Electric Baseboard Heat Installation and Repair

Electric baseboard heat systems are one of the most inexpensive and easy to install heating solutions you can choose for your home. That being said, they are very rarely used as the full time, primary heat source for homes because of the expensive operating cost. They can be a good solution as a secondary heat source to your central heating system, or for heating spaces like basements, room additions, bathrooms, or drafty rooms.

How Do Baseboard Heating Systems Work?

There are two different types of baseboard heating systems: electric and hydronic. From the outside, these two types of heating units look identical. They both provide a slow, gentle flow of heat. So what’s the difference? We break it down for you below.

Electric Baseboard Heating

In the simplest terms, electric baseboard heaters work by drawing cool air near the floor over heated metal fins, and then the warm air is gently radiated back into the room. They are typically installed on perimeter walls underneath windows, which promotes convection of heat – as cold air falls from the window, it enters the baseboard unit through a vent, where the air is then heated by an electric current. The warm air then rises from the baseboard, and the pattern repeats itself, creating the process known as convection.

Hydronic Baseboard Heating

Hydronic baseboard heating works similarly to electric baseboard heating, but electricity generates the system’s heat indirectly. Hydronic systems work by circulating heated water or oil from a boiler to the baseboard heaters, where an electrical current warms the fluid within the baseboard unit. The heated fluid then radiates heat into the room.

Hydronic baseboards operate more efficiently than electric systems because the liquid within the system will remain warm for much longer even after the thermostat is turned off.

While hydronic units are more efficient than electric, they are more expensive to install due to the initial cost of a boiler and running tubing throughout the house. These systems are not as common in new homes today because there are more efficient, cost-effective ways to heat your home.

Why Choose Electric Baseboard Heat?

Quiet Operation

Since electric baseboard heat does not use forced-air, and have no moving parts like fans, they operate almost silently compared to forced air systems.

Easy to Install

Baseboard heating units do not require ductwork to operate, which means they are easy to install, especially for older or space constrained homes where adding ductwork would be difficult.

Low Maintenance

There is little ongoing maintenance because baseboard heaters do not have to be serviced professionally like forced air systems.

Inexpensive Upfront Cost

These units cost less to install than most other types of heating systems. They do not require modifying your home or installing large pieces of equipment like high-velocity, ductless or geothermal systems.

Considerations for Your Home


Electric baseboard heaters are infamously known for being inefficient, which can be costly for homeowners to run for a long period of time. Many homeowners use baseboard heaters in conjunction with a central heating system so they are not running as frequently.


While homeowners can save money on the upfront purchase and installation costs of electric baseboard heaters, these systems will cost you more money in the long run because of the inefficiencies and cost of electricity to operate.


Electric baseboard heaters work best when there is proper airflow around them. Homeowners need to be aware of the height of carpet beneath these units, as well as making sure that furniture and curtains/drapery are the proper distance away to improve efficiency and prevent fire hazards.


What is the life expectancy?

The average life expectancy of electric baseboard heaters is about 20 years but can last longer with proper maintenance.

How do you maintain/clean electric baseboard heaters?

These systems are relatively low maintenance. They should be vacuumed at least once a year to prevent dust build up.

How much does electric baseboard heater cost to operate?

The cost to operate electric baseboard heaters will depend on the size of your home, and how you are using the units (supplementary heating vs primary heating source for your home). However, these systems are known to be one of the most expensive heating options. For reference, it costs $34.57 to generate one million BTUs of heating using electric baseboard heating, compared to $14.39 using an electric heat pump, or $7.33 using a gas furnace (as of 2013). Keep in mind these are just general estimates.

If you’re interested in electric or hydronic baseboard heating for your home, contact Unique Indoor Comfort to learn more and determine if these are the best solution for your home.