Choosing A New Furnace For Your Home
Step 1: Deciding the features you want your furnace to have
The Crash Course on Furnace Features
Before we start in on our top 5 furnace brands, you’ll need to know a few things about furnaces. Although an in-depth discussion is not necessary, you’ll still need to refresh on a few things:
AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which is a really fancy way of saying, “this is how efficient your furnace is at translating fuel into heat for your home.” The higher it is, the better. So an 80% AFUE furnace means that 80% of your fuel will be used to directly heat your home, and the other 20% will be wasted up the flue (of course, 100% efficiency is physically impossible, due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the Carnot Limit – say that ten times fast).
Single-Stage Furnaces vs. Two-Stage Furnaces
Single-Stage Gas Furnace – This means that your furnace has two settings, “RUNNING,” and “NOT RUNNING.” Seriously…
Two-Stage Furnace – The two-stage furnace has a little trick up its sleeve…it is essentially two little furnaces, all packed into one. So on chilly days, it runs one stage, just like the single-stage furnace, but when it gets really cold, it can kick into high-gear and turn on the second stage. What this does, is allow the furnace to operate more efficiently, and waste less fuel. The better furnaces will be two-stage.
Variable-Speed Fans and Modulating Gas Valves
Variable-Speed Fan – This is a high-efficiency feature used typically in high-AFUE furnaces . Variable-speed fan allows your furnace to operate more efficiently by varying the speed at which air flows over the heat exchanger. You can think of it as being kind of like the gas pedal in your car…now you can vary the speed of the fan just like a gas pedal varies the speed of your car, instead of just having it run ON or OFF.
Modulating Valve – This is also a high-efficiency feature, and it allows your furnace to modulate the rate at which fuel is injected into your furnace. Along with the Variable-Speed Fan, this feature can really increase the efficiency of your furnace.
You now officially know as much as I do about furnaces! Congratulations! Now let’s discuss the top 5 furnace brands.
Step 2: Choosing the right brand
Top 5 Furnace Brands
We typically prefer the lesser-known companies because they offer the same technology and internal components as the name brand units, at a fraction of the price – a recipe for good value to our clients. Finishing first on our list of the top 5 furnace brands this year is Goodman Manufacturing.
Goodman is somewhat well known to consumers, more commonly in Texas where they are built. But they are not as well known as one of their subsidiary companies… Amana. In fact, Goodman offers three brand names in their lineup: Goodman, Amana and Daiken. Although they offer much of the same technology and internal components as their Daiken counterpart, the price goes up a bit to have the name Goodman. But, they have a reputation for reliability, superior warranties, and fantastic customer service so we feel it is worth the extra money in this case to go for the Goodman name.
Payne comes in second in our list of the top ten furnace brands. I can hear you now, “I’ve never heard of Payne!” But, the story of Payne doesn’t start and end with whether or not you’ve heard of them, it starts with who owns them…those of you who are in the HVAC industry, know that United Technologies (UT) makes some of the best, most reliable furnaces on the market. What people don’t tell you, and what even most of the HVAC guys out there don’t know, is that UT makes several brand names, and uses most of the same internal components for each. These names include Carrier, Bryant, Day & Night, and Payne. Payne is a great choice if you want a solid all around furnace that comes with a great warranty.
Bryant finished 3rd on our list of the top 5 furnace brands. As you read above, Bryant is made by the same parent company as Carrier and Day & Night, and they do offer the same technology, right down to the same internal components.
The problem is, however, that now they are starting to get on the pricier side of things. Although I like their products, realize that many of the top companies offer the exact same technology, and even use the same internal components, so the price of Bryant is a real turn off to me.
They do have a solid reputation, though, so if you find a contractor that you like, and they sell Bryant, don’t shirk away – they are solid and dependable, even if they are starting to get pricy.
Daiken ranks 4th on our list of the top 5 furnace brands. I like Daiken for many of the same reasons that I like Payne over Carrier – primarily that they aren’t that well known of a brand, but they offer the same technology as their parent company, Goodman Manufacturing. As such, you get a great value in this brand because you are getting the technology and workmanship, but you aren’t paying for the big brand name like Amana (we’ll talk about them later, but Daiken is the third name offered in the “Goodman line” of products). They offer all of the same technologies as their counterparts, including a high-efficiency, variable-speed, modulating gas furnace that rates at 97% AFUE, at half the price Amana, and comparable prices to Goodman.
Carrier is ranked 5 on the list of the top 5 furnace brands. They are strong, reliable and include a good warranty but they are a little on the expensive side. They are the makers of Payne, Day & Night, Bryant. Most contractors wont recommend carrier because of the price, but with us, we do because we bought so many of them over our 40 years of business that we get them at a discounted price.