The best baseboard heaters are ideal for helping you inject extra warmth into your home during cold weather. It is also a great way to employ zonal heating in your house by neatly tucking it behind furniture and the low down. Baseboard heaters are also a visually less interruptive form of heating with relatively high energy efficiency to keep your home warm without cranking your style.
Baseboard heaters come as either electric heaters or hot water heaters attached to central heating. The best baseboard heaters have a flexible design, making it fairly easy to find one that suits your requirements. In today’s article, we will be talking about how baseboard heaters work, how to pick the right baseboard heater for your home, and some of the best baseboard heaters available on the market right now.
How Do Baseboard Heaters Work?
Baseboard Heaters have heating elements that are enveloped in sheaths of metal. Electric baseboard heaters use aluminum blades to help distribute heat within a room and people typically install them under windows. Baseboard heaters are often used as zone heaters as they heat the air that rises to offset the cool air coming from the window glass in a falling motion.
The rising of hot air generates a circular motion of air movement, known as convection, where the cooler air is pulled into the bottom of the heater to get heated up. The hot air then rises out of the heater and the displaced hot air creates a vacuum in the heater to suck in more cool air from the bottom. The casing and heating elements are hot, which also causes extra heat to radiate out into the room from these components.
Generally, electric baseboard heaters are controlled by built-in thermostats that can help owners manage and maintain constant heat within the room. How water baseboard heaters, on the other hand, work with the central heating. Water is heated using gas and transferred to the baseboard heaters placed around the home via pipes. Each heater will take in a little of the hot water before it gets distributed to the next heater. Hot water baseboard heaters work by radiating heat into the room.
As mentioned earlier, baseboard heaters provide a great solution to the zonal heating of a household since they work on a room-by-room basis. Heating a basement is a good example of how to make use of baseboard heaters.
Aspects to Consider when Choosing the Best Baseboard Heaters
The first thing to consider is to think about the way your baseboard heaters will look in the room. Aesthetically, baseboard heaters are very convenient since they can be hidden behind furniture, whereas other types of heaters are very visible when installed on walls.
Next, you’ll also need to take into account the installation of the baseboard heaters. If you already have a central heating system at home, then it won’t be too much of a struggle to employ hot water baseboard heaters. However, you’ll still need the services of professional installation to do this. Electric cardboard heaters are far easier to install and work than hot water baseboard heaters as they’re just a simple plug-and-play system.
Gas is far more energy-efficient than electric heating systems. However, if you’re looking to buy the best electric baseboard heater, you may want to think about the size of the room you’re planning on heating. You need to find an electric baseboard heater with the right capacity and energy-efficient at the same time.
Electric baseboard heaters will show you either the BTU/hour (British thermal units) or the wattage. A good rule of thumb to follow is that you will need 10 watts per square foot or 34.12 BTU per square foot. A heater without enough capacity will not have enough power to heat the room properly, and you may end up having to run the heater way more often and at much higher temperatures just to stay warm. Some heaters even have an “eco” setting to help conserve energy during operation. This will ultimately translate to a lower electricity bill too!
Electric baseboard heaters are relatively inexpensive to operate but they can still be a little more expensive than the other options. Though they are cheaper to buy than convection heaters, you still need to make sure you buy one with the right heating capacity to ensure you’re not paying extra for inefficiency.
Baseboard heaters tend to build up quite a lot of heat, making the hot casing untouchable. This may pose a safety hazard, especially if you have small children and pets in the house. When searching for the best baseboard heaters, try to look for safety certifications, such as UL, in order to ensure what you’re buying meets suitable safety regulations. Some models also come with tip-over shut-off and thermal cut-off to prevent overheating.
Best Baseboard Heaters in 2021
Now that we’ve talked about some of the basics of heaters, here are some of the best baseboard heaters on the market that feature top safety features, energy efficiency ratings, and heating capacities:
1. Best Overall – Cadet 9954 Baseboard Heater 1000W
The UL-listed Cadet 9954 Baseboard Heater is made of 25 gauge steel and features a very slimline and sleek design. The 1000 watt heating capacity needs to be hardwired and requires an external thermostat to complete the installation.
Overall, this model is simple to use and install. The portable baseboard heater will also last you a very long time and requires minimal maintenance. The only drawback is that you need to install a separate thermostat to manage the temperature.
