If you’re a Harrisburg, PA, homeowner looking for a new heating system, your choice will likely come down to either a furnace or a heat pump. You’ve probably also heard plenty of reasons why one or the other would make the perfect choice. However, you may not be aware that there’s a third option out there that would deliver the best of both options. It’s called a dual furnace system. Learn more about these systems and why they may be the right choice for your home.
What Is a Dual Furnace System?
Contrary to the name, dual furnace systems don’t actually contain two furnaces. In reality, they’re a heating system that contains a heat pump and a gas furnace in a single unit. The idea is to provide you with the most efficient heat possible under all weather conditions by choosing the appropriate heat source at any given time.
What’s the Point of a Dual Furnace System?
If you have researched heat pumps, you probably know that they have limitations when temperatures drop below a certain point. However, they’re ultra-efficient in all other conditions. The reason for that is the fact that heat pumps don’t actually generate heat. Instead, they harvest heat energy from the outside air, amplify it, and carry it inside to heat your home.
In the right conditions, an air source heat pump can operate at efficiency levels approaching 400%. That’s four times more efficient than any other type of heating system. However, anyone who owns a heat pump can tell you that their efficiency comes with a few tradeoffs. One of them is that heat pumps operate at a lower temperature than gas furnaces.
On average, you can expect a heat pump to provide air that’s about 55 degrees Fahrenheit above the outside temperature. That means you’ll only get 95-degree air from your heat pump on a 40-degree day. While that sounds plenty hot, it’s not. A gas furnace, by comparison, puts out air that’s between 140 degrees and 170 degrees under all conditions.
The other tradeoff is that heat pumps begin losing their vaunted efficiency once the temperatures get between 25- and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, outdoor temperatures at or below 25 degrees cause heat pumps to become less efficient than most gas furnaces. Plus, at that temperature, a heat pump will only be putting out air that’s about 80 degrees. While that’s warm enough to meet most people’s indoor temperature preferences, it’s low enough that some heat pump owners report a drafty feeling in their home.
That’s where a dual furnace system comes in. It uses built-in sensors to determine when its’ built-in gas furnace is more efficient than its heat pump. At that point, it activates the furnace to provide you with plentiful heat on cold days and nights. That way, you never have to worry about not having enough heat or having to resort to inefficient electric resistance heaters to supplement your heat pump.
Is a Dual Furnace Necessary?
Strictly speaking, a dual furnace is never a necessity. There are heat pumps built to operate well in outdoor temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit. However, most heat pumps use electric resistance heat strips as a backup heat source at low temperatures. Plus, you’d still need to adjust to the lower temperature air you’d get from a heat pump relative to a gas furnace.
If you live here in the Harrisburg area, you should know we see at least three months every year with average low temperatures that hover around 25 degrees. This means your heat pump could have trouble meeting your comfort preferences for much of the winter here. At the very least, it gets cold enough here that a heat pump may not always be your most efficient heating option. So, a dual furnace is a great way to cover your bases, ensure your comfort, and protect your bottom line.
Your Dual Furnace Experts
If a dual furnace sounds like the right choice for your Harrisburg home, HB Home Service Team can help. We offer comprehensive heating and cooling services including system installations, repair, and maintenance. Plus, we also offer plumbing services, should you need them. We’ve helped families in the area stay warm since 1914, offering round-the-clock service and a first-class customer experience at all times.
So, for dual furnace systems and all your other HVAC needs, call the team at HB Home Service Team today!