The best furnace is the kind you don’t have to think or worry about. That’s exactly why electric furnaces are so popular.
Convenience and safety are at the core of electric furnaces. Every home with access to electricity can safely install an electric heater for the winter season.
The inner working of electric forced-air furnaces is quite easy to understand. It is a simple 2-stage process, similar to a hairdryer:
- Electricity heats up the heat exchanger (system of metal rods in the unit).
- Air is pulled from the indoor air by a modular blower, pushed over the heat exchanger (where it heats up), and is distributed back into your home.
Basically, here is what an electric forced air furnace is in most simple terms:
Electric Furnace = Heat Exchanger + Modular Blower
You don’t have to worry about gas or carbon monoxide leakage (as is the case with gas furnaces). The initial cost of a new electric furnace ($800 to $2,700) is way lower as well. However, electricity is the most expensive heating power source.
That’s why it makes sense to look for reliable electric furnace brands; they produce durable high-efficiency units. To illustrate everything homeowners need to know about electric furnaces, we outlined:
- The overall cost of every electric furnace. Encompasses the cost of the device + installation cost + electricity cost.
- How we can find the high-efficiency electric furnaces.
- A list of the best (and most reliable) electric furnace brands.
- Installation costs (with recommended HVAC experts who can install an electric furnace).
In the end, you’ll find a summary table with the best electric furnaces (brands, and specific models) with costs and HVAC experts that can help you out further.
Electric Furnace Cost (New Units)
When we start looking for an electric forced air furnace, we’re usually interested in the price of a new unit. However, we need to keep in mind that the initial price of the furnace represents the smallest of the 3 costs we need to account for when calculating the overall electric furnace cost. Here are the 3 costs:
Total Electric Furnace Cost = Unit Cost + Installation Cost + Electricity Cost
If we look at the average cost of an electric furnace unit alone, we are not doing a complete job. Here are some ranges for the most common 60,000 BTU and 80,000 BTU units (about 20 kW):
- Unit cost: $700-$2,700.
- Installation cost: $1,000-$4,200 (you can get free estimates from local furnace installers here).
- Electricity cost: $1,500-$2,000 per season (720 hours of heating, or 4h over 6 months; the average price of a kilowatt-hour is $0.1319).
In short, the average overall cost of a 20kW electric furnace is:
- $1,700-$6,900 when we buy and install the unit.
- $16,700-$26,900 after 10 years (addition of 10-year worth of electricity).
- $31,700-$44,200 after 20 years (addition of 20-year worth of electricity).
Energy-Efficiency Of Electric Furnaces
As we have seen above, the bigger part of the overall electric furnace cost is electricity. In 20 years, a bigger 25 kW electric furnace can draw as much as $40,000 worth of electricity.
This possesses an important question: Are electric furnaces energy-efficient?
In fact, yes, they very much are. The high-efficiency electric furnace will use up to 99.9% of electricity for heating. We’re talking the AFUE rating of 100; for comparison, gas furnaces have an AFUE rating of 70 to 97.
AFUE rating of 100 for electric furnaces means that a furnace will use 100 cents of every 1$ electricity for heating. That’s ideal, right? So why do we have a feeling that we’re paying quite a lot for heating when using an electric furnace?
The reason is not the inefficiency of the electric furnace; it’s the price of electricity. Let’s have a look if it’s cheaper to heat your house with gas or electric furnace:
- National average price of electricity: $0.1319 per kWh.
- National average price of natural gas (for residential use): $10.60 per 1000 cubic feet.
How does that translate into heating costs? Here is how much electric and gas furnace use to produce 1,000,000 BTU worth of heat:
- Electric Furnace (100% efficiency): $38.66 per 1,000,000 BTU.
- Gas Furnace (80% efficiency): $13.05 per 1,000,000 BTU.
As we can see, we pay almost 200% more for electricity than for natural gas for the same heating output.
Nonetheless, electric furnaces are:
- Much safer (no gas).
- Much more convenient (install it and forget it).
- Last as much as 30 years (vs. maximum of 20 years for gas furnaces).
For an electric furnace to last up to 30 years, you really need a reliable one. That’s why we created a short overview of the most reliable electric furnace brands below:
What Is The Most Reliable Electric Furnace Brand?
The general advice when you’re buying a new electric furnace is quite broad: Compare BTUs, price, quality of materials, warranties, installation support, and so on.
Here is the best advice that’s simple enough: Find the most reliable electric furnace brand. With brands having 50+ year history, all the BTU-price-quality-warranties-support nuances are incorporated in the brand.
That’s why we ask ‘Which is the best electric furnace brand’ much more often than ‘Which eclectic furnace (a specific model) is the best’.
In terms of brand, we have the established ones (such as Winchester and King) that are more reliable but have a higher price point. On the other hand, you have less-known brands such as Goodman that offer quality electric furnaces at lower prices.
Additional note: Many people look for Trane, Carrier, and Lennox electric furnaces. These big brands don’t produce electric furnaces; they are more specialized in the ‘AC’ part of HVAC.
Established Reliable Brands
According to Fixr, “higher-quality furnaces can last 18 to 25 years”. Some of the most reliable models can even last up to 30 years.
Stelpro and York are two brands that do make higher-quality electric furnaces. But is the world of the most reliable electric furnace brands, there are only 2 big ones that are well worth mentioning. These are Winchester and King.
King Electric Furnaces
King is the No. 1 brand when it comes to electric furnaces. It’s no surprise that being so reliable, it also produces the most expensive units.
Currently, they have 2 best models on the market:
- King KF model. The high voltage (480V) electric fan coil unit with 5kW to 34.5 kW heating capacity. The high voltage (you’ll need an electrician for installation) reduces the need for high current (or amperage).
- King KFS ECO2S model. The energy-saving model with ECM motors and 2-sage comfort heating (which can reduce electricity costs by as much as 15%). It’s available 3kW to 34.5 kW capacities.
Especially the KFS ECO2S model is in high demand (according to electric furnace installers) because those 15% of electricity savings can generate $1,000s saving in 20+ years.
Winchester Electric Furnaces
Winchester is another reputable company producing electric furnaces. They also have a 2-model portfolio, consisting of:
- Winchester WE30B4D model. Unit capacities: 10 kW, 12 kW, 15 kW, 20 kW.
- Winchester ME16CN21 model. Unit capacities: 10 kW, 12 kW, 15 kW, 20 kW.
New Less-Known Brands
Having a long track-record is important for a brand; they can charge higher prices for electric furnaces. However, the new brands don’t have such a luxury.
That’s why they have charge lower prices in order to, primarily, sell their units, and secondarily, to build a lasting brand. These less-known units will last 15 to 20 years, according to Fixr, but the price reduction is substantial.
The new electric furnace brands include:
- Goodman (best of the new brands). Unit price (est.): $900.
- Mortex. Unit price (est.): $830.
- Direct Comfort. Unit price (est.): $850.
- Revolv (cheapest electric furnace brand). Unit price (est.): $700.
Summary Of Electric Furnace Brands, Unit Costs And Installation Costs (Table)
Here is a quick summary of all the costs for specific electric furnace brands. The prices are for a 20 kW (68,200 BTU) units. For all the installation estimates and additional advice, you can contact HVAC experts here (that’s what we did, figures are summarized in the table).
Here is the complete table with estimated ballpark figures (installation costs, for example, depends on your current power grid and location):
|Electric Furnace Brand||20 kW Unit Cost||Installation Costs|
If you have any questions about electric furnaces, you can use the comment section below.