Gas vs. electric furnace, which carries the day? Read this comparison from HVAC Santa Clarita.
This is a common question for homeowners (as well as heat pump vs gas furnace) looking to install heating systems. And, many choose either an electric furnace or a gas furnace depending on fuel availability, which is a good move. However, there is so much to choose between gas and electric furnaces.
Which is the best option for you and your household? And why is it the best option?
What are the critical considerations to make while sampling gas and electric furnaces?
And, what is your budget like?
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It is obvious which furnace they want to go for for a few people. This is probably because they have had first-hand experience with either of them, which is good. However, for many other people, a thorough analysis like we do in this article will help them make an informed and confident decision.
Therefore, if you are unsure whether it is a gas or electric furnace (1), this article is for you. Come with us as we get into the details of each.
Gas and Electric Furnace Overview
Before we jump onto the factors to consider when shopping for a furnace, let’s first look at the operational and mechanical overview.
What critical mechanical and operational information should you know about the two?
Of course, one uses natural gas, and another uses electricity. But how does each of them function?
Gas furnaces are combustion appliances.
- an igniter,
- a gas line with a gas valve,
- heat exchanger,
- a system to separate and spread heat throughout your house.
To understand the mechanical operation of a gas furnace, we will focus our interest on the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is the part that enables the unit to safely extract heat for your home’s use.
In some instances, the furnace has two heat exchangers. This allows it to extract more heat with less byproduct.
However, no matter how many heat exchangers you have, the product of combustion is always carbon monoxide. And this is another important operational aspect of your gas furnace. You have to be careful with how you manage the carbon monoxide.
For example, carbon monoxide will be vented out through a chimney flue in a traditional furnace system. However, carbon monoxide exits through plastic PVC pipes in high-efficiency gas furnaces.
An electric furnace consists of heating coils and an air handler.
In many cases, electric furnaces act as a supplementary source of heat. Often, there is additional heating power from an electric heat pump.
And, just like gas units, electric furnaces work through forced air heating systems. However, an electric ignition receives a thermostat signal that activates the heating elements within your house.
The heating coils heat up and may turn a dull red when hot. The warmth is then spread all through the house.
Gas Furnaces vs. Electric Furnaces: Which one is best for you?
It is now time to analyze the differences between electric and gas furnaces. This segment looks at different factors to consider when selecting a furnace system. And, we highlight which furnace wins under each factor to consider (2).
At the end of all the factors we are about to show you, we will weigh out which of these two is the ideal option for you.
Alright, let’s get down to business.
What is your installation budget? And, would you instead spend more on installation and less on monthly utility bills.
Well, to give specifics, electric furnaces are less costly to install. Therefore, they would be your ideal choice if you have a lower budget upfront. The cost of a new electric furnace would typically range from $1,000 to $2,500. At the same time, the installation cost of electric furnaces can be anything from $1000-$1500.
The gas furnace buying will cost you anything between $3000 and $4000. The installation cost will be anything from $2000 to $4000. With this, you can save up to $2000 upfront by choosing an electric furnace over a gas furnace.
However, that is just the top side of the coin. The operational costs of electric furnaces are higher than those of gas furnaces, thanks to the high cost of electricity. This means that with gas furnaces, you will spend less every other month on utility.
While considering costs, it is good to look at both sides of this coin.
The Fuel Source Available for You
If you already own a natural gas line, we recommend choosing a gas furnace over an electric furnace.
A natural gas line can save you upfront installation costs.
However, if you have no natural gas already in your house, you may want to get an electric unit instead.
Maintenance and safety
Electric furnaces are easier to maintain. And they need less professional attention and care. This is because it has no burner to clean or regularly inspect. Besides, you generally do not need to clean the entire system.
This makes the gas furnace easier to maintain over its lifetime. The heating maintenance costs will also be lower.
On the other hand, a gas furnace needs regular maintenance by an HVAC professional. This is to ensure it is efficient and also safe for you. An HVAC professional should regularly check it to ensure the system operates correctly. Also, an HVAC professional needs to inspect that no condensation is building up below the furnace. This is because condensation build-up eventually results in corrosion.
Also, a gas furnace has a lot of moving parts. And with this, there will be more wear and tear and hence need for constant heater repair services.
