Myths and facts about gas appliances during a power outage

Have you heard people say that they like gas appliances because they work even if the power is out? Is this myth or fact?

Fact: while some gas appliances can be used during a power outage, many require electricity to operate.

  • Many gas water heaters, ovens, and furnaces use electricity and will not work during a power outage.
  • Water heaters: Many recent model, gas, tank-type water heaters have electronic ignition systems and will not work without electricity. Recent-model gas tankless water heaters require electronic controls and also will not work without power.
  • While gas stove tops can be lit with a match, the oven portion of most recent models require electricity.
  • Most heating systems require electric fans to circulate the warm air, and will not operate
    when the power is out.
  • Gas dryers use an electric tumbler which will not function without electricity.

Fact: some gas appliances will continue to operate without electric power.

  • Older model, tank-type water heaters with continuously burning pilot lights will continue to operate when the power is out. However, the 24/7 pilot adds to energy waste and cost, and many water heaters of this type are nearing the end of their useful life.
  • Gas stove tops will continue to operate as they can be lit by hand with a match, but fans needed to exhaust the fumes require electricity. Note that the oven portion of most
    current models require electricity.
  • Gas wall furnaces will typically work during a power outage, but are not a very efficient form of heat.
  • Gas fireplaces typically will continue to operate if the power is out, but these are not a very effective source of heat.

Another consideration with methane (natural) gas is that in the event of an earthquake, gas supply to the home may not be reliable and leaks can be dangerous.

Houses with solar + battery backup can maintain power during an outage. Depending upon the system, the solar panels can recharge the battery during the day.