Replacement of Variable-Speed Motors for Furnaces, Syracuse, New York (Fact Sheet)

R. Aldrich, J. Williamson

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


In conjunction with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Proctor Engineering Group, Ltd. (PEG), the Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB) has evaluated the Concept 3 replacement motors for residential furnaces. These brushless, permanent magnet (BPM) motors can use much less electricity than their PSC (permanent split capacitor) predecessors.This evaluation focuses on existing homes in the heating-dominated climate of upstate New York with the goals of characterizing field performance and cost-effectiveness. The results of this study are intended to be useful to home performance contractors, HVAC contractors, and home efficiency program stakeholders. The project includes eight homes in and near Syracuse, NY. Tests and monitoring was performed both before and after fan motors were replaced. Average fan power reductions were approximately 126 Watts during heating and 220 Watts during cooling operation. Over the course of entire heating and cooling seasons, these translated into average electric energy savings of 163 kWh. Average cost savings were $20 per year. Homes where the fan was used outside of heating and cooling mode saved an additional $42 per year on average. Results indicate that BPM replacement motors will be most cost-effective in HVAC systems with longer run times and relatively low duct static pressures. More dramatic savings are possible if occupants use the fan-only setting when there is no thermal load. There are millions of cold-climate, U.S. homes that meet these criteria, but the savings in most homes tested in this study were modest.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5500-60761

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102014-4307


  • air handler units
  • brushless permanent magnet motor
  • Building America
  • CFM
  • ECM
  • EE
  • EE
  • electronically commutated motor
  • energy efficiency
  • HVAC
  • permanent split capacitor motor
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • retrofit furnace fan
  • variable speed


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