Question about forced air heat

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by DHertz, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. DHertz

    DHertz New Member

    Hi all, this is my first post here...we're considering switching to geothermal as our boiler is really old and we will need to replace it soon anyway. Seems like a good time to explore new options.

    My question is about forced air heat. We currently have central air in most of the house (all except finished basement), where the vents are on the ceiling or in some cases high up on the wall, and baseboard heat fueled by oil. The ceiling is a logical place for the a/c vents. As far as I understand it, a new geothermal system would do away with baseboard heat and have heat come through the same vents as the a/c. This seems like not a great place for heat as heat rises so the lower half of the rooms would be colder than near the ceiling. Am I missing something about this? How does it work to have a/c and heat both come through the same vents when their ideal placement should be opposite each other? And in general, how does forced air heat compare with baseboard heat in how it feels in the room (leaving aside the placement of the vent, if that's possible). Finally, are there any other options for how to actually get heat with the geothermal system besides forced air heat?

    I have a meeting with a rep later this week but I thought I'd try and get thoughts from real people before meeting with him.

  2. Stickman

    Stickman Member Forum Leader

    Welcome DHertz. Fellow NY’er here. I formerly heated with oil hot water baseboard, and now have forced air geo. All of my vents are on the ceiling. I would say that my baseboard was a more even, less noticeable type of heat. Does that make sense? I didn’t have central AC, so acquiring that was a big plus for me. Over time, I did things to make the geo heat as good as it could be, such as no temperature setbacks and leaving the fan set to ON all the time I’m in heating mode. It’s been 6 years for me now, and I can say I am happy I made the switch.

    There are water to water geo heat pumps that would work with a radiant floor, for example.

    Don’t abandon your baseboard to quickly. You could potentially use it as backup/emergency heat (I wish I knew this was possible before my baseboard got pulled out). And some geo heat pumps may work with your baseboard.

    Good luck!
  3. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You can get a high temperature heat pump like the Optiheat from waterfurnace, and feed hot water to your baseboards. They can make up to 145F hot water.

    They can go in reverse and send chilled water to an air coil for summer A/C.

    Alternatively, havingg heat come from the ceiling is not a big deal either. it works, since the heat is pulled into the return on the bottom anyway.
    Works all the time, unlike you have very high ceilings. Then a ceiling fan helps.
  4. DHertz

    DHertz New Member

    Thanks Stickman. Can you explain what "no temperature setbacks" means? Also, do you mean that you can set the fan to stay on all the time even when it's not blowing hot air? Does that just help the warm air circulate better? And, if I was able to have the baseboards as a backup, that would mean keeping the oil tank and having two parallel heating systems?
  5. DHertz

    DHertz New Member

    Thanks docjenser. The high temperature heat pump that you're referring to - is that part of a geothermal system, or separate from it? And, sorry if I'm being dense about this, but when you say that the heat is being pulled into the return on the bottom...isn't there one return for the whole house? Or on each floor? Right now we have two floors plus a finished basement. The basement has no ductwork-the central a/c is only on the first and second floors, with the return going to the attic. So this job would require a significant amount of new ductwork in the basement anyway, but I'm just wondering what the heat experience will be in a given room. So where are the returns that you're referring to that would make the heat coming out of the ceiling work? Hope that question makes sense.
  6. Stickman

    Stickman Member Forum Leader

    No setback means leave the thermostat set to the temperature you like best 24 hours a day.

    Yes, setting the fan to ON does help circulate the air throughout the house for a more even distribution of heat. Most blowers in newer equipment have variable speed motors, so letting them run on a low speed when the compressor is off doesn't cost much at all.

    Keeping your current oil system is an option that you may want to at least consider. Once it's gone, it's gone. My installer never gave me the choice, and I didn't think to ask.
  7. DHertz

    DHertz New Member

    Thanks, that's all really helpful!

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