Home Garden

Are Baseboard Heaters or Thermostats Bad?

Electric baseboard heaters or thermostats are not bad. They are, however, expensive to run and maintain in many regions. The baseboard units often are susceptible to rust, and the thermostats may wear out prematurely. Despite some of the misgivings with baseboard heaters and thermostats, some homeowners prefer to use them because the heaters produce clean heat and are very simple to install.
  1. Efficiency

    • Electric baseboard units convert almost 100 percent of the energy used into heat, making these units far more energy efficient than natural gas, propane and oil heaters. In most regions of the country, however, electric heat is much more expensive than natural gas and other fuels because of high electricity-generation costs and electricity-transmission loss over power lines.

    How They Work

    • The baseboard heater contains thin metal fins housed in a metal box. Electric wires generate a current that heats up the fins, creating a draftless, clean heat throughout the room. A thermostat controls the unit's temperature. The thermostat may be an incorporated dial on the baseboard, or the thermostat may be a separate fixture installed on a wall. Most basic thermostats feature a simple dial to regulate the heater, but more complex and expensive models allow the homeowner to regulate heating zones, set timers and monitor the room temperature with a digital thermometer.

    Installation and Operation

    • An electric baseboard heater usually is hardwired into the electrical system. Most building codes require a separate electrical circuit for the heaters and regulate the number of heaters on one circuit so as not to overload the circuit. The installation requires no intrusive ducting or pipes, but building codes do require electric wires be concealed within walls or conduit. Compared to other types of heaters, baseboard heaters take longer to heat up a room. The heaters also need unimpeded space to efficiently heat a room. The method by which electric heaters generate heat also limits furniture placement, as furnishings inhibit air flow and block convection currents.

    Advantages and Disadvantages

    • While the U.S. Department of Energy states that for most regions, electric resistance heating is very expensive, electric baseboard units are a fine choice for homes in warmer climates that require heating only sporadically. Electric baseboard units and thermostats are a fraction of the cost of larger gas and oil furnaces, and electric heaters are much easier to install. In addition, electric heaters need no ducting and eliminate the need to cut through walls and ceilings for forced air runs. Electric baseboard heaters generally are undesirable in many homes because of the overall expense of electricity in many parts of the country. Value of a home may suffer if electric heating is the sole central heating system.