Electric heat can be a great way to augment your current heating system, helping
to heat a room that doesn't get quite warm enough. Or, it can be an easy way to
add heat to an addition or even a brand new home. This guide will tell you the
basics of installing electric baseboard heaters.
Start by calculating a base line for the total watts of electric
heat you'll need for each room. You'll need 10 watts per square foot of floor
space. So, a 12-foot-by-12-foot room (144 sq. ft.) would require about 1500
watts of electric heat. Standard-density baseboards are rated for about 250
watts per foot. Therefore, for a room this size, you'd need about 6 feet of
You may, however, need more wattage than the base line
indicates. This depends on how many windows you have, their type, and how well
the room is insulated. If your room suffers from many low-quality windows and
has poor insulation, you may need to pump some additional wattage in there.
Note: having more heaters doesn't necessarily mean your heating costs will go
up, since the heaters won't have to work as hard to maintain the desired
temperature if there are more of them. You should also know that you can break
up the total feet of heater you need into as many individual heating units as
you want, as long as they total the wattage necessary.
Next, you need to
install the appropriate circuits to handle the new electrical currents. It's
probably a good idea to work with an electrician on this part. Firstly, because
dealing with electricity can be dangerous, even if you do know what you're
doing. Secondly, because it's very important to make sure this part of the job
is done correctly. If you don't have the appropriate circuits for the job, you
could be in danger of fire or electrical malfunctions.
Baseboard InstallationYour electrician or installation
professional will be able to help you place and hook up the heaters and
thermostat. It's ideal to place heaters below windows, where most of the heat
loss will occur. The thermostat should be placed on an interior wall, in an
easily accessible location. It should never be directly above the heater or any
other heat source, as this will affect its temperature readings.
won't need to do much to install the actual baseboards. Cut a hole behind where
the baseboard will go to feed the wires through. Then, once the baseboard is
hooked up to the wires (follow the manufacturer's instructions for this part),
you'll just need to secure the baseboard to the wall. The method for doing so
will vary by brand and type, but most of the time they simply screw into
After taking these steps, in addition to running wires to the
thermostat, all you'll have to do to warm up the room is press a couple of
buttons or turn a knob!
Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on January 7, 2013