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Learn about Electric Baseboards

Electric Baseboards

Electric baseboard heaters are simple electric resistance heaters that are installed along the baseboard area of the wall to heat a given space. Electric baseboards are not to be confused with hydronic baseboards, which use circulated water or glycol that is heated and distributed in plumbing pipes.

This type of heating system is generally used as a supplemental heat source or to heat an isolated space where temporary heat could add comfort. Electric baseboard heaters are typically installed on the coldest wall of a given room (often placed on the interior side of an exterior wall - below a window is common). Electric baseboards require a hard-wired connection and are most often paired with a control either on the wall via a thermostat or on the unit itself. Specific electric baseboards models can be controlled wirelessly, offering greater flexibility for control options without having to wire in a thermostat.

Sizing your electric baseboards is perhaps the most important consideration before buying. Multiplying the space's square footage by 10 gives you the total wattage you'll need to heat the area. As an example, a space that is 10ft long by 10ft wide (100 square feet total) - would require an electric baseboard heater with an output of 1,000 watts.

If you are adding electric baseboards where there wasn't electric heat before, check whether your wiring and electrical will need to be upgraded. It is possible that the current wiring and electric can't carry the required electricity.

Electric baseboards don't have particularly sustainable features, but one advantage is they are relatively easy to wire to separate thermostats for each room. This makes it possible to keep unused rooms at a lower temperature than other rooms, saving energy in those rooms. Electric resistance heaters also make an affordable backup to more efficient systems, such as heat pumps, that may need occasional backup.

Electrical resistance heaters were developed in the late 1800s, and at the time, some of them used light bulbs as a heating element. This shows what the original incandescent light bulbs mostly produced - heat!