Cost to Convert Baseboard Heat to Forced Air (Installation Rates)

Electric baseboard heat can be converted to forced air, but the cost can vary based upon nearby service providers. Factors such as the age of the system play a big role in the cost and ease of conversion. Follow along as we explore the key factors that affect how much it costs to convert to a forced air system.

Cost to Convert Baseboard Heat to Forced Air

Switching from baseboard heat to a forced-air system is a big decision. Many people choose to stay with their baseboard heaters not only because of the cost of changing systems, but the perks it provides. Before you decide to convert heating systems, make sure you research which is best for your family.

Installing a Forced Air heating system is no small feat, especially if you are starting from the ground up. If you are replacing an existing system and using the old ductwork, this will save you a lot of money. If you are converting, they will have to remove the old heating system and install the new one.

While hard to pinpoint with all the variables, baseboard heat to forced air conversion will usually cost between $10,000 and $30,000.  This depends on current ducting within the home and the forced air unit you purchase.

Below we will look at the breakdown in cost.

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Forced Air Heating

Forced air heating is a system that distributes warm air throughout the home using a series of ducts and vents. Using a powerful blower to draw air into your home, it pushes it over a heat source and out to various rooms.

The cost of installing a forced-air system will depend on a number of factors, including the size of your house and how many rooms you want to heat. Larger systems will cost more than smaller systems, and equipment efficiency and advanced features will also raise that price.

What’s Involved in an HVAC Installation

Installing a forced-air system involves a lot of parts, planning, and labor.

A complete installation will involve purchasing: an air handler, refrigerant lines, ductwork parts, ductwork sealing, ductwork insulation, custom boxes, condensation management including a condensate pump, and a plumbing tie in, thermostats, system monitoring equipment, etc..

You will then need to factor in the system design, shipping costs, labor costs, building permits, electrical and building inspection, performance tuning, etc.. As you can see, this is the reason that the cost to convert may seem so high.

Furnace Cost and Installation

The furnace is where your air will be heated and then pushed through your home. This burns fuel and distributes the warmed air throughout the house. There are three types of furnaces that most people use in their homes:

  • Natural Gas: This is the most common type of furnace in residential homes. The cost of a standard efficiency natural gas furnace ranges from $2,250 to $3,800. There is an additional labor charge of 1,800 to $4,000.
  • Electrical: Electric furnaces are more affordable, though they use more energy. This will give you a higher electrical bill. Furnaces with Energy Star ratings are higher efficiency and will save you money in the long run. A new electric furnace ranges in price from $1,5000 to $8,000, with $4,000 being the average. Installation costs range from $1,700 to $2,500.
  • Oil: An oil furnace is not as efficient as gas and has an average cost of $5,500, including materials, equipment, and labor.

Heat Pump Cost and Installation

A heat pump will work with a cooling system, where-as a furnace will need to be matched with an air conditioner. Heat pumps are more energy0efficient because transferring heat is easier than making it. Since air pumps don’t use combustion, they do not create any greenhouse gas emissions.

Once the temperature is set, cold air from the home is pulled into the system and it passes through an air filter and then into the heat pump.  It works as a heater when its cold outside and an air conditioner when it’s hot.

Heat Pump Varieties

There are 3 main types of heat pumps: Air Source, Water Source, and Ground Source. What differentiates them is where they get their heat sources from.

  • Air-Source: This is known as an air-to-air pump and it works by pulling heat from outdoor air and transferring it to your home. Very common, as it is one of the cheapest heat pumps to install and takes up the least amount of space. They will help reduce energy costs by 50%.
  • Water Source: These are a good option if you live near a body of water. These extract heat energy from water by pumping the water directly through the heat pump. These provide a more constant temperature than air source and are cheaper than ground source.
  • Ground Source: This is also known as a geothermal heat pump and it works by extracting heat energy from the ground around your foundation. Because the ground is always warmer than the air, they are more efficient than air-source heat pumps. They are also quieter, but because of their high cost, they are not as common.
Type Pump Cost Installation Costs
Air Source Heat Pump $3,000 – $5,000 $3,900 – $6,000
Water Source Heat Pump $3,300 – $8,000 $1,800 – $8,000
Geothermal Heat Pump $1,500 – $13,000 $4,000 – $15,000

Heat pumps come in different sizes and each has different costs associated with it.

