Should I Get a Single Stage or a Two Stage Furnace?

If you have been shopping for a new gas furnace you are probably wondering whether or not it is important to spend the extra money for a two stage model.  What are the advantages of a two stage furnace?  The answer to that question will help you decide whether to buy a single stage or a two stage furnace.

There are several benefits of a two stage furnace that make them a popular choice for many homeowners.

1. They use energy more efficiently, reducing your energy consumption and your energy bills.  A two stage furnace has 2 settings, low heat and high heat.  On low heat, the gas burner runs at 65%-70% capacity, depending on the brand and model.  So, if you have a 100,000 Btu furnace, it will produce 65,000 to 70,000 Btu per hour on low heat.  On many days, this is enough to meet the heating demands of the house.  If the furnace cannot heat effectively on low heat, the gas valve will open to 100% and bring the house up to the desired temperature.  Running on low heat most of the time means less fuel is used in the long-run.  A single stage furnace runs full-blast and then stops, and does this repeatedly, like a car in stop and go traffic.  It will use fuel less efficiently.

2. Two stage gas furnaces offer more balanced heating, with temperature fluctuations of only 2-3 degrees usually.  Because a two stage furnace runs at a lower capacity (65-70%), it runs more consistently, and that leads to more even, some say gentle, heating.  A single stage furnace runs full capacity every time it fires, so temperature fluctuations tend to be more pronounced – often noticeably so.

3. Two stage furnaces are quieter.  Combustion makes noise, so 65%-70% combustion will be quieter than 100% combustion.  The difference may only be noticeable if the furnace is located near living areas.

4. Better air filtration is offered by a two stage furnace.  Two stage furnaces run more, and that means that air is more consistently circulating through the furnace filters, where more allergens and pollutants are removed.  If you choose an advanced air purification system for your furnace, two stage operation will enhance its functionality.

5. Humidification is improved with a two stage furnace.  If you plan to include a humidifier with your furnace, two stage operation will improve its performance.  The humidifier only does its job when the furnace is running, and since a two stage furnace runs more often, it will add more humidity to your home during the heating season.

Now that you know the advantages of a two stage furnace, the decision becomes much easier.  As you price single stage and two stage models, you simply have to ask yourself if the above advantages are worth the extra expense.  If you want greater comfort from your furnace, then yes, you should spend the extra and get a two stage furnace.  If your needs for a furnace are more basic, then a single stage furnace may be perfectly adequate to heat your home.

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