Most people living in the temperate world will need some kind of heating system to keep them warm throughout the colder winter months.
Buying or replacing a furnace can be a costly endeavor, so making sure you’re acquainted with the different types of heating systems available is a prudent move before you invest in a new heating system for your home or business.
Let’s take a look at some of the different types of furnaces available on the market.
What Is a Furnace?
A furnace is an integral part of your HVAC system (heating, ventilation, air conditioning.)
Once you set the thermostat, the furnace begins heating the air. A fan is then turned on to begin circulating the air.
How the heated air is transferred to your home depends on the type of furnace.
If you need a new furnace installation, your research should begin with what is appropriate for your home and your specific needs and requirements.
Furnaces By Operation.
Furnaces can be classified by how they operate.
Furnaces are at the heart of your HVAC system and are not only involved in keeping your home warm in the cold months but also participate in cooling your home down during the summer months because furnace blowers circulate cool air as well warmed air.
Single-stage furnaces have only one level of operation. They can only be turned on or off, without any interim setting to regulate the speed of operation. It’s likely with a single-stage furnace that you’ll have hot or cold spots in your home, with up to 4-6°F variance being common.
Single-stage furnaces also use more energy when they’re turned off and on. As this is the most basic type of furnace, they’re also the cheapest and easiest to install.
Two-stage furnaces give you more control over how you heat your home by giving you the option of controlling the speed of operation. You can usually opt for a slow or high speed. They are more efficient at delivering heat and keep your house more consistently warm. Two-stage furnaces also operate much more quietly at half speed than single-stage furnaces do.
Variable Speed Furnaces.
Variable-speed furnaces modulate the speed and heat depending on the outdoor temperature and the desired indoor temperature.
With variable speed furnaces, you can usually keep your home within 1/2°F of your desired temperature.
As variable speed furnaces only work as much as you need them and no more, they work out at the most energy-efficient furnace type.
They also provide the best quality air as the fan is constantly working to circulate air through the filter, even when the furnace isn’t on.
Furnaces by Type of Fuel They Use.
Another way of classifying furnaces is by the specific type of fuel that they use to run.
The most common types of fuel used for furnaces nowadays are gas, oil, or electricity. Coal, wood, or propane are also still used by some people.
Natural Gas Furnace
Most homes in the USA operate on natural gas furnaces these days. Gas is distributed through a network of subterranean pipes by municipalities to homes all around the country.
Upon reaching the home, the gas jets to the flame where it ignites and creates heat, which is circulated through your home by your air duct system.
Oil furnaces are common in places without access to natural gas, such as in the North East of the United States.
Oil furnaces are typically up to 80-90% less efficient than gas furnaces.
However, they have a much lower upfront cost, with gas furnaces costing up to 25% more than oil ones.
Electric furnaces are often preferred by people who don’t have a natural gas line coming into their homes.
These heaters use electric elements to create heat which they then transfer to the air.
Electric heaters are much cheaper than other kinds of furnaces and can easily be fit into any kind of space.
They usually last around 10 years longer than other types of furnaces.
However, they are more expensive to run than other types of furnaces, so the money you’ll save upfront you’ll end up paying for in your energy bills.
This is because electricity is more expensive than gas.
It is commonly used by people who don’t have access to oil or gas to heat their homes.
It is easily stored in tanks and is used by 10% of US households.
A modulating furnace is more costly than other kinds of furnaces, but it has its advantages.
A modulating furnace moderates the amount of gas it burns to reach the thermostat’s target temperature.
This allows it to pinpoint the exact temperature, usually by about a ½°F margin of error, whereas other furnaces are usually in the area of 4-6°F.
Modulating furnaces don’t waste energy from constantly switching on and off.
Instead, they run on steady low levels which means you still get the heating that you want but without the high amount of energy usage.
The Bottom Line
Almost all people living in the temperate parts of the world will need some kind of heating for the cold winter months.
Buying a new furnace is something that should be given due time and consideration.
You should work out your home’s energy consumption and requirements before jumping into any purchase to make sure you make the right choice.