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Radiant vs. Forced Air Heating: Pros and Cons

Delivering Quality Comfort to the Homes and Businesses of Hartford County and New Haven County


There are obviously some areas in this country where winter weather is very mild, and homeowners in those areas may be forgiven for giving their heating systems less thought than their air conditioners. This is definitely not the case here in Connecticut, though. Our winters are way too cold and way too long to take any chances when it comes to choosing our home heating systems. If you are thinking about replacing your heater, or if you are going to need one installed in a new construction project, we have some information for you.

Chances are that you are going to be narrowing down your heating options between forced air heaters and radiant heating systems. Like any type of system, both forced air and radiant heaters have their pros and cons. To guarantee your overall satisfaction with your heating in Hartford, CT, you're going to need to weigh the pros and cons of both and make your decision carefully. We're always here to help, so give us a call with any further questions that you may have.

Radiant, Forced Air: What's the Difference?

The way in which they heat homes, so, basically, everything! A forced air heating system, such as a furnace or heat pump, is going to heat air directly and then distribute that heated air throughout a home via a system of air ducts. While furnaces and heat pumps use different methods to heat that air—with furnaces combusting fuel or using electric resistance to generate new heat,  while heat pumps transfer existing heat—the methodology of heat distribution is much the same.

A radiant heating system, such as an in-floor hydronic system, however, does not heat air. Instead, heat is applied directly to surfaces in the home—typically the floors, though radiant wall heating is not unheard of. In the most common system designs,  though, heat is applied to the floor, and that heat radiates up into the living space. It heats your feet, it heats furniture in the house, and it does so without needing to blow air through ducts.

Which Is Right for Me?

There is no way for us to answer this question for certain in this post. It is going to depend on a number of factors. We can give you some information which can definitely help to guide your choice, though.

Typically, the furnace is going to be the more affordable option upfront. If you have a central air conditioning system, then you can use the same air ducts for both your AC and your forced air heating system. The distribution of heated air throughout a system of ductwork also allows for very quick heating of a living space.

That being said, you may also run into issues with leaky ductwork, which can waste energy, and issues with indoor air quality may also develop when you are circulating air throughout the house. Radiant heating systems don't use ducts, so these concerns are eliminated. The heating may not be as prompt if, for some reason, you need to bring temperatures up quickly, but an in-floor radiant heating system will keep heat down in the living space where it belongs. That can boost overall comfort. They also last quite a long time, too, as radiant heating systems have fewer moving parts than forced air heaters.

Live more comfortably, choose Dynamic Mechanical.

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