Is The Best Furnace Brand Important?
Here’s an HVAC industry secret: Six manufacturers actually make about 150 furnace brands. That means popular brands of heating and cooling equipment are owned by the same parent company.
Like many industries, brand named furnace manufacturers buy parts and put them together. The main heating components for all furnaces are made by six companies. Air Conditioners manufacturers primarily make the outside cabinets. All the other AC components are made by 3rd party companies for the brand companies.
What do you value the most in a new heating system? We find the major factors include cost to install, energy efficiency, and the warranty offered. PDM will offer a competitive price, offer standard or high efficiency systems with lifetime limited warranty or 10 year warranty.
Over The Past 138 Years We’ve Seen Furnace Brands Come And Go.
The only constant has been our top-notch HVAC installations. Consumer Reports says the installation is more important than the furnace brand. The PDM Comfort team offers you sound advice for the best possible HVAC installation at the lowest cost regardless of the furnace brand.
A Simple Approach To Choosing A New Furnace And Not Getting Ripped Off:
- What does the best furnace brand really mean
- Find a solid installer
- Choosing the right gas valve
- Choosing the right blower motor for added comfort
- Understanding other furnace components from ignition systems to heat exchangers
- Warranty and value.
1. What Is The Best Furnace Brand?
As you read above, when it comes down to it, most furnaces have the same safety features, controls, heat exchangers that transfers heat from metal to air, parts and efficiencies. Many manufacturers buy their parts from the same factory. And all can last over 15 years with proper maintenance. After 138 years of seeing brands come and go, most have the same life cycle. In the end we’ve seen a brand equals about ten percent of the value with ninety percent coming from the installation.
2. Find The Right Installer.
Don’t assume all contractors are the same. Please understand a furnace is only as good as the installation work done. We’ve seen how a great contractor can install a poor furnace, and he will often stand behind it if it fails. Likewise a poor contractor can royally screw up a perfect furnace, and will leave you abandoned to fend for yourself. Cutting corners is easy for a contractor and you may never know. Find a heating contractor with a proven track record. Many contractors come and go out of business within a few years and leave you stuck should the unit need repair.
A new furnace doesn’t mean lower utility bills. If your installer isn’t mindful you can waste a lot of fuel with sheet metal fittings or ductwork or proper sizing. And having a matching heating and cooling system also influences efficiency. Consumer Reports says finding a contractor you can trust is the most important decision you can make.
Avoid basing your investment on the cheapest furnace price or quickest installation time. Consider the lifetime costs of your furnace. Fuel, maintenance, repairs, even inconvenience add up over time. If a cheap installer cuts corners, doesn’t ask questions or makes assumptions, you’ll pay more over time. If a larger system is recommended make sure you know all the reasons.
3. How Much Efficiency Is Right For You?
20+ year-old furnaces have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE, of 78% or less, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency AFUE describes how efficiently a furnace operates, like miles per gallon for a car. The higher the efficiency number, the higher upfront costs are and the lower your utility bills. The U.S. government’s minimum AFUE rating for a furnace today is 80%, with a lower upfront cost and a higher cost to operate. That means that 80% of energy in the fuel is converted into heat and 20% goes up the chimney. 96% AFUE furnace will produce $96 worth of heating output with that same $100 of natural gas. Basically, you are saving $16 per every $100 worth of gas if you choose 96% over 80% AFUE furnace.
All things equal with a well insulated home and average heating needs, a 94% AFUE furnace can save $200 per year compared to an 80% AFUE furnace. Over a 15 year lifespan, you’re looking to save around $3,000 just on natural gas plus less green house gases.
Essentially over time, paying $1,000 more for a high-efficiency 96% AFUE rating makes economic sense. But your total cost does depend on unwarranted repairs and longevity as well. And sometimes the more complex higher efficiency furnaces have a greater chance of a repair.
We find about a third of furnaces sold were 90% AFUE or higher.
Your efficiency is also based on the gas valve operation. Choices include: one stage, two stage, premium modulating stages gas valve or new condensing furnace for added comfort.
Standard single stage gas valve furnace. Good. This is a common furnace type installed that runs at one constant gas flow when operating to keep you comfortable. The furnace blows a steady stream of warm air (or cool in the summer) until the desired temperature is reached and then the thermostat turns the system off. The results are temperature peaks and valleys.
Two stage gas furnace. Better. This furnace starts out on the low stage, enabling a gradual and pleasant increase in the temperature of your home for better efficiency and predictable indoor temps. And if low-stage heating doesn’t warm your home to the desired temperature quickly enough, the technology shifts the furnace into the high stage automatically to ensure your comfort (about 65 percent of the time). Improve comfort, lower utility bill and filters your air more often too.
Modulating or multi-stage gas furnace. Best. This furnace can constantly adjust to keep you comfortable. A modulating valve is self-adjusting, running at a capacity from 35% to 100% with outstanding levels of comfort, efficiency, and quiet performance. The results are energy savings, tighter temperature control, quieter operation and superior comfort. The Modulating gas valve is a premium furnace system.
