Converting From Baseboard Heating to Forced Air

Forced air and baseboard heating are two of the most popular ways to heat homes across the United States. Both can provide consistent heat to your space, though forced air is typically far more efficient than the other.

The installation process of forced air systems can be intimidating. However, forced air systems will save you resources over time and can work more efficiently to keep your home at your preferred temperature. Changing baseboard heat to forced air is a worthwhile investment for those looking to stay comfortable while saving energy and money.

What Is Baseboard Heating?

The location of a baseboard heater is what gives it its name. These systems are along the bottom of the wall. Because heat rises, the warm air from the floor will slowly rise to the ceiling and keep you comfortable.

Baseboard heating utilizes zones to heat individual rooms in your home. Instead of using vents, boilers, furnaces or ducts, baseboard heaters use a heating element that slowly releases warm air into the room. This system is great for families who prefer different temperatures and those who only use certain rooms throughout the day and don't want to expend energy on additional spaces.

Types of Baseboard Heating Systems

You can find either electric baseboard heaters, hydronic baseboard heaters or hybrid options. All come with cost-effective installation and can be integrated into your home easily:

  • Electric: Electric baseboard heaters tend to be the least expensive option, but they are better suited for individual rooms rather than the entire house. These systems are usually hardwired into your home's circuitry and don't require additional equipment.
  • Hydronic: Hydronic baseboard heaters have a more complex breakdown than their electrical counterparts. They require a boiler to heat oil or water, which heaters then radiate into the room through the vents. These systems tend to take a while to heat up and cool down after use, but they are generally more cost-effective and energy-efficient than electrical ones.
  • Hybrid: You can also find hybrid baseboard heaters that utilize liquid but don't need to be connected to a boiler. They rely on electricity, and you can easily remove them. Some of these systems are portable, and you can utilize them the same way you would a window air conditioner unit by plugging them in wherever you need them.

Pros and Cons of Using a Baseboard Heater

Baseboard heaters are a great way to experience consistent warmth with the convenience of not having to hear the system kicking on or off because they don't require ducts or vents. If you don't already have vents in your home, these systems are easy to install.


Benefits of baseboard heaters include:

  • Quiet operation: These systems work almost silently because they don't require ducts or vents.
  • Installation cost: Baseboard heaters are inexpensive to install.
  • Heating abilities: The consistent heating will keep you comfortable for an extended period.
  • Energy efficiency: These systems often use condensing boilers, which are energy efficient.


Despite their operation, baseboard heaters do have their disadvantages. Cons of these heaters include:

  • Time: These systems take time to warm up and cool down and can create dry air that irritates the skin.
  • Capabilities: You'll need more than one baseboard unit because baseboard heaters cannot cool your entire home.
  • Expense: These systems can become expensive after heavy use, especially in colder months.
  • Safety: These systems get hot and can injure those who touch the covers.
  • Maintenance: Baseboard heaters require constant cleaning to keep them running efficiently.
  • Space: Because these units run along the bottom of the wall, you may lose space to place furniture and other items against.

What Is Forced Air?

Forced air systems use a furnace or heat pump to warm the air before blowing it through your home. Essentially, the air goes through a centralized location for cooling, and heating is then forced through the ducts throughout your home. The air will continue to circulate until your space reaches your set temperature.

Types of Forced Air Heating Systems

Some forms of forced air systems are more effective than others. While some require the use of fossil fuels, others are more environmentally friendly. Most forced air heating systems are only capable of heating, although heat pumps can heat or cool your home.

Types of forced air systems include:

  • Electric furnace: Electric furnace systems use electricity to heat the air. They have a temperature gauge in the thermostat that turns the heating element on and off. These systems run quietly and don't use fossil fuels to operate, but you'll have to consider the electricity costs.
  • Gas furnace: These systems can run on either natural gas, propane or oil, and they combust fuel to produce heat. These furnaces are common in most homes and are ignited by an electric spark, standing pilot or surface igniter.
  • Hydronic coils: These forced air systems are often referred to as hot water furnaces. They use hot water from a water heater to push air over coils and warm it before driving it into your house.
  • Heat pumps: You can use heat pumps for cooling or heating. These systems draw air from outside and use a refrigerant to absorb the heat. In the summer, the heat pump expels warm air outside, and in the winter, the system pushes warm air inside your home.

You can find different types of heat pumps with either ground, water or air source to heat or cool your home. Although air-source heat pumps are often the most cost-effective option, the other two types can save you significantly more energy.

Pros and Cons of Using Forced Air

Deciding whether a forced air system is right for your home depends on your situation, but it'll be easier to choose if you understand the advantages and disadvantages.


Benefits of forced air include:

  • Quickness: Forced air systems can quickly warm a room regardless of size.
  • Efficiency: New technology makes forced air systems one of the most efficient home heating options.
  • Functionality: These systems can cool and heat your house, depending on which type you choose.
  • Low maintenance: After initial installation, repairs and replacements are often inexpensive because there's one central unit.
  • Reliability: Furnaces are more reliable than other heating systems and don't break down as often.


