An electric heater with the words, "gas vs. electric heater."

As the temperature drops with the cold breath of winter, many people are gearing up to combat the cold with their heater. New homeowners or those getting a heater replacement may be intimidated by the prospect of trying to figure out which kind of heater installation is best for their home. Have no fear, the passionate HVAC specialists at Cote’s Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning have created a guide to help you decide which one is best for you. Here are the four main things to keep in mind when deciding between a gas and electric heater.

1. Pricing

When it comes to pricing, it is important to consider installation and operation costs. Electric heaters have a cheaper initial installation cost, because they do not need to have a chimney in order to operate, making them easier to install.

While gas heaters may be more expensive initially, they are a lot cheaper to run compared to their electric counterparts because gas is less expensive overall than electric. A gas heater may end up saving you money in the long-term.

2. How Does It Work?

Gas and electric heaters can each be further classified into two different types. While each of these heaters do similar work, they function differently. Here is a detailed look at how these heaters operate.

Electric Heaters

A technician checks on a heaterRadiation Heater: A radiation heater heats the air by warming up a heating element inside of a glass envelope. Once this glass envelope reaches a certain temperature, it begins to emit the heat as infrared radiation. A reflector inside of the heater redirects the heat towards the room where it moves around until absorbed by furniture or a body. These types of heaters are best for spot heating, such as in a specific room or office space.

Convection Heaters: Convection heaters work by creating a fluid movement of hot and cold air. The air around the heater is warmed, forcing it to rise, and cool air fills the gap left behind by the warm air. This creates a constant airflow of warm air. As with radiation heaters, this type of heater is best when used in a closed space, such as a singular room or within an office. These types of heaters can either be oil or ceramic filled.

Gas Heaters

Flued Heaters: This type of heater has to be permanently installed into a home or building and requires a flue, or chimney, to remove the emitted gas. A flued heater uses combusted gas which heats up the air around it. The consumed gas is emitted in order to ensure the safety of the home. This type of heater is fantastic for heating up large spaces.

Non-Flued Heaters: This type of gas heater is vent-free. It is best to put this type of heater near proper room ventilation, such as a window. This type of heater works similarly to the others mentioned above; it combusts gas in order to warm up the air around it and which then moves around the room/home.

3. Safety Concerns

When deciding which type of heater is best for you, safety is always a priority. Here are the safety concerns to keep in mind when choosing between electric and gas heaters.

Electric Heater Safety Concerns

Radiation heaters produce intense heat which causes the surface to get extremely hot. Combustible materials should be kept well away from this type of heater as they could catch fire. There is also a risk of burning yourself if you accidentally touch the hotspots of the heater.

Gas Heater Safety Concerns

Gas heaters produce dangerous gasses such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. While a flued gas heater has a chimney to get rid of the dangerous gas, a ventless one does not. It is highly recommended to turn off a non-flued gas heater during the nighttime to prevent the potential build-up of hazardous gasses.

4. Which Type of Heater is Best?

Coming to a conclusion about which heater is best can feel impossible. Electric and gas heaters are designed to meet different needs. If you need to heat a smaller space, an electric heater would be better for you, but a gas heater is probably better suited for a larger space. Your decision should be based on your and your family’s needs.

Still have some questions about which type of heater would work best for your situation? Contact Cote’s Mechanical! Our dedicated and passionate staff would love to help you find the perfect heater for your home. For all of your HVAC needs, there is no name more trusted than Cote’s Mechanical.