you want the best model for your home, it is best to ask a professional HVAC technician for advice.

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Energy Consumption: Comparing Set and Smart

A standard air conditioner is going to consume more power. You will probably notice this during the hot summer months when your air conditioning system is running for long hours.

To cope, homeowners may have to install additional insulation or find ways to boost airflow just to reduce energy costs. However, if you are using traditional air conditioning units, there really is no way to reduce your energy consumption except by turning off your AC unit. Unfortunately, this is not really that cost-effective.

Using modulating ACs will help you get around this issue. With variable speeds, you can enjoy varying outputs. Since the unit operates at, say, 40% capacity, it will not consume as much power when it operates at 100% capacity. Modulating air conditioners let you control how much power you use because they can run while consuming less energy.


What About Cost Vs. Payback of Modulating Air Conditioners?

Some homeowners are put off by the initial cost of modulating air conditioners. However, they fail to take a look at its long-term cost benefits which cover installation, maintenance, and equipment price. You can enjoy a return on investment more quickly.

Of course, you could save on maintenance costs while using standard AC models but they do increase your expenses over time. When running at a fixed speed, standard ACs are put under increased pressure and strain compared to variable speed types. Systems that are under constant strain will require more frequent repairs and parts replacement.

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Homeowners who switch from standard air conditioners to variable-speed or modulating AC systems do so because they want increased energy efficiency. Thanks to innovations in HVAC technology used for inverters, manufacturers can now offer excellent heating and cooling solutions at a lower cost. Newer variable speed models also offer better humidity and temperature control. This means that your home is not only more comfortable but it is also greener and smarter.

Call Townsend Energy For Superior Heating & Cooling Solutions

te logoTownsend Energy understands how important comfort and cost are to their clients in Northeastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, and Maine. This is why we specialize in HVAC tune-ups, installations, repairs, replacements, and more. Our staff is made up of experienced, certified technicians who will perform their work in an effective, time-efficient manner. We guarantee that our service costs are the most competitive in the area. If you are thinking of switching or would like an evaluation to determine your needs, Townsend Energy can help you come up with a solution that works for your specific comfort requirements and budget. Call us today and ask about our free, in-home estimates.

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