The most popular appliance for home heating is a furnace. It makes an integral part of any homeowner’s life, thanks to its high efficiency, durability, convenience, and versatility. There are different types of furnaces. Most of them can be differentiated by the type of fuel they burn or by their mechanisms of heat creation.
Although there are numerous types of fossil fuel furnaces, most homeowners prefer the gas or oil types. There are alternate furnaces that burn manufactured wood pellets, coal, and wood. Today, you will also find furnaces that are solar and electric powered. With this many options, it is important to understand the working mechanism of each type of furnace. That said, here is everything you need to know about furnaces and their types.
What Is a Furnace?
In a nutshell, a furnace is a component of your HVAC system. It is often referred to as a forced-air system, and it burns fuel to heat your home. When you set the thermostat in your system to a specific temperature, the furnace is activated, and it begins heating the air. During the process of heat generation, a fan is automatically switched on and distributes the warm air throughout your home. This is the standard working principle for most furnaces, but how heat is distributed in your home is another determining factor of the type of furnace.
Meanwhile, homes can also be heated by non-furnace solutions such as steam heat boilers and heat pumps mated with HVAC systems in the same manner as a furnace. Some homes may also use zone heating systems, including radiant floor heating and baseboard heaters.
At the end of the day, the type of furnace you should get depends on your preference, the space requirements, and the fuel source available in your home.
Gas furnaces are the most common heating systems available today. Nearly half of all the households in America use natural gas furnaces. They are very economical and easily available since municipalities distribute the gas via pipelines to residential buildings.
Although the old gas furnaces would only hit an efficiency of about 65%, modern natural gas heating appliances can reach up to 98% efficiency. Gas furnaces utilize burners, heat exchangers, and blowers to convert gas into heat.
Gas furnaces can be further categorized into:
- Single-stage heating system – This system includes a valve that opens and closes consistently to control the gas. It features a constant rate of gas flow and is designed to operate at an efficiency of 80% annually in terms of fuel utilization. Its installation is simple, and it has the longest life span in its category.
- Two-stage furnace – These furnaces give you the option of adjusting the speed to either low or high. Unlike the single-stage heating system, this type offers more flexibility in terms of controlling the amount of heat produced. With a two-stage furnace, you can adjust the temperature according to the heat load of your house. It operates at 90% annual fuel utilization efficiency.
- Modulating furnace – These furnaces are fairly complex in terms of operation. They can adjust the amount of heat your home receives more precisely than the first two options. A modulating furnace has been designed to run at optimal heating and can regulate the heat output by 1% increases, which is highly economical and efficient in adjusting the amount of gas your heating system uses.
Like gas furnaces, these furnaces burn propane, a byproduct of oil and gas production, to produce heat for your home. Propane can be stored in tanks, making it convenient for any homeowner who wishes to have one. These tanks have gas lines that lead to your home, allowing your furnace to draw in propane and to burn it the same way a natural gas furnace would.
Around the U.S., approximately 9.4 million people use propane furnaces in their homes for heat production. While these types of furnaces are highly convenient, it is important to have a reliable propane distributor for refilling the tanks and a professional to help you install the indoor and outdoor components for maximum efficiency.
Oil furnaces are common in the northeastern parts of the U.S. In these furnaces, oil is the primary source of fuel. The oil is combusted by the burners to create hot air, providing warmth throughout your home. These furnaces run at an efficiency of between 80% and 90%.
Oil furnaces make a perfect choice for anyone who doesn’t have easy access to natural gas or propane or for those whose budgets are constrained. The upfront cost is low, and the cost of installation is usually 25% less than the cost of natural gas heating appliances.
These furnaces, unfortunately, require a lot of maintenance, including the consistent clearing of soot and ash to keep them working optimally. On the bright side, they can last longer than any other type of furnace.
These furnaces make the cheapest forms of home heating solutions in regard to the upfront cost. Some cost up to 50% less than a gas furnace. They are also the easiest types of furnace to install. The quibble about these furnaces is that they incur high costs of operation since electricity is costlier than gas. Over time, you will end up paying more in terms of energy bills.
So, which furnace type is right for you? While you make this decision, here are a few things you should consider.
Size of the Furnace
Now that you know which type of furnace you would like to invest in, it is important to ensure that it is correctly sized so that it runs at maximum efficiency. The right-sized furnace is determined by the British Thermal Units (BTUs). This unit is affected by other factors, such as height, climate zones, the age of the house, the floorplan of the house, and how insulated house is. Because these variables can be complex, it is best to consult with a professional to appropriately size a furnace for you.
While shopping for a furnace, take into consideration the reputation and the customer reviews of the specific product you are interested in; also, make sure to factor in the upfront, installation, and maintenance costs. You’ll also want to ensure that the furnace you chose is reliable. Consult with a professional and conduct research online to find the right one that will work for you.
Where You Live
Your location plays an important role in determining the type and the size of furnace that your home needs. If you live in a neighborhood that has a constant supply of municipal gas, then a gas furnace will be better. Consequently, if you live in a region that is excessively humid or hot, you might need a furnace with low energy output.
Give Honest Air Conditioning a Call
Whether you are looking to repair an old furnace or wanting to install a new one, reach out to Honest Air Conditioning in Mesa, Tempe, Higley, Gold Canyon, and surrounding areas for help. Our technicians have a wealth of experience and can maintain, repair, and install heating and air conditioning systems. Apart from offering excellent customer service, we will work with you to find you a system that can keep you cool, increase your energy efficiency, and save you money over time. Reach out to us today!