Common Types of Furnaces

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Single-Stage vs. Two-Stage vs. Modulating Furnaces: Which One Should You Get?

When choosing a furnace for your home, you may be overwhelmed by the different options. At Hutton Electric, Heating & Air, we understand that installing a new furnace is a big investment, so we want you to be able to feel confident in your choice. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to cover three of the most common types of furnaces: single-stage, two-stage, and modulating.

Single-Stage Furnaces

A single-stage furnace is the easiest type of furnace to understand because it only has two settings: either fully on or completely off. When the thermostat signals a drop in temperature, the furnace ignites and runs at maximum capacity until the desired temperature is achieved. Also, the furnace may the area around the thermostat faster than it warms the rest of the home. This causes the thermostat to think that your entire house is at the target temperature, so it will shut off your furnace before the heating equipment has a chance to warm up your home evenly.

Pros of a Single-Stage Furnace

  • Cost-effective: Single-stage furnaces are often more budget-friendly upfront, as they are cheaper to buy and install.
  • Low maintenance requirements: The straightforward operation makes them easy to maintain.
  • Cheaper repairs: With fewer complex parts and systems, single-stage furnaces often cost less to repair than other furnace options.

Cons of a Single-Stage Furnace:

  • Energy inefficiency: Operating at full capacity each time the furnace kicks on can lead to higher energy bills.
  • Noisy operation: Because these furnaces frequently turn fully on and off, they may be noisier to operate.
  • Insufficient heat: When single-stage furnaces unevenly heat the area around the thermostat, other rooms of your house may not be warmed sufficiently.

Two-Stage Furnaces

Two-stage furnaces, also known as dual-stage furnaces, has one more setting than the on/off options of a single-stage furnace. They are called two-stage furnaces because they offer two heating settings — a lower and a higher setting. The furnace will begin in the lower setting and switch to the higher one if necessary, such as during periods of extreme cold, to provide a more gradual and energy-efficient heating process.

Pros of a Two-Stage Furnace

  • Improved efficiency: Two-stage furnaces are more energy-efficient compared to single-stage models, which can help you save on energy bills.
  • Even heating: Two-stage furnaces provide more consistent heat throughout your home.
  • Extended service life: When the weather is milder, a two-stage furnace can stay in the lower heating setting, which reduces wear and tear on the system.

Cons of a Two-Stage Furnace

  • Higher initial cost: While more efficient, these furnaces may have a higher upfront cost.
  • Repair complexity: Two-stage furnaces have more intricates parts and systems, which can make repairs more complicated.
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Modulating Furnaces

Modulating furnaces take precision and comfort to the next level with continuous variable output. These types of furnaces adjust in small increments to maintain a consistent temperature. With a modulating furnace, you won’t have to worry about temperature fluctuations.

Pros of a Modulating Furnace

  • Highest efficiency: Modulating furnaces offer top-tier energy efficiency and are the most efficient of the three furnace options.
  • Consistent comfort: The precise temperature control of a modulating furnace provides even heat and minimal temperature fluctuations.

Cons of a Modulating Furnace

  • Highest initial cost: The advanced technology and superior efficiency of these systems often make them the most expensive to purchase and install.

What Type of Furnace Is Right for Me?

To determine the ideal furnace to install at your home, consider factors such as:

  • Budget: Single-stage furnaces are cheaper upfront, while modulating furnaces require a larger initial investment. If you have a limited budget for installation, consider going with a single-stage or two-stage furnace.
  • Energy efficiency: While single-stage furnaces are cheaper to install, they’ll cost more over the long run due to being less efficient. For long-term savings, a two-stage or modulating furnace will be better.
  • Comfort: For those valuing consistent indoor comfort and quieter operation, two-stage and modulating furnaces offer more comfort than a single-stage furnace.

Ultimately, the decision depends on your specific requirements and budget. Understanding the characteristics of each type will empower you to choose a furnace that not only keeps your home warm but does so efficiently and cost-effectively.

If you are still on the fence, the furnace experts at Hutton can help you make a decision. Call us at 757-302-8770 to discuss your furnace options.

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