They differ in installation, energy efficiency, cost, maintenance, lifespan, and noise.
Both types only produce heat as forced air heating systems. Gas furnaces use a pilot light to light the main burner of the heat exchanger. Electric uses electric heat to activate electric elements inside the furnace.
The installation of gas furnaces involves safety concerns because of natural gas and a combustive element. Installing an electric furnace requires high voltage and heavy-duty wiring. Both types of installation should be done by an HVAC professional.
Electric furnaces work by converting almost all their energy into heat and blowing it through a household's duct system. Gas furnaces efficiency varies. Gas units typically heat a home faster than electric units. Electric is typically less expensive to purchase and install than gas furnaces. However, the operational costs of gas units is lower than electric because of the cost of electric power. When choosing a furnace based on cost, it boils down to paying more upfront or overtime.
How often you need a furnace replaced depends on the type. Gas furnaces need regular maintenance by an HVAC professional and have more parts to replace and clean. These systems last about 10 to 20 years due to corrosion and the build up from the burner. They also make more noise when starting up.
Electric systems do not require as much professional attention. They last about 20 to 30 years because they don’t require as much interference as gas units. Because their design is simpler, they are generally quieter.
This depends on the geographic climate zone of the area you live in. This resource breaks down how to calculate how many kilowatts, kW, your household can carry.
Many people consider an electric furnace, gas furnace, or heat pump when choosing how to heat their household. Some factors to consider include furnace cost, installation, and climate.
A gas furnace requires specific piping infrastructure and usually involves a more complicated installation, which drives up installation costs for gas units. Electric furnaces deliver more energy efficiency than heat pumps in climates that regularly go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit because they maintain consistent indoor warmth. Choosing a heating system depends on your household’s heating demands.