Maintaining warmth within a building is crucial during colder months. The top two heater units that keep homes and offices heated are furnaces and heat pumps. Though they differ, they both have the purpose of sourcing and providing heat throughout the buildings in which they’re installed. When choosing the best heating system for your space, it’s important to take the climate, physical location, building regulations, and expenses into consideration. Considering each of these factors will help you to determine which type of heating system best suits your needs.
Advantage Mechanical Supply specializes in HVAC supplies and ductwork fittings and offers years of experience with both heating systems that will be used to confidently lead you in the right direction as your process this decision.
What is a Furnace?
Furnaces are forced air heating systems that connect through a building’s ductwork to provide heat and warmth throughout all rooms. Using different types of gas (natural or propane) or electricity, a burner is heated and then transfers that heat to an exchanger that uses a fan to distribute the warm air. A natural gas furnace is often the top choice for many people. They operate at low cost and are very efficient when used in the proper climates. Whether you use gas or electricity, furnaces are a great option for homes in cold weather climates since they create their own heat and don’t rely on the outside air to help produce it.
When you think of a furnace, you may think of the system used hundreds of years ago to heat homes – and you’re right! Furnaces have been around for centuries but are much more efficient now. This heating system has three main parts that allow it to do its job: the burner, the heat exchanger, and the blower. The heated air starts in the burner and goes through the heat exchanger before the fan blower disperses the heat throughout your home or office.
What is a Heat Pump?
Heat pumps are systems that use outdoor heat to warm the inside of a building. Unlike furnaces, they are not directly inside a building’s ductwork. In order for a heat pump to turn the outside air into additional heat, it must go through a liquid refrigerant that is then pumped to a heat exchanger (the heat exchanger is the part that is directly connected to the ductwork). The air will go through the coils before heating up and making its way throughout a building. The great thing about a heat pump is that it doesn’t have to be hot outside to use the air for heat since it goes through the refrigerant — it can even work in freezing temperatures or extreme weather.
There are three different types of heat pumps that you will see used in a variety of buildings. Air-to-air heat pumps take heat from the outside air and are the most commonly used heat pumps for various projects. Geothermal heat pumps use an underground system of pipes to obtain heat — this requires drilling and installation of pipes which can get quite complicated and expensive. The last type of heat pump is an air-to-water heat pump and it is the most efficient type. Water source heat pumps are able to get 4kW of energy for every 1kW of electricity used.
What are the Pros and Cons of a Furnace?
- Lifespan: The average lifespan of a furnace is 15-20 years which makes them more affordable over time. Furnaces typically cost $4,000 to $4,500 depending on the size and extra features — this works out to $200 to $225 a year for the unit.
- Maintenance: To keep your furnace up and running, it’s important to change the filters and vacuum them out periodically. Easy maintenance is what attracts many buyers to furnaces but it’s important that the maintenance is done properly because it could easily become dangerous. It is suggested to use sandpaper to clean the flame sensor before the heating season begins.
- Reliability: Because furnaces are durable and long-lasting, they’re often the most reliable choice for heat. When properly taken care of, this heating system will work quickly and efficiently in your home for decades without needing a replacement.
- Leaks: Condensation can cause leaks throughout a furnace, shorten the lifespan, or even cause malfunction. Leaks can lead to mold which could potentially cause mold poisoning in your home. If your furnace is leaking, it can be a health risk for you and your family or other people in the building. To avoid this, check the furnace consistently for leaks.
- Fires: Though furnaces are fairly easy to keep clean, the dust inside the chamber can cause fires if ignited during the heating process. Heating equipment is the number one cause of house fires in the U.S. and furnaces contribute to that statistic.
- Explosions: When something in the chamber catches fire, such as the dust mentioned above, the furnace can also explode. A build-up of gases inside the chamber can also cause an explosion but newer furnaces are designed to completely shut off if this happens.
What are the Pros and Cons of a Heat Pump?
- Warm Climates: Since most heat pumps utilize air from outside the building, it’s the ideal choice for those who live in warmer climates. The heat pump will easily take the warm air from the outside and use it to produce heat.
- Quiet: Heat pumps don’t make a lot of noise when starting up and while operating. When this heating system turns on, it won’t cause a huge disturbance throughout your home.
- Cheap: Depending on the type of heat pump, the initial cost could be quite low (around $3,500 to $4,500) making them an affordable solution that also has a lifespan of about 10-15 years.
- Cold Climates: During months with colder weather, heat pumps require more electricity and energy to generate heat from the outside air. They do not work as well or as efficiently in colder climates or weather, which is why we suggest them for climates that have mostly warmer months.
- Fluctuating Costs for Energy and Gas: Since there are multiple types of heat pumps with different fuel options, they range in price from $2,500 all the way to $10,000. The price of electricity (a.k.a. energy and gas prices) also regularly fluctuates, which will sway the running cost of your monthly utility bills.
Which Should You Choose?
Heat pumps and furnaces are both great heating system options for your home or office. The best choice, however, will be determined as you assess a variety of factors — including price, lifespan, climate, and energy efficiency — against your situation. Keep in mind that the advantage of heat pumps is that they traditionally function as a great option for warmer climates while furnaces typically suit colder climates better. If you are still questioning which option is best, allow the experts at Advantage Mechanical Supply to guide your decision. Plus, we will provide you with affordable (we’ve cut out the middleman) and reliable parts that are shipped for free.
If you think you’ve bitten off more than you can chew on your upcoming project, let us take it over! Submit your project bid and our team will work diligently to fulfill your project needs.