If you need a heating solution for small rooms, such as a bedroom or a study, a popular option is an electric baseboard heater.
These are very simple to operate, can be used to quickly heat the room, and then be set to maintain a comfortable temperature, in an energy efficient way.
The difficulty arises in choosing a baseboard heater because there are different types, multiple specifications, differences in how they are installed, and how they are connected to the power supply.
To make sense of these differences, our best electric baseboard heater buying guide and reviews will highlight the top heaters, explain the variables, and help you make an informed choice.
Comfort Zone CZ600
- High (1500W) or Low (750W)
- Length: 30 Inches
- 120V standard socket
Cadet Manufacturing 05534
- Length: 48 Inches
- 120V hard wired
Heat Wave EB98937
- High (1000W) or Low (500W)
- Length: 25.2 Inches
- 120V standard socket
- Length: 60 Inches
- 220V hard wired
- Length: 30 Inches
- 120V hard wired
Reviews of the Best Electric Baseboard Heaters
This is a standalone baseboard heater which needs no installation, no assembly, and can be set up to operate by simply plugging it into the power socket. It's suitable for domestic use, offices and garages.
It weighs just 8.54 lbs., and just 30 inches long, so it’s entirely portability for moving around the house, for use in different rooms. The heater works on a convection basis although there is no fan in the heater, so its operation is silent.
The heater's control includes two heat settings (low and high) and a thermostat which allows you to increase or decrease the temperature to whichever level you want. The high setting can be used to heat rooms quickly, and the low setting is for maintaining a comfortable heat level.
Safety features include overheating protection to prevent the heater from reaching temperatures which are too high. It also has tip-over protection in case it gets knocked over accidentally when it is on.
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This electric baseboard heater is made in the USA from stainless steel and has a powder coated finish, which gives it durability and protection against scratching.
It needs to be hardwired to a 120 volt supply, so you may need to hire an electrician if you do not know how to undertake this work yourself. One thing that may help with locating the heater is that it can be wired from either end.
You will need to purchase a thermostat, in order to have temperature control. This can either be an inline wall mounted thermostat, or a BTF unit mounted thermostat.
The heater is 48 inches long, and the best place to locate in the room is under the window. There are pre-fabricated holes along the back of the heater so that it can be mounted securely and level.
Heat is produced silently using convection, and if it should ever get to a point where it is in danger of the temperature getting too high, there is a safety cut-off switch to avoid any overheating.
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If you are looking for a small, light and portable electric baseboard heater, this one from Heat Wave ticks those three boxes.
The length of this baseboard heater is only 25.2 inches and it weighs just 5 lbs. and as it can be powered by plugging it into any power socket, it can be moved easily if it is needed in another room.
It can heat a space or room of up to 400 square feet, so is ideal for use at home, offices and could also be used in garages or small workshops.
You have the choice of two convection heat settings; low which is used to maintain a pleasant heat level, and the high setting is used to quickly heat the room. There is also a thermostat dial which allows you to set the temperature level.
For safety there is a cutoff switch should the heater be knocked over, and the heater will also switch off if it ever gets close to overheating.
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With this electric baseboard heater, you have a built-in electronic thermostat, which is compatible with a remote control unit that would allow you to operate the heater from the comfort of your armchair. If you don't wish to purchase a remote control, then the LCD display and controller on the heater can be used.
The heater requires to be hardwired to a 220 v electricity supply, and wall mounted onto plaster, concrete or wooden walls types.
This is a longer heater than the others we have reviewed, therefore it is suitable for larger walls and rooms. Its smooth powder coated finish helps to resist any abrasion and its curved ends give the heater a sleek look which fits in with its modern styling.
As well as being the longest heater of the five, it is also the most powerful, with its nickel-chromium heating element producing up to 8500 BTUs. This enables you to heat rooms very quickly which is helped by the top vent releasing heat up to twice as fast as many other baseboard heaters.
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Our final electric baseboard heater will appeal to those who want a fixed heater, but only have limited space for where it can be installed. It is only 30 inches long, so it will fit neatly on most walls, and with pre-punched holes along the back of the heater, it should be easy to install too.
