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Take It from a Pro: How Does My Electricity Create Heat?

When people first think of “heating,” they imagine fire. They think of fireplaces, wood burning in stoves, and gas jets warming air in a furnace or water in a boiler. However, electricity is one of the major fuel sources for indoor heating, powering many boilers and furnaces. You might have wondered exactly how the electrical power in your home translates into heat. We’ll give you a short rundown.

If you need help with an electrical heater so you get quality holiday heating, contact Design Comfort. Our NATE-certified Holladay heating technicians are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to make sure you have a comfortable holiday season.

Electricity into heat

The key aspect of how electricity provides heat is resistance. As electricity passes through conductive material, like a copper wire, resistance causes the flow of electrons to pack together closer, and produce heat. If you’ve ever touched an incandescent light bulb, you’ll know about the heat given off from electricity going through a single electrical filament.

Let’s turn to the electric furnace and examine how it operates. The interior of the cabinet of an electrical furnace contains an array of heating elements that consist of coils made from conductive material. An electrical ignition runs current through these coils, enough to make them begin to glow red hot and give off heat. This heat transfers to the air in the cabinet, and this hot air is what goes through the vents of the system. Where gas-powered furnaces need to first transfer the combustion gases’ heat to the walls of a heat exchanger before raising the air temperature, electrical furnaces can transfer their heat more directly.

Electric boilers take a similar approach to how they transfer heat, this time raising the temperature of water. Electric heating elements are located inside the boiler tank itself—usually one near the top of the tank and one near the bottom—and turn hot as current runs through them. This directly raises the water temperature, the same way that an electric stove top boils water.

Electric heater safety

One of the advantages that electric heaters have over natural gas-powered heaters is that they are relatively safer, offering no risks from carbon monoxide leaks. But this doesn’t mean you should try to fix a broken electric furnace or boiler on your own; this kind of tampering can lead to high voltage shocks. Instead, call on HVAC repair experts. Design Comfort is prepared to handle any troubles you may have this holiday with heating your home safely and effectively. We will do everything we can to deliver you 100% customer satisfaction.

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