The Pros and Cons of Radiant Boilers and Forced-Air Furnaces

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The Pros and Cons of Radiant Boilers and Forced-Air Furnaces

Winter has settled here in the greater Fort Wayne and Indianapolis areas and that means your home’s heating system is hard at work. Hopefully, all of our customers’ heating systems (including boilers and forced-air heaters) are working properly and don’t need any attention, but please know Masters Heating & Cooling Inc. is ready to respond to any and all winter HVAC needs. 

And for those of you who may be planning a major renovation or are in the process of planning and building a new home, we will be glad to help you with this important question: should I go with a radiant boiler or forced-air furnace system? Let’s get the ball rolling with a look at how each system operates, then examine the pros and cons.

RADIANT HEAT BOILER

Boilers heat water, then the hot water or steam is circulated throughout the home via a system of pipes or radiators. The radiant heat generated heats your home. In older homes, the radiant heat was delivered through an old cast-iron radiator or in pipes installed in baseboards or beneath the flooring. Newer homes that use boilers pump hot water or steam into a series of loops embedded in the floor of the home.

FORCED AIR FURNACE

A furnace heats the air that is then forced throughout the home via a series of ducts. They are more common primarily because they are cheaper to install than boiler systems and can be used in conjunction with the AC.

PROS & CONS

  • Boilers feature quieter operation. With no need for a blower motor, boilers deliver radiant heat mostly silently. Forced air furnaces are noisy in comparison.
  • Forced air furnaces are generally cheaper. Radiant heat systems are usually more expensive to install than forced air systems. This is especially true when the installation is part of a remodel or renovation, as flooring has to be removed and replaced.
  • Radiant heat provides more evenly distributed warmth. Radiant heating heats objects in a consistent manner, which leads to more uniform – and longer-lasting – heating. Forced air systems pump air through vents, which are pointed in one direction and located in one part of a room.
  • Boilers require less maintenance, as there are no filters to change or ducts to clean. However, leaks can be disastrous. A water loop or radiator leak—while uncommon—can cause much more damage than an air duct leak on a forced-air system.
  • Radiant heat results in better indoor air quality. There is no air being moved, so no dust particles are being moved, either. A forced-air system stirs up any dust in the ducts and spreads it throughout the home.
  • Forced air systems are more common. This is true primarily because forced air systems are cheaper to install and because they can be used in conjunction with an air conditioner to distribute climate controlled air through the ductwork. Boiler systems require a separate water loop/pipe system to deliver heat.  

In summary, both radiant heat boiler systems and forced air furnace systems get the job done, but there are definite differences with pros and cons. If you are thinking of an extensive renovation/remodeling or are building a new home, a radiant heat boiler system is an excellent option … call Masters today or check in with us at one of our locations in Fort Wayne, Decatur, Angola, Indianapolis, Greenwood, and Mishawaka, IN.