Furnace quality can affect cost by as much as 25% with other important factors being brand, furnace efficiency, furnace performance (heating stages, fan speeds, etc.) and the quality of the installation. In fact, some of the best gas furnaces available cost 15-25% more than those of standard quality.
Furnace Quality Differences
Any furnace is the sum total of its parts.
Parts are made in good, better and best qualities, to produce furnaces in those three categories, a strategy found in most consumer goods.
Parts are parts? No. Noticeable quality differences can be found in furnace blower motors, draft inducer motors, gas valve assemblies and electrical components.
Similarly, better furnaces have more insulation and higher-quality cabinets, two features designed to reduce noise and heat loss.
Here are two examples of this strategy:
Carrier furnaces come in a series of: Comfort (basic), Carrier Performance (better) and Carrier Infinity (best)
Lennox furnaces: Merit (basic), Lennox Elite (better) and Dave Lennox Signature Series (best)
Deciding the Right Furnace Quality to Choose
The reason for making different quality tiers is to offer furnaces in a range of prices. Consider these situations.
A homeowner who:
- Plans to move in a few years might buy a cheap furnace to get by until the house is sold.
- Plans to stay indefinitely might buy the top of the line, since a quality furnace gives the best long-term value.
- Lives in Florida might buy a cheap furnace while one that lives in Oklahoma might buy a midrange furnace while one in Minnesota might buy the best available – all making their decision based on how heavily the furnace will be used.
- Is buying a furnace for a cabin or vacation home might not want to spend as much as if the furnace was for their primary residence.
How Does Furnace Quality Affect Longevity
We can generalize on how long a furnace should last, even though installation, quality, how heavily the furnace is used and how well it is maintained are important factors too, lower cost furnaces are known to have a shorter lifespan, and may require more frequent replacement.
- Cheap furnaces: 12-16 years with multiple repairs
- Midrange furnaces: 15-20 years with a few repairs
- Best furnaces: 17-25 years with a few repairs
How to Tell a Quality Furnace
Price is one clue, though not always reliable. For example, Carrier and Day & Night each make three tiers of furnaces. In fact, the furnaces are basically identical. All are made by United Technologies, as are Bryant, Heil, Arcoaire, Tempstar, Keeprite and Comfortmaker.
At each tier level, the Carrier furnace will cost up to 35% more. There are a few reasons for this, but the most important is that different pricing, even for the same furnace in everything but name, gives consumers choice, or at least the appearance of it. It’s a marketing ploy.
Daikin does the same thing with it’s brands. Daikin is the most expensive. Amana is the midrange brand and Goodman is the “cheap” brand, though most furnaces from the three are identical.
Warranty – that’s a very important clue to quality. The length of the warranty shows how much confidence the manufacturer has in its products.
Lennox offers 10-year general parts warranties on Signature and Elite Series furnaces but just a 5-year parts warranty on Merit models.
Carrier backs all of its furnaces with 10-year general parts warranties, a clue that from top to bottom, there is less quality difference in Carrier than there is in Lennox.