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Heating Ducts/Return Register Location - Which is Best?

Forced Air system: Supply vents in floor or ceiling? Return registers in floor, up wall in stud bay near ceiling or in ceiling in joist bay per se? Combination? Is style of house (i.e ranch/bungalow/split level/two (or more) stories)) and or the elevation of a given level an important factor (i.e. finished basement vs. ground floor vs. main floor vs. upper level(s)).

Re: Heating Ducts/Return Register Location - Which is Best?

It's entirely up to you. Here in CA, the norm is: supply A/C-Heating registers are high (wall or ceiling) and returns are low.

Re: Heating Ducts/Return Register Location - Which is Best?

It would help to know your location and whether the priority requirement is either heat or cooling.

- If your priority is good heat, put the ducts in the floor under your windows and the returns up high. This allows the heat to enter near where cold air is coming from (windows) and takes advantage of natural convection of hot air to help the circulation back to the cold air return. It also counteracts any cold areas and drafts you might have from poorly sealed windows.

- If your priority is cooling it will still work fine if you put the ducts in the ceiling or upper part of the walls, and the returns down lower in the wall. Its still best to put ducts near windows, but the higher velocity air flow will usually circulate cold air well enough that ducts more toward the center of the room will still work fine.

It gets more complicated with a two story house because of the temp difference between floors. The most common complaint is that its too hot upstairs, in either heat or AC mode. The best solution is to use one system for each floor. The other solution is to adjust vents and returns to reduce flow to the upstairs when heat is on and increase it when you need cooling.


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