If your home doesn’t have ductwork for a central heating system, you may find relief in the best hydronic baseboard heaters.
These are small space heaters that are installed onto or close to your baseboard. They’re energy-efficient and safe to use in small rooms and apartments.
In this buying guide, I’ll review some of the best baseboard heaters as well as enlighten you on the most important things to consider when buying these types of heaters.
Best Hydronic Baseboard Heaters Comparison Table
How Do Hydronic Baseboard Heaters Work?
The basic principle of baseboard heaters is that they take in cool air, warm, and then release it back to space. As the heated air is released, more cool air is taken into the baseboard heater. The process goes on as long as the heater is working. As a result, the heater creates and maintains a warm and comfortable feel in the room in which it is placed.
But there are more details of the way this type of heaters work than merely taking in cool air and replacing it with hot air. The details cover issues such as why the baseboard heaters are placed near the floor, the different heating methods used, and how they push out the warmed air.
The temperature in any given room is not uniform. There are pockets of hot and warm air at any given time. More so, the air near the floor is always cooler than that near the roof. The temperature in between these two zones, the living zone, varies depending on the effect of the heating system.
Naturally, cool air is heavier than warm air. Therefore, warm air automatically rises and is replaced immediately by cool air. This is the reason why the region near the floor in your house is colder than the living zone and that near the roof. Warm air tends to accumulate near the roof.
Also, cool air tends to rush into a room through natural openings like windows and other apertures. As the cool air rushes in, it needs to be absorbed by your baseboard heater.
Thus, a baseboard heater takes in the cool air that is naturally found near the floor of your house and transforms it into hot air. Also, the heater captures all the inrushing cool air from windows, warms, and then releases it to the entire space in your room.
Some baseboard heaters use the hydronic heating method. A special heating element is sealed in a metal casing and then dipped in a heating fluid. The metal casing may be aluminum or copper because they are excellent conductors.
When an electric current passes through the heating element, it is converted into heat energy. The heat energy is then passed onto the heating fluid. Thus, the heating fluid functions as a form of heat reservoir because it releases the stored heat to the air currents over time. The heated air currents leave the heater and are replaced by cool air currents.
Other baseboard heaters use radiation to provide warmth to the surrounding items in a room. By warming animate and inanimate objects, such heaters ensure that the temperature of a room is maintained within the desirable standards. The warmed objects transfer the heat to the air within the living zone in a room.
Baseboard heaters do not have fans installed in them. The work of the air fans is to maximize the performance of the heaters by pushing the hot air faster into the room. Although baseboard heaters do not have fans, they still effectively move air around spaces according to your requirements.
Given that baseboard heaters are usually used as supplemental sources of heat, their lack of a forced fan system does not necessarily undermine their performance. They do well by successfully warming all the cool air that naturally accumulates near the floor. As a result, the warm air reaches every corner of the room within the shortest time possible, to the advantage of the people inside the room.
Pros of Hydronic Baseboard Heaters
The following are some of the major benefits that you will enjoy by installing a baseboard heater in your home.
- Very low installation and maintenance costs. Although you will spend some money installing a baseboard heater in your home, this will not be as much as what people spend when mounting electric fireplaces on walls. Furthermore, baseboard heaters do not have many sophisticated inbuilt systems like other types of heaters. Therefore, you will end up spending very little money on repairing or maintaining them.
- Quiet operation. Heaters that have inbuilt forced fan systems are noisier than those without. The rapid rotation of the fan is the main source of noise in fans. Because baseboard heaters do not have such systems, they operate very silently. Thus, they are suitable for use in bedrooms and other places where silence is required.
- Quick installation. It is easier to install baseboard heaters than wall-mountable electric fireplaces. Although wall-mountable electric heaters are sold with special brackets for mounting, the process of installing them on walls takes time and needs specialist skills. However, getting a baseboard heater to work is a straightforward and affordable process.
- Comfortable living. Baseboard heaters are used to provide supplemental heating in homes. Even if you have a central heating system, the chances are that some spaces in your home will be cold. To make such places warm and comfortable to stay in, you may have to use a baseboard heater. Thus, this type of heaters complements the central heating system to make your home comfortable.