The heater needs to be hardwired to a 120 volt supply, and the connectors at both ends allow this to come in from either direction.
You'll need to purchase a separate thermostat, with compatible wall mounted or heater mounted units available. Once installed the heater is capable of heating rooms of up to 75 sq. feet, which covers bedrooms, small lounges, and home offices
The design and look of this electric baseboard heater are very simple, with stainless steel ensuring that it will last, and a powder coating helping to keep scratches, abrasion and fading to a minimum.
To reduce the possibility of the unit overheating a cut off device is installed in the heater.
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Integrated or Standalone Electric Baseboard Heater?
As well as the two main types of baseboard heater; electric and hydronic, there are also different ways in which these heaters can be installed. These are standalone and integrated, although within these two definitions there are one or two variances. Read on and we will explain all.
#1 Standalone Portable
A standalone portable baseboard heater is one which is not fixed or installed on any wall and can be moved from room to room. You can get both electric and hydronic portable heaters although there are more electric heaters available than hydronic.
Standalone portable heaters are normally lightweight, so they can obviously be moved easily, and usually they sit on feet. If you are considering one of these types, always make sure it has a 'tip over' safety device installed. This prevents any risks or dangers which could arise if the heaters were to be accidentally knocked over.
Standalone portable heaters usually have a cord with a plug attached as it is powered from a standard 120-volt power socket.
#2 Standalone Installed
These heaters are those which are not integrated with your central heating system, but they do require some installation work prior to their use. The most obvious of these is when it needs to be mounted on a wall
Both electric and hydronic base heaters can be mounted on plaster, wooden and concrete walls. Usually, the manufacturer will have pre-drilled the appropriate holes for you on the back of the heater and spaced them evenly along the length of it.
The other installation that is likely required is to hardwire the heater into your home’s electricity supply. Depending on the rating of the heater this can be the 120 standard voltage or 220 volts off the main phase. If you are in any way unsure about how to do this, always employ a qualified electrician.
This only applies to hydronic baseboard heaters and are those who derive their ability to heat the room, from the hot water which is flowing through your central heating system.
This installation is obviously more advanced than standalone heaters, so it a wise move to have professionals install if for you. The work to install an integrated hydronic baseboard heater can involve running pipes, which could mean lifting carpets and flooring. There will also be electrics too, as these heaters are normally hardwired to the electricity supply.
Difference Between Electric and Hydronic Baseboard Heaters
In your search for an electric baseboard heater, you may have come across products called 'hydronic' baseboard heaters. As this often the first question we get asked in terms of 'What is the difference?', we will explain it to you.
Electric Baseboard Heater
An electric baseboard heater is normally a stand-alone unit that does not require to be connected in any way to your central heating system. There may be a degree of installation to be carried out but it is minimal. This could be mounting it on the wall, and sometimes they need to be hardwired to your electrical supply. Others are portable and plug into power sockets
Electric baseboard heaters usually heat the room using convection where the heating element heats the air around it, and then subsequently fills the room. Some heaters have fans, and some do not. These heaters can heat the room very quickly, and are generally regarded as being very energy efficient, thus reducing power costs.
One of the downsides of electric baseboard convection heaters is that they do not retain heat very well, and therefore they cool down quickly after the thermostat has switched it off.
These heaters are also very low maintenance and are generally very reliable over several years.
Hydronic baseboard heaters often utilize the hot water which is produced by your central heating system, therefore the level of installation work required is greater. This is one of the reasons that electric baseboard heaters outsell hydronic ones.
There are also hydronic baseboard heaters which are pre-filled with water or oil, and the heating elements inside heat this liquid, which then circulates around the heater. This process means that they take longer to start heating the room than electric heaters.
The upfront costs of hydronic baseboards heaters are normally higher than the electrical ones, and this is increased further if it needs to be installed.
One of the big advantages of a hydronic baseboard heater is it can retain heat for a lot longer than electric heaters. This means the amount of energy required is less, therefore it will normally be cheaper to run than an electric baseboard heater.
