How to Buy a Mobile Home Furnace
Updated Dec. 1, 2017
By Chris Brooks
Manufactured homes are built at a manufacturer's production headquarters and transported to the homeowner's building site. Furnaces designed for mobile homes function differently than those designed for traditionally constructed houses. Your heating and cooling systems should suit your manufactured home's size and type. Mobile home furnaces can burn gas, propane or oil.
Mobile homes furnaces need to be ducted, vented, and installed differently than standard residential furnaces. The ducting system in a mobile home is much smaller than in a site-built home. Mobile home furnaces use a venting system called "sealed combustion". Standard home furnaces do not take these differences into consideration and can be dangerous in a mobile home. Due to smaller air ducts and tighter corners, forced air doesn't flow as freely in a mobile home as in a larger house. That means that buyers need to ensure that the fan blower is designed to suit their specific unit.
We use the terms "manufactured home" and "mobile home" interchangeably. While this is technically not accurate (mobile homes were factory-built dwellings produced before the 1976 HUD code enactment) it matches both terms' common usage.
Purchasing a new furnace for your mobile home will cost, on average, just over $1,000 according to ImproveNet. You can, however, expect to spend anywhere from $1,700 to $2,100 on mobile home furnace installation, averaging out around $1,800.
The installation fee usually covers the cost of the HVAC contractor's labor, job setup, required fabrication of material, finishing, and installation of the unit itself. In certain circumstances, the complexity of the installation can increase the cost. If your mobile home is brand new and having its first furnace installed, more time will be required of the contractor to establish the initial fittings, thus increasing labor costs.
It may be financially prudent to discuss insulation improvements with an HVAC contractor during the furnace installation process. While this may increase your initial installation fee, the benefits of greater efficiency will be enjoyed over time.
It's crucial to obtain quotes from a variety of contractors. Ask for a free estimate and make sure all of the associated costs and extras are noted. Do not be afraid to ask for more information. Read this helpful guide on choosing a heating or cooling contractor before making a final decision.
The total cost of installing a new furnace includes the labor cost and the equipment cost. Equipment costs include:
- Oil furnaces operate at about 80% efficiency, and cost around $1,500
- Natural gas / propane furnaces start at around $800 for an 80% efficient furnace, and range up to around $1,500 for a 95% efficient furnace
- Electric furnaces for manufactured homes start at around $600
Types of Furnaces
Similar to furnaces for traditional residences, the type of furnace you purchase for a mobile home will be decided by the fuel source.
Natural gas furnaces work by converting gas into heat and are the most popular choice for the majority of homes. The most commonly available natural gas furnaces for mobile homes operate at 80 percent efficiency with prices starting around $850. Higher 95 percent efficiency units are available but are more expensive so you should expect to pay at least $1,300.
Oil furnaces rely on the fuel being sprayed into a combustion chamber at high pressure and ignited. This oil mist burns, creating heat to be distributed. Oil furnaces for mobile homes typically operate at 80 percent efficiency and can be bought new starting around $1,500.
Electric furnaces are highly efficient, operating at close to 100 percent efficiency, but can be more expensive to run than a gas equivalent. These units are slightly cheaper to buy than equivalent sized gas and oil units, starting around $600.
Heat pumps transport warm air from once place to another depending on where it's needed (even in cooler air, heat energy is present and can be used for warmth). These units are expensive to buy, costing at a minimum $2,400, but are energy efficient. You should also consider that these units work best in moderate climates and additional heat sources may be needed in cooler regions.
Mobile Home Furnace Accessories
Your HVAC contractor may recommend additional accessories to maximize the output of your furnace, such as:
- Concentric Vent Kit - Allows air input and the exhaust vent to pass through one single roof or sidewall hole.
- LP Conversion Kit - Switches your furnace from natural gas to propane. Check to see if this kit is included with any natural gas furnace you might purchase as many manufacturers include it in the box.
- High Altitude Pressure Switch - Depending on where you live, you might need this switch on your furnace so it operates safely.
- Blower - Transports warm air from the furnace throughout the mobile hom. The blower is the part of your furnace that works the hardest and regular maintenance is crucial. Should your blower break down, you will need to replace this promptly with prices ranging between $250-400 depending on your furnace.
- Roof Jack - Vents emissions from the furnace. Varying in size, you should discuss your requirement with your HVAC contractor. A hydroment sealing is used fill the gap between the roof jack and your roof.
- Duct Connectors - Join two pieces of ducting together and are designed to isolate or minimize noise and vibrations.
Buying a Furnace
The most important criterion when buying a mobile home furnace is the type of fuel source used (natural gas, oil, or electric). From there, you will need decide what furnace is right for you based on the size, efficiency, and cost. Manufactured home furnaces range in efficiency from 80% - 95% AFUE. It's important to have your furnace sized before choosing a heating system.To determine exactly what your mobile home needs in a furnace, you'll want to work with an HVAC contractor who can advise you on size, efficiency, and estimated costs. Be sure to also discuss furnace compatibility with your existing ductwork and ventilation.
Brands of Furnaces Built for Mobile Homes
Many of the same manufacturers that make furnaces for traditional homes also sell models for mobile homes. Some brands that are available include:
Can You Install a Regular Furnace on a Mobile Home?
Mobile homes have various unique features, which necessitate the installation of a furnace designed specifically for them. A furnace intended for a traditional home could be potentially dangerous within a mobile property due to their higher heat output. Mobile homes tend to have smaller heat ducts, and the warmth from a regularly sized furnace could be too much to handle.
Furnaces built for mobile homes will have a label or a metal data plate stating that they are approved for use in manufactured homes -- don't buy a furnace that doesn't have the label.
Saving on Purchase and Installation Costs
There are various resources available to help drive down the cost of your new furnace. For instance, you can search by state for available incentives for efficient HVAC systems. Also, manufacturers sometimes offer rebates or special promotions to alleviate some of the cost of a mobile home furnace, such as these from Bryant.
Some manufacturers of mobile homes will offer a warranty that covers the performance of not only the structure but also the factory-installed plumbing and heating systems for a specified period. You should ask your retailer for details of warranties prior to purchase, as it is important to know where to turn if you discover defects. Additionally, certain appliances, such as your furnace, will be covered by their own manufacturer warranties.
The best way to save money on the installation cost of your new furnace is to comparison shop. Contact multiple HVAC contractors about estimates and compare them. Ask friends, family, and coworkers for HVAC contractor references to avoid working with someone who might overcharge you.