If you’re looking for a furnace that consumes less electricity, modulating furnaces can be your go-to option. However, as modulating gas furnaces is highly efficient, it’s a bit costlier than single-stage or two-stage gas furnaces.
Modulating Furnaces: Should I Really Purchase One?
Modulating Gas Furnace vs. Single & Double Stage Furnace
This type of furnace never runs at full capacity. Some modulating furnaces even run at as low as 40% to 50% capacity.
As modulating furnaces run at minimum capacity, they operate for a longer duration and keep a consistent temperature in your room. Again, due to this feature, modulating furnaces have an efficiency of 97% to 98%. This means that modulating furnaces consumes less fuel for heating your space. However, this gas furnace is costlier than any other type of furnace.
Unlike modulating furnaces, single-stage furnaces don’t run for long. When the thermostat calls for heat, the single-stage furnace will blast you with hot air and make you comfortable. As soon as it meets the preset temperature, it’ll stop producing heat, and this cycle will continue until you turn off the furnace.
Due to this mechanism, single-stage furnaces aren’t that much efficient. You’ll notice frequent temperature fluctuation with this type of furnace. However, if you have a limited budget, single-stage furnaces can be the best heating solution for your home.
This type of gas furnace can operate at two levels, say, 50% and 100% capacity. One of the key benefits of a two-stage furnace is that it’s quiet and provides even heating throughout the house. For homeowners who don’t like rapid warming, a two-stage gas furnace can be the perfect solution for them.
Again, as a two-stage furnace runs longer, air filtration is done properly and helps to increase the indoor air quality. However, the downside of this furnace is that it’s costlier than the single-stage furnaces.
3 Main Features of the Modulating Gas Furnace
1. Secondary Heat Exchanger
Most modulating furnaces come with both primary and secondary heat exchangers. The secondary heat exchanger absorbs the residue heat energy from the combustion and transfers it to the primary heat exchanger. Thus, it helps to use the most of the energy and increase the overall heating efficiency.
2. Modulating Gas Valve
It’s the heart of a modulation gas furnace. With this valve, modulating gas furnace adjusts the heat according to the preset temperature set to the thermostat. Besides, this unique feature allows the modulating furnace to keep a consistent temperature throughout its operation and eliminate temperature fluctuations.
3. Variable Speed Control
This feature enables the modulating furnace to function at minimum capacity and produce less noise during operation. Also, due to this feature, modulating furnace gets enough time for air filtration and protect the homeowners from airborne particles and allergens.
Benefits of a Modulating Furnace
1. Modulating Furnace Cost (Operation) is Low
As I mentioned earlier, modulating furnaces cost more than the other furnace types. However, due to its high efficiency, it’ll save you money on fuel costs. To understand the efficiency, let’s look at the AFUE rating of different furnace types.
The AFUE rating of the single-stage furnace is about 85. On the other hand, the AFUE rating of the modulating furnace is about 95 or sometimes even more. From this, you can easily have an idea of how efficient a modulating furnace is.
2. Provides Consistent Comfort
As modulating furnace operates for a longer duration, it provides consistent temperature to the homeowners. Besides, it has modulating gas valve and variable speed control, which allow the modulating furnace to provide accurate heating. Moreover, these features help to remove the cold spots and frequent temperature fluctuation.
Again, as this type of furnace operates for a longer duration, air filtration is done properly. As a result, homeowners won’t have to worry about airborne particles or allergens while using this furnace.
3. Less Noise
Unlike others, modulating furnaces produce less noise. As a single-stage furnace blasts the heat at once, the healing process becomes quite noisy. On the other hand, the modulating furnace has the variable speed control feature, which allows the furnace to run at minimum capacity for a longer duration. As a result, it produces less noise while heating your space. However, you’ll have to remember that modulating furnace isn’t fully soundproof.
Cons of Modulating Furnace
1. Costlier than the Other Furnace Types
As modulating furnace has some state-of-the-art features, it costs more than the other furnace types. But, if you look at the other furnace types, they lack features and efficiency. That’s why they cost less than the modulating furnace.
For example, a single-stage gas furnace has an AFUE rating of only 85. Besides, the single-stage furnace cannot provide even heating and produces more noise. On the other hand, the modulating furnace has an AFUE rating of 98, which is incredibly efficient. Besides, due to its features like modulating gas valve and variable speed control, it can provide consistent heating throughout its operation.
2. High Installation Costs
When you buy a modulating furnace, you’ll have to spend more money on installation costs as well. Due to its two heat exchangers, the modulating furnace requires additional pipes and a drainage system, which increases the overall installation costs. However, if you already have a high-efficiency furnace installed in your home, you won’t have to spend more money on these additional installation costs.
Modulating Furnace Price
The price of a modulating furnace varies from one manufacturer to another. But on average, with installation, it’ll cost you around 5,000 USD to 7,000 USD.
Yes, it’s way costlier than the other furnace types. But you’ll have to consider the efficiency and comfort too.
Is a Modulating Furnace Worth It?
As you can see, modulating furnaces cost more than the other furnace types, and that’s why you’ll have to decide carefully. Modulating furnaces are good for houses that are 30 to 40 years old. Again, if you’re planning to live in a house for a long time, say five years, you should purchase a modulating furnace. Otherwise, you should go for double or two-stage furnaces.
Check out the relevant infographic – 3 Benefits of a Modulating Furnace [Infographic]
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