The combustion process that powers gas furnaces release carbon monoxide. This means that you need to take extra steps to ensure no carbon monoxide leaks into your household. Only an HVAC professional with proper knowledge and equipment can help you ensure that the system is well sealed.
Improper ventilation and Maintenance can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, if you install a gas furnace, we recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector. This is an added precaution that can alert you in case of any dangers.
You are 100% safe from such dangers with an electric furnace as it doesn’t produce carbon monoxide.
The lifespan of a gas system is usually 10 to 20 years. However, the lifespan of electric systems is typically 20 to 30 years. This will depend on the heating services you will give them all through the years.
The lifespan of the two is the same reason my gas furnace requires regular maintenance. The burner of a gas furnace produces tiny particles that accumulate in the system over time. In time, the build-up starts leading to failures. Also, corrosion is a bit common on the heat exchanger of a gas furnace.
Electric furnaces tend to last longer with minimal interference.
This may not be a big issue, but electric furnaces are generally quieter than gas furnaces.
The electric heaters are quieter due to their simple design. They have:
- fewer moving parts,
- no burner,
- no vent.
This makes it a quiet furnace overall.
However, this does not mean that a gas furnace is noisy. They produce a loud rushing sound when you start them. There will also be a sound of the igniting burner. It may not be noisy, but louder than an electric heater.
Which of the two is energy efficient?
Okay, we already established that the operating costs of an electric furnace would be higher than that of a natural gas furnace.
But, an electric furnace is still more efficient. It may have an annual fuel-utilization-efficiency rating as high as up to 100 percent. On the other hand, gas ratings as furnace ratings range from 55 to 97 percent.
The amount of heat lost through the gas flue and other areas makes it less energy efficient. And, an electric furnace converts almost all energy into heat. This is not always the case with a gas heating system.
Electric Furnace Pros and Cons
- easy and cheaper installation,
- safer and quieter,
- easier and cheaper maintenance practices,
- longer lifespan of up to 30 years,
- Works well for warmer climates,
- lower environmental impact.
- Higher monthly utility costs
Natural Gas Furnaces Pros and Cons
- Lower monthly fuel costs,
- Pairs effectively with both an air conditioner and a heat pump to provide year-round heating and cooling,
- produces powerful heat therefore excellent for colder climates,
- Carbon monoxide safety concerns,
- Many moving parts require regular maintenance services.
Choosing your Ideal HVAC System
By now, we are confident that you can choose which is ideal for you: gas or electric.
However, our main reason for recommending gas systems is for homeowners who already have access to natural gas. This would be an incredible way to save on installation costs and even monthly utilities. The other pros of a gas furnace will support you in your choice.
However, if you don’t have a gas line in your house, we recommend that you go for an electric furnace. Installing gas lines and chimneys for a gas furnace would make the whole ordeal more expensive. In this case, it would be ideal for you to choose an electric heating system.
If you have any more questions about electric vs. gas furnaces, please reach out to us at HVAC Santa Clarita. We are eager to help you make the right decision.
Gas vs. Electric Furnaces Frequently Asked Questions
We answer a few FAQs below. We hope these make you more conversant with the two and help you make an informed choice.
Is it cheaper to heat your house with gas or electricity?
Heating your house with natural gas is cheaper than electric heating. This is because natural gas is a cheaper fuel than electricity.
Is it better to have a gas furnace or electric?
We hate to tell you that it depends, but that is what it is. For instance, if you live in a warmer climate, we recommend getting an electric system. This is also ideal if you don’t run your heating 24/7. However, if you live in colder climates, a gas furnace will work well for you. A gas furnace heats your room quicker, and the heat produced is more substantial.
Why is gas furnace installation more expensive than electric
First, you need to go beyond the standard HVAC equipment with a gas furnace. You need to install gas lines and chimneys. The cost of these extra installations increases the initial installation cost of gas furnaces.
There we come to an end of our gas vs. electric furnace. We trust that you can select what is best for your household. We advise you to factor in more than just the initial costs. Please keep all the factors in mind when selecting a heating system. This way, you will get more value for your money and get a unit that won’t lead to regrets.
If you have any more uncertainties, contact us. Our team of HVAC professionals will take you through all you need.
Contact us 24/7 today to make an appointment.