What’s the Difference Between Forced Hot Air and Central Heating?

vent in wall

What is forced heat in a house?

Winter is coming any day now and it is time to get the house ready to keep us warm. No matter what type of heating your home has, central heating or forced air heating, there are steps to take to get ready, starting with a professional cleaning and inspection. 

Forced air heating system cools and heats air then distributes that air throughout the house through ducts and vents that are connected. It differs from a central air system where it has an outdoor component but still uses the ducts and vents. 

What is the difference between forced air and central heat?

Generally, when we speak of forced air, we are referring to the heating system and central air is reference to the cooling system. However, they are interchangeable. Central heating system can refer to boilers and furnaces because the heat is created in a central location before being distributed.

A forced air system suggests an HVAC system with air ducts and vents are used to send the controlled temperature  air into the building. While central heating can also be reference to a boiler system, forced air heating can only be a reference to either furnace or heat pump with air ducts. 

Central air conditioning uses the ducts, plenums, and vents delivery system of the forced air heating system to deliver cool, conditioned air. So, there is a difference, but the difference is slight when describing it between central air and forced air heating system.

What is an advantage of forced air heating?

Considering that the average household spend approximately $1200 a year on cooling and heating their home, the decision between what type of system for cooling and heating is a major one. It should be done with caution and education. Meaning, ask the questions and do the research so that you choose the one that is right for you. 

This should be something that will serve you for the next 20 years or longer. Here, we offer the pros and cons of forced air heating and help you determine why get forced air heating this time: 

The Pros of Force Air Heating 

  • Heat Up Time: Force air heating get throughout the house faster because the air heats it directly. It is able to promptly send that warm air out through the duct system versus the process of central or water heat system takes more time to heat up.
  • Easy Install: Where radiant (water) heat requires the floors be ripped up, forced air heating works with what system is in place already, making the install time easy and faster.  
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Radiant heating is more expensive than forced air heating, making forced air heating cost more efficient right from the beginning. Because it works with whatever you have in place already as far as duct work, the install is faster and easier, this helps with the cost of installation. 
  • Reliable: Force air heating has fewer working parts, so there is less to break down and need professional service calls.  

The Cons of Force Air Heating

  • Potential Mold Risks: Mold can grow inside the forced air unit then cycle throughout your house. As long as you thoroughly clean the unit as recommended by the installing company and the manufacturer, you won’t have any issues. 
  • Noise: Every system is going to make some noise, including forced air heating. It is pushing air through the ducts where the pressure builds up. Unusually loud noises needs professional attention.
  • Central Control: There is only one thermostat for forced air heating and it controls the temperature in every room, and that heat sometimes varies from room to room.  
  • Ductwork Leaks: Air ducts are typically exceptionally reliable, but there is a potential for leaks to develop, especially if the system is ill-designed. As the system ages, they ducts become weak and worn out. Annual inspection and cleaning by a professional will catch these possible leaks before they happen. 

Is forced hot air heating good?

Forced air heating is good, and it is growing in popularity for both electric and gas connected homes. It is a clean and efficient way to heat your home, but as we listed earlier, there are some cons to this type of heating.  You definitely need to weigh the pros and cons before making the final decision. 

HVAC system outdoors

Is hot water heat better than forced air?

Heat from water heating system will stay warm longer once it has heated the house, but it takes it longer to heat up and get distributed.  There is that “air” blowing on you while it heats up with a water heat system, and it is quieter, both are a plus for many people. If you choose to add air conditioning later, you’ll need the ducts and vents installed since air can’t be added to a water heat system. So, the final choice is up to the homeowner and which conveniences matter the most. 

If you’re not sure how to get forced air heating, do an internet search for companies that install central heat and air units, and inquire if they offer force air heat installation too. Shop around, don’t take the first one you come across. Get several quotes and check their references. Need a forced air system? Call (508) 272-1196 today.