One of the ways in which you can determine which electric baseboard heater is most suitable for the room you plan to use it in is by using a simple formula. This formula uses the measurements of the room and depending on how well that room is insulated, you can establish the wattage you would need to heat it properly.
Bear in mind that electric baseboard heaters are mainly designed for use in smaller rooms. If the room in question is very large, then it may well be that the rating required is bigger than any baseboard heater is able to produce, so you may need to purchase a ceramic or infrared heater instead.
The first step is to measure both the length and the width of the room. So, that we can show you an example, we are going to assume the room in question is 10 feet by 10 feet. This also makes the calculations simpler.
Next, we multiply those two figures together, so 10 x 10 = 100. With this figure we then multiply it by 10, to give us the recommended wattage. As 100 x 10 = 1000, we would be looking for a heater with a 1000 watt rating. This effectively means we are looking for 10 watts per square feet of heating power.
This calculation assumes that the level of insulation and the opportunity for heat to escape is average. In most homes, this would mean 1 door, and maybe one window.
For a room which has poor insulation, with lots of windows, and plenty of draughts, this is classed as poor insulation. If this is the case, instead of multiplying by 10 to get the rating, you would multiply by 12.5. So, here you would want a heater with a rating of at least 1250 (100 x 12.5), and in practical terms, this is likely to be a 1500 watt baseboard heater.
On the other hand, if your room is well insulated, and maybe not even have a window, instead of multiplying by 10, you multiply by 7.5. 100 x 7.5 gives us 750, so you would only need a heater with a 750-watt rating.
There are some other adjustments you can make to the calculation to take account of factors within the room. If it has a high ceiling above 8 feet then add 25% to the required wattage, or if you live in an area where the winters produce sub 20°F temperatures, instead of 10 watts per sq. ft., consider 15 watts.
Where to Place an Electric Baseboard Heater
The most common and recommended place to locate or install your electric baseboard heater in under the window. This applies whether it is a portable heater or a fixed heater.
You should ensure that any window coverings such as nets or drapes are at least 12 inches above the heater, and 6 inches to the side of it, in the case of long drapes which go down to the floor.
For fixed heaters, you should leave a gap of around 1 inch between it and the floor to reduce the fire risk for flammable flooring or carpeting.
You should leave at least 12 inches clearance in front of your baseboard heater, which will mainly apply to furniture in the room.
The main heat benefit of placing your baseboard heater beneath the window is that it will warm any cold air entering the room from that area before it has a chance to reduce the temperature in the room.
If you decide not to place your baseboard heater under the window, but on another wall, do not locate it where an open door is covering it. The heat produced by the heater will not fill the room as efficiently as it should if an open door is preventing it from circulating properly.
From a safety perspective, baseboard heaters should not be placed under power sockets. This eliminates the risk of the cord which is plugged into that a socket touching the heater and starting an electrical fire.
How to Install an Electric Baseboard Heater
Obviously, for portable standalone heaters, there is no installation as such, but you still need to follow the guidelines in terms of placing it in a safe location in any room it is being used.
For fixed electric baseboard heaters, we'll assume that you have selected a heater with the appropriate wattage based on the sizing guide, and with a length which allows it to fit safely where you wish to place it. The length should take into account the recommended clearances at either end of the heater.
Most modern electrical baseboard heaters are manufactured with pre-drilled holes on the back of the heater which are spaced equally apart. This means to mount the heater on the wall, all you need to do is locate the fixing screws or bolts in the same equidistant locations along the wall, and ensure they are level. Assuming the screws and the holes on the back of the heater line up, the heater should mount easily.
Before you attempt to work on any electrical project it is crucial that you plan it properly, with special attention paid to the necessary safety procedures, such as isolating the supply while you are working on it.
The main work you will need to carry out is the electrical installation. These videos are short demonstrations of how to connect both the heater and the thermostat. Although this is from 'Cadet', the installation basics apply to most electric baseboard heaters.
The other option you have, and one which many buyers opt for, is to employ or hire a qualified electrician to do the work. Although they obviously cost money, their skills and experience mean the job gets done right, is finished quicker, and your electrical wiring is left in a safe condition.
