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The effects of electric fields on outwardly propagating premixed flames in a constant volume chamber were experimentally investigated. An electric plug, subjected to high electrical voltages, was used to generate electric fields inside the chamber. To minimize directional ionic wind effects, alternating current with frequency of 1 kHz was employed. Lean and rich fuel/air mixtures for both methane and propane were tested to investigate various preferential diffusion conditions. As a result, electrically induced instability showing cracked structure on the flame surface could be observed. This cracked structure enhanced flame propagation speed for the initial period of combustion and led to reduction in flame initiation and overall combustion duration times. However, by analyzing pressure data, it was found that overall burning rates are not much affected from the electric field for the pressurized combustion period. The reduction of overall combustion time is less sensitive to equivalence ratio for methane/air mixtures, whereas the results demonstrate pronounced effects on a lean mixture for propane. The improvement of combustion characteristics in lean mixtures will be beneficial to the design of lean burn engines. Two hypothetical mechanisms to explain the electrically induced instability were proposed: 1) ionic wind initiated hydrodynamic instability and 2) thermodiffusive instability through the modification of transport property such as mass diffusivity.