Featuring a built-in thermostat and controls, this 240-volt hydronic model stays cool to the touch.
Safe around children and pets. It starts and stops without the excessive popping or pinging common to other models. The fanless heat warms the room evenly and comfortably. It won’t circulate dust and allergens.
The controls, which are hidden on the bottom, may sometimes stick and be hard to turn.
A budget-friendly heater that continuously emits heat and offers two wattage options.
Uses convection to circulate warm air. Offers a simple installation and quiet operation. Steel sheathed heating element and steel construction ensure that this model is built to last.
Requires a thermostat, which is not included.
This low-priced option stands out for its silent operation.
With 2 heat settings and a built-in thermostat, this 120-volt model is a reliable option for smaller rooms. Heats quickly on both heat settings and can complement an insufficient central heating system.
Some customers were underwhelmed by this unit's output.
A great option that is relatively small and very quiet.
Lot of different settings to ensure the temperature is where you want it. Compact design allows it to sit against smaller walls. Lower noise output allows for it to run without being too noticeable.
Settings need to be reset if it ever unplugged for any reason.
A classic design with great heat output to warm multiple rooms.
Comes in a large variety of sizes to fit different rooms. Design pushes air into the room instead of up for minimal heat loss. Can heat up larger spaces with ease.
Color options can look a bit different than expected.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
While baseboard heaters may seem dated, they are a fairly efficient form of electric heating. Baseboard heaters can serve as a primary or supplemental heat system for your home. Through zone heating, you can control which baseboard heaters are running. This conserves energy and prevents your rooms from overheating.
Baseboard heaters are not right for all homes, but they can help combat drafty windows and heat individual rooms. The two types of baseboard heaters are convection and hydronic. Convection heaters work quickly but are less efficient, while hydronic heaters are slower but better for heating large spaces.
Compared with other heating systems, baseboard heaters are fairly straightforward and easy to set up. They are not right for every home, but they have several advantages over other options.
Compared with space heaters, a baseboard system is far more efficient. It can outperform forced air and central air in some climates or if you have a smaller home. While heat pumps and radiant floor systems are more energy efficient, baseboard heaters operate with 100% efficiency, meaning that no heat is lost at any point in the process. All of it goes into your rooms rather than into your walls or outside.
If there are rooms of your home that are unoccupied for most of the day, baseboard heaters can be controlled individually or in zones to heat particular parts of your home rather than wasting energy heating the whole space. Small rooms heat up particularly quickly with a well-placed baseboard heater or two.
If you have children or animals who might be bothered by the sound of a running fan, or if you just enjoy some silence, baseboard heaters are one of the quietest heating systems available. However, they may make “pinging” sounds as they heat up.
Since there’s no airflow produced by a fan, dust is less likely to float through the air when the heat kicks in.
While you may still want an electrician to install them, the installation process is far easier and less expensive than forced air, heat pumps, or central air, all of which typically require ductwork within your walls.
The more windows there are in a room, the colder the room will be in the winter. Baseboard heaters placed beneath the windows are an ideal solution because they can warm just that room without overheating the rest of your home.
Baseboard heaters can be installed where other heating systems present challenges. They do an excellent job of warming up a basement or crawlspace, for example. They can also be installed in chilly garages.
Baseboard heaters are not always the solution. If you have a large home, they may struggle to heat large rooms efficiently. Additionally, if you have pets or young children, baseboard heaters can be a safety threat as they can become extremely hot to the touch.
Place large objects, such as a bed or other piece of furniture, at least 1 foot away from your baseboard heaters to prevent a fire hazard. Keep flammable items away from baseboard heaters as well.
Also known as electric baseboard heaters, these models have interior heating coils and fins that heat the air around them. The hot air rises and the heater draws in cold air in its place, which is then heated. This process is known as convection heating.
All-electric baseboard heaters are generally inexpensive, quiet during operation, and easy to install. Their maintenance requirements are low. However, they can cause burns if you, your children, or your pets touch them, and they can even start fires without sufficient safety features.
Hydronic baseboard heaters use electricity to warm up a tube of water or oil. The fluid circulates through the tube and radiates heat into the room. The oil or water retains heat longer than the metal fins of an electric heater. Therefore, hydronic baseboard heaters are more cost-effective and energy efficient. Conversely, it takes a hydronic heater longer to warm up. That said, the risk of fire is lower.
Once you know which type of baseboard heater is right for your home, consider additional features like safety measures and installation methods.