Convenient forced air systems still come with a few factors to keep in mind. While it's a low-cost option, these systems do have some potential inconsistencies.

Consider these factors about forced air as you decide:

  • Leaks: Any duct leaks can cause inefficient heat distribution.
  • Inconsistency: These systems may be inconsistent throughout your home if your room sizes vary greatly.
  • Air quality: Forced air systems can distribute dust, dirt and allergens into the air, but a quality filter helps prevent this.
  • Use: Although heat pumps are able to cool your home, other systems cannot, so consider your needs when choosing a type of forced air system.

When to Choose Forced Air

Forced air systems are energy efficient and are able to heat your home quickly. It might be time to upgrade to forced air if:

  • Your current system is old.
  • You're having humidity problems.
  • You want a more responsive system.
  • You're looking for smart device integration.

If your current system is on its last leg, you likely know it's time for an upgrade anyway. Old systems will require more energy to be efficient, and they're more likely to break down. This will have you spending more money to keep the system running and continue to raise your energy bill. Switching to a forced air system can result in huge savings, especially up front.

Furthermore, if you're looking for a more responsive system that can zone your heat, opting for zone-controlled forced air is a great alternative. Because these systems can quickly change temperature and push air out, you can easily warm your entire home or the room you're sitting in.

You can even save costs and stay comfortable by using your smart device to control your temperature when you're at home or on your way back from running errands. You won't have to set a reminder to turn down the heat. Instead, you can create a schedule that will maximize your energy and provide you comfort as soon as you step through the door.

Adding forced air to a baseboard heated house involves installing ductwork if you don't already have it. If installing the ductwork for a forced air system is not possible, you'll need to consider other options. Although many people will find the cost to be worth it in the long run, others may find their home's construction prohibits the implementation of the necessary vents and ductwork.

How to Convert Baseboard Heaters to Forced Air

Replacing baseboard heaters with forced air is common for many homeowners because forced air systems are much more efficient and save your bank account over time.

Before making the switch, you'll need to prepare for a few things. First, you'll need to get rid of the old heaters and complete repairs to the wall where those heaters were residing. If you require a professional's help, you can call multiple companies to find the best price for removal.

It's possible you will have to prepare for more repairs depending on the damage your old system left behind. For example, if you used a hydronic system, any leaks over the years could have created mold or rotted any wood nearby. You'll want to ensure you take care of these damages to keep your home and health safe.

You'll also have to get rid of any wiring from your old system. You won't be able to hide them behind the walls because this can create a fire hazard.

After you've completed repairing and removing all necessary items, you can hire a professional to install your new furnace, vents and ductwork to connect the system to your home. After installation, the installer will likely cover any holes or exposed ductwork. Once your system is ready to run, you can expect to start saving on your energy bills and experience comfortable temperatures in every room of your house.

How Much Would It Cost to Switch?

The cost to convert baseboard heat to forced air depends on the service providers. You should expect to spend a couple of thousand dollars, but exactly how much or little you pay will come down to a variety of factors.

To replace baseboard heat with forced air, you'll need to consider the size of your home and the number of rooms you're planning to heat because these factors can create a significant price difference. Smaller systems will be less expensive than larger ones, but you don't have many options unless you decide to skip a room or two if you have a big house.

Overall, you'll need to account for the cost of components like:

  • Refrigerant lines
  • Ductwork sealing
  • An air handler
  • A condensate pump
  • Plumbing tie-in
  • System monitoring equipment
  • Custom boxes and thermostats

Other than the pieces, you will also cover costs for shipping, labor, inspections, system design, performance tuning and building permits.

Furthermore, the system types you're considering will vary in price. Natural gas is the most common system, and a natural gas furnace can range between $2,000 and $8,000.

Electrical furnaces use more energy but are also more affordable. However, you can opt for more energy-efficient furnaces for an additional cost. Due to the large range of options, you can find electrical furnaces anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000.

For those looking for a heating and cooling system, a heat pump can be the way to go. You can find heat pumps that have a water, air or ground source. You could spend anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 on a heat pump, depending on the size and energy efficiency ratio.

Converting to forced air helps you save money in energy costs and feel comfortable in every room of your home.

Convert to Forced Air With Ingram's Water & Air

Ingram's Water & Air has been in business for more than 30 years. We know all about home comfort, purification and filtration equipment, and we know we can help you find the best system for your home and lifestyle.

We want our products to save you time, money and the headache of finding a new system. Our experts are happy to work with you to determine the best system for your budget.

We've made it easy to find a contractor who can install your new forced air system or perform routine maintenance on your existing system. Learn more about making the switch to forced air today!

2 comments (view/add)
  • John Caporale
    John Caporale
    Posted on 5/12/2022

    And a properly designed condensing boiler/hydronic system is as, or more, efficient than a hot air system.

  • John Caporale
    John Caporale
    Posted on 5/12/2022

    Um, hot air heat is way more dry than any type of baseboard or hydronic heat.

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