High Efficiency Condensing Furnace – Top of the line. This is a furnace that one day soon may be your only choice because of national efficiency standards. The condensing furnace allows you to reuse some of the heat that normally would have been vented out of the home. The condensing furnace with sealed combustion requires modifying the exhaust chimney by installing a new PVC vent and air piping. Although condensing models cost more than non-condensing models, a condensing furnace can save you money in fuel costs over the life of the unit. In some cases the new furnace exhaust flue may require changing the gas water heater exhaust too.
4. Fan Speed Or Blower Motor Speed For Added Comfort & Efficiency
ECM Variable speed – Best if indoor comfort is important to you. This blower motor can save 33% or more over single speed. The high efficient Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM) operates intelligently. The multi-speed blower motor gives you the exact amount of air you need in the winter and summer air conditioning and ventilation. By changing the speed of airflow during start-up, your furnace can adjust humidity levels and create more even temperatures throughout your home. The ECM uses significantly less electricity than standard blower motors and reduces operating noise. Variable speed blowers can also remove up to four times more humidity in the summer than a standard blower, increasing your ac efficiency. And if you run the fan only, you get a quiet, low speed fan to filter air and keep an even temperature.
Multi-speed blower motor. Better. Quickly, quietly, and efficiently this motor delivers nice levels of warm comfort and reliability. Time-tested durability and designed to deliver quiet performance. This unit allows the installer to set the fan speed but will not change during operation. It provides more or less heat as needed but customized for your home environment.
Constant fixed speed blower motor. Good. Standard motor offers basic on and off control. The blower motor will run at a fixed speed determined by the manufacturer resulting in over or under temperature swings.
5. Other Important Furnace Components.
Ignition System – Today’s furnaces generally use an electronic ignition system to replace the pilot light. The electronic igniter is like a light bulb filament placed in the flow of a gas burner. The ignitor is made of silicon nitrate (usually lasts longer) or a more fragile silicon carbide ignitor (can last 3 to 7 years). When your thermostat calls for heat, a message is sent to start heating the igniter, really hot, 1800F to 2500F. Then the gas valve opens and ignites the burner. The flame safety sensing system then shuts off the igniter. Each of these steps can stop your unit so getting a strong ignition system makes sense. It’s important to note that keeping your furnace and air filter clean helps extend the life of your ignition system.
Sound – What you hear when your furnace runs is affected by the combustion technology you choose and the fan speeds. Most new units have fully insulated furnace cabinets to begin with so many times your new system will be quieter than your existing system. It’s like buying an economical car or a more luxury ride. The more refined operating system, the quieter it is.
Intelligent controls and thermostats – Smart technology is leading the way where you can control equipment from your phone, tablet, or computer. And even a voice activated thermostat to raise and lower temperature. Like your furnace it all comes down to how much comfort you want, your efficiency, control, quiet operation, to room temperatures.
Heat Exchanger – The heat exchanger is an important part of the furnace. If it cracks or gets a pin hole in it, you have to replace the heat exchanger or furnace because it allows deadly gases into your home. Heat exchanger captures heat from the burned gas. High efficiency furnaces usually have two heat exchangers to allow you to use more heat inside your home rather than up the chimney. Common heat exchanger warranties are 10 to 20 years with the best being a lifetime limited warranty.
6. Furnace Warranty And Value For Worry-Free Comfort.
Five years is a standard industry parts warranty. Any part is subject to fail, especially when you do not maintain the system. Most warranties require annual maintenance to keep your warranty active.
Regardless of the energy efficiency rating, all functional parts of an Amana® Gas Furnace are covered by a 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty*. Several Amana brand Gas Furnace models also feature a Lifetime Heat Exchanger Limited Warranty*. Should the heat exchanger ever fail to the original registered homeowner, a new heat exchanger will be provided at no charge (for as long as they own their home).
* To receive the Lifetime Compressor Limited Warranty, Lifetime Heat Exchanger Limited Warranty, Lifetime Unit Replacement Limited Warranty, and 10-Year Parts Limited Warranty, online registration must be completed within 60 days of installation. Contact PDM for full warranty details.
Call PDM For Furnace Brand Advice And Replacement Price.
If you are interested in knowing the best furnace brands, call the areas oldest HVAC expert. We will inspect your furnace and home construction, answer questions and offer you a free estimate for a comforting, peace-of-mind furnace Made in America with great industry warranties.
Your install team is polite, will protect your place, recycle your old equipment and get a new energy efficient furnace running safely and quickly. We will arrive on time, dressed in uniform, and respect your property. We safeguard your floor by wearing booties, floor covering and keep the job site clean and orderly. After installation is complete, we recycle tired equipment, packing materials, and metal scraps, and recover and recycle old AC refrigerant.
Contact PDM Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Since 1885 today. PDM serves Joliet, New Lenox, Plainfield, Homer Glen and SW Chicago Suburbs. Call PDM at 1-815-726-6264 for a free estimate.