Gas furnaces remain the most common way to heat homes, so gas furnace ratings are among the most helpful HVAC ratings of all. We rate gas furnaces in 4 categories and then provide an overall rating. Our goal is to make it easier for you to compare models in an “apples to apples” way so that you can decide which gas furnace is the best solution to your heating needs. We know that an educated consumer will make a better choice every time and that researching your options for yourself is always a better strategy than relying on a furnace salesman to suggest a furnace that’s right for you. If you are simply looking for our latest gas furnace ratings please see the following:
- September 2020 Top HVAC Stories
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- Best Central Air Conditioners Under 2000 for 2020
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- May 2020 Top HVAC Stories
This guide explains how we go about producing the gas furnace ratings at WebHVAC.
Energy efficiency for gas furnaces is based on the percentage of heat created that enters the duct work of your home, averaged over the course of a heating season. It is measured in AFUE, the Annualized Fuel Usage Efficiency. For example, a 90% AFUE furnace utilizes 90% of the heat created while 10% is lost in the exhaust gases.
The efficiency of a gas furnace is very important these days because gas prices are very high and very volatile. Projections for the next decade indicate a steady climb in prices. Therefore, manufacturers are emphasizing high-efficiency gas furnaces in response to consumer demand. If you live in a very warm climate, an 80% efficient furnace may be the most cost-effective for the next 10-20 years. In moderate climates, furnaces in the 90-95% AFUE range make the most sense. In very cold climates, a gas furnace over 95% is the best protection against rising energy costs.
On some furnaces, the features it has can affect price as much as efficiency. Features make your home more comfortable. The upgraded features most commonly chosen are a 2-stage gas valve and a variable-speed blower fan. These run on lower heat and lower air circulation for longer periods of time, producing balanced temperatures throughout your home with little temperature fluctuation. Since they run more, the air filtration is improved. In winter, they do a better job humidifying if a humidifier is installed; in summer they remove more moisture to add comfort to the home. These models get higher gas furnace ratings than single-stage, single-speed models.
High efficiency gas furnaces feature a secondary heat exchanger which captures more heat from the exhaust, boosting efficiency into the 93% to 98% range.
Other features that can boost gas furnace ratings in this category include communicating technology (Carrier Infinity, American Standard Platinum, Bryant Evolution, and others), low-constant fan for better dehumidification, ease of installation, multipoise design, and high-quality burners.
The rating for reliability combines consumer reviews for the model and exact testing data when available. It also takes into consideration the brand’s track record for dependability and longevity. The longer the furnace should last and the fewer mechanical issues it is likely to have, the higher the gas furnace ratings for this category.
The industry standard is a 10-year limited parts warranty and a lifetime heat exchanger limited warranty. That warranty earns a 3-star rating. Cheaper models may have a 5-year parts warranty or a 10- or 20-year heat exchanger warranty. They get fewer stars. Models with a 12-year parts warranty or a heat exchanger warranty that provides for furnace replacement if it fails get more stars.
Our overall gas furnace ratings average the 4 categories. It gives you a quick number to use in side-by-side comparisons with other furnaces. Keep two things in mind as you do this. First, consider the efficiency rating. Many homeowners in warmer climates prefer an 80% or 90% gas furnace because they costs less and the lower efficiency doesn’t affect their gas bills very much. So a lower efficiency rating isn’t always a bad thing. Secondly, some consumers don’t want staged heating and a variable-speed blower because they raise the cost of the furnace and some homeowners are just as happy with basic on/off furnace functionality.
You may want to begin your study of a gas furnace ratings review by looking at the category that is most important to you, and then use the other categories to determine if it is worth further consideration. For example, if high efficiency is your top priority, check that category first and if it gets 4 or 5 stars, read to the other categories. If it’s a 3-star model, move on to other ratings posts.
We think you’ll find our gas furnace ratings helpful as you seek the model with the qualities you believe are the most important for your home, climate and heating priorities.
Gas furnaces remain the most common way to heat homes, so gas furnace ratings are among the most helpful HVAC ratings of all. We rate gas furnaces in 4 categories and then provide an overall rating. Our goal is to make it easier for you to compare models in an “apples to apples” way so that you can decide which gas furnace is the best solution to your heating needs.