Aug 23

How A Modulating Air Conditioner Controls Temperature and Humidity More Effectively

image of a modulating air conditioner installation

The technology that makes modern air conditioning better and more efficient is fast evolving. This explains why even slightly used units are being replaced by more reliable models such as variable-speed or modulating air conditioner designs.

With a modulating air conditioner, you can rely on intelligent power consumption, more reliable performance, and a number of features and benefits that are not available with older units. Modulating ACs are designed to regulate temperature more effectively while reducing humidity to improve comfort. Let’s take a closer look at how variable-speed air conditioning systems work.

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Difference Between Modulating ACs and Standard Air Conditioning Units

Modulating technology is best understood by comparing it with standard models. Standard air conditioning units use a compressor that runs at a fixed speed. Once the unit is turned on, it will run at full capacity. When it is turned off, it will naturally shut down completely.

This type of system seems deceptively simple and advantageous but it actually consumes plenty of energy. Each time the unit shuts down, it stops the cycle. Once it starts up, the new cycle requires a good amount of power to run the unit. This consumption increases your energy bill.

The fixed speed at which standard units run also results in inflexible cooling and heating temperatures. The flow of air is generally intense, which makes indoor spaces either too cold or too warm. This type of system usually produces cold and hot spots.

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Why is a Modulating Air Conditioner Different?

image of a happy homeowner with a variable-speed air conditioner

A modulating unit runs differently, in that it operates as low as 40% to as high as %120 instead of a constant 100% capacity. This ensures that the temperature indoors is even and stable. Because the temperature is constant, the airflow is of better quality, allowing you to enjoy better comfort.

The compressor of the modulating air conditioner uses variable speeds/capacities. If you prefer, you can modify or adjust the speed to meet changing cooling needs. Since the system’s output can be controlled, it is also possible to control how much energy the unit consumes.

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Difference Between Flexible and Fixed Temperature Control

feeling humid due to underperfoming air conditioner

If you’ve heard someone desperately call out, “Blast the AC!”, it is likely that they are using a standard unit. Once you turned it on, it will blow air at full speed. As a result, the air temperature remains the same regardless of your preference.

The airflow in a standard unit is usually too strong, which, as mentioned above, causes cold and hot spots indoors. This contributes to increased discomfort in your home, particularly during the night.

With a modulating technology HVAC system, you have access to adjustable settings. Variable-speed models allow airflow to be adjusted depending on one’s heating and cooling preferences. The output is far more stable, effectively eliminating extreme temperatures. This also allows you to get rid of cold and hot spots.

Air conditioners that have at least two speeds are more capable of producing steady and consistent airflow. Because the flow is adjustable, it is far easier to match the speed to the cooling needs of a home.

There are also other factors that affect the quality of airflow. If a modulating air conditioner has to perform well, it has to match the specifications of your home. To ensure this, you will have to talk to a professional HVAC technician.

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Dealing with High and Low Humidity


With standard air conditioning systems, you will have to contend with cycles that turn on and off. The problem with a system that cycles on and off is that the AC system may fail to eliminate a sufficient amount of moisture from the air. This leads to higher humidity indoors.

This explains why traditional units often cause clammy or uncomfortably warm indoor spaces. Humidity is problematic because it does not only reduce comfort but also increases mold growth. Mold not only damages your home but also affects your health.

A variable-speed air conditioner is designed to help prevent mold growth. Modulating units require only fewer cycles, which allows them to effectively reduce indoor humidity. You can confidently increase indoor temperature without having to contend with mold or discomfort. Modulating air conditioning units also run longer, which means they are effective in filtering indoor air pollutants. As a result, you get to enjoy better indoor air quality.

There are modulating A/C units that are designed to maintain humidity at just 50%. This feature is being recommended by many regulating authorities. With standard units that run on fixed speed, however, you can expect indoor humidity to go as high as 60%. Humidity makes the environment conducive to the growth of mold, which means that to achieve the ideal indoor air quality, the unit will have to be replaced eventually. If this is not possible, regular maintenance can help prevent serious issues.

Energy Consumption

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Standard air conditioners consume a higher amount of power, which translates to higher electric bills. This is more noticeable during hot and cold months when temperatures either rise or drop.

To cope with the inefficiency, homeowners often need to add extra insulation or use other means to improve airflow just to keep energy costs down. But often, these actions do not work. Traditional air conditioning units will only consume less energy if they are used less. This is just not possible in the heat of the summer.

With modulating air conditioners, this is not an issue at all. With variable speed, you can enjoy varying outputs. When the unit is running at just 40% capacity, it will not consume as much power as when it is running at 100% capacity. It is even possible to regulate how much power is used to control the amount of energy consumed.

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Air Conditioner Maintenance Costs

Modulating air conditioners generally cost more. However, they will ultimately save you money over the long term. Even by figuring in the cost of equipment, maintenance, and installation, you still will enjoy a shorter payback period.

With standard air conditioning units, there are things you can do to keep maintenance costs down. However, they will require more financial investment over time. Fixed-speed air conditioning units are often more stressed and operate under more strain than variable-speed units. Due to the constant stress, fixed-speed ACs will require more frequent part replacements and repairs.



Energy efficiency is an important consideration for homeowners. This is why the transition to modulating air conditioning units from standard air conditioners is inevitable. With innovations brought in by inverter HVAC technology, you can enjoy lower costs with your heating and cooling system. Variable-speed designs are also more capable of producing a more comfortable home, thanks to the smart technology that keeps humidity under control. As a result, your home is not only safer and more comfortable but also smarter and greener as well.

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Skylands Energy Service is one of the top providers of heating and cooling solutions in Central New Jersey. All our services are performed only by experienced and certified technicians, so you are assured of top-notch services every time. We guarantee the most competitive service costs around and ensure that your concerns are addressed – from your heating and cooling preferences to your budget. We guarantee your satisfaction and safety with every job we do. If you want to know about our free in-home estimate, call Skylands Energy Service today.

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