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Serving West Michigan Since 2004

Serving West Michigan Since 2004

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Radiant Heating vs Forced-Air Heating

radiant-heatingWhen it comes to heating systems, most of what you’ll see are forced-air heaters. These consist of systems that use air as the medium for transferring heat. We know them in our homes as furnaces and heat pumps.

On the other hand, you have radiant heating systems. Even though radiant heating is only used in less common systems like boilers and radiant heating systems, many insist that radiant heating is superior to forced-air heating.

Most HVAC contractors in Holland, MI are happy to install either for you. We’ll go even further by explaining the pros and cons between each, and we’ll help you decide which is better for your needs.

Forced-Air Pros and Cons

You can’t go wrong with forced-air heaters. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best for everyone. Homeowners like these systems for their reliability, but there are some areas that could be improved.


  • Fast: When you need heating, forced-air heaters will give it to you. It takes little time for these heaters to deliver warm air to your entire home.
  • Affordable: Forced-air heaters are typically less expensive than radiant heating options, both in the price of the unit and in the price of installation.
  • Convenient Installation: Perhaps the main reason that forced-air heaters remain so popular is because most homes are already equipped with ductwork. That cuts out a significant portion of the installation cost for furnaces and traditional heat pumps.


  • Indoor air quality issues: Forced-air systems will inadvertently blow dust and allergens around the home. This can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms for some.
  • Ductwork inefficiency: Leaks in the ducts are huge factors contributing to inefficiency in forced-air systems. You can get around this by installing a ductless system instead, but you’ll have to pay a more expensive upfront cost.
  • Potentially loud: Depending on how your heater and ducts are installed, forced-air heaters can be too loud for homeowners who would prefer a quieter heating system.

Radiant Heating

It’s said that the comfort of radiant heating systems can’t be matched by forced-air heaters. Radiant heating systems were the norm for many decades until forced-air heaters reached the level of efficiency they hold today. Some argue radiant is still much better.


  • Even heating: Forced-air heaters don’t always heat the air evenly. That can leave corners or even entire rooms lacking in heat. This issue doesn’t occur with radiant heating, as the heating elements are installed evenly throughout the length of the room.
  • Silent: Electric radiant systems don’t make any noise in their operation.
  • Better for air quality: Radiant heating does not disturb the air, so you won’t be risking your family members with allergies or asthma.


  • Slower: Heating the room thoroughly with radiant heating can take time, especially compared to forced-air heaters.
  • Remolding may be required: In order to install the heating components, that could involve tearing up the floor or the walls. Unless you happen to be remodeling, it might be inconvenient to install radiant heating.
  • Expensive installation: Radiant heating systems that come as an extension of a boiler will require a lengthier installation. This can lead to a much higher installation cost than anticipated for a heating system.

Need help figuring out which system makes the most sense for your home? Contact Westshore Mechanical today to speak with an expert.

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