Winter in Calgary

Winter is Coming to Calgary

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Garage Heater Install

Winter officially begins on December 21, yet if you live in Calgary you know that winter starts far sooner that than. In fact winter in Calgary is about to start this weekend with the mercury dipping below -20C. With temperatures like that it won’t take long to find out if your furnace, boiler and fireplace is working properly.

If by some chance you find out that one of your heating appliamces is not up to snuff. Baker Plumbing is ready with the knowledge, experience, tools and skills to get things warmed up fast!

Here’s a little more information on our favorite season, winter!

Winter is Coming

Winter, coldest season of the year, between autumn and spring; the name comes from an old Germanic word that means “time of water” and refers to the rain and snow of winter in middle and high latitudes. In the Northern Hemisphere it is commonly regarded as extending from the winter solstice (year’s shortest day), December 21 or 22, to the vernal equinox (day and night equal in length), March 20 or 21, and in the Southern Hemisphere from June 21 or 22 to September 22 or 23. The low temperatures associated with winter occur only in middle and high latitudes; in equatorial regions, temperatures are almost uniformly high throughout the year.

Definition of Winter

Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar and temperate zones (winter does not occur in most of the tropical zone). It occurs after autumn and before spring in each year. Winter is caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. Different cultures define different dates as the start of winter, and some use a definition based on weather. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa. In many regions, winter is associated with snow and freezing temperatures. The moment of winter solstice is when the Sun’s elevation with respect to the North or South Pole is at its most negative value (that is, the Sun is at its farthest below the horizon as measured from the pole). The day on which this occurs has the shortest day and the longest night, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates outside the polar regions differ from the date of the winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth’s elliptical orbit (see earliest and latest sunrise and sunset).

Baker Brothers furnace upgrades, timelapse

Baker Boys in Action

Here at Baker plumbing we want to provide the best tech while using the best tech!

The choice of who works on your furnace, the heart of your HVAC system and the very appliance keeping Old Man Winter at bay, should be made carefully. There is alot of smoke and mirrors out there and you can trust Baker to clear the air!

Types of Furnaces 

While worldwide there are many different types of furnaces, in Alberta there are generally only 2 based on fuel source.

  • Natural gas
  • Propane

Once past the fuel the field becomes much more cluttered with such verbiage as first and second stages, PSC or ECM motors, exchanger metal types and on and on.

The government legislation mandating the efficiency ratings, the minimum allowable is 92% has left manufacturers and sellers to add new components at a furious rate to gain a percent here and one there!

Baker recommendations

While new technology is impressive and even amazing, our belief is still to keep things as simple as possible. We recommend the following

  • the basic 92% efficiency model
  • single stage gas valve
  • PSC motor
  • stainless steel exchanger

Those components will give you the 92% efficiency rating, low operating costs and the least potential for an expense repair bill in the future.

Still confused or have questions?

At Baker we can answer and solve any of your questions or problems.

 

Contact us at www.bakerplumbing.ca today 

 

ECM Motors, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

ECM motors are very popular amongst the HVAC sales force these days and while they certainly have some impressive features, be sure you understand what your getting into.

THE GOOD

  • ECM motors are incredibly efficient in their use of energy, top rated with no doubt.
  • ECM motors are very quiet and frankly are almost silent in their operations.

THE BAD

  • While top rated in energy usage, the margins between first and second are slim.
  • PSC motors have come along way and are significantly cheaper component of the HVAC system

THE UGLY

  • ECM motors are incredibly expensive to replace, as much as $1600 in some circimstances.

 

ECM motor swap

 

 

Heating season continues…

Swapping an ECM blower motor for this high efficiency furnace. These parts are pricey and must be installed by trained techs like us!

I’m fast but not that fast

Today’s higher efficiency equipment, both furnaces and A/C, are now using new higher efficiency motors to reduce the total electrical consumption of the system thus raising the efficiency. They also help with the efficiency by maintaining the proper air flow (CFM) across components like evaporator coils, heat exchangers, and even condenser coils. As you know from past postings, air flow is critical to proper operation, but, the use of ECM motor technology, also help raise efficiencies of the equipment.

