Condensing furnaces have become a popular alternative to traditional gas furnaces. They still run on natural gas, and they still use a similar combustion process to convert this fuel into heat. Condensing furnaces, however, feature different equipment while offering high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. Here are five ways that condensing furnaces differ from traditional gas furnaces.
#1) Heat Exchangers
When inspecting a condensing furnace, you may notice that it has two heat exchangers. Traditional gas furnaces have a single heat exchanger. As they burn natural gas and air, the hot exhaust gases will pass through the heat exchanger. Condensing furnaces have two heat exchangers. After passing through the first exchanger, the hot exhaust gases will pass through a second heat exchanger to remove more heat.
There’s a reason they are called “condensing furnaces.” While traditional gas furnaces produce little or no moisture, condensing furnaces produce a fair amount of moisture. Some of them can produce over 5 gallons of water per day.
Condensation occurs with the second heat exchanger. Condensing furnaces squeeze nearly all of the heat out of the exhaust gases at the second heat exchanger. A byproduct of this heat-exchanging process is condensing – and lots of it.
Condensing furnaces are more efficient than traditional gas furnaces. Traditional gas furnaces are typically around 80% efficient, meaning they convert about 80% of their fuel into heat. Condensing furnaces, in comparison, are up to 97% efficient. With two heat exchangers, they can convert nearly all of the natural gas they burn into heat.
They might be more efficient than traditional gas furnaces, but condensing furnaces require more work to maintain. You’ll have to ensure the condensate drain remains clear. The condensate drain is the line that flushes condensation from the furnace to your home’s exterior. If it becomes clogged with mildew or debris, moisture may pool up around the furnace.
Furnace prices vary depending on many different factors, but condensing furnaces typically cost more than traditional gas furnaces. If you’re looking to upgrade your home’s central heating system on a budget, you may want to stick with a traditional gas furnace. For maximum efficiency, though, there’s no better choice than a condensing furnace.
A condensing furnace may even save you money in the long run. You can expect lower heating costs during the winter. With a condensing furnace installed, you won’t have to use as much natural gas to heat your home. Therefore, you’ll save money on heating costs.