Lennox Merit ML196E Review
AFUE:Up to 96 percent
ENERGY STAR ®:Yes
Blower Type:Constant torque
Price:$4,200 to $4,800
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The Merit ML196E is an entry-level Lennox furnace. Like most single-stage furnaces, it’s a more affordable option than some other Lennox gas furnaces, but you'll still need a decent budget.
This natural gas furnace has a high-efficiency rating and ENERGY STAR® certification, so it will perform reliably for many winters and save you on heating bills.
If you're in the market for a new Lennox furnace, then this model review will help you invest in a furnace that will work for your home comfort and heating needs.
We’ll talk about Lennox furnace prices and this model’s design elements, special features, and warranty details. Then, we’ll compare it to three other Lennox furnaces to give you a better idea of the value for money the ML196E provides.
The Lennox Merit ML196E in a Nutshell
Average Price (with installation): $4,200 to $4,800
- Equipped with an efficiency-improving secondary heat exchanger and has condensing technology
- Has a constant torque motor with multiple speeds
- Lasting and durable components
- High-efficiency and cost-saving AFUE
- Compatible with Lennox’s iComfort M30 smart thermostat
- Backed by a standard warranty
- Ready to be integrated with an air filter and humidifier
- Made with proprietary Lennox components
The Bottom Line
The ML196E is only a single-stage furnace, and that means it will work best in smaller spaces—such as condos, semi-detached homes, or townhouses—that have lower heating demands. If you need a new furnace that’s more powerful, then consider a two-stage gas furnace or a modulating model.
At the same time, this Lennox model does have some appealing design elements, including a secondary heat exchanger that improves efficiency by reducing fuel and heat waste.
Similarly, the constant torque motor has multiple speeds, so it has different airflow capacities based on your heating demands.
Because the ML196E only has single-stage operation, it may not qualify for as many rebates as more advanced furnaces. However, it is still one of Lennox’s high efficiency furnaces. It has an AFUE of 96 percent, so it can reduce your energy costs by a great deal compared to a furnace with a low energy efficiency rating.
In Depth Review
Lennox Merit ML196E Product Specifications
- AFUE: 96 percent
- Burner type: Single-stage
- Blower type: Constant torque
- ENERGY STAR certified: Yes
Lennox furnace models don’t have a lot of cool features (like communicating capabilities), but they do have some proprietary components, including the SureLight® silicon nitride ignitor and Power Saver™ constant-torque motor.
Lennox also has a range of smart thermostats called iComfort. The ML196E is compatible with the iComfort M30, and that can give you access to some cool features that you wouldn’t get with the furnace alone.
The iComfort M30 isn't Lennox’s most advanced smart thermostat, but it does have some interesting selling points, including:
- Geofencing capabilities: you can connect it to your mobile device so that it will detect when you leave home and put the furnace into an energy-saving away mode, and when you come home the furnace will automatically return to your normal comfort settings
- It balances indoor temperature and humidity levels to perfectly match your comfort demands
- You can gain voice control by integrating it with a technology or device like IFTTT, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant
Other Key Features
- The burner box is sealed to reduce operating noise
- Comes equipped with Lennox’s proprietary Duralok Plus heat exchanger, which is made of a special material that promises better longevity and durability
- Can be paired with an electric heat pump for dual fuel operation and better energy and cost savings
- The burners have a robust design that allows the furnace to maintain its efficiency throughout its life
- Has a quiet burner design and quiet operation
- Clamshell heat exchanger increases heat transfer to the house and reduces heat loss
- Comes with holes, flanges, and flue collars already prepared for faster installation
- Cabinet is made from durable steel
Because the ML196E is an entry-level furnace, it has a shorter warranty than other Lennox furnaces, and the Lennox warranty already leaves something to be desired compared to a lot of other brands.
The ML196E is protected by a 20-year heat exchanger warranty and a 10-year parts warranty, as long as you register the furnace within 60 days of installation. If you don’t register it, then the parts warranty will only last for five years.
And don’t forget to budget for installation costs: you'll have to have the unit installed by a licensed HVAC professional to keep the warranty valid.
Unlike some other brands, Lennox doesn’t offer a lifetime heat exchanger warranty for their entry-level furnaces. They also don’t have the unit replacement warranty that other brands are adopting. Even though they're a high-end name in the HVAC industry, Lennox doesn’t provide better warranty protection than other companies even though they do tend to charge more for their products.
Comparable Models by Lennox
Model Comparison by Price: ML196E versus Dave Lennox Signature Collection SL297NV
The SL297NV belongs to Lennox’s premium Dave Lennox Signature Collection, so it’s a much more expensive heating system, costing about $7,000 to $7,600 with installation.
But here's what you get for the additional cost: two-stage operation, a variable-speed blower, an AFUE of 97.5 percent, compatibility with a better thermostat, a lifetime heat exchanger warranty, fewer hot and cold spots and better temperature consistency throughout the house, and the potential to qualify for more rebates.
If you don’t want to pay for a premium Lennox furnace but still want something more powerful, then look at a two-stage, variable-speed furnace from the Lennox Elite or Merit series.
Model Comparison by Features: ML196E versus Dave Lennox Signature Collection SLP99V
Whereas the ML196E is one of Lennox’s most basic and affordable high-efficiency gas furnaces, the SLP99V is their most advanced.
It’s a variable-capacity gas furnace with a modulating burner that can make incremental adjustments to the heat output and airflow. This optimizes comfort, efficiency, humidity control, and whole-home temperature consistency.
And it’s also got an AFUE of 99 percent, making it the most efficient furnace on the market.
The SLP99V should qualify for any rebate and will maximize the amount of money you can save on your annual heating bills.
Model Comparison by Tier: ML196E versus ML296V
The ML296V and ML196E are both entry-level furnace models, but the ML296V is a better heating system. It’s one of Lennox’s two-stage furnaces, so it can run in the lower stage most of the time to maintain the temperature and save energy, but it also has a higher speed for when the mercury drops.
It also has a variable-speed blower that can incrementally alter the airflow, and this improves humidity management and helps to eliminate hot and cold spots around the house.
Because of the better design features, the ML296V is more likely to qualify for rebates, and it will be better equipped to keep your home warm through Canada’s colder winters.