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As winter approaches, most homeowners head to the market to look for a secondary heat source to supplement their main heating system. Typically, a supplemental heat source is another type of heating system that can be used together with your main central furnace that either runs on oil, natural gas, or electricity.
For starters, a supplemental heat source helps to reduce your energy costs. For instance, it allows you to turn down the main heating system and use a supplemental heat source on a room-to-room basis, instead of increasing your thermostat to heat the entire house. More importantly, a supplemental heat source allows you to heat the rooms that don’t get adequate heat from your home’s HVAC system. Similarly, it’s a great option for heating an older home that doesn’t have a central furnace.
With that in mind, what is the best supplemental heat source between baseboard heating and space heaters? Read on to find out!
A baseboard heater is classified as a convection heater. This means that cold air entering the house through the windows goes into the unit through a vent, while hot air is dispersed through heated metal fins. The hot air then rises up to the ceiling since it’s lighter, while cold air settles at the bottom since it’s heavier. This circulation of hot air heats the room from the lower level.
There are 2 different types of electric baseboard heaters; hydronic and convection heaters. A hydronic model uses electric elements to heat oil or water that is then used to warm air, while convection units use electric elements to directly heat the cool air.
A space heater is an efficient & portable heat source that’s ideal for use in a smaller room or apartment. Plus, its portability makes it easy to put anywhere without moving the furniture. However, it’s important to flammable items away from your space heater to prevent fire accidents. Also, the unit should be plugged into a dedicated circuit since they consume a lot of power. At the same time, this will minimize power loss and prevent the unit from tripping the circuit breakers.
There are several types of space heaters on the market. Most units work with the convection method, which involves using a fan to blow warm air into the room. Specifically, these heaters have an element that heats up the cool air. The device then uses a fan to quickly disperse hot air into the room. For that reason, most space heaters have an inbuilt thermostat to prevent the room from becoming too hot too soon.
While most space heaters use convection to heat a room, some units like infrared heaters use radiant heat. This means that they directly heat a person and objects in the room instead of warming the air.
Baseboard heating Vs Space Heater comparison
When choosing between a space heater and baseboard heating, there are some important factors you need to consider. Some of these factors are;
Like any other electric device, both space heaters and baseboard heaters require special attention when in use. This is because they can lead to fire hazards if you don’t use them properly. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters cause over 300 deaths and 21,000 house fires every year.
Therefore, it’s important to adhere to safety tips, regardless of the supplemental heat source you’re using. For instance, a space heater must be plugged into a dedicated circuit. On the other hand, an electric baseboard heater should be hardwired into the main electrical panel. If possible, hire a licensed electrician for both heaters for proper set-up and installation for safety concerns.
Baseboard heating vs space heater; which is safer?
Baseboard heating is generally safer than space heaters since it has a low risk of causing a fire accident. Besides, baseboard heaters come with inbuilt covers to keep pets and kids away from the heating elements. However, some may still feel warm to the touch. Even better, you can paint these covers to match your walls and make them inconspicuous. Alternatively, you can replace them with a decorative custom cover or the best pre-made baseboard heater cover to make them stand out. More importantly, baseboard heaters don’t produce carbon monoxide or flame. Not to forget that you can’t tip them over since you have to mount them to the wall.
In comparison, space heaters are frequently associated with several fire accidents every year and the potential dangers of using them. So, if you regularly heat your home with a portable space heater, consider whether replacing it with a wall-mounted electric baseboard heater will provide increased safety.
However, if you still insist on using a space heater, check out this article to learn whether an infrared heater can start a house fire!
Baseboard heating Vs space heater Efficiency
Provided both space heater and baseboard heater are electricity-operated, they’ll be 100% efficient. However, a space heater takes less time to heat the room. This is because they come with a fan, which helps them circulate hot air throughout the room faster than baseboard heaters which only depend on the natural convection process. Therefore, you’ll see some energy savings with a space heater as opposed to using a baseboard heater.
Contrarily, an electric baseboard heater can be quite costly to operate, especially with continuous use. For that, baseboard heating isn’t a cost-effective option for heating the entire house.
In addition, baseboard heaters are more expensive than space heaters as they cost about $60 – $300. Surprisingly, they’re relatively more efficient than space heaters in the long run. According to the Energy Department, heating the entire house with an electric space heater costs about 40% more than using a gas furnace. However, using a space heater to heat a specific room, such as the bedroom while you sleep will not have a significant impact on your electricity bill.
Are baseboard heaters efficient?
As already mentioned, an electric baseboard heater provides 100% efficiency since it’s a form of electric resistance heating. This simply means that they use 100% of the electricity they consume to generate heat. However, most of these units have an efficiency rating of 78 – 95%, making space heaters more efficient than their baseboard counterparts.
In terms of energy usage, most electric baseboard heaters have a power rating of about 500 – 2000 Watts and either run on 120 or 240 Volts. For that, you can plug some of these units into a regular outlet, and hard-wire other models into a circuit. Whichever the case, baseboard heaters don’t involve ducting, making them a great option for an older home.
Space heaters have a more compact design and use less wall space than baseboard heaters. This gives you more flexibility with furniture. Plus, they’re highly portable, which allows you to put them in different parts of your home.
On the other hand, baseboard heaters can be installed 12” from the floor. This helps them save valuable floor space, particularly in smaller rooms that don’t have adequate space.
Space heaters usually last for about 8 – 12 years, while baseboard heaters can last for over 20 years. This is because baseboard heaters don’t have rapidly spinning or moving parts as they use convection heating to warm the room. In comparison, most space heaters have a fan that distributes hot air throughout the room. This increases the amount of wear and tear such space heaters go through, thus resulting in a shorter lifespan.
Baseboard heaters provide a silent operation since they don’t have any moving parts. However, space heaters can produce some noise, especially if they have moving parts like fans. Other than that, most space heaters are generally quieter than an average refrigerator. To put that into perspective, a household produces noise levels of up to 40 dB. In contrast, a space heater produces a noise level of about 50 dB when you’re about 1m away from the device.
Which is better; Baseboard heating Vs space heater
In addition to the above factors, you have to consider the number and the size of the rooms you want to heat with a space heater or baseboard heater. Typically, an electric baseboard heater is a better option for heating a larger room like a basement or living than a space heater. Similarly, baseboard heating is ideal for heating multiple rooms like draftier bedrooms and additions. This will allow you to maintain a different temperature in multiple rooms while reducing the temperature on the main heating source.
However, if you want to heat a small part of the room or a small room, a space heater is better than installing a baseboard heater. This is because space heaters take up less wall space and are more compact, giving you more flexibility with furniture arrangement. Best of all, space heaters take less time to heat the room, with some models like infrared heaters providing an instant burst of direct heat!