Two-Stage Heating: Is It Right For Your Home?

Kenneth Wilson

Having a warm and comfortable home is, understandably, a top priority for every homeowner. When you take into consideration that a furnace can be up to a thirty-year investment, you want to be sure that you are making the right choice. You want your furnace to be cost-effective, efficient and heat your home in a way that is ideal for the geographic location that you live in. For example, what is best for someone living in southern California with very mild colder seasons may not work for someone who lives in the Northeast area of the country, where they deal with several months of snowfall each year.

Furthermore, when discussing furnaces, you want to make sure that you are purchasing the ideal size for your home, which can prevent issu7es like short-cycling, cold spots, and exorbitantly high bills, to name a few. In this article, we will take a closer look at two-stage heating, how it works, and if it's right for your home.

Two-Stage Furnaces: What are they, and How do they Work?

A single-stage furnace is what you might consider the traditional style of furnace, which only has one power mode: it's running at 100%, or it’s off completely. Unlike its single-stage counterpart, a two-stage furnace has just that, two stages, or settings, of heat.

A two-stage furnace has the ability to run on either a high or low power mode. This means that during milder times of the year, your two-stage furnace will most likely run on low power to provide even heating for your home. Alternately, if you live in a colder climate with more extreme winter temperatures, the furnace will kick into the higher power mode when the temperature drops in order to keep your home warm and cozy. (Related: Are High-Efficiency Furnaces Worth The Money?)

Stages of a Two-Stage Furnace

A two-stage furnace has both a low-power mode and a high-power mode.

  • Low-Power Mode: In low-power mode, the furnace will use approximately 60-70% of the full heating capacity. Usually, this mode will be adequate for the average household heating requirements on any day, given the weather isn’t extremely cold outside.
  • High-Power Mode: In high-power mode, the furnace is running at 100% capacity. This is ideal for very cold wintery days. Two-stage furnaces are designed to automatically switch to high-power mode when it gets too cold so that they can maintain a comfortable temperature within your home.

Pros and Cons of Two-Stage Heating

Two-stage heating is a great option when deciding on what kind of furnace you would like to install in your home. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main advantages and disadvantages of two-stage furnaces.

Two-Stage Heating Pros

Here are some of the advantages of choosing a two-stage furnace.

  • Increased Efficiency. Two-stage furnaces switch between two power modes which makes them more efficient than single-stage models. Having a lower-power mode means the furnace can conserve energy, thus conserving costs.
  • More Even Heating. Using the low-power mode means that you can avoid the more extreme temperature fluctuations that can sometimes come with a single-stage furnace. Using two modes means that your home is heated more evenly.
  • Quieter Operation. Since two-stage furnaces run on the lower power mode the majority of the time, the sound produced by its operation is drastically quieter than the single-stage models. They cycle on and off less frequently and operate quieter overall.
  • Better Indoor Air Quality. The way a two-stage system works means that the furnace fan is running more consistently throughout the day. This, in turn, means that your indoor air quality increases due to the filtration system associated with the fan.
  • Decreased Wear-and-Tear on Furnace Components Over Time. Since your two-stage furnace runs more consistently on the low power mode, it means fewer starts and stops. Over time, this reduces wear-and-tear on the overall components of the furnace, generally leading to less maintenance and part replacement costs.

Two-Stage Heating Cons

The main disadvantage to purchasing a two-stage furnace is its up-front cost.

  • Higher Initial Costs. Two-stage furnaces do typically cost several hundred more to purchase up-front. It's crucial to keep in mind that this is a long-term investment, so although you may pay more for the unit up-front, you'll see increased savings and comfort in the long term.

Who Should Buy a Two-Stage Furnace? Is it Right for You?

Now that you understand how a two-stage furnace works, is it right for your home? Whether you choose a two-stage furnace or not will depend on a multitude of factors. First, consider the size of your home; is it a two-story or even a multi-story home? You will most likely benefit from a two-stage system when you have more than one level and a relatively large home to heat. Secondly, consider your geographic location. Are you somewhere that has extremely cold winters, or do you live in a milder region of the country? If you're in a mild region, you may not need a two-stage furnace. Last but certainly not least is your budget. If you are planning on staying in your home for the long term and are able to afford a two-stage furnace, you are likely to save heating costs and maintenance fees in the long run. However, a two-stage furnace will always be more expensive to purchase than its single-stage counterpart, so you'll want to consider your budget carefully.

Although it’s important to take many factors into consideration when investing in a new furnace for your home, a two-stage heating system can be a great option depending on your specific needs. Take what you’ve learned in this article, speak to your local heating professionals, and find out if a two-stage furnace is right for you and your family.

Kenneth Wilson
September 15, 2021

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

Ask The Author Your Questions In The Comments!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

More From This Author