When you bring a generator into your home, you want to know that it can protect you from the worst of your area's foul weather. Can a generator run an electric furnace, though? We've done the work to bring you the answer.
While you don't want to rely on a generator to run your electric furnace 24/7, both portable and standby generators can ensure that your home stays heated during a power outage. Electric furnaces and boilers require generators that produce a minimum of 15,000 watts.
That said, the generator you bring in to run your electric furnace needs to be relatively powerful. It's not something you can skip out on. If you have a generator that produces low wattage, then it won't be able to keep temperatures up throughout your home. Fortunately, we've researched and broken down the needs of electric furnaces and their other quirks here.
Can A Generator Run An Electric Furnace?
When determining whether or not a generator can run an electric furnace, you have to consider how many watts of energy an electric furnace requires. Most electric furnaces require at least 15,000 watts of energy to warm your home.
When the power goes out in your home, any generator you have on hand needs to be able to support your furnace's demands. Otherwise, you risk finding yourself in an increasingly-chilly home. Luckily, there are several stationary generators that can meet that need. Unfortunately, most small backup generators won't be able to give your generator the energy to warm up your space adequately.
Portable Generators Versus Standby Generators
If you already have a portable generator on hand, you may want to rely on it the next time your furnace - and the rest of your home - loses power. Before you put your trust in one of these models, though, make sure you take its wattage into account.
While portable generators can be as powerful as standby generators, portable generators are made with transportation in mind. Many of the smaller models can definitely keep your lights on and outlets powered. But they won't be able to meet the demands of an electric furnace.
To find out how many watts your portable generator can produce, look at the label on the back of your unit. Alternatively, you can multiply your generator's voltage by its amps to estimate its overall wattage.
Are Electric Furnaces Expensive to Run?
Electric furnaces tend to be relatively expensive to run. Because electric furnaces don't rely on natural resources to heat your home, they require a significant electrical contribution from your area's power grid. The combination of that demand paired with the electric furnace's slow-to-activate sensors can leave your monthly electric bill higher than you'd prefer it to be.
That said, purchasing an electric furnace tends to be less expensive than purchasing a propane furnace. You may be able to substitute for the furnace's later costs if you're frugal during the initial installation process.
Even so, if you're concerned about how much your electricity may cost from month to month, don't make the decision alone. Sit down with an area professional to discuss your utility budget ahead of time.
Is It Cheaper to Heat With Electric or Propane?
It is cheaper to heat your home with natural gas or propane than it is to rely on an electric furnace. Admittedly, gas furnaces do come with substantial installation costs. It can also be expensive to switch a natural gas furnace to propane. That said, these units are less expensive on a month-to-month basis.
That said, do be warned of gas heating's downsides. The initial cost of your furnace's installation may put a damper on your future budget. Similarly, gas furnaces tend to have shorter lifespans than their electric alternatives. The average gas furnace will last you 20 years. Comparatively, electric furnaces tend to have lifespans of 30 years or more.
With that in mind, be prepared to budget not only for your gas furnace's initial installation but also for any repairs that you may need later down the line.
For more information about propane furnaces, be sure to check out our post: Can A Natural Gas Furnace Run On Propane?
Why is Electric Heat So Expensive?
Electric furnaces cost more to operate than their propane counterparts for a few different reasons. For starters, these furnaces require more energy to function than gas heaters. Because the furnaces are expected to work harder to heat your home, you can expect your monthly electric bill to be higher than it would if you were relying on gas.
Similarly, electric furnaces tend to see more heat loss over the course of a year than gas furnaces. For example, the ducts directing an electric furnace's warm air throughout your home aren't always as effective as they could be. As a result, you're spending money every month on heat that doesn't make its way through the entirety of your home.
How Can I Keep My House Warm With Electric Heat?
If you're looking for ways to give your electric furnace a boost during this year's cold snap, you can:
Invest in Regular Furnace Maintenance
Even though electric furnaces tend to have substantial lifespans, they still need regular TLC. If you want to keep your electric furnace in the best condition possible, strike up a good relationship with the professional contractors in your area. One of the best ways to do this is to schedule regular furnace maintenance.
Furnace maintenance and inspections can keep your unit operational all throughout the year. Scheduling regular appointments with the same team of local professionals has many advantages. You can even get ahead of the damage that might otherwise put your furnace out of commission.
Have a Professional Inspect Your Ducts
The team that inspects the body of your furnace should also inspect your ducts. A furnace's ducts tend to be its weakest point, as their potential to leak warm air is high. When you work with a team of professionals, you can eliminate or otherwise compensate for any duct leakage that might otherwise cool down your home.
Insulate Your Home
Insulation works in tandem with your electric furnace to heat the whole of your home. If you haven't insulated key parts of your property, or if it's been a few years since you've had your insulation inspected, it may be time to explore additional insulating options. You can work with area contractors to discuss insulation inspections and replacements, should your home be in need.
You can even find insulation designed explicitly for your furnace's ducts. Of course, you will want to limit the risk of a fire in your home. Fortunately, there are several types of duct insulation that can block off air leaks without putting your safety at risk.
For more information about insulating your home, please see our post Can Foam Insulation Be Installed In Existing Walls?
Watch for Leaks Throughout Your Home
Water and ice tend to beget cooler temperatures throughout your home. If you want to avoid an unnecessary drop in temperature, keep a wary eye out for signs of foundation, basement, or crawl space damage.
This damage is varied in nature and can be hard to keep track of, especially if you don't know what it looks like. Some of the most common types of damage to impact your home's temperature include cracks, foundation sinkage, and leaks.
If you find yourself dealing with any of these types of damage, reach out to the professional contractors serving your area. The sooner you can invest in your essential repairs, the safer your furnace - and the warmer your home - will be.
Invest in Duct-Boosting Fans
The ducts leading warm air through the whole of your home aren't always as effective as they could be. After you've scheduled an inspection and any necessary maintenance, you aren't finished.
Next, consider the little tricks you can use to boost your ducts' efficiency. For example, you can turn to duct-boosting fans. You can place these fans inside of your ducts. There, they can help blow the traveling air further through your home.
Alternatively, you can explore duct-boosting fan covers. These covers come equipped with personal thermostats and can help you keep track of which ducts in your home are more effective than others. These fans will also boost the distance your warm air travels. As a result, more rooms in your home will be able to withstand the winter cold.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
You do not have to turn off your fans when the weather in your area turns cool. Instead, you can reverse the direction they turn in. Fans that rotate clockwise direct warmer air away from your ceiling. This means that they can more effectively circulate air through the rest of your home.
When you make a point to reverse your ceiling fans during the coldest days of the year, you can help your electric furnace more effectively heat the rest of your home.
Let a Generator Help You Protect Your Home
Whether you are facing cooler weather or natural disasters, you want to know that your generator will protect your home. If you want your generator to run your electric furnace through the worst of your home's trials, make sure your unit produces enough wattage to get the job done. An electric furnace requires a generator to produce at least 10,000 watts if it's going to keep your home warm.