What makes one heating system “better” than another — and why? There are technical reasons, of course. But for the homeowner, the real reasons are comfort and economy. So our furnace reviews and recommendations are based first and foremost on those two factors.
Comfort and Fuel Efficiency
Consistent, reliable heat from an efficient and quiet running furnace is what we look for when making our recommendations. That’s where the technical details come in.
Single stage furnaces — which include all furnaces manufactured prior to the early ‘90s — operate in an “on” or “off” state. That works — in fact, many single stage furnaces are sold today — but that heating process results in noticeable fluctuations of your home’s temperature.
Furnaces using two stage (also known as multistage) heating were introduced in the '90s. They operate on longer heating cycles that maintain a steadier temperature for a longer period of time.
Even beyond that is modulated heating, which acts like “cruise control” for your furnace, keeping your home’s temperature steady regardless of external changes such as outside temperatures or humidity.
Combined with the type of heating is the type of motor that runs the furnace’s fan. This controls the airflow of your system, which controls the distribution of heat throughout your home, and can even contribute to how clean and healthy that air is.
Both these factors — the type of heating and the type of motor determine how fuel efficient your furnace is, which also saves you money in the long run. But most important, they are the factors that determine how comfortable, clean, and quiet your furnace is. So keeping that in mind, here are our recommendations for best furnaces for 2017.
The COMFORT™ 95 GAS FURNACE 59SC5 is a good, high-efficiency furnace that meets most utility rebates with an AFUE rating of 95%. It features a multispeed motor and single stage heat. This is a great high-efficiency furnace for those on a budget.
The PERFORMANCE™ 96 GAS FURNACE 59TP6 is a two stage furnace with a variable speed motor. It’s an excellent, economic investment that provides the benefit of consistent, comfortable heating. It’s a good choice for those who can spend a little more with an eye toward long-term savings on fuel costs.
The INFINITY® 96 GAS FURNACE 59TN6 is also a two stage furnace and has a variable, Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM). The ECM motor communicates back and forth with the burner control to provide more accurate airflow. This better matches the heat output to maintain optimum outlet temperatures, increased airflow if needed to compensate for a dirty filter, and provides better dehumidification in AC mode.
The INFINITY® SERIES GAS FURNACE WITH GREENSPEED™ INTELLIGENCE is our top-of-the-line recommendation. It has full modulating heat with matching airflow provided by an ECM variable motor. It delivers the longest heating cycles at the lowest airflow possible for the ultimate in a heating system — and home comfort. If you’re looking for the perfect heating system that's noiseless and so comfortable you forget that you even have a furnace, this is as close as you can come to perfection in an HVAC system today.