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What Is Forced-Air Heating and How Does It Work?

heat pump

Have you heard of forced-air heating? It’s one of the most common types of heating systems for both homes and commercial buildings. You’ve probably used a forced-air heating system, in fact. It can increase the indoor temperature of a home or building to create a comfortable environment during the otherwise cold winter months.

Overview of Forced-Air Heating

Forced-air heating refers to the use of a central heating system that heats the air inside of a home or building before distributing the heated air through ductwork. All central heating systems are designed to create heat. By creating heat, they can increase the indoor temperature of a home or building. Forced-air heating systems, however, are defined by their ability to heat the air directly.

When you turn on a forced-air heating system, it will draw air from inside of your home. The forced-air heating system will then heat the air directly. After heating the air, it will distribute the conditioned air through the ductwork so that it reaches your home’s living spaces.

Different Types of Forced-Air Heating Systems

All forced-air heating systems are designed to heat the air directly. With that said, there are several different types of forced-air heating systems. Furnaces are considered a forced-air heating system. Available in gas and electric models, furnaces work by heating the air directly. They use electricity or burn gas to generate heat, which is responsible for creating warm air that’s sent into the ductwork.

Heat pumps are another type of forced-air heating system. Heat pumps are similar to air conditioning systems. They consist of a pair of coils, including a condenser coil and an evaporator coil, which they use to exchange heat. The difference is that air conditioning systems only transfer heat out of a home or building, whereas heat pumps can transfer heat out of and into a home or building.

Forced-Air vs Non-Forced Air Heating: What’s the Difference?

Most homes and buildings feature a forced-air heating system. But there are non-forced-air heating systems as well. A common example is a boiler.

Like furnaces, boilers are available in different models. There are oil, gas and electric boilers. Regardless, boilers don’t heat the air directly before distributing the air into the ductwork. Instead, they generate radiant heat that’s dispersed into the surrounding space. Boilers are quieter than forced-air heating systems, but they don’t create the same level of heat. Boilers are also less efficient, resulting in a higher operational cost.