Baseboard heaters, while not in vogue with homeowners today, offer a number of benefits over central heating systems that often go overlooked. The time tested and proven technology of baseboard heating is efficient, cost effective, and inexpensive to install in homes new or old.
What Is Baseboard Heating?
Electric baseboard heaters are heating units placed along the base of the wall, usually underneath of windows where the heating element can counteract any cold air that may be seeping in through cracks or from contact with the cool glass. The heaters use an electric heating coil encased in a metal sheath which heats up air near the floor, causing it to become less dense and thereby rise up, forcing denser, colder air downward to then be heated by the electric heater. This process, called convection, occurs over and over again until the air near the floor has reached the temperature set on the thermostat.
Baseboard heaters are available in a wide range of powers, from 500 to 2000 watts, equating to approximately 50 to 200 square feet of space the unit can heat. Baseboard heaters can be used as either a supplemental heat source for an especially drafty room or as the primary heating source for an entire building.
What Advantages, If Any, Do Baseboard Heaters Have Over Central Heating?
The greatest and most obvious advantage of baseboard heating is the savings. Traditional central heating relies on a gas-powered furnace, which sends waves of hot air up through a duct system where it has already begun cooling.
Furnace systems heat the entire house, even rooms you are not using. This leads to frequent activation and reactivation of the furnace, consuming natural gas at a high rate and a lot of wasted energy. Baseboard heaters run on electricity, which, in most communities, is cheaper to use than natural gas, and only operates in the room or rooms you want to have heated.
You will also save money on the installation of a baseboard heating system. The components of baseboard heaters are small and inexpensive compared a furnace. There is also no need to tear up your walls to install or maintain ducts or insulation. Baseboard heaters are very low maintenance and do not generally require seasonal repairs.
Since baseboard heaters do not rely on ductwork like a traditional HVAC system, they eliminate a number of nuisance problems associated with them. Furnaces can be quite noisy as they activate and send hot air and debris rattling through ducts, something a baseboard heating system will not do. Baseboard heaters have also been proven to remove less moisture from the air than central heating systems, keeping your home more comfortable.
Are Baseboard Heaters Safe?
Baseboard heating systems are a time-tested technology that incorporates a number of safety features to protect your family. A metal guard covers the heating coils to prevent children or pets from accessing anything that could hurt them as well as prevents potentially flammable debris from reaching the heat source.
Most baseboard heaters also include thermal cutout protection switches, which will deactivate the heating element if the housing reaches an unsafe temperature.
In order to make the best use of a baseboard heating system there are a few simple guidelines you need to follow:
1. Don't block air flow - Whether it is with curtains or furniture, blocking the flow of air to the baseboard heater will trap warm air near the heater, causing it to shut off prematurely.
2. Fire Safety - Do not leave flammable objects near the heater!
3. Leave the thermostat on one setting - It may be tempting to turn the thermostat up to try and heat the room faster. This does not work and could be a fire hazard.