Since 2014, we've spent over 80 hours researching and evaluating 15 baseboard heaters from 10 top brands. We looked at each unit's heat output, size and warranty. In the end, we chose the Dimplex PC6025W31 as our top pick because it's the most powerful electric baseboard heater we reviewed — especially for its size. In addition, it supports 240- and 120-volt wiring and has a built-in thermostat.
The Dimplex PC6025W31 is the most powerful baseboard heater we looked at – 2,500 watts of heating power in a compact package. For comparison, it is twice as powerful as the QMark HBB 1254, our favorite hydronic model, even though both units are roughly the same size, around 60 inches.
This means you can use the Dimplex to heat almost any room in your home, although it might be too powerful for small bedrooms. The heating element has multiple upright aluminum fins that encourage upward airflow and help move heat around the room.
Power isn’t the only reason to like the Dimplex PC6025W31. It's also the only electric baseboard heater we looked at that has a built-in thermostat. That means you don't need to buy any extra equipment to use it, though you might want a wall-mounted controller if you have more than one of these units in your home. Dimplex also sells wireless remote controls compatible with this unit.
The Dimplex is also the only unit we reviewed that works with both 120- and 240-volt wiring setups, so you can install it any home, regardless of the wiring you have. However, if you want the best heating performance, Dimplex recommends a 240-volt circuit. The unit’s heating element has a 10-year warranty, the longest non-lifetime warranty we've seen among baseboard heaters. It also comes with a one-year warranty on all other parts.
The Cadet 2F500W is compact, only 30 inches wide, making it one of the smallest electric baseboard heaters on the market. With only 500 watts of power, it can't heat large or medium rooms on its own, so it's probably not the best choice for a primary heater.
However, it's appropriate for a room in which you want a permanent alternative to a portable space heater. For example, if you use a few of these baseboard heaters in a room or focus on placing them near the drafty, less efficient windows and doors found in older homes, you can stave off the cold between your main HVAC system's heating cycles.
The Cadet 2F500W requires 120-volt wiring, the standard in most homes. The low voltage is a reason the heater doesn't have the power of others we reviewed, but it also means less electrical work. You need to get a thermostat to control the 2F500W, since it doesn't have a built-in module for heating controls. Cadet recommends buying one of its thermostats.
Even though the Cadet 2F500W is the least expensive baseboard heater we reviewed, costing between $30 and $45 depending on the season, it has excellent customer reviews and comes with a lifetime warranty. Cadet is the only electric baseboard heater manufacturer we've seen that offers such a warranty.
The QMark HBB 1254 has a power level of 1,250 watts, making it a good choice for midsize bedrooms.
Although another hydronic baseboard heater we reviewed, the Cadet EBHN1500W, is more powerful, that unit is 83 inches wide, so it takes up more space. The QMark HBB 1254 is only 58 inches wide, which gives it a better size-to-power ratio and makes it easy to fit into rooms without shuffling the furniture too much.
As a hydronic baseboard heater with a liquid-immersed heating element, the QMark provides even heating and fewer hot spots than typical electric models. Although it can take longer to warm the liquid and heat the room, it also uses less energy because the liquid radiates heat as it cools down. In contrast, electric heaters typically need to stay on to keep a room warm. Unfortunately, hydronic baseboard heaters are more expensive. The QMark HBB 1254 costs $270 – over twice as much as our top pick from Dimplex.
You can install the QMark unit using either 240- or 208-volt wiring, but it doesn't work with 120-volt circuits. You also need to buy a thermostat to control it, since it lacks the built-in controls that make the Dimplex PC6025W31 so flexible. In general, hydronic heaters have shorter warranties than electric ones, but QMark's 10-year warranty is second only to the lifetime warranties on some electric units.
The Fahrenheat PLF1004 hydronic baseboard heater comes in a variety of sizes and power outputs, making it a flexible option for use in most rooms. As a hydronic baseboard heater, it provides exceptional heat retention after the heating element turns off.
Although the 46-inch model we looked at has a power output of 1,000 watts you can also get this baseboard heater in a variety of other sizes. These range from 500 watts and 28 inches to 2,000 watts and 94 inches, so you can get the appropriate size to meet your needs. You can use this unit with 240- and 208-volt wiring, the latter of which allows you to control multiple units with a single thermostat. However, the lower voltage means you won't get as much heating efficiency as with a standalone unit. The 10-year warranty for this unit matches the best we've seen for other hydronic heaters, but not nearly as long as the lifetime coverage you get with some electric units.
The King 8CB 2415BW is a massive 98-inch electric baseboard heater that works best in large rooms. Its ceramic storage core helps it generate and retain heat better than all-metal heating elements.
The fins in this heater use a high-grade aluminum, that helps it move air more effectively through the vents. As with most baseboard heaters, this 1500-watt unit requires 240-volt wiring; it does not support 120-volt wiring. It comes with an overheat sensor that helps prevent safety hazards as well as excessive wear on the unit's components. You may find it difficult to place this unit because it's so wide, though smaller variants are available if needed. This unit lacks a built-thermostat, but is compatible with single and double pole mounted thermostats. The five-year warranty is shorter than that of most baseboard heaters we looked at.
Why Trust Us
Since 2016, we've tested fans and programmable thermostats in our lab at Top Ten Reviews. Through these tests, we've gained valuable experience that helps us reach our conclusions concerning other heating and cooling equipment such as baseboard heaters. As we test, we hold ourselves to precise standards, mainly centering on value and convenience. We design our tests to match consumer expectations, not those of product designers.
