Gas vs Electric Air Conditioner

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Updated September 23, 2022

If you are new to the world of indoor cooling, you may look to compare a gas vs electric air conditioner. Some of the best air conditioners, after all, ship in one of these two types. So what are the main differences between gas and electric AC units, and which one is best for you? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Gas systems and electric systems boast similar upfront costs, but gas-powered AC units cost more to run, thanks to the inclusion of a gas furnace and heat exchangers.
  • Electric systems, on the other hand, are more susceptible to maintenance and repair issues, even those equipped with an electric furnace.
  • Gas units will keep working in the event of a power outage, whereas electric AC units will not.

Comparing Gas vs Electric AC Units

The differences between these two types of air conditioners depend on the overall design, such as when comparing a single-stage vs a two-stage air conditioner. The contrasts could be stark, like when comparing a central air conditioner vs a wall unit, or they could be slight. The primary focal point here is the energy source, as gas air conditioners use traditional liquid fuel and electric air conditioners use electricity, even if you are comparing a Trane vs a Bryant AC.

Insider Tip

No matter which type you choose, don’t forget to regularly change out or clean the air filters.

Beyond fuel source, other differences between these two designs reach much further than, say, when you are comparing a box fan vs an air conditioner.

Cost

Though the price of the air conditioner systems is similar, the same is not true for energy costs. Gas is more expensive than electricity, so you’ll experience an increase in your monthly utility bill during bouts of heavy usage. In other words, a gas AC unit will cost more to operate during the winter months, assuming you have a heat pump, and even during the hotter months in those dog days of summer. If your bill skyrockets during either extreme season, consider splitting the bill up into even chunks throughout the year.

Maintenance and Repairs

Electric systems are stacked with crucial components, from circuit breaker boxes to junction boxes, to various electrical systems and beyond. This translates to an increase in maintenance costs and an uptick in repair issues. Making innocuous mistakes, such as forgetting to clean the air filter, could overload the electrical system, necessitating costly repairs. Gas systems also fall victim to some repair issues; of course, they are fewer than the ones that impact electric systems

Power Outages

Gas systems are not susceptible to power outages, as they do not rely on your electrical grid to function. Electric AC systems, on the other hand, will completely fail in the event of a power outage unless you have equipped the system with a backup generator.

STAT: Your home’s ductwork is responsible for circulating cooled air through your home. (source)

Gas Vs Electric AC FAQs

What is central electric cooling?

Central electric cooling uses an electric furnace and other electricity-based components, which is not true of a gas furnace or gas-powered AC. An electric unit does require regular maintenance and may necessitate an increased installation cost.

Does air conditioning use gas or electricity?

It depends on the design. If you have a gas furnace, for instance, or an electric furnace, or if your system includes heat exchangers or other heat sources.

Is it possible to use solar power for my air conditioner?

It is getting there. If using an electric heat pump, electric heater, a natural gas furnace, or any other central air conditioning system creates large energy bills, solar AC units could be an option in the coming years.
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