Among several ways to heat your home, using propane is the most environmentally sound due to its clean-burning fuel properties with low harmful emissions, unlike gas, oil, or coal furnaces. But does your propane furnace use any electricity? We've researched how propane furnaces operate to find the answer.
A propane furnace is primarily powered using propane gas; the only parts that use electricity are the fan and igniter. The efficiency rate of a propane furnace is highly dependent on the ratio of its burned fuel versus the fuel converted into heat, measured by Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). Furnaces with AFUE of 55% and below are categorized as old units, low-efficiency furnaces are with AFUE of 56% to 70%, and highly efficient furnaces are with AFUE of 90% and above.
In terms of comfort, efficiency, and safety, the propane furnace has become the go-to choice of many households. Whether you are in view of purchasing one or already an owner, some in-depth knowledge will definitely save you money and time when considering propane to heat your home. Stay with us as we guide you through the basics of owning and operating a propane furnace.
How does a propane furnace work?
The igniter lights the flame for a short period of time. Gas is then burned to warm up the heat exchanger while the blower fan pushes the heat over the exchanger to circulate around your home.
To add more safety and convenience, a wall thermostat detects the right temperature and signals the system to shut off or restart again. Once the home reaches the required temperature, the furnace then shuts off, the blower cools down, and the unit stops.
Generally, you can choose whether you will have a single-stage furnace or dual-stage. A single-stage, has only one speed operating system, which can be full heat or no heat.
A dual-stage, on the other hand, operates at full speed giving you either its maximum heat or reduced/regulated speeds, meaning less heat is being emitted to maintain room temperature.
How much electricity does a propane furnace use?
As discussed earlier, there is only minimal electricity usage on a propane furnace. One is during the ignition, and the other is for the fan to push the heat and its cooling process after shutting down.
So, the electricity requirement of a typical furnace would only cost 600 watts per hour. And, with an average US electricity price of 13 cents per kWh, an hour's use of a propane furnace will cost you $0.078.
How do I run my furnace when the power is out?
Power outages can happen frequently, and without notice. And, this can be very inconvenient, especially in chilly weather, -so, you must always be prepared. Here are some options you might want to consider in preparation for an outage.
A permanent automatic generator is the most costly backup option but brings a seamless solution, not only for the furnace but to the whole house. A permanent generator will automatically start during a power outage and automatically turns off once power is back.
A portable generator is a cost-friendly option, yet its uses can be very limited.
Power outage solutions are no easy feat, so this must be thought-through before buying a propane furnace. Propane safety law is a serious matter, therefore, the installation, modification, and any add ons must only be done by professionals.
After having your backup solution, here’s a rundown of things to check if furnace doesn’t start normally:
- Thermostat: An outage might change the thermostat settings, so make sure all setup is correct and working properly.
- Circuit breakers and rest button: An outage may cause a trip in the breaker and reset button. Always check it, especially if the furnace won’t start. A reset button is located in the compartment near the motor -if it trips, it pops up. Push and hold the button for a few seconds. (Note: do not push the button more than once, or else a safety lock function will activate, and you won’t be able to restart the furnace.)
If doing the above, the furnace still won’t function, then you have to call a professional technician to help you fix the problem as safely and as quickly as possible.
How much does it cost to run a propane furnace?
Investing in a good propane furnace is influenced by a lot of cost factors, and it’s a decision that would last for almost 20 years or so. So, you have to take time to understand them and their impact on your household budget. A high-efficiency furnace might cost a lot, but it is worth every dime.
Below are the average costs upon purchase and other installation costs that you might need to consider:
- Propane Furnace - $600 to $3,300 for every unit
- Propane furnace conversion kit - $150 to $500
- Propane tank (if purchased) - $1,700 to $4,300/(if rented) - $50 to $200 per year
- Installation - $2,200 to $5,700
- Labor - $1,000 to $3,100
Throughout the year, you will have to purchase propane gas, depending on your usage. An average household may consume 80 gallons of propane at $2.60 per gallon. Giving you a monthly expense of $208. (Note: this data varies depending on many factors.)
Here are some factors that might affect propane prices:
- Crude oil and gas prices: Being a by-product of oil and gas, propane costs are directly proportional to these two elements. Meaning if their price goes up, propane price goes up, and vice-versa.
- Supply and demand: This basically tackles how much gas is available on the market and the demand of consumers for a certain period of time.
- Seasonal demand: This usually happens in the winter season, where prices can spike unless a cap agreement is issued to protect the general public.
- Logistics and volume: Due to its highly flammable nature and various restrictions, transporting propane requires safety measures triple that of a regular cargo. Its transportation means, tankage, and load capacity also affect the price.
Having a propane furnace is an environmental and economical choice. We hope that this gives you every bit of information you need for your consideration.
Before you wrap it up, be sure to check out these other posts, they might come in handy.
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