Baseboard Heaters: Yea or Nay?

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Because homeowners have varying needs and preferences, it’s understandable that there are lots of contrasting opinions when it comes to home appliances and other home improvement ideas. One of the devices that have garnered tons of both positive and negative feedback are baseboard heaters. Some people love it, some hate it, and many are unsure. 

In this article, we will go through some positives and negatives about baseboard heaters. Whether you’re interested in using a baseboard heater or you’ve completely ditched the idea because of some bad reviews, this article hopes to give you some bias-free information about both traditional and modern baseboard heater designs.

Basic Facts about Baseboard Heaters

To start with, a quick intro: baseboard heaters are high-voltage heating devices that come in two designs, such as the electric heaters and hydronic heaters. Both designs are powered by electricity, but the former uses electricity directly while the latter indirectly. 

Electric baseboard heaters have metal fins. When operational, these metal fins get heated up by electricity and then transfer the heat through convection currents. Hydronic baseboard heaters, on the other hand, work with liquid enclosed in its system. Electricity heats this liquid and then the heated liquid radiates the heat. Hydronic heaters are generally more efficient than electric baseboard heaters.

Primary and Supplemental Heat

People who have baseboard heaters use them for either primary or supplemental heating. Baseboard heaters work by convection, so they can be ideal for heating an entire enclosed space. However, they aren’t great for big areas–which is why they’re commonly used for primary heating in small spaces and supplemental heating for large ones. 

Although having a central heating system is the most ideal for homes in cold areas, it is not always possible to have one. For instance, most old houses don’t have the necessary ductwork for a central heating system–and it can be expensive and impractical to retrofit. Small houses, like townhouses and studio-type apartments, also don’t have much space, making baseboard heaters, heat pumps, and small space heaters their best options.

Today, most owners of baseboard heaters use them for zonal or individual room heating while keeping their central heating system at a low, cost-saving setting.

Installation, Operation, and Maintenance

One of the biggest advantages of baseboard heaters is that they don’t require any ductwork. They are easy to install and are also generally cheaper than other types of heating devices. Except for some safety guidelines, such as the required clearance between the device and any combustible items, there aren’t many things that you should be cautious of when installing a baseboard heater.

What’s more, most modern baseboard heaters are compact and portable. You can transfer a unit from room to room as needed, so you only spend on heating the rooms that you use.

On the other hand, there’s one issue that many people have against baseboard heaters–and that is whether or not these devices are child-friendly. In truth, baseboard heaters aren’t the safest options for homes that have kids. The surface of these devices gets hot during operation, which is a serious hazard for children. Some heaters have a heater cover to make them more child-friendly, but most units don’t have one.

In terms of operation, baseboard heaters are known for producing minimal to zero noise. Plus, they require very little maintenance. 

Recent Innovations

To address the issues that many people encountered with older baseboard heaters, baseboard heater manufacturers designed new models with several innovations. These include–as mentioned earlier–the heater cover that childproofs a heater, a built-in sensor and automatic shut-off, a programmable or smart thermostat, and an overall sleeker, more aesthetically pleasing design. TPI, for instance, has a series of both wall-mounted and portable baseboard heaters that come with safety and appearance-boosting features.


Baseboard heaters are a lot like any other device in the sense that they have both pros and cons. With each home having its unique features and needs, it is up to the homeowners to decide whether a baseboard heater would be beneficial for them or not.