- Reduced heating costs. Installing baseboard heaters in your home may be a more economical way of maintaining a warm home than using other types of electric heaters. A baseboard heater is an excellent substitute for traditional electric heaters as a form of supplemental heating in your home.
Disadvantages of Hydronic Baseboard Heaters
When compared to other types of heaters, baseboard heaters have certain shortcomings. Here are some of the key disadvantages of choosing baseboard heaters over other types.
- Constant cleaning. Baseboard heaters require more cleaning than the other types of electric heaters. There are several reasons for this. One, baseboard heaters are placed near the floor where a lot of dust and other debris accumulate. Therefore, the heaters tend to accumulate a lot of dust and debris after a short time. If you do not clean your baseboard heater constantly, the dust and debris will accumulate in the fins.
- Limited heating capacity. Although baseboard heaters are a good source of supplemental heating in your home, they are not as effective as one would expect them to be. If you install a baseboard heater in the living room, it will not provide the required warmth to the spaces adjacent to the room such as hallways. Such spaces will remain cold unless you get another source of supplemental heat for them.
- Their performance can be easily affected by low-hanging drapes. Typically, low-hanging drapes reach down and cover the baseboard heater. Interestingly, baseboard heaters should be installed under windows for them to collect and heat as much cold winds as possible. Sadly, low-hanging drapes can easily obstruct the hot air from your baseboard heaters, thus denying you the full comfort of having the baseboard heaters installed in the first place.
- Costly reinstallations. Although installing baseboard heaters is less costly than mounting electric fireplaces on walls, if not done right, it may be expensive. Some cool air enters your baseboard heater through the small gap that remains between the carpet and the bottom of the unit. If this, for some reason, is not taken into consideration, then your baseboard heater will not work as expected. Reconfiguring the baseboard to create room for the heater to take in enough air may be quite costly and time-consuming.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Baseboard Heater
Choosing the most appropriate baseboard heater for your house may be difficult. This is because of the large number of brands of baseboard heaters that are available.
Moreover, baseboard heaters differ in terms of technical features and performance. Here are a few things that you should consider when choosing a baseboard heater.
The color of the baseboard heater is an important consideration because the heater will be visible to everyone in your house. You do not want to choose a heater that does not match with the color of your baseboard. Doing so may interfere with the general look and feel of your house.
Luckily, many baseboard heaters are either white or cream. These are the colors that are mostly used for baseboards in residential and commercial buildings. Therefore, to get the right baseboard heater for your house, you only need to ensure that its color matches that of the baseboard.
Presence of the Grille
Some baseboard heaters have a grille that contains special louvers. The louvers can be moved to change the direction of airflow. Such baseboard heaters deliver greater performance than those which do not have grilles and louvers.
This is because you can change the direction of the flow of air and ensure that the baseboard heater delivers warm air to the areas in your room that require it most.
Therefore, when choosing a baseboard heater, check if it does have a grille and louvers. This may determine the extent to which you enjoy staying in a room in which the baseboard heater will be installed.
The heating capacity of baseboard heaters is determined by two things: their energy consumption levels and length. Baseboard heaters come in two types: those that consume 120w and others that require 240w of energy. The amount of energy consumed is directly proportional to the area that the heaters can warm.
However, the length of the heater also affects its heating capacity. Longer baseboard heaters have higher heating capacities than shorter ones. Therefore, the rule of thumb should be to go for heaters that have the highest wattage and are the longest. This is the case if you need to heat large rooms in your home or office.
Go for baseboard heaters that have inbuilt thermostats. It is always easy to control such heaters and avoid instances of overheating. You can also use the thermostat to determine how long the heater functions. This will reduce your overall heating costs and ensure that you create and maintain the right environment in your home.
There are two types of basement heaters based on the heating method: those that use radiation and those that use the hydronic system and those that use radiation.
Hydronic baseboard heaters have a special heating fluid in which the heating element is immersed. The special fluid acts as a heat reservoir and ensures that the heater generates the needed warmth as required.
Electric baseboard heaters use infrared radiation to warm objects in the room. The heat absorbed by objects within the room is then transferred to the airspace. This creates a very comfortable environment.
Although baseboard heaters are generally less noisy than others, including wall-mounted or standalone electric heaters, they nevertheless produce some buzzing sound when working. The noise level of baseboard heaters varies with brands.
