For years, most homes had one type of heater: a single-stage furnace. And so far, your single-stage has done a great job keeping your home warm in the depths of winter's deep freeze. However, your friends have been talking about upgrading their single-stage units with two-stage furnaces. Should you follow suit or stick to your old reliable heater?
Single-Stage vs. Two-Stage
Single-stage furnaces are the most basic type of furnace. Its functions are limited to either "on and running full speed" or "off." As a result, single-stage units don't moderate the amount of heat produced. By contrast, two-stage furnaces use a series of complex thermostats to carefully control the level of heat produced and operate in longer, but slower, heating cycles than single-stage furnaces.
Advantages of a Single-Stage Furnace
The "full speed ahead" nature of a single-stage furnace makes it useful for quickly warming small homes or apartments. A two-stage furnace simply doesn't have the capacity to produce such high levels of heat in such a short period. Single-stage furnaces are also cheaper: two-stage furnaces cost about $500 more to purchase and install. As a result, single-stage furnaces are perfect for homeowners on a budget.
Disadvantages of a Single-Stage Furnace
The biggest disadvantage of a single-stage furnace is the high levels of heat it produces. As soon as the temperature dips a little too low, your single-stage will kick in and pump high heat through your home. As a result, it may be too warm for your taste.
Two-stage furnaces avoid that problem by running at lower capacity for longer periods of time, sometimes as little as 65-75% capacity. These longer running times may not produce as much heat, but they decrease furnace noise and even help increase the efficiency of your air filter.
Choosing to upgrade depends a lot on your home heating needs. The full-blast heating method of a single-stage is inefficient in larger homes because it heats the area around the thermostat too quickly and leaves distant rooms chilly. Two-stage units slowly warm a home and distribute heat more efficiently throughout a larger area.
So, if you have a smaller home or enjoy highly-concentrated heat, you probably don't need to upgrade. However, if your home has a high number of rooms and multiple levels, you should probably invest in an upgrade. Talk to a heating installation expert, such as West Country Heating & AC, to choose the two-stage furnace that's right for you.