What’s the difference between single-stage, two-stage, and modulating gas furnaces? Keep reading to find out which one is the best fit in your Portland-area home.

In an earlier article, we wrote about the efficiency levels of different kinds of gas furnaces. If you’re considering upgrading or installing a new gas furnace in your Portland home, you also want to research single-stage, two-stage, and modulating gas furnace options.

Most Portland-area homeowners are familiar with single-stage furnaces.

Single-stage furnaces run at one rate, and use either 100% of their energy, or none at all. Modern single-stage gas furnaces tend to be 95% efficient, though some are as low as 80%.

Meanwhile, a two-stage gas furnace runs at two set rates. Most two-stage gas furnaces are at least 96% efficient. The first stage is approximately 50-60% capacity, and gives you roughly half of the heat output. Think of this first stage as the “quiet stage.” The second-stage operates at 100% of the furnace’s output, and brings more of the furnace’s airflow into your home. Many Portland-area homeowners choose two-stage gas furnaces because they can be like having two furnaces in one.

If you’ve lived in the Portland area for a while, then you know that most winters have a warm stretch, with temperatures around 50 degrees for a few days in a row.

On warmer winter days, your two-stage furnace can be a great investment. Most models will keep your home warm just by using the first stage, without ever having to kick over to the second stage. Then, when the cold comes back, your two-stage furnace is ready to operate as necessary.

Modulating gas furnaces produce this same type of comfort. These variable-speed furnace can also dramatically minimize energy use, while operating very quietly. That’s because they will run at an extremely low fan speed setting, while still meeting your chosen thermostat temperature. Many modulating gas furnaces are 98% efficient.

For Portland-area homeowners, modulating furnaces provide greater overall comfort, and improve energy efficiency.

A modulating gas valve adjusts the incoming gas supply, which changes the intensity of the burner flame. These valves allow for fine adjustments based on your thermostat’s setting. The result is that modulating furnaces can stay pretty close to the temperature you want in your home at all times, without dramatic dips or spikes.

Modulating gas furnaces also have variable-speed blower motors, which provide greater control of the furnace’s blower fan. Instead of operating at 100% of its speed, a variable-speed blower motor will ramp down once the furnace meets its heating load. This way, your modulating furnace can produce continuous airflow, which can help improve your home’s indoor air quality.

Finally, most modulating gas furnaces come with primary and secondary heat exchangers. The secondary heat exchanger puts extra heat energy back to use inside your home.

Is it time to upgrade your gas furnace to achieve higher efficiency and more comfort?

If you’re planning to upgrade or update your furnace, be sure to research different rebates and other incentives that exist throughout the state of Oregon. As a licensed Bryant contractor, Comfort Connection can also help you explore and discover the right gas furnace for your home, including modulating and variable-speed models.

Contact us today to start a conversation about adding a modulating gas furnace in your home. 

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