If your home furnace is showing its age or you simply want to reduce your energy costs during the cold season, it is important to learn about the different types of forced air furnaces. There are different types of furnaces and each offers specific benefits that you need to know about.
Key Furnace Differences
There are some important differences between furnaces and how they work:
- The first difference is how furnaces generate their heat. Some do this in a single step to generate as much heat as possible, but others do it in two different steps and have more control over the amount of heat produced.
- The second main difference between furnaces is how their fans work. The fan transports the heat generated throughout your home. In some furnaces, the fans are constantly running at full speed. Others run their fans at different speeds. This large difference in operation affects the comfort and efficiency during use.
Single Phase Versus 2 Stage Furnaces: Which are Optimal
Older furnaces are all single-phase products, meaning they constantly generate maximum heat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it makes the furnace more affordable. But if you care about efficiency and convenience, a single-phase furnace is not the best option. Two-stage furnaces are known to be more efficient, often operating at an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) of over 95% efficiency. In contrast, single-phase AFUE devices typically operate at levels in the 80s.
Because of how they work, there is a big difference in efficiency between these two types of furnaces. Furnaces are most efficient when they go through the preheat phase and operate for extended periods of time. For this reason, an oversized furnace will always be less efficient than a properly sized unit. A single-phase furnace turns on, heats your home, and then turns off again. A two-phase furnace turns on at maximum power to warm your home during the coolest part of the day. Once your home is warm, it doesn’t turn off, but instead switches back to the low heat setting and continues to work to keep heating levels within a degree or two of the thermostat settings. By operating continuously, a two-phase furnace continues to operate efficiently, easily switching between high and low heat output to keep your home at comfortable temperatures.
Standard Furnaces Versus Variable Speed Models
Some furnaces work with fans that always work at the same power. These are standard furnaces. Others work with a fan that runs faster and slower as the temperature in your home rises. When the house requires little heat, the fan runs slower, uses less electricity and creates a more comfortable environment. Additionally, this type of fan also has a longer lifespan and should keep your home comfortable for years to come than your basic single speed fan ever could. A variable speed fan can deliver precisely the right amount of heat and is often combined with a two-stage furnace for maximum efficiency.
Two-stage furnaces are more efficient than single-stage models, and furnaces equipped with variable-speed fans are even more efficient. These more modern and efficient furnaces are slightly more expensive, but they should offset their additional costs with efficiency gains and a more comfortable environment over their lifespan, making them a worthwhile investment.
FAQ’s About “Understanding the Different Types of Furnaces”
Q: What are the different types of furnaces?
There are four main types of furnaces:
- Gas furnaces: Gas furnaces are the most common type of furnace. They are powered by natural gas or propane, and they are very efficient.
- Oil furnaces: Oil furnaces are less common than gas furnaces, but they are still a popular option in areas where natural gas is not available. They are powered by heating oil, which is a type of petroleum product.
- Electric furnaces: Electric furnaces are the most affordable type of furnace, but they are also the least efficient. They are powered by electricity, and they do not produce any emissions.
- Propane furnaces: Propane furnaces are a good option for homes that do not have access to natural gas. They are powered by propane, which is a clean-burning fuel.
Q: How do furnaces work?
All furnaces work by burning fuel to create heat. The heat is then transferred to air, which is circulated throughout the home.
- Gas furnaces: Gas furnaces work by burning natural gas or propane. The gas is burned in a burner, which heats air that is drawn into the furnace. The heated air is then blown out of the furnace and into the ducts, which distribute it throughout the home.
- Oil furnaces: Oil furnaces work by burning heating oil. The oil is sprayed into a combustion chamber, where it is burned. The heated air is then drawn into the furnace and blown out into the ducts.
- Electric furnaces: Electric furnaces work by using electricity to heat coils of wire. The heated coils transfer heat to the air, which is then blown out into the ducts.
- Propane furnaces: Propane furnaces work by burning propane. The propane is burned in a burner, which heats air that is drawn into the furnace. The heated air is then blown out of the furnace and into the ducts.
Q: What are the pros and cons of each type of furnace?
Here is a table that summarizes the pros and cons of each type of furnace:
|Type of Furnace
|Efficient, reliable, relatively inexpensive to operate
|Not as environmentally friendly as other options, requires a natural gas line
|Not as environmentally friendly as other options, requires an oil tank
|Affordable, no emissions
|Less efficient than gas or oil furnaces
|Efficient, reliable, clean-burning
|Can be more expensive to operate than gas or electric furnaces
Q: How can I choose the right furnace for my home?
There are a few factors to consider when choosing a furnace for your home:
- The size of your home: The size of your furnace will depend on the square footage of your home. A furnace that is too small will not be able to heat your home effectively, while a furnace that is too large will be inefficient.
- The climate in your area: The climate in your area will also affect your choice of furnace. If you live in a cold climate, you will need a furnace that can produce a lot of heat. If you live in a milder climate, you may be able to get away with a less powerful furnace.
- Your budget: Furnaces can range in price depending on the model and specific needs for you home. It is important to set a budget before you start shopping for a furnace.
Q: What are some tips for maintaining my furnace?
Here are some tips for maintaining your furnace:
- Change the filter regularly: The air filter in your furnace traps dust and dirt, so it is important to change it regularly. The frequency with which you need to change the filter will depend on the type of filter you use and the amount of dust and dirt in your home.
- Have your furnace serviced annually: A qualified HVAC technician can inspect your furnace and make sure that it is working properly. They can also clean the coils and other components of your furnace.
- Keep your furnace vents clear: Make sure that there is nothing blocking the vents in your home. Blocked vents can restrict airflow and reduce the efficiency of your furnace.
Want to learn more about furnaces? Give our team at Tudi Mechanical Systems a call or fill out our online contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation with us. We look forward to hearing from you!