Basics for installing baseboard heaters as a main heat source

The easiest heating systems to install are baseboard wall heaters in most locations. Baseboard hot water heating systems are harder to install because they require a hot water line from the water heater, but they can be much more efficient than wall heaters.

There have been a lot of improvements over the years in the area of heating, venting, and air conditioning or more commonly referred to as HVAC.

A century ago things were much easier. Most homes had a fireplace and a few windows and that was their HVAC.

Things are quite a bit different today as we have many complex forms of HVAC’s out there. They can seem difficult to understand, but they really aren’t too difficult to install and maintain.

Some of the modern day HVAC systems are very expensive and even though they will save on electricity costs because of high efficiency, it’s better to start out with a more economical system. Remember, if you use the finest quality materials and fixtures all the time, you will probably run out of money before your house is finished.

There might be a few contractors out there that would have plenty to say about that statement, but the truth is, they aren’t going to install the highest quality fixtures either unless you ask for them.

They make handsome profits from overcharging the wealthy and middle class for high quality fixtures, but most of the simple homes will get low end fixtures.

I like to concentrate on simple and inexpensive HVAC systems. Let’s start out with the heating units. The easiest heating system to install is definitely wall heaters.

wall heaters

No duct work is needed with baseboard heating systems because each room has its own heater. These are inexpensive to buy and fairly economical.

They are much more efficient than they used to be. They are electric and come in several sizes, colors, and BTU’s. The BTU is short for “British Thermal Units” (I think).

It’s just a means of measuring a heating area. The BTU’s will go up as the wattage goes up, so for a big room, you may want to install a 3,000-watt heater, but for bedrooms, a 2,000-watt heater should be fine.

They are also available in 120-volts, or 240-volts. The 240-volt series is more efficient in terms of power consumption. These heaters fit into a 4-inch wall easily enough. The rough opening for the hole in the wall will need to be framed in.

Some heaters can be attached to a wall stud without being framed in. The dimensions for the canister are on the box. The canister fits into the wall and houses the wiring. The heater fits into the canister, and then the grill is put on.

baseboard heating systems

The wiring for baseboard heating is easy as well. For the 240-volt heaters, you will want to use a 30-amp breaker at the breaker box, and 10-2 Romex with both black and white wires as hot.

These heaters should be placed on interior walls for the best efficiency so they aren’t trying to heat cold air of an outside wall.

heater wiring

You can use 12-2 Romex, but 10-2 wire will tolerate higher wattages without getting hot. That way if you want to put in a larger heater in the future, the wiring will support it.

The illustration shows how the wires from the heater are connected to the heating circuit. All these wiring standards will be subject to local codes.

The electrical inspector will have the minimum standards necessary for this type of heater. You should probably put no more than three heaters on one circuit to avoid overload. This circuit will be a dedicated circuit to heating units only.

baseboard heat

Baseboard heating systems wear out after just a few years and will need to be replaced. This is easy and quite inexpensive though.

Next, wood burning stoves

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