Calgary Home Heating Furnace Types

Different Types of Furnaces

Hopefully, a replacement furnace is not something you need to consider more than once or twice in your lifetime.

If you’re facing this decision now, it helps to know a little about the types of furnaces available.

Some homeowners oversize their furnaces because they focus on the need to keep the home warm on the coldest days of the year.

In Calgary, there are many such days, but there are also a lot of warmer days in the colder seasons. Unless your furnace adapts when temperatures are more manageable, it is wasting energy.

Nowadays, you have several furnace options – both traditional ones and others using the latest technology - to make furnaces more energy (and cost) efficient.

These are all covered below…

What are the different types of furnaces?

Single-stage furnaces

Single-stage furnaces have one stage of heating and are considered the most basic type of furnace.

Whenever heating is required, the gas valve opens fully with the trigger from the thermostat, heating at full capacity until the trigger to turn off. It is considered the least efficient type of furnace as it may be overkill on all but the coldest days.

Two-stage furnaces

With two-stage furnaces, greater efficiency is achieved by one stage operating at around 65 percent of full force.

This will still provide enough heating for most of the year but, when the winter chill really starts to bite, the other stage starts up with its greater fan speed and provides 100 percent heating power.

As well as being more efficient, two-stage furnaces generally run at lower noise than one-stage furnaces and provide a more even heating experience for a home.

Modulating furnaces

These are variable-stage furnaces that are smart enough to adapt to climatic conditions. They “read” the weather conditions on any given day and modulate themselves to provide enough heating power to create a comfortable home.

Rather than “all or nothing” or “65 percent or 100 percent”, as in one and two-stage furnaces, this type of furnace opens its gas valves in increments of one percent.

This maintains optimal efficiency at all times as the home is heated to within 0.5 degrees of the thermostat setting.

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What type of furnace blower motors are there?


As well as the stage-type of furnace you choose, your selection of blower motor will affect the performance of your furnace.

There are three main types available:

  1. Multi-speed motor
  2. This is the most basic type for a new furnace. It has four speeds.

  1. Multi-speed E.C.M (Electronically Commutated Motor)
  2. This is an energy-efficient motor that comes with more expensive models and also has four speeds. It is sometimes called a “D.C.” or “constant torque” motor.

  1. Variable E.C.M
  2. This one is top of the range in energy efficiency and comes with added features.

    It has variable speeds, making it more customizable to the heating needs of your home, depending on duct design and the precise airflow required through the vents.

    It can also help remove contaminants from the air, control humidity, and prevent the build-up of dust in the filters, which can cause your furnace to overheat and create other problems requiring expensive repairs.

    The bottom line? Variable-speed furnaces may be a little more expensive upfront to install but should help you save considerable monthly bill costs over time due to much lower energy usage.

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What are different classes of central heating systems?

As well as several heating-stage types and motors for furnaces, there are several different classes of residential heating equipment to choose from, as follows…

Central warm-air furnace

This type of furnace has a central combustor or resistance unit that uses gas, fuel oil, or electricity to heat air and circulate it through ducts into the rooms in a house.

There are no heat pumps. Instead, a fan is used to force the air through the ducts (forced-air furnace) or air is circulated naturally by gravity (gravity furnace).

Steam or hot-water heating system

This type of central space-heating system supplies steam or hot water to conventional radiators or baseboard radiators, convectors, pipes embedded in the walls or ceilings, or heating coils or equipment that is part of a combined HVAC system.

Alternatively, radiant heat/hot water is carried through pipes inlaid into the floor.

Heat pump system

A heat pump or “reverse-cycle system” doubles up as a heating and air conditioning system that controls the temperature in your home year-round.

Refrigeration equipment including a compressor/coils/ thermostat is used to supply heating and cooling through a duct system that leads to individual rooms.

Pipeless furnaces/floor or wall furnaces

These types of furnaces use space-heating equipment to warm rooms, usually incorporating a ductless combustor or resistance unit with an enclosed chamber to burn fuel or to generate electrical-resistance heat.

Pipeless furnaces are installed in basements, supplying heated air through the floor of the room immediately above.

Floor furnaces are installed below the floor and supply heat to the room above. A wall furnace is installed in a partition or outside wall and supplies heat to the rooms on one or both sides of the wall.

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Need helping choosing a new furnace in Calgary?

A brand-new central heating system is a huge commitment so it will pay to get it right.

To find a furnace that fits your budget and your needs, a home inspection is advisable. Otherwise, it’s just guesswork.

Your choice will depend on the home’s heating needs, the existing ductwork and insulation, the number of rooms and levels in the home, your budget, and other factors.

A heating professional from Alpha Plumbing in Calgary can visit your home, assess your options, and provide recommendations based on what you really need.

Furnace Service Frequently Asked Questions

The furnace might just be the most important piece of equipment in your Calgary home. And like any valued member of the family, it needs a little TLC now and again.

Furnace maintenance should appear regularly at the top of your to-do list so that you’re not left paying excessive bills or shivering at the time when you need your heating most.

  Learn More → The Comprehensive Furnace Guide for Alberta Residences

Furnace Service Checklist

Maintenance we Perform on All Calgary Furnace Services


  • Combustible Leak Check of Gas Piping
  • Venting System Visual check
  • Combustion Air Intake Present
  • Furnace Filter Check + Replacement
  • Remove, Clean + Re-install Flame Rod

  • Ignitor Inspection
  • Inducer Motor Inspection
  • Pressure Switch(s) + Tubing Check
  • Main Burner Box and Blower Area Cleaning
  • Electrical Connection + Control board Check
  • Furnace Blower + Fan Speed Check

  • Home Thermostat(s) Check
  • CO Monitoring check
  • Visual Combustion Check
  • Mech Room + General Housekeeping Check
  • Hot Water Tank Visual Check


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We frequently Service, maintain, & install furnaces from these companies:

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Call us today at 403-470-5785 to find out more about the type of furnaces you have and to make an appointment for a furnace evaluation with an experienced Calgary plumber.

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