Radiant heating (boiler) vs. Forced air


I currently have radiant heating in our home and have been quoting prices for a separate AC unit (space pack) installed. At the recent received quotes of $6000 to $8000, it got me thinking about the cost of removing the boiler system and installing a forced air system (furnace). The boiler removal can be done my me as well as the installation of duct work for the forced air. Since the cost of adding an AC unit to a furnace system is roughly $1000, That would leave roughly $5000 to $7000 difference for the installation of the rest of the furnace system and I can't believe it would cost that much....or....am I wrong?
What would the pros and cons be of each?
Thanks
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I suspect it costs more than $1000 to add AC. For AC you need a compressor and a heat exchanger. You also need to run new electrical circuits to the outside of the house and freon lines to connect the two. Can your electrical panel handle the additional load (assuming you are using electrical power for the AC)? I suspect the cost to be way more than $1000.
As for the pro and cons, I have had both types. I found hot water baseboard to be quieter, the heat is more even with the floors being warmer (just my opinion) compare to force hot air if the ducts are in the ceiling. The baseboards can limit furniture placement. It is harder to balance if the system is not properly designed. Pumps do have to be maintained. Force hot air can dry out the air and you with it. You might need a humidifer. You will probably hear the fans running. If the ducts are in the ceiling, you don't have to worry about blocking vents. It is harder to add zones with force hot air. I would guess that force hot air would warm a room faster.
Ducts can be easy to run but you need to know how to size the ducts and the returns. If not properly designed, you could end up with hot and cold rooms.
Do ypu live in an area where a heat pump would make sense? Worth checking into.
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Do you mean under floor radiant heat or cast iron upright radiators or baseboard radiators. My experiance with different types is underfloor radiant is best by far, then radiators on walls, then forced air. Why are you condsidering space pack if you can run regular ducts, Spack pack is something like 1000$ for 100ft of tube. Spacepack costs alot more to install and as of last year Spacepack was about only 11 seer, I contacted Spacepack or Unico last fall for info on upgrading our 1996 spacepack air handler. The said this year they would have a seer 13 out, but ducts can use much more efficent equipment, up to near 19 seer.
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I've seen those hoses zigzagging under floors in engineering magazines and I shudder to think about leaks. I had posted a question why they don't use inert gases like freon instead of water in case of leaks. (Yes, freon is probably better for cooling than heating, but the type of gas can be adjusted.)
Further, I'd bet (not sure) the insulation used on any water pipes will create some sort of dust hazard when it deteriorates.
Now, as I've lived in a forced air house since 1965, I'll tell you the ducts do collect dust. And I've been in office buildings where cooling condensate was speculated to collect respiratory microbes. And I have nosebleeds when we forget to fill the humidifier with water. Futher, the thermostat measures the temperature at one point, which may be ten to fifteen degrees different form some other point in the house.
But as I have a lot of books and papers, I would prefer the forced air because of fear of flooding. In fact, if i were designing a new house I would firewall the bathrooms and kitchens in one corner to prevent their flooding the other rooms.
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What inert gas can carry the heat that water can?

Commercial cooling systems with water are rarely used in a residential setting.

You need an automatic fill. Oh, that can cause flooding.

Design flaw. The system was not properly balanced.

It can happen, but is rare in a properly maintained house.
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And is non-toxic.

Rarely = never

...and "respiratory microbes".

Design flaw. System only has one zone.

Firewalling everything in one corner isn't going to help much anyway. The expensive stuff is in the kitchen anyway. It's poor insurance.
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You don't need to fear flooding. Most new radiant installations are installed so that each room has it's own thermostat. The piping is installed in one piece from the basement and back down to the basement where the valves are. Any leaks would occur in the basement.
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The advantages to a forced air system include: * Air filtration. Helps reduce dust, dirt, and other harmful things in the air. * Forced air system can have a humidifier to keep the air comfortable in the winter. * Most heat boilers run 70 to 80% fuel efficient. Forced air system, you can get a furnace with 90% plus efficiency
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On Aug 24, 7:03am, "Stormin Mormon"

I dont know of any boiler sold under 83% and they go to 98%, a boiler needs only a 100-150w pump, a newer high efficency furnace at my small place uses a 375w blower, Electricity is expensive and a often overlooked component of heating. But radiant tube underfloor is the most efficent heat, its under your feet. Common is a 15% reduction in bills over wall radiators and you can keep the thermostat lower. Also take into account ductwork air leaks and loss of heat from ducts as they run, so add another loss compared to underfloor tube. But why spend thousands if its there and already the best type of heat. Ive had all types of heat and underfloor radiant was the most comfortable, warm feet, heat where you are especialy sitting and sleeping. Humidity control is a benefit to ducts boilers dont do.
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Thank you for the replies.
My radiant heat system is a baseboard system and yes, arranging furniture can be tricky and requires it t be away from the wall a baseboard may be on. I have seen thinner baseboard such as the "Runtal" system. Sharp looking and better with furniture placement. I've also heard about the underfloor system and thought about converting. Anyone care to chime in on the difficulties and/or expense of doing this?
Reading a few replies indicated a heat pump. How does a heat pump work with a boiler system and no AC?
Thanks again.
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In typed:

How about the cost of getting rid of the debris afterwards? That's likely a couple hundred for a box rental and something for the dump. Can be quite a bit higher in a large city.
That will save you a bundle doing it yourself. Sounds like the only part you'd have to pay labor for would be connecting to the outside compressor & lines to it, plus mounting the ac part inside the furnace. It'll require a different thermostat too, most likely - one for heating AND cooling, but that's a minor detal; no worse than wiring for a doorbell and reading the instructions if it's new to you.
If you do the ducting yourself, be darned sure you get the cold air returns, qty and locations, right the first time! And use the kinds of ducts that give you shut-off dampers next to the furnace in case you have to adjust a hot room or get more heat into a room.
Since the

I'd say cost of the furnace "system" itself will be more like 1200 - 1500 dollars when equipped for air, but it depends on the size of the furnace, too; btu output I mean. It sounds like you got the $1000 from a realiable source? Make sure the blower system can handle the load. It gets more important if the house is large and if there is a second or half-floor and ?basement? in addition to the main floor to heat/cool.

