If your home has radiant heating and a gas boiler, you may wonder if you can keep your heating running if the power ever goes out. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. Even though gas boilers primarily run on natural gas or propane, they still also use a small amount of electricity. The only way you could keep your boiler running and your home warm if the power goes out in the winter is if you have a home standby generator. This type of unit is directly connected to your electrical system and will automatically start powering your home in the event of a power outage.

Which Parts of a Gas Boiler Need Electricity?

All newer and older gas boilers require electricity to work and use it in a variety of different ways. For one thing, gas boilers and radiant heating systems are controlled by a thermostat. If the power goes out, the thermostat won’t be able to signal the boiler to turn on. Even if the thermostat could somehow signal the boiler to turn on, the boiler still wouldn’t work. This because all of these other components also need a small amount of electricity to work.

Electronic Igniter or Pilot Light

Newer gas boilers typically have an electronic igniter that works to ignite the gas burners. Many older units instead have a traditional standing pilot light that has a constant flame that lights the burners as needed. However, any pilot light will automatically go out if the boiler doesn’t have electricity. This is because pilot lights have a component known as a thermocouple that uses electricity to detect the flame produced by the light. If the electricity goes out, the thermocouple won’t work and the pilot light will automatically go out.

Gas Valve

All gas boilers have a control board that sends electrical signals to various components. They also use electricity to open the gas valve. Without electricity, the unit can’t open the valve and no gas can flow to the burners.

Circulating Pump

Some older boilers are much simpler and use gravity to move hot water or steam through the radiant heating system. However, the majority of newer boilers instead have an electric circulating pump that moves water through the system. Without electricity, water can’t circulate so no heat would be produced even if the boiler itself could still heat water.

Monitoring Sensors

Modern gas boilers also have a few different sensors that monitor things like temperature, water pressure and water level. All of these sensors also need electricity to work. The temperature and pressure sensors are essential safety mechanisms that work to ensure the boiler doesn’t explode. As the water temperature increases, the pressure also rises. If the temperature or pressure ever rise too high, the sensor will trigger the boiler to shut down. This is important since the pressure could continue to increase to dangerous levels and create a risk of explosion if the boiler were to keep running and heating.

Boiler Fan

Modern gas boilers also have an electric fan. The purpose of this fan is to draw exhaust fumes out of the combustion chamber. This is important for preventing the fumes from building up inside the chamber. Without the fan, the fumes would quickly start starving the burner flames of oxygen. This would result in the flames growing much bigger and potentially escaping the combustion chamber. This could cause major damage or even possibly setting the boiler or nearby items on fire.

How Much Electricity Does a Gas Boiler Use?

While gas boilers require electricity to work, they only use a very small amount. In average temperatures, most gas boilers will only use around 100 to 200 watts of electricity per day. That’s far less than just a single incandescent light bulb would use in a day. The electricity consumption will increase in much colder weather since the boiler will need to run more often, but even then it will be quite minimal.

If you need any heating or cooling service in New Lenox or the surrounding areas, you can count on the experts at Zark Heating & Cooling. We install, service and repair gas boilers and radiant heating systems, and we work on all makes and models of boilers. We also work on and install all other types of HVAC equipment, including furnaces, heat pumps, central air conditioners and ductless mini-splits. Our team can also handle your thermostat and indoor air quality needs. If you’re having any issues with your boiler or need any other HVAC service, give us a call today.

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