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Which Type of Furnace Should I Get? | Single-Stage vs. Two-Stage vs. Modulating

If you’re shopping for a furnace for the first time, or even for the second time, knowing where to start can seem overwhelming. Luckily, once you get some basic furnace knowledge, it becomes a lot easier to tell which model will best suit your household’s needs.

Below, we’ll explain the main differences between the three most common types of furnaces on the market: single-stage, two-stage, and modulating. That way, you can have a better idea of which type you’d like to select for your home.

Single-Stage Furnaces

A single-stage furnace is the least complex of the three types we’ll be discussing. It has only two settings: off and on. In other words, the equipment is either running at full power or not at all.

This design’s simplicity has a couple of drawbacks. It’s not as energy-efficient as newer designs, and sometimes the furnace warms the area around the thermostat faster than it warms the rest of the home. This causes the thermostat to “think” that your whole house is your target temperature, so it will shut off your furnace before the heating equipment has a chance to warm up your home evenly.

Is a Single-Stage Furnace Right for Me?

Because this type of furnace is older in design and less efficient than two-stage and modulating furnaces, a single-stage furnace will cost you less money to purchase. If you’ve already owned this type of furnace and have been satisfied with its ability to heat your home, you may not need a more advanced model. A single-stage furnace is also a wise option if you don’t plan to stay in your home long-term.

Two-Stage Furnaces

Two-stage (or dual-stage) furnaces have three settings: off, on (low mode), and on (high mode). Most of the time, the furnace will run on the lower setting. If the weather gets especially cold, the equipment will switch to its higher setting.

Having two “on” modes allows a two-stage furnace to reduce temperature fluctuations and heat your entire home more evenly and efficiently than a single-stage furnace. However, this higher efficiency does come with a higher price tag. Generally, you can expect to pay a couple hundred to several hundred dollars more for a furnace that’s two-stage versus single-stage.

Is a Two-Stage Furnace Right for Me?

While the initial cost might be a drawback, there are several reasons why a two-stage furnace could be a better match for your heating needs than a single-stage model. If your home contains two or more levels, a two-stage furnace will be able to warm it much more evenly than a single-stage furnace--and for less money. If you plan to stay in your home long-term and are suffering from high heating costs, you’ll have the opportunity to reap the benefits of this updated furnace design.

Modulating Furnaces

Modulating furnaces provide homes with more precise temperature control and less dramatic temperature fluctuations than single-stage and even double-stage furnaces. This type of furnace will aim to keep your home within one to two degrees of your desired temperature by adjusting its flame in slight increments to the changes it detects.

A modulating furnace will be even more energy-efficient if it’s paired with a variable-speed (or multi-speed) blower motor. By using more than one fan speed, the blower motor can help warm your home more evenly while using less energy.

Is a Modulating Furnace Right for Me?

If your home currently costs a fortune to heat, or if it seems impossible for your home to reach a consistent, comfortable temperature, you’ll enjoy owning a modulating furnace. It will keep your entire home as close to your ideal temperature as possible while costing you significantly less in energy bills than you’re probably used to--especially if you currently own a single-stage furnace.

However, similar to a two-stage model, you can expect a modulating furnace to carry a heftier price tag than older, less efficient designs. You’ll get the most out of a modulating furnace if you plan on staying in your current home long enough to benefit from the energy savings.

At Hutton Power & Light, LLC, our heating experts can help you choose the ideal furnace type for your home and your budget. We also offer a standardized, flat-rate pricing for all heating installations in Chesapeake and throughout the surrounding areas.

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