Hydronic elecric baseboard heater vs standard electric baseboard heater

We are about to put electric heat in our basement, and I need to decide what type of heater to use. I'm considering baseboard heaters. I talked to the electrical inspector, and standard electric baseboard heaters aren't permitted below electrical outlets, but he will allow electric hydronic heaters because they don't get as hot. I've also read several postings in newsgroups that support this.
But there's something I don't understand. Since all electric heaters are 100% efficient, how can an 8' 2000 watt hydronic electric heater not put out as much heat as an 8' 2000 watt standard electric heater?
John
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You are confusing heat (energy) with temperature. Both types put out the same amount of energy. The hydronic heaters radiate their heat from a larger surface, but at a lower surface temperature. The standard electric heater has a smaller radiating surface that runs at a higer temperature.
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OK, that makes sense. But if the concern is about melting wires plugged into the outlets above, wouldn't both heaters put out the same amount of heat? Or is the concern more about the wires falling into the heater and touching the heating element?
John
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You're not getting it- the hydronic does not get as hot. A hot water bottle that you take to bed with you has more heat content (calories) than your bedside candle (we're back in the 19th century for the purposes of this example), but unlike the candle it will warm you, not burn you.
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What I understand so far is that that because the hydronic heating element has a larger diameter, it has more surface area, and does not get as hot. But it radiates the same amount of heat as the smaller diameter element in the standard heater, which gets hotter.
But, I guess I'm having a problem with the temperature of the metal enclosure and the temperature of the air flowing through it. Aren't they about the same for both types? If not, then that's my problem. I can believe that if more air flows through the hydronic heater, the air temperature would be lower. Is this the case?
John
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Exactly, the temp is lower, because the surface area is larger. Same amount of heat. Same size electric bill.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says...

No, you're missing the point that the hydronic baseboard is being heated by 180F water. No matter what you do you can't get the temperature of the unit above 180F (heat would start flowing back into the water, if you could). OTOH, the electric baseboard is being heated by, err electricity. As long as the electricity flows you're adding heat to the unit. If you block off the air flow (say with drapes) the temperature can rise without bound, possibly causing a fire.
--
Keith

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Have you considered replacing the cover only? http://www.ventandcover.com

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Have you thought about the fact electric heat is still 50% more expensive than gas for most of the US
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m Ransley wrote:

Gas may not be readily available to him and it certainly is not as safe as electric.
At any rate, he's better off installing hydronic baseboard fed by an electric boiler for two reasons:
- One is his inspector won't allow the electric baseboard so it's not an option.
- Two because the hydronic baseboard can be fed from any heat source so he can readily change an electric boiler for a gas or oil boiler or geothermal heat pump or solar collector in the future without requiring replacement of the baseboard.
Pete C.
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Our inspector will allow both types of electric baseboards. It's just that the standard electric baseboard can't have an outlet above. The hydronic electric baseboard can.
No gas in our area. We have an oil boiler. Yes, I did think about adding a zone for the basement, but just the copper pipe alone will cost me about $300. And I'm not willing to do this work myself. Our oil supply company does do this work and they want $800 - $1000.
If I go with the electrical baseboards, I can do it for $200 for all parts for standard electric baseboards, or $300 for the hydronic electric baseboards. Plus, I can do electrical work myself, and I enjoy it, so I consider my time to be free.
This room in the basement gets used for only one or two days a week for only a few hours at a time. It hardly ever gets below 60 degrees down there, even on the coldest days. So, the heater won't have to work very hard. This is why I'm leaning towards lower install costs rather than lower operating costs.
I'm also considering in-wall fan-based heaters. Anybody have an opinion about those?
John
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John Sevinsky wrote:

If the room gets used that infrequently the thermal mass of the room will make it feel uncomfortable if you only turn the heat on when you use the room. In that case look at radiant options like radiant wall or ceiling panels which will have near instant effect to overcome the effect of the cold floor and furnishings.
Pete C.
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I thought about radiant ceiling panels too, but I haven't had any experience with them. Do these things cycle on/off like any other heater through the use of a thermostat? Will the people in the room feel warm when it's on and cold whe it's off?
John
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John Sevinsky wrote:

Best to check with the manufacturers info for details, but I don't believe they produce noticeable cycles. Certainly they will produce a noticeable effect much faster than any baseboard will.
Pete C.
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I checked into this. The place that I called (Enerjoy) estimated that I needed three 500W 2x4 ceiling panels at $199 each, plus shipping. I can't seem to find a place locally that stocks something like this. It would be nice to try one first before spending over $600.
Cheap baseboard heaters from Lowe's are about 1/10 that price. Hmm...
John
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John Sevinsky wrote:

Often the case that the better product is not as conveniently available. The manufacturer(s) should be able to direct you to a distributor that might have a showroom display.
The baseboard is cheap and easy, but I expect you'll find the operational cost to be higher once you find how far in advance you have to preheat the room in order to be comfortable.
Pete C.
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Usually you can arrange things so that you won't have a problem with standard electric baseboards vs. outlets. However in some cases (short walls), you might have a conflict regarding outlet spacing and appropriate spaces for the heater.
Our code (Canadian) still permits outlets above baseboards. US code does not. However, because of the latter, baseboards with integral outlets are permissible and apparently fairly easy to get in the US.
There are electric heaters that look rather like a small radiator, that you can mount on a wall. Your decor/situation may permit mounting one high enough up on the wall to put the outlet underneath.
Even if you don't want to mount one of these things high, since they're much narrower than an equivalent baseboard, you'll have room to put the outlet beside it.
Here's a picture of a high end one: http://www.morelectric.com/ef621c.htm
I installed one that has no controls or fan - it's run from a wall thermostat, and mounts about 1" away from the wall on a metal bracket. About $70 CDN for 1Kw - perhaps 50% more than an equivalent baseboard.
[Can't remember the manufacturer right now, otherwise, I could find you a picture of the unit we're using. We're rearranging our bathroom, and we needed something narrow and higher off the floor to avoid stubbing one's feed on the existing baseboard.]

They're pretty good and warm the area up rather faster than standard baseboard convection. We installed a pair of biggish Chromolox ones (2.5Kw?) back in the early 70's, still going strong.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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The concern is about fire hazard -- the wires falling (or draping) into the heating element and catching fire. The hydronic has a lower surface temperature because the heating element is buried inside a larger liquid- filled container, and thus its surface temperature never reaches the ignition point for many commany items (such as plastic wires).
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