Forced Air Heating vs Radiant Heat

In this article, we’ll explore the difference between forced air heating and radiant heat.


İntroduction forced air heating

Forced air heating is your typical furnace, where an appliance heats up a “hot” gas (like natural gas), which creates cold airflow that is then blown into your home. The heat from the furnace goes into the hot gas, which wants to rise due to physical law that states that gases want to be at a higher elevation than their surroundings. This makes their temperature drop as they go down the furnace, which is why we have our air conditioners. The hot gas blows out a cold/cool breeze that then passes through the wall and into a room.

Radiant heat comes from electricity or gas-powered heating elements, which are basically tubes that contain hot coils inside of them. When an electric current travels from one coil to another, heat is created. This heat then does two things: it transfers between air molecules and causes those molecules to rise, creating thermal energy; and it creates electromagnetic radiation, which means it creates a slight electromagnetic field that’s called “heat”. In this article, we’ll be primarily focusing on how forced air heating works.

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What’s the Difference

What's the difference forced air heating
What’s the difference forced air heating

The main difference between forced air heating and radiant heat is that while a hot gas travels through a duct and blows out cold airflow, radiant heat comes from electronics. A small electrical device heats up, which raises the temperature of air molecules. This creates thermal energy that then rises (which is what makes it “radiate”) through your home. In radiators, heat rises through a coil and creates radiative energy in that area only. Radiators are attached to your wall (or ceiling), but they’re usually much larger than your typical forced air furnace due to the amount of space needed for an electronics-powered heating element.

Forced air heating


Forced air heating pros
Forced air heating pros

Forced air heating is simple, and it’s what most people have in their home. It’s very easy to install, and it only requires a few things to be functioning properly. Since there are no moving parts, you don’t have to worry about the furnace breaking down over time. It also doesn’t require much maintenance or upkeep, so anyone can handle it with ease. Some people even say that forced air heating is better than radiant heat in certain situations.


Forced air heating cons
Forced air heating cons

There are three main issues with forced air heating: it can be loud, it can make your home smell like gas/oil, and it can create dirty air. When the furnace turns on, you’ll hear a loud hum as the gas heats up. This hum can be rather annoying if you have a small space. Second, when there’s a gas leak or an oil leak (the latter is rare for furnaces), your home will start to smell like oil/gas. The smell usually goes away after a few days, but some people find that the smell actually stays in their home for weeks. Finally, forced air heating blows out dirty air and gives off dust particles and other allergens into your home. This is one of the reasons that forced air heating is better for people with asthma and generalized allergies.

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Radiators also have their own cons: they require electricity and you’ll need to protect them from dust and moisture, but these issues can be mitigated by following good furnace maintenance practices. It’s also important that you choose the right size for your room. If it’s too large, it won’t effectively do what it’s supposed to do and you’ll have wasted money and effort. Because radiators are different units than furnaces, regular maintenance should always be performed on them (not only that, but a whole parts replacement schedule should be followed). Maintenance can include changing filters, cleaning the radiators, and making sure that the radiator is in good condition.

If you are looking to replace your furnace and want to know which one is better for your home, then you should consider the pros and cons of each. As mentioned before, forced air heating can be noisy when it’s running and may not be as effective in large spaces. However, it’s easier on the environment (a big plus for those who care about that) since it doesn’t require gas or oil. On the other hand, radiators do require electricity but don’t give off any other byproducts and don’t contribute to climate change. They also provide uniform heat across the room, and heat is emitted directly into the surrounding space instead of coming out from vents. 

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Based on this article, it seems like the choice of radiant heat is mostly a matter of preference. We don’t think it matters whether the radiator is used as an air conditioner or as a heater.

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