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What’s the Difference Between a Gas and Electric Furnace?

Since furnaces first came into existence, they have used many different fuel sources. The earliest modern furnaces in homes and businesses relied on wood or coal. Over time, furnaces became cleaner, more refined, and more efficient. Most contemporary furnaces use natural gas, electricity, or propane. Propane has started to fade, however, with many homes converting over to gas. If you are considering a furnace for your home for the coming winter, your choice will most likely come down to gas or electric.

In this post, we’ll explain some of the differences between the two to help you make a choice. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but since your home has specific heating needs (as well as fuel availability), you should turn to professionals to help you make the final decision and then install your new system.

Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning has a long history with gas and electric furnace repair in Winnetka, IL, and we’ve done numerous installations of both. Contact us for the help you need.

The two furnaces share a distribution system: blower fans that move heated air through ducts and out vents into your home. However, the way they generate that heat is where the differences appear.

When the thermostat signals to a gas furnace that it needs heat, a silicon nitride igniter activates the gas-powered burners. Gas jets ignite and create heat in a combustion chamber. The heat transfers to the air through a heat exchanger. Air blows around and through the heat exchanger (usually a series of steel chambers), and this heated air then gets picked up by the blower fans and sent into the ductwork.

An electric-powered furnace doesn’t have burners or a combustion chamber: instead, the cabinet contains an array of heating elements, which are sets of electric coils that burn hot when current runs through them. The more heat the thermostat requires, the more heating elements will turn on. The blower fans then distribute the air warmed from the heating elements.

Electric furnaces have the advantages of lower initial installation costs and generally smaller sizes. If your home doesn’t have a gas line, an electric furnace is usually the best option. Electric furnaces also have no safety issues from potential gas leaks. However, natural gas furnaces tend to cost less to run because gas is a cheaper energy source than electricity, and they usually provide more effective and even heating.

Don’t try to make the decision between electric or gas on your own. A technician from Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning can come to your home and help determine which one will do the best job for you.

For installation, maintenance, or repair on an electric or gas furnace in Winnetka, IL, make Shavitz your number one choice. And of course, feel free to learn more about all of our Winnetka heating services.

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