Central Heat v. Baseboard Heat

Fall in Michigan is officially upon us. While it’s a time for all things pumpkin spice, it’s also time to consider the condition of what’s heating your home. Your current system may need replacing or perhaps you’re considering a move and are weighing what your new home heating should be. Enter the comparison between baseboard and central (forced air) heating. There are certainly cases for and against both, so read on to find out which may be the best fit for you!

What’s the Difference Between Baseboard and Central Forced Air Heat?

There are several key differences between the two:

Baseboard Heat

There are two types of baseboard heaters, Electric and Hydronic. Both are usually installed beneath windows to discourage cooler outside air from seeping in. Both are also generally controlled by a thermostat dedicated to the space or room it’s in, allowing for different zones of heat.

Electric baseboard heaters utilize metal fins that are heated and rely on convection to circulate the cool air that passes through the unit and is warmed by the fins, being ejected as warm air. Hydronic heaters take the extra step to employ a liquid such as water or oil to radiate heat into the space.

Central or Forced Air Heat

As the name suggests, a central heating system uses a central distribution point to blow heat into the home. They use gas or electric furnaces, heat pumps or hydronic coils. A gas furnace will use combustion to heat the air it will blow through ductwork as opposed to electricity that powers an internal heater to heat the air. 

Heat pumps are a little more complicated. They pull heat from the environment, either the ground or outside air, and compresses it and converts it to a gas by utilizing a refrigerant. It’s pushed through a coil and then is moved through a coil to warm it before being distributed. Similarly, a hydronic system uses hot water to heat air that’s pushed over coils.

What are the Pros and Cons of Baseboard Heat?

One of the biggest advantages of baseboard heat is the up-front cost. They are less expensive to install than a forced air system. However, the drawback is the radius of heat is generally small. Baseboard heaters can only heat smaller spaces and may take longer to heat up larger areas, even with multiple heaters. Yet the heat produced by these units is more consistent and they have the advantage of being independently controlled to achieve different zones of heat.

What are the Pros and Cons of Central Forced Air Heat?

The best benefit of central heat is the system itself can accommodate heating and cooling your home. However the distribution of air through ducts can lead to dust, or other allergens and leaks in ducts can reduce efficiency. Heat can also be inconsistent in different areas of the home. However, a central system can rapidly and efficiently heat the home, regardless of size.

Final Thoughts

Still have questions? Contact the pros at Dean Mechanical today!