If you already have a working forced air system, there is no reason to convert it to baseboard.
Baseboard heating is cheaper to install than central air, but if you already have the more expensive central air, why change it?
If you are deciding between forced air and baseboard heating, read on for my comparison.
Forced air heating systems are the most common and affordable to install in a home.
This does not, however, mean that forced air heating and cooling is the best or most effective means of heating and cooling a home.
While it is cheaper at the outset, other types of heating can be cheaper when it comes to operation and utility costs, as well as making your home more comfortable.
What is Forced Air?
This is combustion-style heating where the air is pulled in and heated before it is spread throughout the home using the home’s air ducts.
Forced air heating systems are most commonly gas or electric furnaces, however, they can also include hydronic coils and heat pumps as well.
What is Baseboard?
Baseboard heating is a way to heat your home that doesn’t require the installation of ductwork and doesn’t necessitate the need for an HVAC professional to install.
Many people like baseboard heat because it is affordable and easy to install in a home.
There are numerous types of baseboard heating.
Electric baseboard heaters run entirely on electricity and can be placed in any or every room in your home if you wish.
Some people use this type of baseboard heat to provide supplemental heat, even in homes that already have forced air heating.
It is a budget-friendly way to enhance your home’s heating and it is also a great alternative to traditional forced air heating.
There are portable, plug-in baseboard heaters that can be placed anywhere there is an outlet.
Another common type of baseboard heating is hydronic baseboard heating.
There is an enclosed fluid that is heated and then will radiate out into the room.
This is a highly efficient baseboard unit that is often more energy-efficient than electric baseboard units.
Forced Air vs Baseboard Heat
There are advantages and disadvantages of each type of system.
When it comes to the initial cost, baseboard heaters are much less expensive than forced air heaters.
Since there is no ductwork installation required and most simply needs to be plugged in, there is no need for professional installation or major home renovations.
Baseboard heaters are near silent when they operate, while some forced air heating systems can be incredibly loud.
The simplicity of installation and their silent operation makes baseboard heaters attractive to people who live in homes that aren’t already equipped with ductwork.
A baseboard heater is incredibly energy efficient and uses condensing boilers to heat liquid or air to radiate out into the room.
With a baseboard heating unit, you get consistent, regular heat in the room it is installed in.
However, while baseboard heaters are efficient, affordable, and consistent, they can struggle to keep large rooms warm.
It may take longer for a room to heat up with baseboard heat than it does with a forced air heater.
The baseboard heater does not have a fan setting like most forced air systems, so all they can do is provide heat whereas a furnace fan can be used to help keep a home cool during the summer.
This does not mean that baseboard heating is the most efficient or effective choice for all homes.
Baseboard heating is an excellent option for well-insulated, smaller homes, or for people who live in places where winter is less cold than other places.
Forced air heating provides for fast, whole-home heating.
With a forced air heating system, the air warms up quickly and circulates throughout the home through ductwork.
This means that large rooms can be quickly heated, even in the dead of winter.
If you are planning on installing ductwork anyway for a central air system, it makes sense to use forced air heating which uses the same ductwork.
However, any leak in your ductwork, which is a common occurrence, will reduce the efficiency of your system and can lead to wasted energy and inefficient distribution of heat.
In many homes, the heating is highly inconsistent from room to room and unless you use something like a box or other type of fan to help circulate air through the house, it may not reach everywhere.
Airflow through ductwork can also lead to a range of respiratory issues.
Air flowing through ductwork can help spread dust, pet dander, mold, and other allergens throughout the house.
But this can be fixed by fixing and cleaning ductwork or using an air purifier.
Which Is Best?
When trying to determine which type of system will work best for your needs, you should consider a few factors.
Does your home already have ductwork?
If so, it would be more efficient to use a forced air heating system as one of the bigger costs associated with forced air heaters has already been paid.
If you have a large home or live in an area where the weather gets really cold in the winter, forced air heaters are more efficient.
However, leaky ducts and inefficient air circulation can leave some rooms in the house much harder to warm than others.
With baseboard heating, you can add heating where you need it.
There is no professional installation required when using these systems.
For most baseboard heating systems, you simply need somewhere to plug the system in.
You can add as many as you wish to your room as well.
Baseboard heaters provide more consistent heat in the rooms they are used in.
But, they take longer to warm up and cool down.
With a forced air heating system, you get fast hot air and when the heater stops running, the warm air quickly dissipates.
Baseboard heating is cheaper and more consistent than forced air heating.
Deciding between forced air and baseboard heating can be tough, but if you merely are wondering whether to convert, the answer is a resounding no.
There is no good reason to convert from a functional central air system to a baseboard system.
It may be a good idea to add baseboard heat to your forced air system, or convert from baseboard to forced air!