When you are trying to determine the best heating solution for your home, there are so many choices that it is easy to become confused. The issue of hydronic versus forced air heat is one that many homeowners face and there are several reasons for and against each option.
It is important to weigh up the options and choose the system that best suits your home, your environment, your family and your lifestyle. You’ll only have to face the hydronic versus forced air heat once, before you have it installed.
Hydronic heating systems use water to move heat from the source to the space to be heated. In the United States, most of these systems send hot water through baseboard heating units to warm the various rooms. Others, however, employ radiators or install tubing in the wall cavities, ceiling spaces and floors so that the heated water is able to circulate throughout the entire house.
Hydronic systems are efficient and because of their versatility of installation, a popular choice. Hydronic versus forced air heat raises different points altogether though.
The most commonly used system in the U.S. is forced air heating which uses the movement of air to heat spaces. Unfortunately, it often results in uneven distribution of heated air so that the higher temperatures are experienced higher up in the room, and at floor level, the temperatures are lower. This is where hydronic versus forced air heat is such an important consideration.
What you want from a heating system is comfort, efficiency and cost-efficiency. You need a system that can remain at the one setting and provide ongoing comfort, rather than having to continually adjust it because it is alternately too hot and too cool. Doing so increases the running costs and also means that you can’t enjoy consistency of temperature, and after all, the whole idea of a heating system is to provide comfort.
Another advantage of hydronic systems is that rather than blowing heated air through the room, it actually emits heat from surfaces. Blowing warm air around as in the case of forced air systems, means that the warmth is held flimsily in the room and can escape through gaps in windows, spaces between doors and the floor and through floor boards.
Also, since the air doesn’t become overheated when generated hydronically, maintaining humidity at a comfortable level is a simple matter. Additionally, water being such an excellent conductor of heat, hydronic systems are more consistently efficient than other systems. In fact, water conducts heat up to twenty times more rapidly than does air. Hydronic versus forced air heat simply means a more efficient system, resulting in lower running costs.
Hydronic systems can be accommodated into existing spaces within the home’s frame work. Under-floor tubing and piping in walls means that large ducting spaces are not required. A fairly large home requires just four pipes to carry all its required heat through living rooms, bedrooms, the kitchen and so on.
The main space-taking necessity is a boiler that will be housed in the basement, or a ground source heat pump or solar coil can be employed instead. These factors, too, are excellent arguments for the former in the hydronic versus forced air heat debate. When all is said and done, hydronic systems are preferable for so many reasons that it seems illogical to install forced air heat systems.