Larger rooms, especially those with high ceilings, may warm up quite slowly with baseboard heaters compared to forced air or central air. Baseboard heaters work best in hallways and small rooms. That said, hydronic baseboard heaters are the better choice for large rooms due to their heating efficiency.
Wattage is the main spec to make note of when determining which baseboard heater would do the job for your space. Unfortunately, it can be a complicated calculation, especially because each room may need a different number of baseboard heaters, and each unit must be placed on a wall without furniture against it.
For a basic rule of thumb, aim for 10 watts per square foot in each room. Add a bit of wattage for windows, doorways, and exterior walls, all of which can draw heat from the room.
Baseboard heaters either have a built-in thermostat or must be connected to a traditional wall-mounted thermostat.
Built-in adjustable thermostats require no additional installation steps and allow for individual control of a baseboard with the turn of a knob. However, this means you must bend down to reach the knob, which can be particularly annoying if you already have thermostats for another heating system in your home.
Most baseboard heaters fall into the second category and must be wired to a thermostat. While this makes installation challenging, it allows you to control a unit or a zone of heaters with a traditional thermostat. Single pole thermostats can’t be turned off and must be turned to their lowest setting to prevent them from turning your heaters on. Double pole thermostats can be turned completely off without having to turn the temperature to low.
As with any heating appliance, safety features are crucial to keep you and your family safe. Here are the key ones to look out for:
Automatic cutoff: While your thermostat should tell any electric baseboard heater to turn off when the room reaches a certain temperature, malfunctions happen. When the unit detects a certain temperature range, it triggers its shutoff feature and stops operating. This feature is also called overheat protection.
Tip-over switch: Plug-in baseboard heaters may have a tip-over switch that detects when the heater is knocked over and shuts it off to prevent burns or a fire. Hardwired units do not need this feature since they are attached to the wall.
While baseboard heaters are far simpler to install than other home heating systems, there are still some important things to know.
Portable baseboard heaters can simply be plugged into the nearest outlet of the appropriate voltage and placed against the wall.
Hardwired heaters are more involved. Units connect to the power source either through knockouts or with cable clamps. Included cable clamps are useful, but sometimes you need to run wires through the knockouts to connect the power supply. Included universal wiring can simplify this process even further or make it easier to install the unit where you want.
If a baseboard heater has a built-in thermostat, you don’t need to worry about connecting to a traditional thermostat. Otherwise, you will need to run wires from the thermostat to the appropriate lines in the junction box of the heater.
Mounting is fairly straightforward. If there's a baseboard where the unit will go, you can cut it away, measuring it so the heater will fit properly. Pre-drill holes in the wall, aligning with studs. Then, use screws to attach the heater, either by mounting holes in the back or by drilling your own holes in the back, if necessary.
Baseboard heaters don’t always come with thermostats, requiring you to find one separately in order to control the heater. There are two types of thermostats, and you’ll need to get the correct one for your heater. Single-pole thermostats have two wires.
If your baseboard heater has a four-wire connection, you need a double-pole thermostat that also has four wires in order for it to function correctly.
A heat cover reduces the chances of pets and children burning themselves on the hot fins.
The least-expensive baseboard heaters cost $30 to $50. These are electric heaters that are 3 to 4 feet long.
These baseboard heaters cost $50 to $150. These are usually higher-quality convection baseboard heaters that are over 4 feet long.
Any baseboard heater over $150 is a premium model. This is where you’ll find hydronic baseboard heaters. Their added complexity increases the price.
Most baseboard heaters come in neutral color options, such as white, gray, or beige. Take note of the particular shade, however, as some baseboards appear slightly darker or lighter in person than they do in photos.
A. Yes. Regular vacuuming will prevent the heater from creating a burned dust smell when turned on after a prolonged period.
A. Yes. Small children are curious about their surroundings and haven’t learned to be afraid of much. Consequently, they’ll stick their hands into any place they can. Heat covers will keep them from burning their hands and fingers on a baseboard heater. Covers will protect your curious pets, too.
A. Baseboard heaters should be installed under windows. Windows are always the coldest part of any room. The cold air coming from a window will sink toward the floor and spread out across the room unless it is immediately heated. A baseboard heater under the window will heat the sinking cold air, thus keeping the room warmer than if the heater were positioned somewhere else.
A. If there are areas of your home that struggle to stay warm despite the best efforts of forced air or central air, a few baseboard heaters can supplement your existing system. An energy assessment can help you identify the areas that would benefit most from the addition of a baseboard heater.