A warm, well heated room is a necessity when the outside turns cold. But what are your options to heat your home? Most of us are aware of central heating that uses a furnace to pump out an even amount of heat to all the rooms in your house can be expensive and wasteful. But other types of heating systems exist such as zonal heating options like electric baseboard heaters allow you to adjust the temperature of the room without affecting the rest of your home. Electric wall and baseboard heaters, along with gas stoves and fireplaces, can be used to create area-specific temperature control.

Wall Heater vs. Baseboard Heater

There are two main types of heaters: baseboard heaters and wall. Both types of heaters work by passing electricity through a heating element usually made up of aluminum fins that generates resistance to the current. Its this resistance that creates heat. A third type of heater – hydronic baseboard requires installation of an extensive hot water system throughout your home in addition and are generally considered only during construction as a heating system. Hydronic baseboard heating also requires complex fixtures that physically take up more space than electric baseboard heating.

BSP Electrical & Engineering Ltd - Electric heating

Wall heaters are mounted inside walls and are generally anchored to a stud. A electric baseboard heater is mounted just above the floor. You control both types of heaters with wall-mounted thermostats. You should understand the differences between these two systems before choosing one or the other. These differences include:

  1. Space: Wall heaters tend to be compact. While a baseboard heater generally run almost the entire length of a wall.
  2. Noise: Wall heaters disperse heat using fans. These fans will turn on and off automatically to maintain heat at the desired level. A electric baseboard heater uses convection to continuously radiate heat. This means it will generally be warm by the heater, but by the ceiling you will find cool air. Wall heaters tend create more noise than a electric baseboard heater.

Choosing the Right Electric Heaters for Your Space

You will need to consider noise, available space and a heater that will work with your existing electrical supply. It is also important to know how large of a heater you will need to warm your rooms.

Window - Pelles Heating & Cooling Services, Inc

  1. Wattage: You should check the manufacturer’s recommendations on any heater you’re looking at installing. Generally speaking, you’ll need about 100 watts per 1000 square feet to adequately heat a space. Rooms with high ceilings or lots of windows will need to up this to 12 watts per square foot.
  2. Voltage: You first should check to see whether you have 120 volt or 240 volt wiring available in the area where you’re planning to install the heater. If you’re replacing a heater, simply check the voltage of your current heater to see which option to choose. You should note that 120 volts is standard for household electrical outlets most commonly used on a baseboard heater The larger 240 volts terminals are typically used to power large appliances like refrigerators and ranges.
  3. Amperage: You’ll first need to determine the amount of power you have available for your heater. The number of amps you need is equal to the heater’s wattage divided by the voltage. For example, a standard 1,500 watt heater will draw 12.5 amps from your system. Because you need to supply 125% of the necessary power to any given appliance, this means your heater will need to be on at least a 15 amp circuit.

When to Replace Old Heaters

Most wall and baseboard heaters are extremely durable. They can last 20 years or more. You might want to consider replacing it before this if other signs exist.

  1. Failing heating elements: If your heaters are no longer putting out much heat, or are taking a long time to heat a room, it could be a sign that your heating elements are becoming corroded. If cleaning the heaters doesn’t solve the problem, and you’ve verified that the electrical supply is functioning properly, it’s time to replace them.
  2. Technology upgrade: If your heaters haven’t been replaced in a decade or two, you may want to investigate the possibility of replacing them with safer, more space efficient, quieter models.

Installing Electric Wall or Baseboard Heaters

When you are installing new heaters or replacing old ones, you should first switch off the electricity at your breaker panel. Then you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly mount your heater and wire it into your electrical system. After that, you can sit back, crank the thermometer and enjoy reliable comfort from you new electric baseboard heater.

Other Resources

The Spruce
Home Depot
Cadet Manufacturing
Cadet makes a model of both the wall type and electric baseboard heater.

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About the Author:

Pro.com is a full-service home remodeling and construction general contractor serving the greater Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego area. Home improvement is hard, and we make it easier for you every step of the way. That starts by understanding your goals, whether it’s making a space more livable, expanding your home, repairing damage, adding room for relatives, or something completely different. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re happy with the project from start to finish.