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Baseboard heaters are a great way to employ zonal heating in your house. Neatly tucked behind furniture and low down, baseboard heaters can provide a less visually interruptive form of heating with relatively high energy efficiency.
Available both as electric heaters or as hot water heaters attached to central heating, baseboard heaters are quite flexible in design, making it easy to find one that suits your requirements.
Comparison Chart of the Best Baseboard Heaters
CADET 9954 Baseboard Heater 1000W
Fahrenheat PLF1004 Hydronic Baseboard Heater
Heat-Wave EB98937 Convection Baseboard Heater
Comfort Zone Low Profile Baseboard Silent Operation Heater CZ600
Fahrenheat PLF2004 240-volt Hydronic Baseboard Heater
How Do Baseboard Heaters Work?
Using heating elements that are enveloped in sheaths of metal, electric baseboard heaters use aluminum blades that help to distribute the heat around a room. People typically install them under windows. Baseboard heaters work as zone heaters as they heat the air that rises and offset the cool air from the window glass that moves in a falling motion.
It generates a circular motion of air movement, known as convection. The cooler air is pulled into the bottom of the heater and then heated. This hot air rises out of the heater. The displaced hot air creates a vacuum which sucks more cool air into the bottom of the heater. The casing and heating element are directly hot, which also causes extra heat to radiate from these components.
In general, electric baseboard heaters are controlled by thermostats that help to manage and maintain a constant heat within the room.
Hot water baseboard heaters work with the central heating. Water is heated using gas and then transferred to baseboard heaters around the home through pipes. Each heater takes a little of the hot water before it gets distributed to the next heater. These types of heaters work by radiating heat around the room.
Baseboard heaters work on a room by room basis, making them ideal for zonal heating of a household. Heating a basement is a good example of this.
Baseboard Heating vs. Convection Heating
Convection heating and electric baseboard heaters work similarly. Convection heating works by sucking air into the bottom of the heater and heating it; then the air is pushed out of the grill on the heater. The hot air rising causes air displacement, and as the air cools down, it falls and is sucked back into the bottom of the heater.
While electric baseboard heaters are similar, primarily working on convection, they also radiate heat. The casing and the heating element tend to give off a significant amount of heat which also provides radiation heat to a room, as well as the convection current. Electric baseboard heaters are heated by passing air over an element which heats due to an electrical current passing through it.
Hot water baseboard heaters work with radiation and not convection. By heating water inside, the baseboard heaters become hot, and heat radiates outward to warm the room.
Convection heaters can be placed anywhere in the room. Typically baseboard heaters are placed next to windows in order to create a balance with the cool air that comes from them. It adds an extra level of efficiency, as baseboard heaters suck in the cool air and heat it, also preventing cool air from managing to radiate across a room.
How Do You Choose a Baseboard Heater?
Firstly, think about the way it looks in the room. Aesthetically, baseboard heaters are quite convenient as they can be hidden behind furniture, whereas other types of heaters installed on walls are very visible.
Secondly, you need to take into account the installation. If you already have a central heating system, employing hot water baseboard heaters isn’t too much of a struggle. However, you will need professional installation to do this. Electric baseboard heaters are far easier to install and work with a simple plug and play system.
In terms of energy efficiency, gas is far more energy efficient than electric heating systems. However, if you are considering an electric baseboard heater, you may want to think about the size of the room you want to heat, to find a heater with the right capacity, and that is energy efficient at the same time. Electric baseboard heaters will either show you the BTU/hour (British Thermal Units) or the wattage. In general, you need 10 watts per square foot or 34.12 BTU per square foot. A heater without enough capacity will not heat the room properly, and you will end up using it far more often and at much higher temperatures. Some heaters even come with ‘eco’ settings to help conserve energy.
In this sense, the cost comes into play. Electric baseboard heaters are relatively inexpensive to run but can be a little more expensive than other options. They are cheaper to buy than convection heaters but make sure you buy one with the right heating capacity to ensure you’re not paying extra for inefficiency.
You must consider the safety of a baseboard heater, especially if you have small children or pets. Baseboard heaters tend to heat up quite hot, making the casing untouchable. Try to look for safety certifications, such as UL, in order to ensure it meets the regulations for safety. Some models also come with tip-over shut-off and thermal cut-off to prevent overheating.
Reviews of the Best Baseboard Heaters
Here are some of the best baseboard heaters, featuring some of the top safety features, energy efficiency ratings, and heating capacities.
Made of 25 gauge steel, this UL-listed baseboard heater is very slimline and sleek in design. It has 1000 watts of heating capacity and needs to be hardwired. This model needs an external thermostat.
Simple to use and install, this baseboard heater lasts a long time and doesn’t need much maintenance. You will need to install a thermostat to manage the temperature.
You can mount this UL-listed baseboard heater on any floor tile or carpet. The heating element is immersed in a heat transfer liquid for better heat distribution and efficiency. It features a cut-off for the eventuality that the airway becomes blocked and has 1000 watts of heating power.
It is a great heater for smaller rooms, providing an easy-to-install, durable solution. It is generally silent, but the noise of turning it on or off makes a little disturbance.
This 1000 watt heater comes with two heat settings and an adjustable thermostat. It comes with tip-over shut-off and a thermal cut-off mechanism. It can heat a room of up to 400 square feet.
This heater is very highly reviewed and provides a lot of heat even on its lowest setting. The safety features prevent it from being a fire hazard. However, the thermostat is a little inaccurate which can affect when it kicks in.
A dual wattage heater, functioning on both 750 and 1500 watts, this baseboard has an overheat protection and a tip-over shut-off mechanism. It has a heavy gauge heating element to ensure silent heating and comes ready to plug and play. It features a timer setting.
The timer setting and portability make it a very convenient heater. It is completely silent and very durable. However, its high heating capacity makes the casing very hot, which can be a hazard to small children and pets.
With thermal cut-off and UL certifications, this very safe heater has a 2000 watt heating capacity. The heating element is situated in formulated heating transfer liquid. It is very slimline and you can install it on tile or carpet.
This heater is great for large rooms and lowers your heating bills. However, it seems that there are a few flaws in the design that can lead to faulty products being delivered out.
Baseboard heaters are a great way to add silent heat to your home. They provide an energy efficient way to zonally heat your house and are aesthetically unobtrusive.
However, before considering a baseboard heater, think about the safety features, especially if you have children and pets. Indeed, the casing becomes quite hot which can be a hazard, so the tip-over cut-off is very important in case of danger of it being knocked. Remember to always measure a room first to ensure you know the size of the heater you will need.