Experts predict that the HVAC market will be worth around $35.8 billion in 2030. This makes sense when you consider that commercial buildings run their heating and air conditioning systems year-round.
As a building owner, you are likely looking for the most efficient furnaces for commercial properties. Read on to learn whether an electric furnace vs. gas furnace will better suit your economic and practical needs.
Electric Furnaces: The Basics
Furnaces are part of your commercial HVAC system. This system generates cool air to make your building comfortable in the summer. It also produces heat to warm your building in the colder months, which is where your furnace comes in.
Electric furnaces take electrical energy and convert it into this heat. You plug the furnace into the wall or a power strip and the HVAC system kicks into gear.
An electrical current moves through the system’s resistive heater element. This element changes the electrical current into heat. The system emits heat through its vents and ensures that your commercial venue stays comfortable for both employees and visitors.
Forced heat furnaces are the most common options for commercial buildings. They move warmth through ductwork and heat the entire building at once with large fans. These fans, called ‘blowers,’ move heat evenly throughout the building in stages so the electrical system doesn’t get overwhelmed and shut off.
However, some building owners also make use of electrically-powered wall heaters. Baseboard heaters are also available. An expert can help you determine what you need to install to be as efficient as possible.
Electric Furnace Benefits
Your air quality will be much higher when you use electric furnaces for commercial properties. The EPA has identified the fossil fuels used by gas furnaces as a top indoor pollutant. Cleaner air means that your employees and guests will stay healthy and feel great.
When you use an electric heater, you protect the environment as well as your building. This is because mining fossil fuels releases a lot of pollutants in the water and air. Electricity can be sourced from sustainable sources like wind or hydro plants.
Electric furnaces also have lower upfront costs than gas ones do. They’re easier to install and cheaper to make. You’re not going to need to pay a lot right off the bat.
Downsides of Electric Furnaces
Unfortunately, these low upfront fees do not necessarily pay for themselves. Electricity is generally more expensive than natural gas. Supplying your house with electric heat will cost more simply because the raw materials are pricier.
You also will need to wait for the heater to start working. While gas heaters immediately disperse warmth throughout your commercial building, the heating element of an electric alternative needs to warm up first. This means slower heat.
This is especially a problem for larger buildings. If you’re waiting a long time for warmth, you’re also going to need to wait for the warmth to distribute. Your HVAC will need to work really hard to keep your space comfortable.
How Gas Furnaces Work
Gas furnaces are powered by natural fossil fuels. These fuels power 81% of America.
The furnace burns natural gas and propane alongside these fuels. This warms the cool air around the HVAC system. When it burns the fuels, heat comes out of your commercial furnace vents.
Usually, this heat will be distributed through the building ductwork. This is the same distribution method that most electric heating systems use. It makes sure the entire space gets even heating.
The fumes made by burning the fuel then leave your commercial building through a flue pipe. This keeps it safe as well as warm.
The Pros of Gas Furnaces
The main benefit of gas furnaces is that they are generally less expensive than electric alternatives. This is because natural gas costs less to produce than electricity.
This is especially the case for larger commercial buildings. Electric furnaces will need to work harder to heat a larger space. You’ll need to run the heater all day, which means that a gas furnace will save you hundreds of dollars per month.
Gas heaters are also much faster than electric ones. Hot air moves through a building at 120-140° before coming through ductwork in every room. Your space will be warm in no time at all regardless of its size.
The Cons of Using Gas Heat
There are, however, a few downsides to a gas furnace vs electric furnace.
Gas furnaces do have significantly lower costs in the long run, but you will need to wait a while to reap them. Up-front costs will be higher because of furnace/piping installation. The unit’s lifespan will also be somewhat shorter than an electric unit’s.
There are also more health risks associated with gas heat since combustible fuel can pollute the air over time.
This likely won’t be a major issue, but it may violate codes for some commercial buildings. It’s important to be aware of your industry requirements and specifications.
Which Is Best for Your Commercial Needs?
If your business reaps benefits from eco-friendly initiatives, electric heat is a much better option. 66% of people are willing to pay more for sustainability, and advertising that your heat uses no fossil fuels might be a pull factor for some clients. The price you can charge for services might offset higher electric bills.
Electric heat is also ideal for smaller spaces. It can warm up a commercial office quickly assuming that it isn’t a huge building.
However, if you do have a big building, your electric heater will have trouble running fast enough to keep up. This could cause a power outage. That’s especially bad since you won’t have electric heat if the power goes down.
Gas is better for larger buildings. It’s also ideal for bigger businesses that want to save money in the long term.
Startups can benefit from the short-term low-cost installation of electric heaters. Then, they can switch over to cheaper gas furnaces as they grow.
Beyond the Electric Furnace vs. Gas Furnace Distinction
Now that you know the run-down of electric furnace vs. gas furnace options, it’s time to get started. Our local contractors specialize in repairing and replacing furnaces in Houston, TX.
Regardless of your preferred furnace type, we’re here to provide you with advice and assistance. Contact us with any questions you have and get a quote for comparing furnace costs.