Here is the simplest explanation how both of these heating systems work:
- Baseboard hot water heating system distributes hot water heated up by the boiler with help of the pump through baseboard heating elements and radiates that heat into the rooms. Today’s systems have many zones with two water pipes by each zone. Old systems had one pipe in which hot water was going from room to room and back to the boiler in the same pipe, so last room in the circuit was never that warm as the first one.
- In forced air system, when the thermostat detects that room temperature is below a set comfort level, the air handler kicks on and draws room air through the cold air return and duct work into the furnace’s heat exchanger. The burners or electric heating elements turn on or the heat pump engages to heat the air as it moves through the air handler. Then the blower forces the warmed up air through the duct system and back to the rooms.
Forced Air Heating
Central forced air heating system is the most popular method of heating houses in North America, because it delivers heated air from a furnace or heat pump to every room of the house and can also do the double duty for delivery of air conditioned air. But every heating system has its pros and cons.
When furnace uses warm air it will create a drafty environment. Air movement can be great at the summer time while cooling, but not so much when you have heat on. Hydronic heating system will not spread dust in your home. Forced air system on the other side has a filter to help clean indoor air. Besides you will always have dust in your house no matter what heating system you install.
Both systems require maintenance. However hot water heating system is much more expensive to install, to repair and to maintain then forced air system. You have to change filter in furnace at least every 3 months and clean furnace before heating season for better and more efficient performance. Also ducts should be cleaned once for a while. In hot water heating system you have to vent the radiators and drain the boiler to keep it running efficiently.
Another difference between these systems is that hot water system takes up some space inside the rooms by the wall and might not be appealing to many people. Also it take time to warm up. It might take several minutes for the hot water to circulate around the heating zones and warm up heating elements. Another drawback – in the event a leak occurs, or pipes will freeze due to lack of power, it will cause water damage to the house. Although that happens very rarely.
Any type of heating system will dry indoor air. With forced air system you can control humidity in your home via whole house humidifier. This can’t be done with hot water heating system.
When it comes to making decision which heating system we should choose, well it depends on your needs and budget. As you can see both of those heating systems are totally different and each system has some pros and cons.