Cast Iron Radiators (Hot Water / Steam System) vs HVAC System

Posted by Brian da Silva on

Cast iron - it's more comfortable, cleaner, quieter

HVAC though, is quicker, can be cheaper, and is sometimes less complicated to set up (since most people already have central air system)

So, which to go with?  Well you gotta remember something.  Cast iron has been around since 1800s, and has been around that long for a reason. 

Because here's the deal when talking about forced air.  A Central air conditioner already installed makes it certainly cheaper to use air by just adding a furnace to the air system. However, if you do that, you may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and feeling that old  dry throat effect.

There's no way that even a modulating furnace is gonna compare to a properly installed hot water system. Hot water radiators heat two ways: first, they produce heated air by convection, then, radiant heat rays travel in all directions as they heat surfaces (including your body), thus, they produce a much more even and comfortable heat.

Cast Iron Radiators = Convection Heating = Even and Comfortable Heat.

A furnace only heats air which must in turn heat objects. That's just the opposite of how it should be done. That's why it's "forced error". 


How to Heat a Home

When moving to a new home, one of the most important things to check is how the heat is delivered from the central unit to the rooms. There are two ways of transferring heat: by air and by water. Air is warmed up in central units called furnaces, and sent through ducts to room registers. Water is heated up in a boiler and distributed by pipelines to radiators which warm the room’s air.

Both systems require a device to get the hot air or water into motion, and that device is usually electric. Radiator systems use water pumps, while hot air duct networks use a blower to circulate the air.

Very old homes have vertical radiators made of cast iron, just like the pipes. These are old-fashioned but effective.

Hot air or forced air systems use air which is directly heated and sent straight to the rooms. With such a system, you get quick warmth. On the other hand, the warmth perishes once you turn it off without delay. Hot air systems can be upgraded with an air conditioner, so these can chill your rooms during the summer. With radiator heating you need to solve summer heat problems with separate air conditioners. Hot air systems allow you to have a full control of your home air conditions and there is no need for the blower to run all the time. However, the humidity may go out quicker than with a radiator system, so you need to be careful with that. Another problem may be that when the hot air system is not running, the registers become drafts, and if your home is not properly air tight, they can actually chill your home in winter and the only way to avoid that is to let it run most or all the time. This system’s greatest disadvantage is dust that may collect inside the dusts and cause discomfort and a possible health concern.

Conclusion: Both radiator and forced hot air systems have their pros and cons, but there are slightly more advantages on the radiator’s side.


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