Why did warm air central heating go out of fashion?

It used to be we had open fires. But then hot water radiators came in -
much cleaner, and easier to manage.
Nowadays we seem to be moving towards underfloor heating - where
effectively the entire floor is a radiator. Efficient, but slow to respond.
But there was a time when hot air systems were popular, and I think
still are in the USA.
Does anyone know why they went out of fashion? It can't just be because
they made a great place for spiders to hide!
Reply to
Vir Campestris
Wummin prefer radiators. Or brainwashed into thinking they 'need' radiators by various house-flipping tv programs.
Warm air systems had one major defect, you still needed to use electricity to heat the hot tank, even if you had a gas-powered system.
Also, I'm not sure how you would meet modern fire regs if you had ducting in the void between ground floor and upper floor with its potential to assist the spread of fire and smoke.
Reply to
I think they tended to use a lot of space with ducting and the only ones I remember were electric powered which involved having a large heater unit somewhere taking up most of a cupboard. Electric heating probably made sense when we were being told nuclear energy would be too cheap to meter but that soon changed. I would imagine there was quite a lot of heat loss in the ducting and insulating the lot was probably time consuming and expensive compared to lagging a couple of pipes. I do not think they were an easy install for retro fitting compared to installation in a new build. At the same time gas was getting comparably cheaper with North Sea gas coming on tap and at the same time gas boilers getting more compact
Reply to
Tricky Dicky
It's partly to do with comfort, warm air circulating can feel like a draught. We used to set ours at 25c but also needed a radiant heater in addition to feel comfortable.
Stub duct systems can be economical to instal but if long duct runs are needed that can get expensive to install.
I guess its mostly that in the UK most peoples idea of central heating is a boiler and rads.(up to now at any rate)
Underfloor is mainly for new builds or major refurbs where it can be more advantageous.
In the end it is just changing trends.
Reply to
Jack Harry Teesdale
On Mon, 26 Oct 2020 10:51:53 +0000, Vir Campestris
The brand-new bungalow I had in the early 1970's had oil-fired hot air CH. Basically a large oil-drum type cylinder with some baffles and perforations in the lower part, with a chunk of fiberglass insulation to act as a wick, and with a flue emerging from the top. A side arm did have a water jacket in the pretence of heating the DHW. It was situated in a broom-cupboard-sized room in the centre of the bungalow with vents in and out of the three adjacent rooms - kitchen, sitting room and hall. Very primitive, antediluvian even, with the only control being a knob to regulate the flow of oil and hence the degree of heating.
I improved it by fitting a solenoid with a bypass needle valve to the regulator to allow low and high oil flows, a thermostat in the sitting room, a timer, and fans in the upper exit ducts to circulate the air. It then all worked very well for twenty years until we sold the property. I assume the new owners ripped it all out and put in something a bit more modern and less Heath-Robinson!
Reply to
Chris Hogg
In message <rn6a0h$1mu9$ snipped-for-privacy@gioia.aioe.org>, Andrew snipped-for-privacy@mybtinternet.com writes
Mother in law had it in a mid 60's flat. Central storage bank, asbestos insulation! off peak electric. Immersion for hot water. Not noticeably noisy and the ducting tucked away in the ceiling void. Downsides, cost cf gas, inlet and exhaust well away from windows leading to cold exterior walls/condensation and black mould:-(
Leasehold property so insulating cavity not really doable.
Gas boiler plus double glazing a big improvement but subsequent tenants failed to ventilate to save gas plus airing washing indoors continued the mould problem.
I used the ducting to feed room air to a heat recovery/vent system which helped but the flat was sold on so I don't know the current situation.
Reply to
Tim Lamb
Tricky Dicky submitted this idea :
There were gas heated versions of hot air systems. Those I came across had been Those I came across had been condemned, because the burned compartments eventually leaked into the air sections.
Reply to
Harry Bloomfield, Esq.
We had that only gas powered (but with an electric fan[sol if either fuel supply failed])and we were in a flat not a bungalow, so we didn't have that at all (just something similar) ;O).
