Pros and Cons of Forced Air Heating

October 10, 2023

When looking to improve the comfort of your home during fall and winter, forced air heating systems are often where homeowners turn. Frequently associated with gas furnaces, forced air systems push heated air through ducts connected to the central unit.

When considering the pros and cons of forced air heating, it’s important to understand how those pros and cons change when comparing different sources of heat. With a small duct system from Unico, you get many of the same advantages of a gas furnace forced air system with none of the cons.

Heating configurations with The Unico System:

Heat Pump: The Unico System standard refrigerant coil can provide both central heating and cooling when paired with either an outdoor air-source or ground-source (geothermal) heat pump. This method has a distinct advantage over conventional central air system's heat pump coils in that the air it puts out actually feels warm, delivering higher inside temperatures when outside temperatures fall.

Hot Water Coil: Hydronic heating with a Unico System hot water coil matched with a boiler (or, less commonly, a high efficiency hot water heater) is an excellent method of efficient, comfortable central heating. This method can be used as primary heating or as a supplement to radiators (either free-standing or baseboard-mounted) and is an exceptional partner to in-floor radiant systems. Because The Unico System provides instant heat it is a perfect companion to these types of systems in the "shoulder" months – those times when just enough heat is needed to take the chill out of the air and firing up a radiant system would take too long and expend too much energy.

Electric Duct Heater: An electric furnace that can be placed directly within the plenum (main duct configuration), the Unico electric duct heater provides immediate heat and is available in sizes ranging from 2 to 20 kW. Unico electric duct heaters can be used for primary or auxiliary heat. No matter which method you or your installing contractor choose you’ll be sure to get the very best in efficient, comfortable small-duct central heating.

Pros of forced air heating

Heats the whole home. Radiant heat, such as radiators or baseboard heating, warms the space near the source, but they do little to circulate the air. Radiators can make you feel warm and comfortable if you’re near the unit in the room, but leave you shivering if you’re not close enough. Ductless systems, also known as mini split systems, need to be installed in every room because they don’t have a network of ducts connecting the rooms. High velocity heating moves warmed air throughout the entire home, delivering comfort in every room.

Unobtrusive. Ducting for Unico is built into the walls or ceilings. Radiators on the other hand take up floor space or require a wall to be unobstructed. Unico systems take up even less space with 2” to 2.5” round ductwork. Unico is the preferred choice for many historic and custom homes because it fits anywhere and requires no major renovations during installation. Small duct systems also have a central unit small enough to be put in attics or crawl spaces.

Disadvantages of forced air heating

All heating systems are not created equal. Traditional, wide duct systems that heat using a gas furnace can have major drawbacks.

Dry air. Gas furnaces have a flame that dries the air in your home. This leads to uncomfortable dry skin and a dry nose, which makes you more susceptible to viruses and other contagions. Using a heating system that uses electric heat instead of burning gas can help maintain moisture in the air when in operation.

Inefficient. The wide metal ducts traditionally used by gas heating systems leak air and lose heat, no matter how they’re installed. Metal ducts lose air at the seams and are not 100% airtight. Metal ducts also cause friction, reducing air flow, as opposed to The Unico System with its nylon interior designed for efficient air flow.

Pros of The Unico System

The Unico System delivers the pros of forced air heating without the cons. Whether you’re looking at adding forced air heating to your home or a replacement for your existing forced air heating system, here’s why you should consider The Unico System.

No more dry air. With a small duct heating system from Unico, you can say goodbye to dry skin and air that comes with traditional heating systems. The Unico System is a closed system that warms air from within your home without drying it out, keeping your home comfortable and healthy.

Whisper-quiet. Traditional wide ducting isn’t insulated and acts like mini echo chambers throughout your home. Unico System customers often forget their system is running because it’s whisper quiet. Engineered with special sound-absorbing air supply tubing means there’s no creaking or vibrating when the system turns on.

Fits your home. With its small air register and mini ducts, The Unico System fits in every house without requiring major renovation—even historic homes. Unico’s air supply tubing is flexible and can be inserted into existing tight spaces without tearing up walls and ceilings. This makes small ducts the best choice for historic or older homes where you want to maintain the home’s character and don’t want to add bulky systems.

Efficient comfort. Compared to gas furnaces, a small duct system delivers warmer air with less heat loss through the vents. That means you can set your thermostat and get reliable comfort no matter the time of day or outdoor temperature. The Unico System’s SMART Control Board manages fan speed and allows for zoning if some rooms tend to be warmer or cooler, further improving energy efficiency.

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