Lowdown on Baseboard Heaters

Baseboard heaters make ideal room heating solutions. They require very little space and are usually inconspicuous. They are quiet, safe and energy efficient. They are also easy to install.

Most electric baseboard heaters range from 500 watts to 2000 watts in power. That translates to about 50 - 200 of square feet of space that can be heated. They can be used on a room-by-room basis for whole house heating or for supplemental single room heating.

How They Work

Electric baseboard heaters are basically zone heaters. They are typically installed underneath windows where the heater’s rising air counteracts falling cool air from the window’s glass. Baseboard heaters are controlled by thermostats within the room where they are located.

These heaters use heating elements encased in metal sheaths, which are surrounded by aluminum fins to facilitate the transfer of heat. They employ a process known as convection. Air warmed by the heater becomes less dense than cool air and the resultant buoyant effect causes the warm air to rise. As the warmed air leaves the heater, it draws cooler air into the vacated space. Some heat also radiates from the heater’s element and housing.

Efficient, Quiet and Safe Operation

Baseboard heaters use convection to draw up the cold air near the floor, warming it up and releasing it back into the room where it rises. As the air cools, it sinks and is taken back into the baseboard heater to be warmed again. This convection-powered cycle will continue until the room is at the desired temperature, and the baseboard heater will then automatically shut off, therefore conserving energy.

Since electric baseboard heaters heat the room through convection, they are quieter than fan-forced heaters.

High quality electric/hydronic baseboard heaters are also available that offer clean, quiet operation, without the noise of a traditional hot water piping system and the noisy blower and dirt of forced-air systems.

Models include safety thermal cutout protection switches, which will turn off the heater in case of overheating. Auto safety features then reactivate the heater when the temperature returns to normal.

Ease of Installation

Baseboard heaters do not require ductwork, and are easy to install. Some models mount directly on the floor surface, whether it is wood or carpet.

Maintenance is typically easy too. The heating element inside the heaters does not have any moving parts, so there is less chance of something breaking down. Upkeep usually only requires minor cleaning such as removing the dust and lint from the grill of the heater. To prevent warm air from gathering behind the unit and streaking the wall with dust, make sure that the heater fits tightly to the wall.