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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Default Electric Baseboard Heaters

    We have electric baseboard heaters throughout our home. Each room has its own thermostat and when we are using the room we turn the heat on and when we are not the heat is off. In our living room I installed a new programmable thermostat for electric baseboard heaters hoping it would help keep the heat adjusted and our bill low. Unfortunately it has not done either. The heaters do not seem to warm up to the programmed temperature, making the room always cold. We are constantly turning up the thermostat, but still nothing. We are continually vacuuming them and make sure they are not blocked and still nothing. Also when they turn on there is always a lot of cracking and banging noise.

    I would like to know if anyone makes an energy efficient electric baseboard heater. I have done some research and found a company, Hydo-Sil that makes heaters with Silicone in them. They claim that they heat longer and will save you money on your electric bill. Have you ever heard of them? We are looking for any suggestion that can help us stay warm and keep our electric bill low.

    Thanks, Mike and Jessica
    Last edited by Mike and Jessica; 01-23-2009 at 03:08 PM. Reason: Removing last name

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
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    1,661

    Default Re: Electric Baseboard Heaters

    Did you use a line voltage or a low voltage programmable thermostat? Baseboards require line voltage thermostats. You can use a low-voltage thermostat with a baseboard only if you also have a relay system.

    (If you're not sure what you got, and you've thrown away the manual, low-voltage stats usually have terminal screws, while line-voltage usually have thick wire leads.)

    "Energy efficient" is a misnomer with electric heat, because all electric heaters are 100% efficient. That means that for every watt of electricity they consume, you get one watt of heat. So in those terms, there are no electric heaters that are more efficient than others.

    However, some electric heaters can be more effective than others, for the same wattage. For example, a radiant heater heats objects rather than air, so in a workshop you can aim the heater at you so you're warm without warming the whole workshop (and thus be more efficient). Oil-filled heaters use a thermal-bank concept, providing more even heating so your temperature swings between thermostat on and thermostat off will be less pronounced. Heaters with a greater surface area will heat more air slowly (but with the same total amount of heat coming off) so that there will be fewer temperature variations throughout the room.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Electric Baseboard Heaters

    It is a Honeywell programable thermostat specifically for Electric Baseboard heaters. I will check the manual tonight and see.

    Have you ever heard of the Hyro_Sil heaters?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Electric Baseboard Heaters

    Mike and Jessica ... afraid I don't know anything about those Hyro_Sil heaters mentioned though keeping the baseboard heaters clean and open from obstructions will help.
    Also there are modern improved thermostats for electric baseboard heat which aid in improving the efficiency and help with the noise.

    Look for a thermostat having modulating proportional control.
    Perhaps this link to another thread may provide some helpful information.

    https://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=9141

    Here's an example of these types of thermostats...

    http://www.upm-marketing.com/product...1%280%20%20%0A

    Hopefully this helps.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    556

    Default Re: Electric Baseboard Heaters

    Mike & Jessica:

    Could you post what you are paying per kwh for your elec., your general location, & approx sq. footage of your home---do you have nat gas, #2 oil, propane, wood pellets available---what do most homes in your area have for heat.

    If your elec rate is high, have you considered some other type of heating system.
    Last edited by NashuaTech; 01-23-2009 at 10:40 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Electric Baseboard Heaters

    Canuk,

    Thanks for the information. I assumed that the Honeywell thermostat has a modulating proportional control, but I will check.

    NashuaTech,

    Off the top of my head I don't know what we are paying per kwh for our electricity I will check tonight. We live in Hartford County in Connecticut. The house is 1,068 square foot Prefab house built in 1986, with a full basement below grade. We do not have natural gas, #2 oil or propane, just electic heat. The previous owner installed a pellet stove in the basement and also put some vents in the floors, but not in the living room due to the finish room below. After some research the stove is a cheap one you can only buy ******.

