Gas v electric heater: Which is best?

Gas heater vs Electric Heater: Which is best?

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When winter hits, all you want is comfort and warmth, so when it comes to deciding which heater is the best for your home, you can run into some obstacles around which to choose. Gas and electric heaters are two of the most common types of heaters used in homes but how do they match up against one another? This guide breaks down everything you need to know about gas and electric heaters. 

What is a gas heater?

gas heater is a heater fuelled by butane, propane, liquified petroleum gas (LPG), or natural gas. The heater is connected to a source of gas, gas flow is controlled through a valve, and heat is ignited via an electric filament or pilot light. 

Gas heaters come in many shapes and sizes and are used to warm up inside and outside spaces, and are generally better suited to larger spaces. Heaters are categorised into flued – connected to the gas mains – and unflued – portable or free standing and not plumbed into gas mains.

What is an electric heater?

An electric heater passes electricity through different materials to create heat. They are generally better at heating smaller, indoor spaces, and, as many models are portable, good for moving around the house. They simply need an electrical outlet to plug into and they don’t need ventilation like a gas heater.

There are a number of different types of electric heaters including: 

  • Oil-filled column heaters
  • Panel heaters
  • Radiant heaters
  • Fan heaters
  • Ceramic heaters
  • Electric fire heaters

panel heater in a living room

Is a gas heater cheaper than an electric heater to run?

The debate surrounding whether gas heaters are cheaper to run than electric heaters comes down to a number of factors. While electric heaters are generally cheaper to buy upfront, they may not give you the same return in running costs long term as a gas heater might. In the same way it will depend on whether your gas heater is flued or unflued, how often and for how long you run your heater as well as how large the space you’re heating is will determine if it’s cheaper. To get a better idea of the running costs of gas heaters and electric heaters, see Canstar’s winter heating costs guide. 

Winter Heating Costs Explained

How much do gas heaters cost?

Gas heaters are a more expensive appliance to purchase upfront, retailing from $150 to upwards of $2,000. Costs will be dependent on whether you choose a flued or unflued model, the size and the type of gas you use for it – LPG or natural gas.

How much do electric heaters cost?

Electric heaters offer some more variety in types and price with smaller portable heaters retailing for just $50 and premium models hitting the top end of the scale at upwards of $1,000. The type of electric heater that you choose will impact price with models like fan heaters predominantly coming in smaller portable sizes and panel heaters coming in larger sizes costing more.

Gas heater pros and cons

Pros Cons
Cheaper to run More expensive to buy
More energy efficient May require you to buy gas separately, depending on the type of heater
Can warm up large indoor and outdoor spaces Requires ventilation
Better for the environment Can create air pollution
Can run without electricity May require installation

Electric heater pros and cons

Pros Cons
Cheaper to buy More expensive to run
Can become much cheaper to run if you have access to home solar power Only able to heat small spaces
Don’t require installation, can simply be plugged into any electrical socket Less energy efficient
Don’t require ventilation Unable to function if you experience power blackouts
Safe and easy to use Slow to heat spaces

Features to consider when buying a gas or electric heater

When looking to buy a heater for any home, there are a number of factors to consider so you’re weighing up all the potential options for heating. 

Safety features: Safety features play a huge role when it comes to any appliance, particularly gas and electric heaters. Gas heaters – depending on whether they’re flued or unflued – pose some risks associated with excess gas being leaked into a room. Electric heaters may pose risks associated with exposed elements or heated surfaces that could cause burns. If you have children or pets consider which type of heater may be better suited to your home. 

Energy rating: Energy rating could be a huge difference between a bigger energy bill or potentially saving some cash. While different types of heaters – both gas and electric – have their individual energy ratings, it’s best to consider which level of rating best suits your needs.  

Size of the space to heat: If you’re someone who lives in a small apartment or is only looking to heat a single room, then buying a large gas heater may not be the right choice. Always consider how big the space is and how the power of a certain type of heater will heat that space. 

Installation and portability: If you’re looking for a more permanent heating solution, then installing a gas or electric heater permanently could be the right choice. However, if you only need a heater for a shorter period or want to be able to move it around the home then a smaller portable unit may be a better choice.  

Which heater should I buy?

With everything else that comes with appliances, choosing the right heater for your home comes down to personal preference. If you’re someone who likes a heater close by that you can move around with you then a smaller electric heater could be the right choice. Or if you’re someone who needs to heat their entire home or larger spaces, gas heating might be for you. Compare heaters to see which type might be the right choice. 

Compare Portable Heaters

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