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Thread: More efficient baseboard heaters?

  1. #1
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    More efficient baseboard heaters?

    I read periodically about "more efficient" heaters, particularly baseboard heaters. If a 30 year old heater is rated at 1,500 watts and you're replacing in with a new "efficient" 1,500 watt heater, what's the difference? Does the newer one put out more heat for the same 1,500 watts? How can I measure this?

  2. #2
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    Watts are watts but perhaps they have some material that retains the heat longer such as the oil filled heaters.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Alwon View Post
    Watts are watts but perhaps they have some material that retains the heat longer such as the oil filled heaters.
    Yes, those liquid filled heaters are efficiant and expensive.
    "Appliances and wiring will burn out to protect fuses"

  4. #4
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    Electric heat is already 100% efficient, every watt you put into it comes out as heat. You can not make it more efficient. (It is the delivery system that has high losses)

    Oil filled heaters are sometimes better at even heating but you can accomplish the same thing with better thermostats with smaller differentials.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by iwire View Post
    Electric heat is already 100% efficient, every watt you put into it comes out as heat. You can not make it more efficient.
    This is true, but does not tell the complete story. If you think of "efficiency" in terms of making a room feel warmer for less input electricity, I think you can improve things by getting a heater that includes a fan. Most of my home is heated by electric baseboard or in-wall heaters. The in-wall heaters all have built-in fans. Those rooms get warm much quicker, and stay warmer, then the room with the two 4-foot baseboard heaters that don't have fans. I wish I could find replacements that do have fans.

    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2008 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  6. #6
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    At the same time that the heaters with fans heat the room quicker they also create a wind chill effect that may feel uncomfortable to some.

    BTW, I have never seen a standard baseboard heater with a fan. The toe space, or kick space heaters have fans and the wall mounted ones do also.

  7. #7
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    It takes a given amount of power to heat a given area a given amount, or replace a given amount of heat loss. The only way to improve that is to reduce the heat loss, as through improved weathertightness and insulation.

    The mechanics of the heater can not control the required heat gain. Oil-filled heaters, for example, will themselves heat and cool more slowly, but, over time, they can't heat a room "more efficiently" than standard heaters.

    Added: As Bob indicated, when heat is the desired product, any loss that creates heat, such as circuit voltage drop, causes no reduction in efficiency, unless the voltage-drop-induced heat loss is outside the area to be heated.
    Last edited by LarryFine; 10-25-10 at 04:10 PM.
    Code references based on 2005 NEC
    Larry B. Fine
    Master Electrician
    Electrical Contractor
    Richmond, VA

  8. #8
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    As others have mentioned, as far as resistant heating goes, the only thing that can be improved is the heat transfer of the device.

    So a new baseboard heater with 'improved', and clean, fins may be more effective even though it is not more efficient.
    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

  9. #9
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    Add a paddle fan and switch it to winter and put on low. It will mix the room air more effectively.

  10. #10
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    So are we in agreement that the fireplace heaters built by the amish and advertised on TV nothing more than a cheap $20 electric space heater in a high priced cabinet ?

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