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What are The Four Furnace Fuel Types?

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Most households in America use a central furnace to provide heat. A furnace works by blowing heated air through ducts that then deliver the warm air to rooms throughout the house via air registers. Furnaces are powered by one of four fuel types: gas, electric, propane or solar energy. And as you try to choose the best fuel type for your furnace, it’s crucial that you choose the right one to achieve maximum performance.

Although the two main and most commonly known furnace fuel types are gas and electric, newer furnaces can also be fueled with propane or solar energy. So, before you make the big purchase of a furnace, it’s important to determine what fuel type is best for your specific needs. After all, picking the wrong one can lead to a replacement much sooner than you expected! Read on to discover more about the different fuel types for furnaces, and how you can ensure that you choose the absolute best one.

What happens if you choose the wrong fuel type for your furnace?

Choosing the wrong fuel type for your furnace can cost you lots of time, lots of money and lots of stress. It can end up being a huge detriment for homeowners! For example, some people spend a lot of money on a gas furnace, only to find out that their house doesn’t have the right gas hookups. For other people that place a lot of importance on energy efficiency, they might buy an electric furnace, only to realize that electric furnaces don’t always provide the best energy efficiency.

What are the benefits of choosing the right fuel type for your furnace?

On the contrary, doing research, talking to heating professionals and learning the most about your ideal furnace before you buy can dramatically help in the long run. Homeowners who choose the right fuel type for their furnace end up experiencing many benefits, including:

  • A furnace that lasts longer
  • Much lower costs for repair and maintenance
  • A steadier flow of heat, which ensures warm air in the rooms that need it most
  • Fewer safety risks, keeping everyone in your home safer longer

What’s the difference between the four types of furnaces?

Now that you know the risks of choosing the wrong furnace fuel type and the benefits of choosing the right one, which one should you choose? Read on to discover the four furnace types — gas, electric, propane and solar energy — and determine which one is best for you.


Gas is one of the most popular fuel types for furnaces, given that it’s generally much less expensive to operate over the long run than other types. Plus, gas furnaces generally heat houses faster than other furnace types, achieving a higher temperature in extreme temperatures. One drawback of a gas furnace is that it only lasts 10 to 20 years. Plus, the installation process can be lengthy. Last, because gas furnaces emit a low level of carbon monoxide, the homeowner must always ensure that the furnace is well-maintained — and regular maintenance by a HVAC professional is essential. Even so, experts recommend that if you already have a gas furnace that’s gone kaput, you should replace it with another gas furnace. And if you don’t have natural gas but have access to it, it’s a much easier option than getting a large propane tank installed. Curious about how a gas furnace works? Inside, the fuel is mixed with air and burned.


Many people choose electric furnaces for a variety of reasons. First, they’re generally less expensive to buy than gas furnaces. (However, the cost to operate an electric furnace can surpass the cost of a gas unit.) People also love that electric furnaces are mostly quiet and very durable, usually lasting 20 to 30 years. In addition, electric furnaces are quick and easy to install. This carries into the life of the unit as well, considering that maintenance is so straightforward that homeowners are usually able to resolve issues with their electric furnace without calling a professional.


People choose propane furnaces for many reasons. A propane furnace generates hotter air than an electric furnace, runs very clean and efficiently and can provide all the advantages of gas heat when you don’t have access to a natural gas pipeline. In general, tanks can range in size from 200 gallons to 1,000 gallons.

Solar energy 

In recent years, more and more people have become interested in heating their homes with solar power. Solar energy furnaces use concentrated solar power panels to produce high temperatures. A big perk of using a solar energy furnace is that energy-efficient, budget-conscious homeowners can save a lot of energy and money.

Which furnace is best for you?

Now that you know the differences between the four furnace fuel types, you can make a more educated decision about what’s best for your home. Good luck!

Need furnace repair or replacement? Call Albemarle Heating and Air!

Or check out our Google reviews and see why our customers consistently rate us so highly!

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