Just personal opinions, of course: ymmv like all get out I imagine.
I have only peripheral experience with three different kinds of radiant heat, and IMO they are all downs compared to forced air. Here's why I think that:
- Forced air can heat the place quickly. An air temp rise can be as little as about ten minutes to get a 25 heat rise. 40 probably 20 minutes to near a half hour in an unheated home, depending on lots of things. That's for the Ambient AIR temp. Furniture, applance surfaces, etc. of course take longer to suck up that heat.
- Forced air warms YOU all around. Some types of Radiant heating only warms the side of you it can radate to; the other side remains cold.
- Radiant heat can take hours before the air in a room becomes comfortable. It's slow but it's steady when radiated.
- Forced air has air filters and more can be added, to filter the air in the entire house. They cut down on a LOT of dust, especially if you live in an area that's dusty like close to the road or factories/farms around you. You still get the dust & dirt even when the house is closed up well in most, not all, cases. Not to mention that a dehumidifier is part and parcel to the way an AC operates; Forced air dries the air faster and consistantly where radiated does little for it. One more; you can also humidify in the winter's cold days. Any heat source in cold weather dries the air and is hard on furniture joints, metals, etc..
- One complaint you often hear with forced air is the noise and feel of the hot air when the furnace is on. A properly installed funace/plenum system that is designed for the house won't have those problems. It's usually caused by having to have too much pressure in too few outlets in the room/s for the amount of heat that needs to be delvered. You might want to ask a code engineer some questions about the recommended # of vents and cold air registers you need and where they are best placed. Today's newer furnaces are much quieter too than they used to be. They even come with staged blowers that run at different speeds depending on how much heat is being asked for. Ours seldom ever hits the highest speed unless the temps outside get down to zero F and below. So if they way you should have such and such thermostat, check into it before you say no or you could miss the mult-speed blower features. We've typcally gotten just about 15 years out of our furnaces but the winters here can be really cruel<g>. 40 below + wind chill isn't unheard of at all around here: Far upstate New York.
Please post to newsgroups in Plain Text. Because you used HTML, some people won't be able to read your message, though not a huge number.
HTH,
Twayne`

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Thank you and my apologies for the text. I forgot about that issue. With that in mind, I will reply again what I replied with yesterday in case some couldn't read it..
Thank you for the replies.
My radiant heat system is a baseboard system and yes, arranging furniture can be tricky and requires it t be away from the wall a baseboard may be on. I have seen thinner baseboard such as the "Runtal" system. Sharp looking and better with furniture placement. I've also heard about the underfloor system and thought about converting. Anyone care to chime in on the difficulties and/or expense of doing this?
Reading a few replies indicated a heat pump. How does a heat pump work with a boiler system and no AC?
Thanks again.
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The heat pump warms the water instead of the boiler. The biggest factor is where do you live? If it's a temperate climate, that could be an option. But if it's somewhere that the heat pump alone will not be sufficient and you need a backup source, ie a boiler anyway, then it's not practical. Which is why they aren't very popular. Also, if you're going to have a large heat pump it's more cost effective to have it provide the AC too, instead of another heat pump.
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On Thu, 26 Aug 2010 05:56:11 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I've never seen a heat pump that heats water. A heat pump doesn't pump the temperature high enough to make hot-water heat practical.

Our backup is resistive, built into the heat pump. It's not needed very often so it doesn't make sense to have a separate backup system. We do have a gas fireplace, now, for the few really cold days.

What isn't popular? Heat pumps are *very* popular.

Huh? Why would you need another? (I have two, but two smaller units are cheaper than one humongous one.
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On Aug 28, 12:54am, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

Better tell that to GE:
http://www.geappliances.com/heat-pump-hot-water-heater /
"Electric Heat Pump Water Heater The most energy efficient 50-gallon electric water heater you can buy To create the next generation of water heaters, GE rethought every aspect of this appliance from the ground up. The result is an innovative new product that can reduce water heater operating cost up to 62% and save $320 per year.* That adds up to significant savings, and you won't have to give up a single drop of hot water."
and Mcquay:
http://ingramswaterandair.com/mcquay-international-geothermal-heat-pump-watertowater-radiant-floor-p-3195.html?cvsfa=1207&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=33313935
"Mcquay International Geothermal Heat Pump 3 Ton Water-to-Water (Radiant Floor) Item Number : GRW-1036"

Heat pumps are not popular for use as radiant heat sources, because of the reasons I outlined. Being not popular doesn't mean they don't exist.

SBH was asking about heat pump based radiant systems. If he bought a heat pump based radiant hot water system and wanted AC, then he would have a second heat pump as part of the AC. It may not be called a heat pump, but that is what it is. My point being, that is another reason heat pumps for radiant systems are not that popular.
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On Sat, 28 Aug 2010 05:23:46 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I meant for hydronic heating.

Ok, had not seen those. It's ground-water based, so it doesn't have to pump as high as an air unit. IOW, a *LOT* more expensive.

Yes, I misunderstood you. I thought you meant that heat pumps, in general, weren't popular.

Yes, I see now.
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I see you know as much about heating as you do about world affairs. The guy is looking at spending $6K to $8K and you recommend a geothermal system, which easily costs 2 to 3X that amount.
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