Given a photovoltaic system with a capacity of as much as 8 kilowatts, does it make any sense to include natural gas appliances in a new house, or would an all-electric design be more practical?
That’s the question Markus ponders as he plans a new house in Houston, Texas. Although he has natural gas service in the house where he currently lives, the size of his new rooftop solar system could prompt a change of heart.
“It will probably be a ‘Pretty Good’ house — dense-packed cellulose and exterior rigid foam insulation with an encapsulated attic and targeting an ach50 of less than 3 with an ERV system for ventilation,” Markus writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor. “I will have a sizable PV array on the roof — 6 to 8 kW — so I have been debating whether to use natural gas as in my current house for multiple appliances or go all-electric.”
Markus finds both pluses and minuses with an all-electric design. The benefits include avoiding a monthly $25 charge for gas; better air quality without the risk of backdrafting; the chance to use an induction range for cooking; using a heat-pump water heater to help cool the attic or garage; and not having to run gas lines around the house.
He does, however, point to a few disadvantages. Markus says electrical equipment is “more complicated and less reliable,” which could mean more repairs, and natural gas would give the house higher resale value. He likes his gas dryer, and points out that an all-electric house might be a problem in the event of a hurricane.
“Anything I might have not considered here?” he asks. “Anyone else had to make this choice in a cooling-driven climate? Anyone had bad experience with reliability of newer electrical units vs.…