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Thread: baseboard heaters

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  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Master Brian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Default baseboard heaters

    Couple of quick questions....

    1) Looking at Lowes and they have hydronic (liquid filled electric) baseboard heaters and just electric baseboard. Is one going to provide a better/more cost effective heat? All my searches for hydronic come up with the radiant type which uses water heated via a boiler or water tank.

    2) 110v or 220v, is one better or are most going to be 220? I don't recall what the store had and that's not necessarily what I'm going with, just tryin to do some research.

    Ideally, I will need 2-3 to heat my 2nd floor, I currently have 1, which is probably 15-20yrs old. It works, but I'm thinking of placing it in the garage and installing a couple of new ones upstairs. I'm assuming if I use 220, I would need a seperate circuit for each heater, maybe that's true with 110 as well, but it seems it wouldn't be as much of a load on my breaker if I had 3 110 circuits vs 3 extra 220 circuits. Maybe it doesn't matter and it is something to ask my electrician. Again, just trying to figure in my head what my options are....

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    A heater without the oil could have hot(ter) spots in it. While the oil filled one may when it first starts out, the oil circulates to provide more even heat all over after it warms for a bit. If it ever leaks, it can make a mess, but you'd end up with more even heat, and it would continue to provide radiant heat longer than one without because it likely would have more thermal mass.

    You'd need less current, therefore smaller wires if you ran 220vac. It would depend on the individual loads how many you could run off of one circuit. On 220vac, you'd likely be able to run more than one on a circuit, but you may not on 110. The size wire used would depend on the CB you use and the load, though. 20A at 220vac is twice the watts as 110vac. P=I*E power equals current times voltage; double the voltage, double the power available at the same current level.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member PistonDog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Salem, NH


    This house was built in 1974 and had all electric baseboard heating, which I replaced. The original circuits were all 220v with (obviously) 2-pole breakers. Each room had a dedicated circuit, complete with a thermostat (2 pole break) adjacent to the lightswitch.

    It is cheap to install, expensive to run, but (sarcasm) very green; 100% efficient (ignoring distribution losses).

    I vote for 220. Leave yourself room (wire & breaker amp-wise) to be able to add a heater if you need to.


  4. #4
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    San Diego


    I don't know if it is accurate to call a stand alone electric heater "hydronic" just because it is liquid filled. Whatever.

    The difference between the two types you describe is that the liquid filled one is probably straight convection....it heats the elements and air flows by convection from the floor up through the vanes and fins, and is thus heated. This provides a steady even heating, has some residual, takes longer to warm the room up.

    Plain coil type heaters probably are fan forced. Heating coils heat up and a fan moves air across. These will heat an area a little faster, because of the fan. But the total btu into the room is still watts per square foot.


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