    With the economy the way it is and money tight we are looking at a very inexspensive way to heat the living room space and lower our electric bill. I know space heater and other portable heater are easier, but with a little one crawling around they can be dangerous.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Electric Baseboard Heaters

    If you do some searching on Hydro-sil, they have a lot of unhappy customers. Their customer service apparently leaves a whole lot to be desired. There are other oil filled units on the market, probably at your local Home Depot or Lowes, and probably a whole lot cheaper. But from all I read, baseboard electric is still baseboard electric and no cheaper. By having silicon or oil or whatever, it adds some thermal mass to the unit. But all that does is smooth out the peaks and valleys of the thermostat operation.

    All baseboard electrics are pretty much the same. Electric convective heat is 100% efficient. They are cheap to buy and install, and electric was cheap at the time they were very popular in many parts of the country in new construction. However, today they are the most expensive to operate. I know because I have baseboard electric in my place, and my electric bill runs over $300 a month in the winter and that's with us burning wood in a fireplace stove insert to help with heating.

    You might have the same Honeywell RLV430 thermostats I have. Picked up five of them this week at Home Depot. They should, by default, modulate. I know the ones I have do because I hooked up the first one to a wall mounted fan heater. Scratched my head for a while as to why it was cycling on for about 5 seconds then off. Repeats every 15 seconds. Kept reading. Had to change the configuration for fan units. And don't mount the thermostat on an outside wall.

    Something I've been investigating, but have not yet formed a final opinion about, is radiant electric baseboard and cove heating units. There are several on the market from different makers. Here are three I've found in my searching.

    Enerjoy
    Solid State Heating Corp.
    http://www.sshcinc.com

    Comfort Cove
    Radiant Systems Inc.
    http://www.radiantsystemsinc.com/

    CeramiCircuit
    Radiant Electric Heat, Inc.
    http://www.electricheat.com/

    I have not yet found anything conclusive to say they will save you money, but I did find this.
    http://www.energyexperts.org/energy_...ant&sector=All

    Apparently there was a study conducted in 1994 by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center which seemed to conclude the Enerjoy units saved energy, provided heat more efficiently than the other systems evaluated, and seemed to make people feel comfortable at lower temperatures.

    That said, it appears to get the savings with these systems, you will need to utilize thermostats in each zone the same way you use the lightswitch. Enter a room, turn on the lightswitch and turn on the thermostat. Leave the room, turn 'em both off. And, I've not yet found pricing on units to know what my initial outlay will be.

    Since you have a full basement, I would suspect a new forced air system might be easier to have retrofitted to your place. But, a new forced air system ain't cheap. I got a price of $16K last year for a heat pump, electric furnace, replace Federal Pacific panel, and ducting through the attic.

    Radiant underfloor or under the flooring system, hydronic or electric, pricing I've gotten is in the $16K or more range.

    Hot water baseboard may be less expensive, but I dunno for sure.

    I've started talking to propane companies. Pricing I've seen runs from about $1,800 to $3,000 installed. Plus you'd have to get a forced air or radiant system installed.

    PTAC units give you heat and air conditioning and tend to be very economical. They aren't as expensive as baseboard electric to operate, but probably more expensive than anything else.

    A free standing woodburning or pellet stove will probably run a few thousand dollars installed. The real catch is acquiring wood or pellets. You can get the wood cheaper, but there's more labor involved. With pellets, just buy and fill. Pellet stoves won't help you when the power goes out whereas woodstoves will.

    The other catch with wood or pellet stoves is burn bans. Some areas of the country have them. Around the Puget Sound (King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties), get caught running your wood or pellet stove during a Stage Two Burn Ban, and it's a $1,000 fine. That's an air quality ban. There are also fire risk bans, but that's usually in the spring or summer months when I'm not burning wood.

    In exploring my various options, I'm probably, at this point, leaning towards swapping out the wall mounted heaters for baseboard units under the outside windows. This is the best location for baseboard electric units. And I may be adding a free standing woodburning stove in the living room to help with warming. I'm also proceding based on the economy.

    A hydronic underfloor radiant system would be heavenly, but it carries a heckish price.

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