Heat Pump Capacity (Tons) Total Cost
2 $3,500 – $5,500
2.5 $3,700 – $5,800
3 $3,900 – $6,200
3.5 $4,000 – $6,400
4 $4,000 – $7,300
5 $4,500 – $8,800

When selecting a unit, size it in advance according to maximum demand. Each unit has a different sound rating, measured in decibels. The lower the rating the quieter it is.

Ductwork Parts and Installation

In order to use forced air, you will need to have a series of ducts and vents installed throughout your home. Depending on the size of your home and the type of forced air heating system you are going with, these prices will vary.

For new construction, the average cost is between $5,000 and $6,000. This is a much easier way to install ductwork than building it into an existing home.

To install ductwork into your home, it will need to be customized. Every home is unique and therefore, so is every ducting system. Installing ductwork is very labor-intensive and will take a couple of days to be done properly. Each ductwork should have a custom fabricated metal damper. It should be custom insulated. Each joint needs to be sealed and crimped. And it will need to be strapped to the attic.

The average home will need 25 – 100 linear feet of ductwork, at $30 – $60 per foot. At this rate, the average price will be $2,500 for a full home installation.

Some installers will calculate the cost per duct, with prices ranging from $150 – $250 each. With 6 – 10 ducts going into each home, the installation costs will be between $900 – $2,500.

Filter Replacement

Although it’s not something that is thought about too often, keeping the filter clean in your forced air system will greatly improve its efficiency. The filter is the main protector of the systems blower motor, keeping it clean and running smoothly.

Air filters runt the gamut in terms of sizes, qualities, and costs. You can find cheap replacements that last one month, or high quality that you would need to replace once a year.

1” – 2” Filter Replace 1 -3 Months $10 – $30
3” – 4” Filter Replace 6 – 9 Months $20 – $40
5” – 6” Filter Replace 9 – 12 Months $30 – 60

Replacing your air filters is an important part of HVAC maintenance. This will keep your system running the way it should, without getting bogged down. It will also ensure that the air quality within your home stays clean and you aren’t having pollen, mold, or other allergens floating through the house.

Labor Costs

The hard part about calculating labor costs is that it is dependent on so many factors. It is relative to asking, “how much does a new home cost”, in that location, demand, season, professional, and more, go into this price. These are just guidelines and you will need to call around to get a more precise estimate.

Permit Costs

You will also need to pull permits for installing a forced-air system into your home. These building permits will make sure that the installation is done to code and is safe for your home, to mitigate any fire dangers.

The cost of permits will be between $400 and $1100, depending on how extensive the installation is.

Building Inspections

Inspectors will come perform a thorough review and testing of your new renovation. They will check the installation of the thermostat, furnace, heat pump, and ducts to make sure that they are in functional condition. They will look at the air filters, blower components, refrigerant pressure, insulation, and a laundry list of other areas. They will also check for carbon monoxide, to make sure there are no leaks.

The cost of an inspection is $200 – $500.

Total Cost to Convert To Forced Air

As you can see, the size of your house, heating system tier, ductwork, labor, and permits, will all affect the cost of installation. There are so many variables that you will get a wide range of estimates when you call around to different companies. Cheaper is not always best, so make sure that they have a solid reputation and are properly licensed.

Cutting corners with your forced air conversion will only cost you in the long run, as you might run into more issues. The average cost of a full installation into a home with no pre-existing system is $10,000 to $20,000.

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Related Questions

Does Baseboard Heat Dry the Air?

The heat produced by baseboard heaters will not dry out a room as much as heater the blow air into the room through vents will.

Is It Bad to Sleep with The Heater On?

You should not leave your heater running overnight, as this will dry out your skin and nasal passages.

What is the Most Expensive Form of Heating?

Using oil to heat your home is the most expensive. Oil prices have risen high and fluctuate much more than electricity and gas.

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Sean Jarvis

Sean Jarvis is an interior decorator, writer, and expert handyman. Well versed in everything home improvement, he is a savant at manipulating words and spaces and upgrading everything around him. Sean specializes in writing concise guides about appliance repair and installation, home and lifestyle, and other residential projects.

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