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How To Run Your Gas Furnace Off A Generator

Updated on January 31, 2011

If you have a gas furnace you may be able to run it off of even a small generator in the case of a power outage during cold temperatures. The reason is the only electrical components are the blower fan that pushes the air through the ducts in your home, thermostat, and the igniter. Many times this can be run on a generator in an emergency situation.

Here where I live we are looking at the possibility of not having power for a few days in below freezing temperatures due to a severe Ice and snowstorm heading our way. I’m looking at ways to make sure my wife and kids will be able to stay warm in case the ice takes out the power lines for an extended period of time.

Common Mistakes

One mistake many people make is they resort to using their gas stove to heat the home. This seems like common sense but the hidden danger is that of carbon monoxide which is a by-product of burning natural gas. Carbon monoxide can build up in the home pretty quickly if your just letting your gas stove burn without proper ventilation. Carbon monoxide poisoning is very deadly and should be taken seriously.

So since using the gas stove is not a safe option, most people who have access to a generator will use some sort of small heater that they plug in, which will need a lot of extension chords and possibly more than one heater. This will work, but will take a lot of power since those heaters are only using the electricity to make the heat they are producing. They draw a lot of current and this can lead to extension chords overheating and possibly causing a fire. They will most likely also use too much electricity and leave none for lights or other necessary things.

Make sure the gas generator is outside. This is vitally important to your safety as the exhaust is also filled with carbon monoxide and other pollutants.

Using A Generator For A Gas Furnace

A better solution is to simply run the blower fan and igniters of your home furnace off of the generator. This will take less power because the real heat energy is coming from the gas being burnt rather than just using electricity to convert to heat. If you decide to do this (do at your own risk, the author assumes no responsibility for actions of the reader) you can locate the place on your furnace where the AC power chord goes into it.

Some furnaces are simply plugged into a wall outlet, in which case, just unplug it and plug it into the heavy duty extension chord coming from your generator which must be placed outside of the home.

If your furnace is hardwired to an ac wire instead of being plugged into an outlet don’t worry you can still hook it up to your extension chord pretty easily with some basic wiring skills.

Make sure you have the generator outdoors to avoid filling the home with toxic gases. You can then plug the other end of the chord into your generator and your furnace should run as usual and will likely leave enough generator power to run a light or something else to help you even more.

Another tip to help you stay safe is to monitor the temperature of your extension chords. Using a chord that is too small may cause it to overheat from too much electricity flowing through it and it could short out causing a fire. If a chord is getting too hot, you will have to unplug it and find another chord that is heavier gauge wire and is made to handle the amount of current flow you are using.

Please be safe, this can be dangerous and should only be done in an emergency situation to avoid freezing or losing valuable property due to your home freezing.

Disclaimer - If you don't have any experience with electrical wiring its best to consult an expert before attempting what is outlined in this article. The author assumes no responsibility for the methods described in this article or the actions of the reader, attempt at your own risk. This article is for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as electrical wiring advice. Please contact a professional for specific advice regarding your situation.


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