Gas and electric furnaces are common in American homes, but there are major differences between the two. No matter which type you choose, it’s always important to install the correct sized unit to ensure your home is heated efficiently. If it is too small, you won’t get enough heat; if the furnace is oversized, it will cycle too frequently and need more maintenance and repairs.
Here are the most obvious differences between gas and electric furnaces.
Gas and electric furnaces both use forced air heating and a thermostat. The thermostat transmits a signal to the furnace when the temperature drops below the set point. When the furnace turns on, a blower fan forces heated air through ductwork and into rooms, while cooler air is drawn into an intake vent to continue the cycle. Heating elements shut off when the thermostat senses that the ambient temperature has reached the desired level.
In a gas unit, a pilot light is normally always on. A signal from the thermostat triggers it to activate the main burner, from which the heat exchanger draws heat into air that will start circulating. This process allows for your entire home to be heated.
Electric furnaces feature an electric ignition system that turns on once the thermostat signal is received. The heating elements inside the furnace are all electrically operated. No gas is needed to run the system.
The up-front costs include the price of the furnace itself and labor and other installation costs. Using a 2,000 square foot home as an example, a gas furnace can range from $4,500 to $6,000 to install. On the other hand, an electric unit costs from $2,000 to $4,000 for initial installation. A new electric furnace generally costs from $1,000 to $2,500 and a gas model can be priced from $3,000 to $4,000, just for the unit.
The challenges of installing a gas unit include sealing the heat exchanger and other components and installing a vent if there isn’t already one. This requires cutting space in a wall to accommodate the vent. Electric furnaces require heavy-duty, high voltage wiring to power them directly from the breaker box.
Long-Term Operating Costs
On average, an electric furnace is 2.5x more expensive to operate than a gas unit. The average price of gas is $2.2 per gallon while electricity costs about $0.12 per kilowatt. However, the cost difference varies based on where you live, as gas is more expensive in rural areas. An electric furnace can be cost-effective for smaller homes in warmer locations, especially in places where natural gas is limited or unavailable. On the other hand, operating costs may be prohibitive for large homes in colder climates.
A high-efficiency gas furnace can last 20 to 25 years if well-maintained. However, most gas units have a 10- to 20-year operating life.
Some electric systems can run for as long as 30 years. Longevity should therefore be factored into your budget (including installation and operating costs). Gas furnaces have higher maintenance requirements as small particles can build up inside and corrosion is a common problem. In this regard, electric furnaces have fewer maintenance issues.
A gas furnace shouldn’t be exceedingly noisy. If you hear a loud rushing sound, this is normal during start up. Electric furnaces are much quieter. This is because they contain fewer moving parts and there are no burners or vents to generate sounds from moving air.
Trust The AC Hero for Furnace installation and Replacement
Our technicians are factory trained to select and install the right furnace in North Texas homes. They specialize in electric and gas furnaces. We offer prompt repair services and are available 24/7 for emergencies, while exclusive preventative maintenance plans help add longevity to your heating system. Our technicians can fix minor problems and ensure your furnace remains efficient and safe.
To request service, set up an appointment online or call 817-587-0876 today!