Installing Electric Baseboard Heat
February 6, 2007
Today we are going to discuss installing electric baseboard heaters. The first thing you need to do is choose a good location for your heater.
Electric baseboard heaters need to be placed under a window area. The reason for this is the cold air from the window will fall mixing with the warm air that rises from the heater causing the air to flow around the room. However, when placing the heater under a window you need to be concerned about receptacles, furniture and drapes. You must keep all furniture and drapes a minimum of 12 inches from the heater to prevent fires. You are also not permitted to have an electrical receptacle above the heater.
Now you need to decide which type of electric baseboard heater you are going to install. You have the standard baseboard heater and Cadet makes a hydronic electric baseboard heater.
The standard electric baseboard heater, as pictured above, is economically priced but, very inefficient. These units have aluminum fins that surround the heating element. Aluminum disipates heat quickly, so these do not maintain the heat and need to operate more often. These units range in price from $40.00 – $90.00.
Cadet makes a premier hydronic electric baseboard heater they call Softheat, that is considerably more efficient. These heaters are recommended for nurseries, bedrooms and for people with severe allergies. Additional benefits include lower operating and surface temperatures and whisper quiet operation. The Softheat hydronic baseboard uses circulating fluid (80% water and 20% Ethylene Glycol) to provide steady, uniform warmth with longer heat retention and minimal temperature variation. No plumbing is necessary, these heaters are totally self contained. These units range in price from $150.00 – $225.00.
The next decision is a thermostat. A wall mounted thermostat is recommended to provide optimum comfort when heating the room. A unit mounted thermostat is also available. When working with 240 volt units, be sure to get a double pole thermostat.
The final decision is to determine the size heater that you will need. To do this you need to measure the length and width of the room. Multiply these measurements together and then multiply that number by 10. For example, if your room is 10 feet wide by 10 feet long your formula would be (10′ length x 10′ width) x 10 = 1000. For this example you need 1000 watts of electric baseboard heat to properly heat this room. A 4 foot baseboard heater is 1000 watts.
Now that you have figured out that you need a 1000 watt heater you need to size your breaker and wire. To do this, divide 1000 watts by 240 volts = approximately 4.2 amps. You may use 14/2 NM cable, but I recommend 12/2. This circuit will require a double pole 15 amp circuit breaker maximum.
Now you just need to run the wire and install your components. Run a 12/2 NM cable from your breaker box to the wall mounted thermostat. The best location for this thermostat is on an inside wall. Electricians typically place these above the light switch approximately 5′ above the finshed floor. From the thermostat, run another 12/2 NM cable to your heater. If you are going to use a unit mounted thermostat, you just need to run the cable from your breaker box to the heater.
I recommend installing the wire on the left side of your heater. The reason for this is, the Softheat unit can only be wired on the left side. If your budget does not permit you to install one of these Softheat units now, this gives you the option to install one at a later date.
Be sure to correctly wire the thermostat. You will notice it will have a line side and a load side. The line side is the power cable that comes from your breaker box and the load side is the cable that goes to your heater.
If this scenario does not work for your application, please submit your questions in the comment section of this post.
Do you need assistance with your electrical wiring project? Please visit my DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Master Electrician page. Where I provide electrical wiring tips, expert electrical advice, answers to your electrical questions and electrical consulting & design services over the phone, via instant messenger or via email.
- Answers to Electrical Questions About Installing Hydronic Heat, T-Stats and Electric Heat in a Bathroom
- Installing a GFCI Receptacle on a Non-Grounded Electrical System, Replacing a Light Switch and Replacing 120 Volt Electric Baseboard Heaters with 240 Volt Heaters
- Installing Electric Baseboard Heaters on Drywall, Using a 3-way Switch in place of a Single Pole Switch and Troubleshooting Light Switches Not Working
- Answers to Electrical Questions About Electric Baseboard Heaters
- Q&A About Electric Baseboard Heaters, Quad Receptacles and Installing New Circuits to Bedrooms and a Family Room