- Easy to install
- Very low maintenance and extremely durable to last you many years
- This product is certified with UL-listing as a safe-to-use product
- Good aesthetics with a very slim design and therefore does not take up too much room and is less noticeable
- It may be quite expensive to run
- Does not come with a built-in thermostat, so you’ll need to get an external one
- Only provides supplementary heating and the unit may struggle when the temperatures are very low
2. Runner-Up – Fahrenheat PLF1004 Hydronic Baseboard Heater
This UL-listed baseboard heater can be mounted on any floor tile or carpet. The heating element is immersed in a high-efficiency heat transfer liquid for better heat distribution and efficiency. The heating product features a cut-off in case it detects that the airway gets blocked and has 1000 watts of heating power.
Hydronic baseboard heaters are a great choice for smaller rooms, providing an easy-to-install durable solution. The energy-efficient Fahrenheat hydronic baseboard heater is generally silent, but the noise of turning it on or off may cause a little disturbance.
- Excellent quality of materials for enhanced durability
- Provides a great deal of heat, even at low-temperature settings
- Very easy to install if you have 240-volt lines and it comes with very clear instructions
- Cut-off features help to counteract any fire hazard in case items fall in through the wide slots from the heaters
- Generates a loud expansion noise when it gets turned on or off
- Suitable for heating smaller rooms as it has difficulty heating large rooms
3. Best Electric Baseboard Heater – Heat-Wave EB98937 Convection Baseboard Heater
This baseboard heater is 1000 watts and comes with two heat settings and an adjustable thermostat to achieve your desired level of comfort. The powerful baseboard heater is able to heat up a room of up to 400 square feet. This best electric baseboard heater even comes with a tip-over shut-off and a thermal cut-off mechanism for enhanced safety.
The Heat-Wave heater is highly reviewed by many owners and provides plenty of heat even in its lowest setting. The safety features prevent the electric baseboard heater from becoming a fire hazard. However, there are some reports that the thermostat is a little inaccurate which can affect when the heating kicks in.
- Completely silent operation
- Cheaper to run compared to a gas heater thanks to its high efficiency
- Extremely powerful and provides good heating capacity at the lowest setting
- Excellent safety features with tip-over shut-off that will turn the heater off if it ever falls off
- Has thermal cut-off to stop the baseboard heater from overheating
- The thermostat may not be as accurate as it could be
- Some complaints on the strong odor
4. Fahrenheat PLF2004 240-volt Hydronic Baseboard Heater
This 2000 Watt baseboard heater comes with thermal cut-off and UL certifications for enhanced safety. The heating element is also situated in formulated heating transfer liquid for better efficiency. The fahrenheat hydronic heaters have a very slimline design to fit on a tile or carpet.
The portable baseboard heater is also great for large rooms and will help you lower your heating bills. However, there are a few flaws in the design that could possibly lead to faulty products.
- Completely silent operation
- Very high wattage to provide a great amount of heat for larger rooms
- The thermal cut-off feature will turn off the heater if it overheats or if the airways become blocked
- It heats a room very quickly, efficiently, and evenly to help you lower heating bills
- Fragile wiring and any big knocks can break the soldering
- High-temperature cut off does not perform as well as expected
5. Best Portable Baseboard Heater – Fahrenheat FHP 1500TA
The one thing that makes this model stand out to us is its built-in thermostat which prevents the energy-efficient baseboard heater from overheating. The heating element is stored as a pipe and evenly distributes the heat to the room. This makes it suitable for use with people who suffer from lung issues or breathing problems like asthma.
The baseboard heater has received quite many positive reviews from recent buyers stating that it is the perfect product for their needs as it’s able to keep the room comfortable and warm for a long time. Moreover, it has a very quiet operation and can be stored or transported from room to room easily.
Overall, the Fahrenheat FHP1500TA is a gentle heater that does not compromise efficiency. It also has a smart design that’s easy to store and carry around. Since it’s cool to the touch, the device is safe to be kept around children and pets. Most importantly, the baseboard heater is able to keep your room comfortable without producing any unwanted noise.
- Lightweight design and compact enough to be stored anywhere
- Provides gentle heating with maximum efficiency
- Cool to the touch and safe for use around children and pets
- Does not produce annoying noise
- Low-profile design lets you use it anywhere you want
- Might emit noxious fumes
- May provide extremely dry heat
6, Comfort Zone Low-Profile Baseboard Silent Operation Heater CZ600
This baseboard heater is a dual wattage heater that functions on both 750 and 1500 watts. The baseboard heater also has an overheat protection and a tip-over shut-off mechanism that will automatically cut off the heater. This baseboard heater features a heavy gauge heating element to ensure silent heating and comes ready to plug and play. It even has a timer setting for you to set it to switch off automatically.
The timer setting and portability of the baseboard heater make it a very convenient choice. It is completely silent and very durable. However, the high heating capacity makes the casing very hot, which could pose a hazard to small children and pets.
