When faced with the need to replace their home’s furnace most consumers will ask me “what is the best furnace”? And I really don’t have a stand pat answer in regards to what is the best furnace. You see, most every home is unique. And every person and family is unique. So a furnace that is best for my home and my needs may not necessarily be the one that is best for you. To answer the question of “what is the best furnace?” you must consider what is the best furnace for your particular needs.
Yes, some brands are better than others. Some brands are more reliable. (More on that later). And some brands are definitely easier to have serviced and maintained. But the question remains: what is the best furnace?
My definition of the best furnace is one that delivers reliable performance at a reasonable cost (to install, operate and maintain) is backed by a good warranty and delivers ideal comfort to your home while enhancing the performance of any accessories or add-ons that utilize the furnace to improve indoor air quality (such as humidifiers, air purifiers and even regular air filtration).
Regardless of the brand, I will always recommend a furnace that has a variable speed circulating blower motor. Not only are these motors far more energy efficient and much quieter than the standard fixed speed motors, they will enhance the overall performance of nearly any accessory on the system, including central air conditioners, humidifiers and air filtration and purifiers. By operating at a very low airflow (CFM) when in constant fan mode, air stratification in the home is reduced, heating and cooling temperatures are more balanced room to room and floor to floor, and the benefits of a whole house humidifier or air purifier are achieved all of the time, not just when the system is in the heating or cooling mode.
What is the best furnace? Well if you or anyone that lives in the home suffer from allergies, ill effects of dry air, low quality indoor air, too hot or too cold rooms, or breathing difficulties, then this type of furnace is the best furnace for your home. Variable speed furnaces, on average, cost around $500-600 more to install than a fixed speed furnace. But they far out perform a furnace utilizing a standard fixed speed blower. And they will pay for themselves within a few years due to energy savings.
What is the best furnace for your home and your needs depends on many factors. A knowledgeable HVAC contractor should be able to assist you with choosing the best furnace for your home. A quality installation along with a furnace that meets your needs is far more important than the brand name of the furnace itself. Even the most expensive furnace, if not properly sized and not properly installed, will not deliver the performance you desire.
Another consideration regarding what is the best furnace is the efficiency. I’m not a big fan of the high efficiency condensing gas furnaces. You can find out why here from one of my earlier blogs. In short, standard 80% efficient furnaces are easier to maintain and will generally last years longer than the high efficiency condensing gas furnaces.
As far as brands go, most manufacturers use the same component parts in their furnaces (i.e. a Honeywell gas valve, a GE blower motor, a White-Rodgers igniter). Most manufacturers now include a ten year parts warranty. There’s usually not a great deal of difference between one brand of furnace and another, at least not in performance. However, some brands are easier to service for the field technician due to the design and configuration of the furnace.
So, what is the best furnace? It is one that delivers reliable performance that meets your home’s and your individual and family needs. It is easy to service, easy to maintain, increases the comfort level in your home and is backed by a good warranty and installed by a reputable heating contractor who stands behind their work. It is one that should last at least 20 years if properly maintained, and one that will not break your budget.