How Does an Electric Furnace System Work?

March 9, 2021

It is hard to imagine a time when there were no effective heating options for your home. Hundreds of years ago, you may have opted to build your sleeping quarters above your barn for the warmth added by your cattle, sheep and horses. Most homes now use a central furnace to provide heat but there are many things to consider when deciding the type of furnace you want to use, electric and gas furnaces being the primary options.

Plumbhouse Plumbing, Heating, & Electrical of London, ON is happy to come to you for a furnace installation consultation  Below we’ve put together easy-to-follow information about electric furnace systems to help you with your decision.


Let’s look at some basic elements of an electric furnace system.


‘And then there was heat’…The Heating Coils:

Imagine your toaster. Electricity is the ‘on’ switch in this basic appliance, allowing heat to travel along lengths of wire in the cavity of your toaster.

Now imagine a toaster that has wires made from special metals that are wound tightly into efficient coils allowing them to operate at very high heat levels; more than one thousand degrees Celsius. Things would go very badly if you plugged your ‘toaster on steroids’ into the wall.

The furnace’s sequencers were created to control the heating elements and prevent dangerous heat surges which might trip your electrical panel’s circuit breaker.


‘If you haven’t seen the movie’…The Transformer:

The transformer takes your electric furnace’s power and decides where that power is needed at different times based on the needs of the furnace system. The power must go to different control circuits: the sequencers, the contactors, or the thermostat. Or a yellow car.


A hand presses controls on a digital thermostat
‘Turn it up, turn it down’
…The Thermostat:

While being a sometimes agitator for people’s different  ‘thermal comfort levels’ the naively developed thermostat allows control over the temperature by sending an electric signal to the relays, via information detectors inside your furnace. In the heating industry, those detectors are called contactors.

You should keep in mind that all types of furnaces use a thermostat.

The ability to program thermostats to reduce your home’s heat output at certain times has been a game-changer. Whether it’s while you sleep or you’re away during the day, consumption costs go down for electric furnaces and gas furnaces with a thermostat.


‘Moving the air around’Electric forced-air blowers:

In the case of electric furnaces, electric blowers move the heated air inside the cavity of the furnace and out through aluminum ducts that open into the rooms of your home through wall vents. You can also close or open these vents to further suit the comfort level of a specific room.


Pros of Electric Furnaces:

Typically, neither a chimney nor a source of fresh air intake is needed for the installation of electric furnaces making their installation less costly.

They are efficient in their power usage. Gas furnaces lose a percentage of their energy through the fresh air flue necessary to their installation to prevent a carbon monoxide build-up, a deadly and hard to detect gas.

They are usually less expensive to maintain and can often last longer than gas furnaces. 30 years versus 20 years depending on the brand.

Electric furnaces are usually quieter.

Cons of Electric Furnaces:

Often thought of as costing more for fuel (electricity) compared to gas furnaces.

They are not as efficient as gas furnaces in their heat output.


CBC’s Marketplace recently surprised homeowners by measuring the indoor levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in their homes at much higher levels than are safe.

Plumbhouse Plumbing, Heating, & Electrical wants to remind you to make sure you open your windows occasionally to prevent the naturally occurring but deadly gas, carbon monoxide from building up. A blow-through of fresh air through your windows once a week keeps you all safe. Make sure your batteries are functioning in your Carbon Monoxide Detector.

We hope this blog post helped. As always, we are here to answer any questions. Please contact us

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March 9, 2021 2:20 pm

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