Three short ducts to Living room, hall, kitchen. No heating upstairs.
Called the heating unit "the Dalek"
Cat LOVED the vent she/he (various cats, all seemed the same), not so daft on it when it was actually blowing but the area around it must have got toasty.
Reply to
On Mon, 26 Oct 2020 10:51:53 +0000, Vir Campestris
I thought it was because they wrecked the furniture.
Reply to
Not sure they were ever that popular - although there was a time some places were built with central columns to allow installation of the heater and easy ducting.
I would guess that the fact much of our building stock is quite old and predates CH of any sort, a wet system is a much easier retro fit. Is also generally more space efficient, and runs quieter with no fans etc.
Still popular in the US though - probably partly helped by many places seeming to have basement space to install them, and larger properties in general, so loss of space to ducting is probably of an issue.
There is still at least one major provider of the kit for UK installs though:
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Reply to
John Rumm
Yep. The house I bought in 1984 had a Johnson-Starley unit in the kitchen. This had a gas-fired water heater which worked by convection (no pumps). The hot water rose to the hot tank in the bathroom airing cupboard directly above the heater. The gas also heated a heat exchanger to warm the air which was driven by a centrifugal fan round the ducting.
I absolutely loved the system. It had *one* moving part - the fan. Nothing went wrong or needed replacing in the 14 years I was there. The "maintenance" consisted of vacuuming the fan and wire filter once a year.
What I liked was that within a couple of minutes of getting in to a cold house the room air was already getting warm, and I don't remember it being at all draughty. I don't see why installing ducting should be expensive, and it doesn't take up much space - a 25 x 10 cm gap low-down on a wall is all that is needed.
In contrast, heating through radiators is a system seemingly designed to make money for installers and maintainers. It has a long thermal lag, which may or may not be a good thing, and it "circulates" heat only by convection. Its radiators take up a large amount of space on a wall, which cannot be used by anything else.
I would happily rip out the radiators we have here and replace it by a warm-air heating system (using, of course, the same ducting for cold-air cooling in summer). It helps that we are in a bungalow which makes using the loft for ducting pretty simple). Sadly, The Management doesn't have the same view on warm-air heating as I do!
No idea, but it would it be any different from heating/cooling through ducting in commercial buildings?
Reply to
Jeff Layman
Two weeks before Chernobyl and not related, we had a serious house fire. The house was gutted by a fire storm caused by our recently serviced Creda ducted warm air heater and circulated through under floor ducts. The property was a 4 bedroom dormer-bungalow. The ducts made it so easy to propagate the fire to every room within minutes. The family was very lucky to escape any injury and special thanks go to our Dobermann who alerted everyone to the pending disaster.
Reply to
In article <rn69oa$bg3$ snipped-for-privacy@dont-email.me,
The trunking takes up a great deal of space. Maybe not a problem in a US house, but in the average UK one likely is.
Reply to
Dave Plowman (News
They tend to have a more sophisticated fire detection systems, like a building fire alarm to start with !. This should shut down the HVAC immediately.
Reply to
On 26 Oct 2020, Vir Campestris wrote
I grew up in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s with oil-fired, forced hot air heating, with a furnace and large oil tank in the basement, and a fan forcing the hot air through ductwork running to each room.
It worked fine[1], but I can think of a couple of disadvantages for a lot of the UK housing stock: it would be a bugger to retrofit in solid-wall house (rather than building it in too a stick-built/balloon- framed house), and the furnace, tank, and ductwork took up a lot of room. That's not much of a problem if you have a full-size basement, but otherwise it needs a lot more space than a boiler in a cupboard feeding CH pipes and radiators.
[1] Our cat certainly liked it: she'd lie on top of the hot-air outlet.
Reply to
Intumescent fire stop grilles or spring loaded shutters with fusible links will stop fire spreading through ducts. Shutters linked to a smoke detector will stop smoke spreading.
Reply to
Very difficult to retro-fit, so only really used in new builds. With those, if you are going to go to all the trouble of fitting the ducting, air conditioning makes more sense. It is much more energy efficient and can cool in the summer as well as heat in the winter.
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