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Forced-Air or Radiant Heat: Which is Better?


One of the questions we encounter when it comes to heating systems is which heating type might be better: those that blow warm air or those that radiate warmth. Not to be indecisive but the answer really does depend on what you are looking for in terms of your Memphis heating needs.

With that said, we can help out by providing you with some information on the specifics involved in each system’s operation and benefits. Once you have that information in hand you can determine for yourself what heater type would suit you best. And from there, you are only a quick call away from scheduling helpful services to either replace your old heater or install the new system of your dreams.

What’s the Difference?

This is a good place to start: the difference between the usual forced-air heating systems and radiant heating systems. We want to start here because we’ve found this information answers a lot of the questions that we encounter. Let’s break it down a little to make things easier to understand.

  • Forced-Air Systems: As you have likely guessed, forced-air heating systems operate by creating and blowing warmed air throughout your home. Examples of these systems include furnaces, which burn natural gas to create warmth, and heat pumps, which cycle refrigerant to do the same.
  • Radiant Systems: Radiant heaters operate differently than forced-air systems because they use gas or water as their transfer medium rather than air. Often, radiant heating units produce heat that feels similar to the effect produced by the warmth of sunlight. Some people prefer this type of warmth over the feeling of warm air being blown into the home.

Factors to Consider

We’ve addressed some of the key differences so what other factors do you need to know when decided which heater type you prefer? Consider the following:

  • System Lifespan: Most heating systems last between 10 to 15 years. If very well-maintained, some can last a few extra years past this. However, radiant heating systems, because most of their components are underground, can last a lot longer as the coils which are responsible for producing heat aren’t exposed to the elements as much, keeping them in better shape.
  • Ductwork: If you already have ductwork, you are in good shape to install or continue on with your forced-air heater. If you don’t have ductwork, you can also work with a ductless heating system such as a heat pump, or a radiant heater like a boiler, to warm your home.
  • Heating Strength: Does your home get icy in the wintertime or is it subject to a lot of sunlight? If you need a heater with some power, you’ll want to look into furnaces or boilers as these are powerful heating systems from either category. If, on the other hand, you don’t need quite as strong of a system, you may want to consider a heat pump that will still warm your home but won’t need to combat freezing cold temperatures.

You can probably see now why we said that the heater type that wins your heart will be the one that best meets your heating needs. If you still aren’t sure which one would suit your best, feel free to reach out to one of our team members for some friendly advice.

Contact Automatic Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing today. Since 1943, it’s been Automatic in Memphis! 

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