Therefore, go for a brand that produces the lowest level of noise. This is particularly important if you intend to use the heater in your bedroom or anywhere else where silence should be maintained.
You can use the baseboard heater as part of the home heating system or as a standalone source of heat in the house. If you use it as a supplemental source of heat, then the goal would be to lower your energy bill. You can achieve this objective by switching off the central heating system at times and relying on the baseboard heater.
If you intend to use the baseboard heater as the primary source of heat in your home, then ensure that you match the heating capacity of the brand with the requirements of your house.
6 Best Hydronic Baseboard Heaters Reviews
1. Cadet EBHN1500WLH Softheat Hydronic Baseboard Heater
- 1500 Watt heater at 240 Volts or 1125 Watts at 208 Volts creates heat that is great for warming an area up to 200 square feet
- Lower surface temperature than standard baseboards makes it ideal for nurseries and bedrooms
- Reduces airborne allergens while providing whisper-quiet operation
- Saves energy by retaining heat to generate residual warmth, even after thermostat turns off
- Circulates environmentally friendly, non-toxic, non-hazardous fluid with no plumbing or refilling required
The Cadet EBHN1500WLH is a great baseboard heater, thanks to its performance, design, and level of safety. It utilizes the hydronic heating system to deliver warm air for a long time in standard-sized spaces. The heater delivers enough heat to warm rooms that are as large as 200 square feet.
The Cadet EBHN1500WLH is quite energy efficient. The heating fluid retains the heat for a long time even after the thermostat is off. Therefore, you will end up saving energy costs when using this baseboard heater.
However, this baseboard heater has one major flaw: it is not appropriate for use in large spaces. You cannot use this heater as the primary source of heat in your large home or any other premise. It is best used when integrated with the central heating system in your home to provide supplemental heating.
- Easy to maintain because one does not need to refill the heating fluid
- Great heating capacity suitable for 200 square feet spaces, including large bedrooms and living rooms
- The hydronic heating system is economical because the fluid keeps on supplying energy even after the thermostat is off.
- It is not suitable for use as the primary source of heat in large spaces
2. Marley HBB500 BASEBOARD HEATERS
- Heat your space without kicking up dust or other allergens. The natural convection airflow doesn't rely on a blower or fan to move warm air throughout the room.
- Hydronic baseboards put out smooth, steady warmth without large temperature swings. Their sealed-tube heating element heats up quickly and stays that way, for a more stable room climate.
- Even after the thermostat turns off, this unit continues heating the room, thanks to its fluid-immersed heating element that better retains warmth to keep your room cozy for longer.
- This convection heater starts up and stops without the disruptive popping or pinging sounds given off by traditional baseboard models.
- For maximum efficiency, the unit converts all incoming electric energy into heat, according to Department of Energy standards.
If you are looking for a baseboard heater that perfectly blends with a white baseboard and effectively provides warmth to keep a room warm, then the Marley HBB500 may be the right choice. It utilizes the hydronic heating system to steadily deliver warm air even long after you switch off the thermostat.
This baseboard heater is ideal for use in spaces where silence is absolute, including bedrooms and even offices. It does not have a fan, which is the biggest source of noise in baseboard heaters. Besides, it does not produce the characteristic bleeping sound when switched on or off.
However, if you are not skilled in handling heaters, it would be a bad idea to try to install this heater for yourself. You will have to get an electrician to do the hard wiring for you and ensure that the heater functions properly.
- It is comfortable for use in bedrooms and other places because of its ultra-silent operation and lack of a popping sound when switched on or off
- The heater does not supply allergens and dust with the warm air because it does not have a blower
- UL listed for enhanced safety and efficiency
- The installation procedures are complicated and may require the services of an electrician
3. Fahrenheat PLF754 BASEBOARD HEATERS
- Cool to Touch: The baseboard heater's hydronic design keeps the unit cool so that it is safe to use around children and pets
- Easy Install: Designed with a wire-way along the back of the heater so that it can be wired on either end.
- Safety Features: The unit's overheat protection feature prevents the heater from running when its air intake is blocked, reducing fire risk
- Cleaner Heat: Using convection heat keeps allergens, dust, and bacteria from blowing around the room
- Perfect Size: This unit measures 70 inches long, 3.5 inches wide, and 9 inches high
Although the Fahrenheat PLF754 takes longer to fully heat up than the conventional electric heaters, it steadily produces warm air that is enough to keep your living room very warm for a long time. The slow heating nature of its fluid is offset by the actual performance of the heater as a supplemental heating source in the home.