- This baseboard heater is both easy to operate and easy to install
- The heater operation does not make any noise
- Generates a great deal of heat, even on its lowest setting
- Easily portable for you to move it from room to room
- Has a timer setting that will automatically turn off the heater for convenience
- May cause a short circuit if connected to the same circuit as other heating products, such as microwaves
- Can get very hot, especially on high heat, which becomes dangerous for children and pets
What Size Baseboard Heater do I Need?
The size of the baseboard heater will depend on your own needs. If you want to heat up your entire room, you may need to install more than one baseboard heater. The general rule to follow is to provide ten watts of heat output per square foot of your room.
So, for example, you will need enough baseboard heaters to deliver a thousand watts of heat output to cover a hundred square feet. It is quite often not quite possible to find a baseboard that will fit your entire room, or a baseboard large enough to cover a wall of your room. Therefore, you might need to invest in more than one unit of the baseboard heater.
With so many types and varieties of heaters on the market, it is easy for customers to get confused. You might even question the difference between a baseboard and other types of heater. To make it easier for you, here is a comparison of a few heaters on the market:
Baseboard Heating vs. Convection Heating
Convection heating and electric baseboard heaters are very similar in terms of operation. Convection heating works by sucking air into the bottom of the heater and pushes the air out of the grill on the heater after heating it. The hot air rises cause air displacement and the heater sucks in the cool air that falls to the bottom.
Electric baseboard heaters also primarily work on the same principle of convection, but they have an additional function, which is to radiate heat. The casing and heating elements are hot and give off a significant amount of heat to a room. Electric baseboard heaters are heated by passing air over an element which gets heated up when electrical current passes through it.
Hot water baseboard heaters work with radiation instead of convection. By running hot water inside, the baseboard heaters become hot and radiate the heat outward into the room.
A great feature of convection heaters is that they can be placed anywhere in the room. Owners typically blase baseboard heaters next to windows in order to create a balance with the cool air that comes from them. It also adds an extra level of efficiency as baseboard heaters will suck the cool air in and release hot air, thereby preventing cool air to radiate across a room.
Baseboard Heater vs. Space Heater
Both work similarly and are energy-efficient, but the main difference between a space heater and a baseboard heater is the amount of heat outflow generated. The former is perfect for heating up a small area of the room efficiently to keep it warm and comfortable.
However, if you want overall even heating of the entire room, then the baseboard heater is likely your best option as it is longer in size compared to space heaters. This also means that baseboard heaters are more portable and petite on top of being able to give out more heat. They’re also safer to use compared to a space heater since board heaters won’t burn anything and are relatively cool to touch.
Hydronic vs Electric Baseboard Heater
A hydronic baseboard heater contains fluid in its unit which will heat up and radiate warmth into the atmosphere. This method of radiating heat will keep the room warm and comfortable for a much longer time compared to an electric baseboard heater.
A room heated by an electric baseboard heater tends to cool down very quickly as it has metal fins to radiate heat. But when the heater is shut down, they tend to cool down quickly, consequently resulting in a colder room quickly too.
Electric Fireplace vs. Baseboard Heater
An electric fireplace is used to heat up a room evenly and is rather similar to a baseboard heater. Both are able to evenly spread out heat in a large room but they come in varying forms of wattage.
Another similarity between these two heaters is that they’re both mounted on a wall of a room. While the fireplace can be mounted on any part of the wall, the baseboard heater can only be mounted on a baseboard.
A baseboard heater is also less expensive compared to an electric fireplace. You’re often able to find a baseboard heater for half the price of a fireplace. In terms of operation, both consume a lot of electricity to heat up.
Infrared Heater vs Electric Baseboard
Infrared heaters involve radiating heat through electromagnetic induction. This offers sustainable warmth, which lasts longer compared to electric baseboard heaters. An electric baseboard also features metal fins that will cool off quickly and the warmth subsides.
Infrared heaters are more efficient and safer compared to electric baseboard heaters in this sense. Moreover, they maximize the floor usage and can heat a large room evenly and efficiently.
How to Install a Baseboard Heater?
Different types of cardboard heaters will have different installation processes. However, they all have a common procedure to install a baseboard heater which is as follows:
- Measure the size of your room by multiplying the length and the width of the room together.
- Check the insulation of your entire room to ensure it is good enough to prevent heat from escaping.
- Check whether the windows on your rooms have a single or double pane. Rooms with single-pane windows tend to lose heat
- much quicker compared to double-paned windows.
- Figure out the amount of heat you require. A good rule of thumb to follow is to get ten watts of heat output for every square foot of area.
- Figure out a place to mount the thermostat. The thermostat should be approximately 60 inches away from the floor and you need to ensure that there is a two-wire circuit running through it.