When we can't physically test a product, as in the case with baseboard heaters, we use the same attention to detail to verify our research so our decisions echo the mission of Top Ten Reviews.
How We Tested
We looked at 10 baseboard heater brands and assessed the specifications and energy efficiency of 15 models. Due to installation requirements, we don't test baseboard heaters in-house at Top Ten Reviews. Instead, we award our highest scores to heaters that generate the most warmth while taking up the smallest space.
A baseboard heater’s size matters because putting the unit too close to furniture can lead to overheating, electrical dangers and poor airflow. Our top-rated unit, the 60-inch Dimplex, produces twice the heat of the 58-inch QMark HBB, despite their similar sizes. This could affect your decision if floor space is an issue.
How Much do Baseboard Heaters Cost?
The two main types of baseboard heaters have different costs. For example, a typical electric baseboard heater costs between $35 and $200 while a typical hydronic baseboard heater costs between $200 and $450. Additionally, there is a direct link between a baseboard heater's size, power output and price, which means bigger, more powerful heaters cost more than smaller, less powerful units.
Be aware that buying multiple smaller units to heat a space may be more expensive than getting a single larger unit. For example, two 500-watt baseboard heaters may cost $70 compared to a 1,000-watt unit, which costs $50. However, multiple units provide better heat distribution in a space, so your final cost depends on your space and needs.
You should also factor in the cost of paying an electrician to install the heaters, unless you have the skills to do it on your own while meeting local electrical code requirements.
What To Look For
Electric Vs. Hydronic
There are two types of baseboard heaters: electric and hydronic. Electric heaters use convection to circulate heat throughout a room. This heat often dissipates quickly after the heater shuts off, since the heating elements and steel case cool down rapidly. Hydronic systems warm up a liquid, which radiates heat more slowly and evenly. These units take longer to warm a room than electric ones, but they continue to produce heat after they turn off because they don't cool down as quickly. As such, they are more energy efficient. In general, electric baseboard heaters are more affordable and more durable than hydronic ones.
For our evaluation, we didn't look at whether hydronic or electric baseboard heaters are better. Ultimately, that decision comes down to your own heating preferences.
Room Size & Wattage
Prior to purchasing a baseboard radiator, factor in the size of the room you want to heat. To determine the ideal wattage for your room, multiply the square footage by 10. For example, a 100-square-foot room could use a 1,000-watt heater. This ensures you can heat a room quickly and keep it warm efficiently. A heater with too little wattage might heat a room eventually, but it could take hours.
Electric baseboard heaters are ideal for heating spaces between 50 and 200 square feet. If your target area is not in this range, another type of heater might be a better solution. For areas smaller than 50 square feet, space heaters are a low-cost, portable option you can simply plug into a wall outlet.
Whereas some baseboards are covered for one, five or seven years, the best baseboard heaters have 10-year warranties or longer. Ideally, a warranty will cover the cost of replacement parts and shipping while in effect. Installing replacement parts falls on you; it might be smart to hire a technician to repair more costly units.
Installing Your Baseboard Heater
Although many people can reasonably install a baseboard heater without problems, it's usually best to hire an electrician. An electrician can help you run voltage-appropriate wiring to the heater's location, mount the heater and install the proper thermostats. Hiring a professional is more expensive than DIY installation, but it's safer and quicker to hire an electrician.
It's best to place a baseboard heater next to a doorway, directly under a window or along an external wall to help eliminate cold spots. Placement on carpet is acceptable, provided the air intake stays clear of obstructions. Likewise, leave 6 inches on either side, as well as 12 inches above the unit to further ensure it remains free of hazards.
When replacing baseboard heaters, you likely have the correct wiring in place, but new locations may need new wiring. Every model we reviewed requires 240-volt wiring, with two exceptions: the Cadet 2F500W heater, which supports only 120 volts, and the Dimplex PC6025W31, which supports both voltage options. Homes often have 240-volt wiring for heavy appliances, though it's not always accessible for baseboard heating.
Unlike our top pick from Dimplex, most baseboard heaters don't come with a built-in thermostat, instead relying on a wired or wireless thermostat for temperature control. Baseboard heaters don't work with your home's main thermostat, which controls your furnace or air conditioner, so your best bet is to buy one from the heater's manufacturer. You'll likely need a thermostat in each room that has a baseboard heater.
Are Baseboard Heaters Energy Efficient?
Baseboard heaters are not as efficient as other types of heaters. They are a type of electrical-resistance heater, which convert 100 percent of incoming electricity into heat. While this sounds like a good thing, you need to consider that electricity is more expensive than other fuel sources used to heat homes. Put simply, it requires more energy and effort to burn fuels to create electricity for heating than to burn many of those same fuels directly for heating. Additionally, heat pumps, which also use electricity, are more efficient than resistance heating.
This doesn’t mean baseboard heaters are impractical in every case. In fact, Energy Star states in its guide on resistance heating that resistance heaters can be good for the following situations:
- Heating additions to your home where extending your current heating system may be too expensive
- Dry climates with either hot or mixed (hot and cold) temperatures that have few heating days each year
- Zone heating in different parts of your home, cabin or workshop
As with any heating device, keeping yourself and your home safe from accidental fires and burns is important. Some of the best safety tips we've found from the National Fire Protection Association include:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Keep all fabrics away from the heater. This includes curtains, blankets and clothes.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
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