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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13

    Question Baseboard vs. forced air

    Hello everyone, We are buying a house in Northeast Ohio (frost zone 5) and we have hot water baseboard heating now in a tri-level 2800 sq. ft. house with a large living room with a vaulted ceiling. My question is the baseboard heating the best most efficient way to heat the house or should I spend the money on a forced air unit? Thanks!
    Last edited by J T; 07-15-2012 at 09:40 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,168

    Default Re: Baseboard vs. forced air

    My opinion is hot water heat is far better the warm air . But the efficiency would depend on you boiler.

    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Baseboard vs. forced air

    By no means, in my opinion, even consider a forced hot air heating system over forced hot water (FHW)(baseboard)---I think you will find that FHW not only is a most comfortable form of heating, but that it has the FLEXIBILITY to be easily modified by easily adding zones, additional convectors, more thermostats if needed, partial radiant loops in bathrooms or in the vaulted ceiling room if it is too drafty, for example, (radiant loops are placed under the floor in FHW loops) or even underground snowmelt zones for driveway & walkways for winter ice & snow.

    If the vaulted ceiling in the LR makes that room too drafty, there are modification options with hot water heat (hydronic) that will make the room more comfortable.

    The only downside to hydronic heat is that it doesn't allow for air conditioning in the summer months---for that, hopefully there is now in place air conditioning; otherwise you would have to consider mini-split ductless AC units by Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Friedrich and others.

    You should also check the FUEL the boiler uses---if it's oil, and there are gas mains on your street, it would be wise to eventually change to a gas-fired boiler, since oil continues to remain much higher than gas; as John points out, the condition (efficiency) and proper size of the boiler will have an important impact on comfortable heat; have the appraiser (see below) check the boiler to make sure it's not too old and whether it needs replacement (cost: $4k to $8k); also have the appraiser check out any other big ticket items such as the AC unit (if it exists) to make sure it is not too old or on its last legs.

    Also pay special attention to the insulation (or lack of) in all exterior walls of the house---there must be insulation in all exterior walls (R19 factor) and in the attic (R40 factor); there must also be tight windows & storms---relatively new windows or storms that are not old & leaky---windows & insulation are EXTREMELY important in keeping the heat & cool inside the house throughout the year.


    You should have the house inspected by a real estate appraiser, if you haven't done so yet----it's amazing how many new home buyers ignore this step---you have to get someone in there who can point out all the defects & limitations that a particular house has (EVERY house has at least a few problems) before the sale is finalized; the appraiser will discover things that you never even thought of looking at.
    Last edited by Dobbs; 07-15-2012 at 02:08 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: Baseboard vs. forced air

    With a condensing gas boiler with outdoor reset, they can be very efficient. But the main thing is comfort.

    However, efficiency will depend on how hot you need to run your water and that's also dependant on flow rates.

    Bottom line, forced air didn't become more common because it's superior, it's more common because it's cheaper more so because central AC is easily integrated to it without needing two independent systems.

    For best comfort in a home in 4 seasons, I personally would want radiant floor heat... and possibly cooling too combined with hydronic air handlers to supplement the floor systems.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Baseboard vs. forced air

    We have a gas fired unit. As fa as efficiency the boiler is past it's life expectancy and is about 70% efficient. There is A/C on the second floor only and needs to be replaced. The HVAC tech that came to inspect both boiler and A/C units said it would cost six to seven thousand to completely replace the A/C and add the first floor and about five thousand for a new boiler. Any suggestions on which boiler would be good investment?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Baseboard vs. forced air

    However, efficiency will depend on how hot you need to run your water and that's also dependant on flow rates.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Baseboard vs. forced air

    Quote Originally Posted by J T View Post
    There is A/C on the second floor only and needs to be replaced. The HVAC tech that came to inspect both boiler and A/C units said it would cost six to seven thousand to completely replace the A/C and add the first floor and about five thousand for a new boiler.
    AC for the first floor: consider a 2-zone configuration. I can't balance my 1-zone system well; 4-6 degree temperature difference in the hottest days.
    Can you keep the 2nd fl. AC going until it fails. Assume it's sleeping area and you just need to cool it to go to sleep, but not during.

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