With our finished basement there is a bit of a chill. Unfortunately we have
forced air gas heat and it just doesn't do the job of warming the basement
without baking the rest of the house, even when we do try to balance the
We'd like the look of a fireplace and have decided to go with an electric
unit. Unfortunately we're not up on what to look for. I know that the lower
the wattage and higher the BTW, the more efficient the unit is, but what
else do I look for?
If you mean BTUs, then the higher the watts, the higher the BTUs. Every
electric fireplace is about 100% efficient. The things to worry about are
safety (anything with UL listing should be ok), looks, price, and adjustable
thermostat (which most have). Making sure you don't get one that's too big,
otherwise it won't heat evenly. If you plan on using it a lot, and if your
basement has an outside wall, consider a gas fireplace. Another option is
electric baseboard heat.
Unless the lower level is CLOSED OFF (yes, a door), you'll never get BOTH
levels at a proper comfort level at the same time. A half-assed "solution" is
to run the blower motor continuously. My evidence for the effectiveness of
this is anecdotal: It seems to work for me.
Unfortunately, heat tends to rise and, unless you close-off the lower level,
all attempts at downstairs area heating will do a better job of heating the
Our first split entry home had a fully-enclosed stairwell with a door at the
bottom. It stayed MUCH warmer down there than in the house we moved into in
1991 - another, albeit half-again larger, split entry with three baths and
fully finished basement. There is NO door (yet) at the bottom of the stairs
on THIS house and it's cold down here. (Where my computer/office/mess is.)
I run a small, electric space heater at my feet. An electric space heater is
a perfectly viable accessory to an otherwise beautiful space during the
heating season. They are very flexible in their use and safe if used
properly. Remember that electric resistance heat is virtually 100% efficient,
ignoring what little light the elements emit. In many areas it is also 100%
expensive. However, with the price of natural gas RACING to meet electrical
heat expense parity, there is more reason than ever to go electric.
My brother and sister-in-law have a VENTLESS natural gas fireplace. They love
it and haven't been asphyxiated yet. However, based on my experience with my
own gas log, I believe such things are significantly more expensive to operate
than the home's main heating system and judicious application of a small,
portable electric space heater when/where needed.
1. Close-off lower level
2. Try space heater(s)
How difficult will it be for the electrician to run the heavy wiring needed
for the electric fireplace? (The same question would be asked if it were
I've successfully heated basements by installing registers in the supply
There's no reason to use electric heat unless a utility uses mostly nuclear
and/or hydro power. If they don't, you're paying for them to generate with
gas or oil or coal, plus their profit. Electric is significantly more
expensive than every other energy source for the amount of BTUs you get.
Your brother and sister-in-law may not have died yet, but they're breathing
in all the unburnt natural gas fumes, which can do permanent brain damage if
they do it long enough. They can also become sensitized to those low
pollutant levels over a long period of time. The higher and longer the
exposure, the more the immune system breaks down. After they are sensitized
to that pollutant, they will react to much lower levels. Brain cell damage
and allergic reactions are especially bad for small children.
Plug-in electric space heaters are fire-hazards.
They cook & oxidize their plugs, with current near breaker trip-point.
Unstable situation. Every now and then- poof, you're on fire.
Some Fire Marshalls will not allow them on certain institutional
properties, period, for that reason.
Not the answer you requested, but I've been on more than one job when a
heating guy added a vent or two in the cellar. A heating and AC guy may be
able to add a heat run to the cellar, and balance the heat that way.
Gas cheaper than electric in many places.
Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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