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April 09, 2024

Comfort and Efficiency: A Homeowner's Experience with the Navien NPF Hydro-Furnace

Dale Johnson, a homeowner of nearly two decades in Chilliwack, a community in the Upper Fraser Valley of British Columbia, decided it was time to outfit his home with a new furnace. There were three pain points with his existing furnace to address in upgrading his home: efficiency (both operational and cost), heat quality (evenly heating his home), and noise. The system had previously been updated in 1989, and between the age of the unit and advances in technology, it was time to identify solutions that would solve those challenges and modernize his home heating.

Chilliwack — flanked by steep mountains at just 30 feet above sea level — is known for its unpredictable weather. Temperatures can drop to -15 degrees Celsius in the winter months. Keeping the four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house evenly temperature controlled was a problem.

"The old furnace was noisy, inefficient, and often left us feeling uncomfortable," Johnson recalls. "We knew it was time for a change."

And with the costs of everything being higher in the current economy, a path to lower total home heating costs was a major driver.

“We really were looking for efficiencies — [to] bring our costs down. Everything's going up. So anywhere we can save a dime is well worth it.”

During his research and in discussing options with John Sadler Plumbing & Heating, Johnson discovered that a manufacturer he was already familiar with, Navien, had introduced a new and innovative product into the home heating market: the NPF Hydro-Furnace — a high-efficiency hydronic forced-air furnace with industry-leading variable capacity operation.

“Because our experience with our Navien [tankless] water heater, it was the next logical step for us to go with the Navien furnace,” Johnson said. “Navien quality is quality through and through.”

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Installation and Understanding a New Product

The Navien NPF hydro-furnace features a stainless steel hydronic heat exchanger, condensing technology, and a high-efficiency blower and modulating gas burner that allows the NPF to operate from 15-100 percent for both natural gas and propane applications. It’s available in both vertical upflow and horizontal flow models. The variable speed blower, particularly, provides five key advantages:

  • It provides increased electrical efficiency because it matches the exact airflow requirements of the HVAC system
  • It reduces unnecessary energy consumption for lower energy bills
  • It operates with Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) accessories in continuous "fan-on" mode at less cost than traditional blower motors
  • It has soft start and stop capabilities, which minimizes power surges and extends the service life of the blower/reduces strain on the HVAC system
  • It can run at lower speeds, which reduces sound levels

"The Navien furnace represents a significant leap forward in energy efficiency," said Colin Sadler, owner of John Sadler Plumbing & Heating. "The utilization of hydronic heating coils ensures consistent performance and durability, promising long-term savings for homeowners."

While contractors are occasionally wary of installing new products, Sadler has an extensive history with Navien’s other products and noted the seamless integration of the Navien system into Johnson's home.

“It was an interesting experience for my team, because it's a brand-new product, never seen before,” he said. “However, the EZNav® control panel is similar to that of the NPE tankless water heaters, so we were able to understand how to use it very well, and then the Setup Wizard clearly led us through the installation process. As far as the furnace itself goes, sheet metal connections are pretty standard for the Navien NPF, so nothing out of the ordinary as far as the return air and the supply vent. It's a nice standard size, so 34 inches tall, 17-and-a-half inches wide. So that went in pretty seamlessly.”

"The Navien furnace is a game-changer in terms of installation," Sadler continued. "Once we familiarized ourselves with the product, the process was smooth sailing."

Quiet Operation; Gentle Heat

Following the installation, Johnson shared his initial experience with the Navien NPF Hydro Furnace. He appreciates the unit's quiet operation and gradual heat dispersion, contributing to a more comfortable indoor environment. Johnson also enjoyed the furnace's efficiency, crediting it to the modulation technology that tailors heat output based on demand. Additionally, the inclusion of a sizable filter has curtailed dust accumulation, improving air quality throughout the residence.

“It’s very quiet, and the heat's different in that it doesn't come out really hot right away,” Dale explained. “It kind of gradually brings in the heat, and so it feels like a warmer heat, which is a silly thing to say, but it's what it feels like. We don't hear any more creaking or anything from the vent ducts when they heat up really fast and then cool down really fast. We don't get any of that anymore, and we're really enjoying it.

"The new furnace is remarkably quiet, and the heat just feels more even," Johnson continued. "The old one was more like a jet engine taking off some days and the new one, it's like an EV car going down the road. You don't even hear it unless you're right beside it. And we've noticed a significant improvement in air quality, thanks to the enhanced filtration system."

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Variable Capacity and Comfort

Colin was impressed with the distinctive features of the Navien NPF hydro-furnace, particularly its variable capacity capabilities. He explained how the furnace sustains a consistent temperature, unlike conventional units that alternate between full power and standby. This adaptability ensures a more comfortable indoor climate, with less discernible temperature fluctuations.

"With the Navien furnace, homeowners can expect a steady, comfortable heat without the jarring fluctuations of traditional systems," Colin said. "The variable capacity modulation sets it apart from the competition."

Most importantly, the homeowner notices the difference.

“It just adjusts so perfectly, and it just makes it more comfortable to be in our home,” says Johnson. “With the old furnace, it was a 30-, 40-year old technology, so it was either on or off. And I think with the new furnace having the variability, it was a great upgrade.”


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