So, what is an ECM motor?  An ECM motor is some times referred to an a variable speed motor. In one sense, this is true, it does vary its RPM of the motor, but only in response to changing conditions in the system.  But in the truest sense, all it trying to do is maintain a programmed CFM.  ECM stands  for Electronically Commutated Motor

The ECM motor has 3 components:

  1. The motor — which does not have any “windings” in it.  The stator is driven by magnetic fields.  The motor operates off DC voltage. When it first starts, it will actually rock back and forth before starting as it aligns the magnetic fields to drive the motor. The same motor will operate on both 110 volts and 220 volts, depending how the 5 pin power plug is configured. Rarely, does this go bad. The most common  failure is due to someone “dropping” the module while it is plugged into the motor and breaking the wires going into the motor.
  2. The module or ECM Microprocessor — or the “brains” of the motor.  It receives the programming information from the board via a 16 pin harness and “translates” it so the motor produces the CFM desired.  It mounts on end of the motor or can be remotely mounted and stores the “relationship” between “speed, torque, & airflow”. It is programmed at the factory to match a given unit Each module is “specific” to a model and are not interchangeable.
  3. Lastly, there is some sort of control board where you can set the desired CFM for each application and that is connected to the module with the 16 pin harness.

The way I explain it in my training classes is this.  An ECM motor maintains a programmed CFM in response to changes in torque. When the sensed torque changes, the RPM of the motor either ramps up or down to maintain the programmed CFM.  Sounds confusing, doesn’t it?

Let me put it to you this way.  Let’s compare how an ECM motor works to cruise control on a car.  When you are using cruise control, you “program” how fast you want the car to go and set that speed (MPH). The RPM’s of the engine run at a certain level to maintain that speed.  Now, you car starts to go up a hill. The cruise control senses a change in torque, so it needs to “rev” up the engine so it can maintain your “programmed speed”.  Likewise, when you go down a hill, there is less torque on the engine so the RPM’s are reduced and, again, you are maintaining the programmed speed.

The same thing is occurring with an ECM motor.  It works on a relationship between RPM, torque, and CFM (instead of MPH).  Instead of a control on the steering column, there is a board in the unit that you need to set up with the “cool”, “adjust”, “heat”, and “delay” profiles (switches, jumpers, etc, depending on manufacturer).  Once you have programmed the desired CFM for a particular application, the motor and module do the rest.

Let’s say you have a 3 ton air conditioner. So we need  400 CFM per ton or 1200 CFM to work properly.  You use the programming board and set BOTH the cool and adjust profiles for as close to 1200 CFM as you can. (Always use the manufacturer’s tables for setting up an ECM motor).  Now, on a call for cooling, the motor turns on and is going to try to maintain your programmed CFM. Here is where added efficiency comes in because we are maintaining ideal CFM across a range of operating conditions.  Of course, as an air conditioner runs, the evaporator is going to get “wet” since we are removing latent heat and humidity.  When the coil gets wet, the static pressure of the system goes up.  As the static goes up, the motor senses a change in torque (like the car going uphill) and starts to increase the RPM of the motor in order to maintain the CFM of the system.  Same thing occurs as a filter gets dirty,  return static increases and the motor revs up the  RPM to maintain the CFM.  Now, as the latent heat decreases and there is less humidity or water on the coil, or someone changes the dirty filter, there is less static, a reduction in torque, so the RPM’s decrease, all the time maintaining  CFM.

The same thing occurs in heating mode.  You have programmed the motor to maintain a desired “temperature rise” for the system.  The motor will deliver that CFM to maintain that rise.  But, again, if the filter is gettng dirty, the motor’s RPM will increase, to maintain the CFM and temperature rise.

Lastly, you can also program a DELAY profile on the CFM board. This function is only for cooling but it allows you to further “fine tune” how the motor ramps up and down at the start and end of a call for cooing.  You can set a “Normal, Humid, Dry, or factory default profile through the control.

By maintaining proper CFM in cooling, and temperature rise in heating, we get the maximum efficiency out of the furnace and air conditioner. This, coupled with the fact that an ECM motor uses less wattage than a PSC motor, you can see why these motors are becoming more and more popular as part of a total energy-efficient system.