One of the many advantages of a gas oven or range is that, unlike electric appliances, gas allows you to enjoy a hot meal even when the power goes out. Unfortunately, the same is not necessarily true of gas heat; while natural gas can certainly supply heat without electricity, modern gas appliances actually rely on electricity in a number of ways to help them heat your home. Not only are many furnaces equipped with electric pilot lights, but these appliances also depend on electric power to run circuits and controls, communicate with your thermostat, and most importantly, distribute hot air through your home.
Looking for gas heating that will work even when the power fails? While you can always use a standard backup generator to help power your furnace, these three options are designed to heat your home with natural gas -- no electricity required.
Gas fireplaces come in two basic varieties, including those equipped with a blower to distribute hot air and those that work using convection. While a blower model won't work without power, convection models rely on thermodynamics, not electricity, to send hot air where it's needed. As the fireplace produces hot air, this air naturally rises, creating a vacuum effect which pulls in cold air to fill the space left behind. This cycle continues, creating a convection current that gradually heats the entire room. For this system to work without power, you'll need a unit with either a continuous standing pilot light or one powered via a simple battery backup.
Gas-fired catalytic heaters contain a catalyst similar to the one found in a car. When gas and oxygen combine with the catalyst, a chemical reaction occurs, which produces carbon dioxide, water vapor and heat as by-products. While some of these heaters use electric blowers, others rely on simple convection to distribute heat, making them perfect for power outages. Many RV and boat owners use catalytic heaters, so look to marine and RV shops to explore various options.
Floor furnaces are traditional gas furnaces that are installed beneath the floor, where they force air upward through a grate or vent to enter the living space within a home. Unlike standard gas furnaces, floor furnaces don't rely on electricity. Instead, they use a thermopile generator to create a current, allowing them to communicate with a thermostat. Rather than an electric blower, these furnaces rely on simple convection to heat the home, making them perfect during a power outage.