- Place the baseboard heater where you want to install it and carefully connect the wiring according to the provide instructions on the instruction panel/instruction booklet.
- Replace the covers to ensure the heaters are safe and secure and cannot be pulled off easily.
How to Wire a Baseboard Heater
Since baseboard heaters use electricity to heat up, obviously setting it up will require some wiring. You can wire the baseboard heater with the following steps:
- Drill holes in the wall to pass electric wires through them.
- Unscrew the baseboard heater to run the supply wire through it and use the nut bolts to tighten them up.
- Connect the same colored wires of the supply and the wires present within the baseboard heater.
- Connect the ground wire with the supply wire.
- Screw the baseboard back up after leveling it to the ground.
How to Clean a Baseboard Heater
Regular cleaning and maintenance of appliances is an important step to ensure long-term good working conditions. Not maintaining an appliance will not only damage it but will also shorten its lifespan. The same is the case with baseboard heaters. Lack of maintenance will cause it to not fulfill its purpose and expire soon. Therefore, it is recommended for you to clean your unit often. The following steps outline how you can clean your baseboard heater:
- Turn off the power control of the heater and let it cool fully before you begin.
- Carefully remove the heat cover and remove the dirt or debris present inside the unit.
- Use a small vacuum cleaner to clean inside the unit.
- You may also use other cleaners such as a pressure cleaner. However, do it with precaution to avoid damaging the floor or the inside of the unit.
- Wipe down the cover before assembling everything back and covering the unit.
- Keep the airflow free from any obstructions to maximize it.
The best baseboard heaters are a great way to silently heat up your room on a cold day. They provide an energy-efficient way to heat your house zonally without being aesthetically obtrusive. However, before considering a baseboard heater for your home, you need to think about its safety features, especially if you have children or pets in the house.
The baseboard heater casing can become quite hot which could be a hazard, so the tip-over cut-off is a very important feature in case it gets knocked over. Also, you’ll need to remember to always measure a room first before buying an electric baseboard heater to ensure you get the right size for your room.
We hope that today’s guide on the best baseboard heaters has given you enough information to make the right decision while out shopping. If you’re still hesitant and aren’t sure of which model to buy, we recommend for you to pick one from our list above and you can rest easy knowing you’ll get decades of reliable use from them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many square feet can a baseboard heater heat?
Generally, a square foot space requires ten watts of heat to keep warm. So a 1500-watt heater will have enough power to keep a 150 square feet area warm. The answer to this will depend upon the watts of your heater.
What is a baseboard heater?
Baseboard heaters are usually attached to your baseboards and are longer in size compared to the other heaters. They’re mainly used to provide supplemental heating to an area where extra heating is required. Since they’re so versatile, they can be easily installed wherever you want them.
How much electricity does a baseboard heater use?
Baseboard heaters require about 225 watts per foot. If you have a four-feet long heater, you’ll need to multiply 225 watts by 4 to calculate the consumed wattage.
How do I know if my heater is 120V or 240V?
You will need to use a multimeter to check whether your heater is 120V or 240V. Turn the circuit breaker switch that’s connected to the baseboard, on and touch the multimeter leads to each connected wire. The voltage of your heater will be displayed on the voltage meter. If the display shows a value between 110V and 125V, then the heater is 120V. A 240V model will show a voltage between 220V and 250V.
Is baseboard heating expensive?
Baseboard heating is actually one of the priciest kinds of heating techniques used to warm up your home. In order to generate a million BTUs, prices are up to $35 if you decide to use a baseboard.
What type of heat does baseboard heating use?
Baseboard heating uses two kinds of methods: electric and hydronic. The former works with radiation and circulation that draws in cold air to convert it into hot air. The latter uses metal sheathes filled in heat transfer liquids and is wrapped in copper tubes with aluminum fins to provide better heat transfer.
Why is there a small with baseboard heating?
These heaters can often accumulate an ample amount of dust when they draw in cold air from the room. The accumulation of dust on the heaters could result in bad odors. However, the heater smell will also depend on the amount and the elements present in the dust particle.
Is baseboard heating better than forced air?
Yes, baseboards are better than forced-air heating systems as they do not produce any noise pollution. They are soft and function silently compared to noisy forced air filters. Moreover, these heaters do not require any sort of ductwork, which is another bonus compared to forced air heaters.
Can you put furniture against a heater?
Yes, you can put furniture against the heater but only if you ensure a distance of at least a foot or 2 inches as a safety precaution to prevent any fire hazard.
What is a hydronic baseboard heater?
Hydronic baseboard heaters use hot water from the existing central heating system to transfer heat into the room. Their purpose is to emit heat for each room separately. You can even have the option to control each room’s heat levels according to your preference.