Besides, the baseboard heater has an elegant modern design that merges perfectly with most baseboard types. Its white color can be easily matched with any style or color of drapery in the house.
The heater has some of the most important safety features, including a thermal cutoff. The switch automatically goes off when the vents of the heater are blocked by dust or even an overhanging curtain. This minimizes the chances of a fire outbreak in case the heater gets blocked.
- Advanced safety features, including a thermal switch off to prevent overheating
- Its crisp and elegant style with a white finish blends perfectly with modern interior décor styles
- The hydronic system maximizes efficiency levels and provides a steady and reliable flow of warm air
- It takes longer to fully heat up than conventional electric baseboard heaters
4. CLASSIC 24-3/4″ Hydronic Baseboard Heater
- Item: Hydronic Baseboard Heater
- Housing Style: Conventional
- Height: 9-1/8"
- Primary Application: Architectural
- Mounting Type: Floor
This baseboard heater utilizes the hydronic heating system to provide heat in rooms as large as 200 square feet. It is ideally used as a supplemental source of heat to ensure that you keep your home warm without the energy bills shooting through the roof. Therefore, this heater works best when it is integrated with the central heating system in your home.
Its white color matches that of most baseboard types. Besides, you do not have to think a lot about the kind of drapery to use if you choose this heater. Its white color is ideal when matched with any type of curtains on the windows.
It has all the safety features that you would like to find in a standard baseboard heater. The surface remains quite cool even after the heater has been in use for long. Thus, it is suitable for use even in children’s rooms. Moreover, the heater automatically goes off when the airways are obstructed or it overheats. This prevents the occurrence of fires at home.
- Great heating capacity enough to supply warm air in rooms that measure up to 200 square feet
- Certified for installation in all types of floors and baseboard styles
- It has all the required safety features, including a thermal cutout
- The heater may produce some noise after operating for long
5. King Electric K Series Baseboard Heaters
- Aluminum Ribbon Fin Element
- Full Length Safety Cutout
- Crushproof element
- Natural Convection Heat
- Dent resistant die form cover
The KING 4K1210BW can be an excellent companion if all that you need is a supplemental source of heating. It has been specially designed to provide warmth in spaces that do not exceed 150 square feet.
Furthermore, it utilizes the hydronic heating system to provide a steady supply of warm air even when the thermostat is switched off. This is a great advantage if you integrate the heater into your central heating system.
The aluminum fin element enhances the overall flow of warm air from the heater. It expedites the natural flow of convection currents by ensuring that warm air rises fast and is replaced by incoming cool air currents. This, in turn, improves the overall level of warmth in the room.
However, you cannot rely on this baseboard heater as the primary source of heat in your home. It is best used as a secondary source of heat because of its capacity limitations.
- Delivers value for money because its casing is dent-free and highly durable
- Enhanced air supply capability because of the aluminum ribbon fin element
- Low noise level due to the absence of a fan
- Incapable of providing heating solutions in large rooms or acting as the primary source of heat
6. Slant/Fin Fine/Line 30 8 ft. Hydronic Baseboard Heater
The Slant/Fin Fine/Line 30 8 ft. Hydronic Baseboard Heater can be an excellent solution for your home heating issues if you have it integrated into your central heating system.
It has an excellent heating capacity due to a high-performance heating element and the use of the convection method of heat transfer. You end up paying less for power because the heater does not waste a lot of energy to heat its element and the air around your room.
Because baseboard heaters are installed near the floor, they are vulnerable to occasional knocks and hits. However, this heater has been specially designed to withstand all manner of hits. It has a galvanized aluminum cover that protects the element and keeps it working for a long time.
- It has a high-performance heating element
- Very durable because it has a high-quality galvanized steel enclosure
- The end caps are sold separately
Hydronic baseboard heaters make ideal room heating solutions. They don’t take up your floor space and are usually low profile. Also, they are safe, energy-efficient, and quiet.
If you’re still not sure what unit to choose, consider Cadet EBHN1500WLH as your first option. It’s easy to install and has all the features anybody would want in a baseboard heater.