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What Is the Big Difference Between How Electric and Gas Furnaces Run?

burners-gas-furnaceTo most people, a furnace is just a furnace. Regardless of the power supply that it uses, a furnace is a device that heats up, then heats up the air, and then sends that air through ductwork to the rooms.

You really don’t need to know much more than this. As long as you know to rely on professionals to take care of annual maintenance for your home’s furnace (make sure you do it every fall) and remember to regularly change the air filters, you can expect your furnace to put in years of great work keeping your family warm.

But a little knowledge can often help, especially when you’re thinking about getting a new furnace. So we’re going to look a bit closer into what makes electric furnaces and gas furnaces different. It’s more than just the type of energy they use!

The Electric Furnace: Electric Resistance Heating

The major difference between the two that we’re going to look at is how they transfer heat to the air. Both electric and gas furnaces use similar air handlers, i.e. the part that contains the blower fan. In most units, this blower fan will be shared with the air conditioner as well.

In an electric furnace, components called heating elements are responsible for generating the heat that will be transferred to the air. These heating elements contain electrical coils that glow hot as current rungs through them. It’s similar to the glowing hot metal you see in a toaster or inside an electric oven. This is called electric resistance heating, where the electricity generates heat through current.

The Natural Gas Furnace: Combustion Gas and the Heat Exchanger

The set-up is a bit more complex with a natural gas furnace. These furnaces create heat through combustion, with creates high temperature combustion gas. However, this gas can’t be exposed directly to the air from the blower, since it would be dangerous for people to breathe. Instead the gas is gathered inside a metal chamber called a heat exchanger. The walls of the heat exchanger grow hot, and the air handler blows air around the metal casing, picking up heat from its surface. The air is kept free of combustion gases, and the exhaust vapor is safely vented out a chimney.

Which Is the Better Choice for My Home?

If you’re reading this because you’re trying to make a decision for a furnace replacement or a new furnace installation, the best answer is the one you’ll get from our team of professionals. Electric furnaces are less expensive to install up front and are convenient because they don’t need a gas hook-up. But natural gas furnaces cost less to run because natural gas is not as expensive than electricity, and new gas furnaces have higher efficiency ratings than ever before.

For advice on furnace installation in Bossier City, LA, you can trust to our licensed and experienced team to find the ideal new furnace to meet your needs. Or if you require help to repair your current one, we’ll handle that as well.

Call the Doctor of Home Comfort: Hall’s Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration! We have 24-hour service available.

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