Replacing baseboard heaters

Should I replace old electric baseboards?

The best reason to upgrade your old electric baseboards to new ones is improvements in safety. New models include an oversized high temperature limit switch that shuts the heater off when excessive operating temperatures are detected. The heating elements in newer models are improved, as well, improvements in case construction has increased convection patterns to direct heat away from walls. However, these changes won’t alter the fact that new or old electric heat baseboard heat is 100% efficient. If the electric elements are working, there would most likely be no benefit to replacing them.

Hugh Cairns’ baseboard replacement tip - Baseboard heaters convert 100 percent of their supplied electricity into heat. We can't get better efficiency than that, but we can improve how the heat is used.

Electric baseboards with corroded, overheated connections or burnt-out elements should be replaced. Since the units primarily in any given home are of the same age, if you notice problems like this, you should formulate a plan for a wholesale change-out. There really isn’t much to wear out with the old baseboard heating systems. There aren’t any moving parts.

You may decide to change them for aesthetic reasons. New electric baseboard heaters are much more attractive. There are several decorative upgrade kits available for refitting older units.

Replacing old electric baseboards with ductless heat pumps

The hot new thing in home heating is called the "ductless heat pump". Replacing baseboard electric heaters with a ductless heat pump can result in savings of 25 to 50 percent on the cost to heat. In addition they can be used as air conditioners in the summer. Payback on a system is estimated as ten years. As the name suggests, there's no ductwork involved. That saves money on installation.

Hugh Cairns’ conversion tip - Since ductless heat pumps are costly and can be added to one or several rooms at a time, it's a system an owner can shift to gradually.

Ductless heat pumps have two main parts. The indoor fan unit mounts on an interior wall and resembles an air conditioner. Refrigerant lines run through to the outside and connect to a box-sized compressor at grade level. Standard equipment in Asia and Europe, the system is catching on in the North American market.

Baseboard heaters vs. Electric fireplaces

Baseboard heaters and electric fireplaces can provide zoned heating room by room.

When they first arrived on the market, electric fireplaces looked pretty much unrealistic. Recently improvements in aesthetics have made them appear realistic and decorative. Some models are wall features and include remote controls.

For a small home, there are many advantages to using either of these; however, you would have to be smart about using them. Low in cost, usually under $100, baseboard heaters are a less expensive alternative as opposed to electric fireplaces that run anywhere from $200-1000. With either product it is important to size them properly for the room that they are to be used in.

For more tips on electric baseboard efficiency, thermostats and maintenance click here.

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About the Author

When you need advice or guidance with DIY home improvement and repairs, Hugh Cairns can help you with the answers.

Home improvements can be rewarding, turn your home into a nicer more comfortable place to live, and increase its value.

Whether you are renovating your kitchen, converting a loft, giving a room a lick of paint or making improvements to your home’s energy efficiency, this column is here to guide you with useful information and key things to remember.

Do you have a renovation question or concern? Please feel free to send Hugh your questions. Contact him through www.subject2homeinspections.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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