Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best baseboard heaters

Though common in older homes, most new homes do not use baseboard heaters for heating. Modern apartments usually don’t have baseboard heaters either. Replacing a baseboard heater in an older home is one thing, but why would you install baseboard heaters in a new apartment or house?

The answer is zone heating, which uses small heaters for the purpose of heating a particular room or area of the house, called a zone. Whereas central heating systems cover the entire house, a zone heater restricts the heat to a small area. This allows you to lower the thermostat for the rest of the house while still remaining comfortable in the den or living room where you and your family spend the majority of your time. The result will be a noticeable reduction in your heating bill.

What kind of baseboard heater is right for you, though? The answer depends on several factors, including the size of your house, the number of windows, and the floors you have.

A woman with long, dark hair dressed in a blue t-shirt smiles as she adjusts a thermostat.
Single-pole baseboard heaters do not have an off setting. When you turn the dial to the lowest setting, you’re not turning the heater off. Instead, you’re turning it down to the lowest setting, often around 45°F. If the temperature in the house drops lower than that setting, the heater automatically comes on.

Key considerations

Home size

When children grow up and move out, parents are left with an empty nest. They’re also left with unused rooms that don’t need to be heated. If you have a large house with unused rooms, you’re a good candidate for using baseboard heaters to warm one or two rooms in the house. That way you can turn down the central heating to save on energy costs.

Room size

Large, drafty rooms don’t always have enough forced air vents to properly warm them in the winter. Or the vents may be badly placed because the house has undergone renovations since the central heating was installed. In either case, properly placed baseboard heaters can maintain a comfortable temperature in large rooms without having to bundle up in sweaters and blankets.

Number of windows

The more windows there are in a room, the colder the room will be in the winter. Even double-pane glass can’t fully keep out the cold. Large picture windows are the worst offenders. They provide you with a great view, but they allow a tremendous amount of cold into the room as well. Often the only way to properly heat a room with many windows is to turn the central heat up so high that it is sweltering in the rest of the house. Baseboard heaters are an ideal solution because they can warm just that room without overheating the rest of your home.


  • Carpet: The type of flooring in your house impacts how warm it stays. A carpet or large area rug will provide an extra layer of insulation to retain the heat in your house. Even a cold room will feel warmer if it is carpeted.
  • Hardwood: A hardwood floor won’t be as warm as carpet, but it will still act as a barrier against the cold. Once a hardwood floor becomes cold, though, it is slow to warm up.
  • Linoleum: Linoleum flooring provides little protection from the cold. It is thin and thermally conductive. Rooms with linoleum floors will always seem cold.
  • Tile: Tile flooring is ideal for hot climates because it helps keep the house cool during the summer. However, in cold climates, that cooling effect is compounded. In the winter, a tile floor is no different from concrete. It does not retain heat at all, and rooms with tile floors will be the coldest ones in the house.


Electric baseboard heaters

Electric baseboard heaters have interior heating coils and fins that heat the air around them. The air rises, and the heater draws in cold air in its place, which is then heated. All-electric baseboard heaters are generally inexpensive, quiet to operate, and easy to install. Their maintenance requirements are low, but they can cause burns if you, your children, or your pets get too close to them.

Electric/hydronic baseboard heaters

In these heaters, electricity warms up a tube or reservoir 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 electric/hydronic baseboard heaters are more cost-effective and efficient. Conversely, it takes a hydronic heater longer to warm up. That said, there is less of a fire hazard with electric/hydronic heaters than with all-electric heaters.


Single-pole thermostats: Stelpro Single-Pole Electric Heater Wall Thermostat
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, like this Stelpro model, have two wires.

Double-pole thermostats: Honeywell Manual 4-Wire Premium Baseboard Thermostat
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. We like this easy-to-install Honeywell double-pole thermostat.

Baseboard heater prices

Inexpensive: The least expensive baseboard heaters are around $30 to $50. These are electric heaters that are three to four feet long.

Mid-range: These baseboard heaters cost $50 to $150. These are higher-quality electric baseboard heaters that are over four feet long.

High-end: Any baseboard heater over $150 is a premium model. This is where you’ll find electric/hydronic baseboard heaters. Their added complexity increases the price.


  • Do not install a baseboard heater under an electrical outlet. The heat can trigger a short circuit in the outlet, leading to a fire.
  • Always leave 12 inches of space on both ends of a baseboard heater, in front, and on top. If anything is too close to the heater, there is a risk of spontaneous combustion from the heat.
  • Don’t place furniture in front of a baseboard heater. It will block the warm air from heating the room.
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You should only have one thermostat per room even if there are multiple baseboard heaters. Multiple thermostats will be influenced by heat from other heaters, causing them to switch on and off unpredictably.


Q. Should I vacuum my baseboard heater?
Yes. Regular vacuuming will prevent the heater from creating a burned dust smell when turned on after a prolonged period.

Q. Should I put heat covers on a baseboard heater if I have children?
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.

Q. What is the best location for a baseboard heater?
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.

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