Why Choose a Forced Air Heating System?

Why Choose a Forced Air Heating System?

By: First Supply

While hydronic heating, and mini split systems are increasing in popularity across the United States, forced air systems remain the most common heating method in the upper Midwest in states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. One exception would be homes that were built with radiators instead of HVAC ductwork. In this article we’ll look at how forced air heating systems function, the components required for efficient operation, and the benefits of forced air heat.

How do Forced Air Heating Systems Work?

A forced air system is part of an HVAC system that delivers temperature-controlled air through a system of ducts, blowers, dampers, and vents. Forced air systems pull cooler air in, and route it through a furnace that produces heat via a flame, or a heating element (if an electric furnace is being used). Gas, oil, and LP powered furnaces use a metal heat exchanger to transfer heat to incoming air. Electric furnaces don’t require a heat exchanger because the air is heated directly by the heating element.

After the air is heated, it is blown into a network of ducts to be distributed throughout a residence or commercial structure. As warm air fills each room, the colder heavier air is drawn into return ducts to repeat the process. In a forced air heating system, warm air displaces cold air which is different than hydronic systems that heat surfaces in a room instead of blowing heated air. When the inside temperature falls below the temperature set on the system’s thermostat, the furnace will turn on and run until the set temperature is reached when it will turn off.

Components of a Forced Air Heating System

For the successful installation of forced air HVAC system, you’ll also need several components, accessories, and HVAC supplies. A thermostat is one of the most important parts of a forced air heating system because it controls when the furnace turns on and off. Every situation is unique, but the following list includes components that may be required for your next forced air heating installation.

Air Registers, Grilles, Diffusers

These terminate ductwork and release (or extract) air into rooms. Registers have a damper that can opened and closed to control the amount of air that enters a room.
See Air Registers, Grilles, Diffusers


Includes a motor and a fan. Moves air from the heat exchanger into ductwork to be directed into individual rooms.
See Blowers


Burns propane (LP), natural gas, or oil to produce the heat that makes the furnace work. Includes a fuel valve, igniter, and flame sensor that work together. If a flame isn’t detected, the flame sensor will shut off the gas.
See Burners

Draft Hood

Helps draw air into a gas fired heating system and prevents down drafts.
See Draft Hoods

Ductwork (Ducts)

A network or rectangular tubes in a building that deliver conditioned air from a furnace or central air conditioning unit.
See Ductwork (Ducts)


Vents gases produced when natural gas or propane is burned to produce heat.
See Flues

Heat Exchanger

In gas and oil furnaces the baffles of a heat exchanger are heated and work by transferring heat to the air that passes over.
See Heat Exchangers


Distributes, removes, and draws air into a heating system.
See Plenums

Return Vents

Remove air from rooms and direct it back to the heating system. Return vents are like supply vents but will likely be larger.
See Return Vents


Turns a furnace on/off when high/low set temperatures are reached.
See Thermostats

Supply Vents

Unlike return vents, supply vents blow conditioned air into rooms.
See Supply Vents

Can a Forced Air System Provide Cooling?

For a forced air heating system to provide cooling, a central air conditioning unit needs to be installed. This is an easy add-on since the necessary duct work is already in place.

Benefits of a Forced Air Heating System

Most forced air heating systems are powered by natural gas or propane, but as mentioned above there are also oil and electric versions. Gas options are less expensive than electric systems. In buildings with existing ductwork, installing a forced air system is relatively inexpensive compared to other heating systems. Learn more about Forced Air Heating in the article: Advantages and Disadvantages of a Forced Air Heating System.

Hot Topic

Choosing a heating and cooling system is a big decision that requires some research. The information in this article highlights the features and benefits of a forced air heating system to help you weigh your options. Trust First Supply for all your furnace equipment, HVAC supplies, and heating and air conditioning information.