The other reason an electrician will be preferable is the work that may be required to run electrical wiring from your main circuit or junction box to the wall where you are placing your heater. This will be the case if this is a new install, rather than a replacement heater.
Top 5 Electric Baseboard Heater Safety Tips
Electric baseboard heaters are generally very safe, provided they are installed and used in the correct manner. As with any electrical appliance, and especially those which generate heat, there are several safety tips which you can follow which ensures your baseboard heater will provide you and your family the heat you desire and do it safely.
1. Ensure It Has Sufficient Clearance All Round
When your electrical baseboard heater is installed it should have the appropriate clearance, as described in the installation section. Drapes, blinds cords, drape ties and net curtains are all potential fire hazards if they get too close to your baseboard heater. This also applies to furniture so make sure you have nothing leaning against, or sitting adjacent to, the heater.
2. Keep Electrical Cords Away From The Heater
Ensure that there are no electrical cords which can come into contact with the heater. If they do it can melt the insulation and create an electrical fire. There would also be the risk of electric shock if someone were to touch an exposed live wire.
3. Don't Leave Flammable Items Next To The heater
Keep anything which is flammable away from the baseboard heater to prevent a fire risk and be especially careful that nothing is left against the heater. Common items which can catch alight if they get too hot are children's toys, newspapers or magazines, items of clothing, slippers and even pet toys such as tug-of-war ropes.
4. Vacuum Inside The Heater
All sorts of small items can find their way through the vent holes and lodge themselves inside your baseboard heater. Dust, strands of hair, threads and small pieces of paper are just a few examples. Whilst not all are flammable, some are, so to reduce the risk of them catching fire when the heater gets very hot, it is recommended you open your heater and vacuum it occasionally.
5. Consider a Baseboard Heater Cover If You have Children and/or Pets In Your Home
No matter how much you keep an eye on them, children and pets have this incredible habit of getting themselves into dangerous scenarios. In this case, it is the risk of them being badly burned if they were to touch a baseboard heater that is on, especially if it is turned up high.
A popular solution which all but eliminates this risk is to install a baseboard cover over your heater. Not only will it keep the hottest parts of the heater beyond your children's and pet's reach, but you can also improve the decor of your room. There are several very decorative and stylish baseboard covers which will look far more attractive than the heater.
Baseboard Heating Costs
One of the most common reasons why people install electric baseboard heaters is that the upfront costs are some of the lowest of any type of household heaters. Some top quality electric baseboard heaters can be bought for less than the price of a night out for two at the movies.
Although in some cases installation costs can run to over a hundred dollars if you need to have an electrician run wiring to power it, the cost could also be zero if you have a plug-in heater.
It is when you come to the ongoing costs of using a baseboard heater that we need to appreciate that they are more expensive to run than some other heater types such as a central heating driven by an electrical pump. This comparison alone sees this heating method generating only 40% of the energy costs that a baseboard heater would.
Having said that, most homes that don't use their baseboard heater as the main heat source. Often, they'll use a central heating system, and have baseboard heaters to provide quick or additional heat when needed.
There are some simple ways you can reduce the energy costs associated with your electric baseboard heater.
Keep it clear so that the airflow is not compromised.
Keep the thermostat at a steady heat rather than continuously turning it up and down
Follow good maintenance, such as vacuuming out any dust
Don't leave doors or windows open unnecessarily where you have a baseboard heater
Comparison of Electric Baseboard Heaters vs Other Space Heaters
Oil Filled Space Heater
Zero to $100+
Easy To Use?
When it comes to choosing which of our 5 products was the best electric baseboard heater, we wanted to strike a balance between its ability to heat a small room, and convenience, in terms of how easy it was to use.
The heater we feel has that balance right, is the Heat Wave EB98937 Electric Baseboard Heater. It is our top electric baseboard heater because it is lightweight and portable, so it can be used in rooms throughout your house when needed.
There's no installation required, other than plugging it in, and you have control over the heat settings using the high/low option and the thermostat.
The last thing in its favor is that while virtually every other baseboard heater is white, this is black, which makes it look more modern than the others, especially with the black mesh on top.
If you are looking for other types of electric heaters, read other posts here: