Hydronic Electric Baseboard Heaters Vs. Standard

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When it comes to home heating devices, baseboard heaters have been highly purchased over the past years. Surprisingly, the number continues to increase every year.

With this observation, it’s clear the devices offer exceptional benefits to homeowners. But the most asked question is which are better between hydronic electric baseboard heaters vs. standard electric baseboard heaters?

When you buy a new home, the first thing to figure out is the heating method you would choose. Yes, because freezing weather during winter can be intolerable.

However, choosing between hydronic electric baseboard heaters and the standard electric baseboard heaters can be a dilemma. You need detailed research and a comparison of the dual. This article will walk you through all this.

Hydronic Electric Baseboard Heaters

Hydronic Electric Baseboard Heaters Vs. Standard

The hydronic electric baseboard heater works by a radiant heating mechanism. Radiant heating is where electromagnetic waves are released to contact objects. Once they hit objects, they turn to heat energy.

A hydronic baseboard heater has a boiler that heats the fluid. In hydronic baseboard heaters, there are two fluid options.

  • Water
  • Oil

Inside the boiler, an element is dipped to heat the liquid. The hydronic baseboard element has conductors and insulators that convert electric current to heat energy.

It has coils or ribbons made of insulator material that current flows in, converted to heat, and released outward in all directions to heat the fluid.

Once the liquid is heated, a circulator pump directs it to the piping installed around the walls or the floor surface.

The fluid distributes heat to the aluminum, copper, or iron fins attached around the metal pipes. Through radiation, the fins transfer heat to the surrounding air.

When air is heated, it rises to circulate the room. On the other hand, once the fluid loses heat, it flows back to the boiler for reheating by separate piping. The system has a thermostat that regulates the room’s temperature.

Read: Should I buy a house with electric baseboard heat?

Hydronic Electric Baseboard Heaters Vs. Standard

Standard Electric Baseboard Heaters

The standard electric baseboard heater releases convection heat. Like the hydronic heater, the element has both conductors and insulators. The coiled insulator converts electric energy to heat. Unlike the hydronic, the element transfers heat directly to the air.

The standard electric baseboard heater allows dense air in through the inlet vents. Air comes into contact with the heated element, and in the process, it gets heated. Usually, when dense air is heated, it becomes light and rises above.

The hot air circulates the room to distribute heat, the warm breeze you sit to enjoy during the cold season. The system is controlled by a thermostat that switches it on and off.

Read: Built-in cabinets over baseboard heat

Hydronic Electric Baseboard Heaters Vs. Standard Electric Baseboard Heaters

 Hydronic Electric Baseboard HeatersStandard Electric Baseboard Heaters
EfficiencyThe hot fluid can retain heat for an extended period without the thermostat turning on the device.The element loses heat quickly as the air continues to flow around. This results in shorter thermostat switching on/off intervals
Heating uniformityHeated fluid distributes heat uniformly through the pipes.Some elements may fail or be clogged with dust hence inconsistent heating.
Clean airNo fans to blow air, therefore, reducing dust and pollen around the room.The air is clean since there are no fans to blow dust. It circulates naturally.
NoiseNo moving parts hence reduced noise. However, you may hear bubbling noise when the system needs bleeding. Secondly, bunging noise when pressure builds up in pipes. Third, clicking noise as metals fins rub against each other due to contraction or expansion.No moving parts hence less noise.   However, the element may produce some tickling noise when it expands.
FlexibilityYou can choose between oil and water for heating.You’ll only rely on the element for heating.
SizeIt has many components; for example, the boiler and the circulator pump are installed in the basement. The pipes move from the basement to various rooms. As that’s the case, it occupies more space.Low profile design and small width enough to occupy a little space within the room.   All components are fixed together.
Maintenance and repairIt has many parts like the circulator pump that need regular lubrication. The pipes are prone to water minerals and rusting. The system needs frequent bleeding and flushing to clean. The metal fins are prone to dust, pollen, and grime that needs regular cleaning.The element is prone to dust, pollen, and grime that needs regular cleaning.
Energy usageHeated fluid can retain heat for extended hours. As such, power usage is minimized.The element cannot retain heat for long compared to the hot liquid. As such, more energy is used.
Heating speedIt takes longer to heat and circulate the fluid before reaching the required temperature.The element heats faster and reaches the required temperature in a shorter duration.
Installation costIt’s around 4 times higher than the standard electric baseboard heater cost because of its several components.The installation cost is lower.
LifespanIt’s prone to corrosion and pipes blockage. Secondly, because of regular flushing, bleeding, and opening several parts for maintenance, it has a shorter lifespan of around 20 years.Only the element needs cleaning. Luckily, it can serve for around 40 years.

FAQs about Electric Baseboard Heaters

Do Hydronic Baseboard Heaters Need Plumbing?

The hydronic baseboard heaters work by circulating hot water to heat the surrounding air. The boiler is set in the basement, and the pipes transport water to the required rooms. As that’s the case, the hydronic baseboard heating system needs a plumbing job.  You’ll need professionals to install pipes around the rooms for safety because hot water can be hazardous.

How Hot Do Hydronic Baseboard Heaters Get?

An average operating hydronic baseboard heater should circulate water at a temperature of around 180 degrees through its aluminum or copper tubes. On the other hand, water should return to the boiler for reheating at a temperature of around 160 degrees.

Are Hydronic Baseboard Heaters Safe?

All baseboard heaters are considered safe if you maintain them. However, each baseboard heater has its pros and cons, as outlined in the table above. It’s upon you to decide between hydronic electric baseboard heaters vs. standard electric baseboard heaters. 

Read: Can you put vinegar in a hot water heater?