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Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog

Are Electric Furnaces Much Safer Than Gas Furnaces?


If you do an online search on electric furnaces, you’ll find this question often pops up: “Do electric furnaces create carbon monoxide?” That people are asking this shows that many homeowners are unaware of the important basics of how different types of furnaces run. We want to clear up some of these misunderstandings and address the broader question of whether or not an electric furnace is a far safer choice than a natural gas furnace for home heating. 

Regarding the carbon monoxide question: “No”

Electric furnaces do not create carbon monoxide (CO), the highly toxic byproduct of incomplete combustion. The reason is that electric furnaces do not combust anything and create no exhaust byproducts. Electric furnaces generate heat by sending electric currents through metal coils in heating elements, causing the coils to grow hot. This process is called electrical resistance heating, and it’s similar to how a toaster works. Do toasters create carbon monoxide? No, and neither do electric furnaces. 

“So an electric furnace must be the safer option!”

We need to clarify. The reason people often think of electric furnaces as significantly safer than natural gas ones is because of the lack of CO emissions. No question, carbon monoxide is dangerous, and any home that uses natural gas for any purpose must have CO detectors to raise the alarm. 

But this makes it sound like natural gas furnaces are massive CO factories that put lives at risk in any home they’re installed in. This isn’t the case at all. Natural gas furnaces are designed to have CO emissions safely removed through a flue, and they have numerous safety features built into them. Although no gas furnace can be guaranteed to be 100% safe all the time, a well-maintained gas furnace isn’t a dangerous installation. Millions of homes use them without problems. 

The safety of an electric furnace

On the other hand … yes, electric furnaces present less potential for harm than gas furnaces. Saying they are much safer isn’t accurate, since gas furnaces aren’t all that dangerous, but for homeowners who have concerns about CO and don’t want to use natural gas at all, an electric furnace is a good choice. 

But electric furnaces have their own potential safety concerns: the same ones that come with any powerful electrical device. Attempting to tamper with an electric furnace if you aren’t trained and licensed for it can result in a high voltage shock, and there is always a possibility of electrical fires. This hazard level is about the same as most powerful electrical appliances in your house, but it does exist.

Choosing a furnace

We have a long history of furnace installation and furnace repair in Van Nuys, CA, and we work with both gas and electric models. We can help you make a choice for your best heating. If you don’t have a gas line, you won’t have to worry about choosing a gas furnace, but you may be interested in a heat pump rather than an electric furnace. We’ll be your guide when it comes to your heating. 

Call our certified service technicians 24/7 for exceptional customer service! Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical serves Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

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