When it comes to choosing the right furnace for your home, efficiency is key. That’s why many energy-conscious Minnesotans select a two-stage unit for optimal performance and comfort in the frigid North. Let’s take a look at the benefits of a two-stage furnace and how it can save you money and headaches in the long run.
What is a two-stage furnace?
When talking about stage heating relative to your furnace, it’s actually referring to the burner section inside of the unit, or more specifically, the valve that controls the fuel distribution that heats your home. A two-stage unit has two levels of heating output. When the furnace turns on, it initially starts in a low-fire mode, then ramps up depending on the thermostat’s set temperature. Two-stage furnaces generally run at the lower stage most of the time but the heating cycles are longer and produce less temperature fluctuations, usually between one and two degrees. In general, a two-stage unit will run at 70 percent capacity most of the time. Two-stage furnaces are more efficient than their one-stage counterparts. They tend to require less maintenance and are moderately priced.
How does it compare to single-stage and modulators?
There are two additional types of furnaces – single-stage and modulators. A single-stage unit runs at 100 percent capacity all the time. While they generally tend to be less expensive and have lower repair costs, these units are not as efficient as a two-stage furnace. They operate with a single-speed blower motor which blows at full speed and noise level all of the time. Single-stage furnaces tend to have larger temperature variations than two-stage and can fluctuate up to four degrees. These units are better for warmer climates where the furnace isn’t used very much.
Modulating units tend to be the most-energy efficient as well as eco-friendly. However, they’re more prone to repairs as they are running more often. Designed for longer cycles but at lower capacity, modulators push less amounts of heat into the house but more frequently. The flame increases or decreases in smaller increments so the room temperature never varies more than one or two degrees. Once there’s a good build-up of heat in the house, there’s no more need for a huge influx of heat from the furnace, at least for a while. After that, a modulating furnace turns on and off more frequently than other types of units. Modulating units are more expensive than one- and two-stage furnaces.
What are the benefits of two-stage heating?
The two main benefits to two-stage heating are efficiency and comfort. Furnace efficiency is measured by AFUE – annualized fuel utilization efficiency. This measurement is similar to gas mileage, a measure of how much heat you get relative to the amount of fuel burned. Two-stage models tend to range up to 95 percent, compared to 80 percent for single-stage units. This improvement in efficiency means lower operating costs, which translates into energy savings for the homeowner.
With regard to comfort, the more stages a furnace runs on, the better the temperature balance and air filtration in your home. Longer running cycles at less-than full capacity means air gets moved through the filter more times during the day. This helps to remove dust particles and allergens from the air resulting in better indoor air quality. Moreover, if a humidifier is attached to the furnace, the longer cycles will cause it to run more, which means more comfortable humidity levels in the dryer winter months.
Selecting the right furnace for your home can be daunting, with many variables to consider such as cost and energy output. The experts at Heating and Cooling Two are here to help make the choice a little easier. We’re an authorized dealer of quality, high-efficiency Bryant gas furnaces.
Contact us today to speak with one of our heating and cooling professionals.