Laboratory Evaluation of Residential Furnace Blower Performance

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A testing program was undertaken at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an electric utility (Pacific Gas and Electric Co.) to compare the performance of furnace blowers. This laboratory testing program was undertaken to support potential changes to California Building Standards regarding in-field furnace blower energy use. This technical support includes identifying suitable performance metrics and target performance levels for use in standards. Five different combinations of blowers and residential furnaces were tested for air moving performance. Three different types of blower and motor combinations were tested in two different furnace cabinets. The blowers were standard forward-curved impellors and a prototype impeller with reverse-inclined blades. The motors were two 6-pole permanent split capacitor (PSC) single-phase induction motors, a brushless permanent magnet (BPM) motor and a prototype BPM designed for use with a prototype reverse-inclined impellor. The laboratory testing operated each blower and furnace combination over a range of air flows and pressure differences to determine air flow performance, power consumption and efficiency. Additional tests varied the clearance between the blower housing and the furnace cabinet, and the routing of air flow into the blower cabinet.

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