Since their purpose is the same, which is to produce heat, we may not think there are big differences between the radiator and the baseboard. Of course, upon further inspection of how each one works, we quickly realize that they do have different methods to keep the house warm.
Both of these appliances produce heat, but that’s pretty much where their similarities end. Radiators, on the one hand, work with radiant heat. On the other hand, we have the baseboards, which operate using convection heat.
That’s the biggest difference between the baseboard VS radiator. If you want to find out more, continue reading as we do a review of both of these tools.
Keep in mind that there are many more versions than a single type of radiator or baseboard. There are cast-iron radiators, steel panel radiators, and way more. For this article, though, we’re trying to provide a general look at how these two appliances work.
Baseboard vs. Radiator Heater – Comparison in 2023
Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Baseboards – Convection Heat
First, let’s talk about the baseboard, what it has to offer, and why it’s a good addition to the house.
Baseboards are very popular household appliances due to their low price and easy installment, allowing any homeowner to do the work with their own hands.
You can find some offers as low as ten dollars, and the reason behind that price is the materials used for its construction, which are often simple metal and copper.
However, you should be aware of everything needed for the installation. You may require extra accessories which would demand more money.
Baseboards are smaller and lighter than the radiators. Still, the baseboard does require leaving open space above it. Putting furniture or other stuff blocking the hot air circulation is not something you want to do, as it will definitely decrease the efficiency of the baseboard.
At 180°F, the estimated BTU output of the baseboard is around 600. It’s far less than what the radiators produce.
How Does It Work?
The way baseboards work is hot air enters through its internal mechanism, and then the aluminum plates distribute it across the baseboard and into the house. Once out, the hot air goes to the top, and then back to the bottom, replacing the cold air below. It’s a constant circulating process.
Some Electric Baseboard Heaters You Can Buy
Are you looking for outstanding baseboard heaters? Here are three of the best.
1) Cadet Manufacturing White 05534 Baseboard Hardwire Heater
This electric baseboard is available in 120, 208, and 240 Volts. The units feature either almond or white finish, with both blending well in most rooms.
With a stainless steel construction and a powder-coated finish, the baseboard’s durability is outstanding. Such build ensures that even after months, the unit doesn’t get damaged easily. You won’t be seeing scratches or other unpleasant marks on the surface of this heater.
Since it’s a hardwired unit, hiring an electrician may be necessary. If you’re doing it yourself, the option to wire the unit from either end will certainly make the process much easier.
Then again, homeowners without experience handling these appliances would do better hiring a professional.
Now, here’s the downside of this unit: it doesn’t include a thermostat. Considering that every baseboard heater requires a thermostat, it’s inevitable that you’d have to purchase it separately. Either an inline wall-mounted thermostat or the BTF unit-mounted thermostat would work well.
Thanks to the pre-fabricated holes at the backside of the baseboard heater, mounting the unit both securely and level is a possibility. Once installed, there won’t be any unexpected movement or shaking.
As with most appliances producing convection heat, this baseboard heater works silently. Another similarity between this product and the others is the automatic shut-down system that activates if the temperature gets too high. It’s an effective safety measure that prevents overheating.
Other than needing a thermostat that you buy separately, the baseboard heater is everything you could expect. The heating process takes a few seconds. And shortly after, the room feels warm and comfortable.
2) Fahrenheat PLF1004 Hydronic Baseboard Heater
If you’re looking to save some money, this baseboard heater is the way to go. It’s a hydronic unit that provides efficiency under a reliable performance. Whether you get it for the house or office, this heater guarantees a secure operation saving costs.
Once filled with water, the heater may take some time to heat up properly. However, it doesn’t take long before you can start enjoying a warm temperature in the room. Sometimes, and depending on the outside temperature, the room may remain warm even after turning the unit off.
This baseboard heater is capable of producing a comfortable amount of heat. The reason behind that is the heat transfer solution, which enhances and improves the heat output. When compared to other heaters, this one is able of outperforming many of them.
Since obstructing the baseboard heater could be dangerous, the unit also includes a thermal shut off system. If there’s ever a time that something blocks the heater, it will shut off automatically. Then, when everything’s cool again, the unit starts heating up once again.
Whether you plan to mount the unit over the tiled or carpeted floor, the heater allows you to do either. Because of that, this baseboard heater has high compatibility with many households. There’s no need to make last-minute accommodations that could be way too expensive.
Besides the waiting time before the unit heats up properly, there aren’t disadvantages that may frustrate you. Overall, this baseboard works efficiently. It does take a while, but once it gets there, the room’s temperature improves significantly.
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3) Marley HBB1254 BASEBOARD HEATERS
Working on a 220 Volts electric circuit, this baseboard heater is capable of delivering 1,250 Watts of heat.
Since it’s a hydronic heater, the content inside is pure liquid. Naturally, it may take a little more time than the standard electric units. However, once it heats up, it remains like that for a long time. Even better, the baseboard heater consumes little energy, helping save some money too.
While active, the unit works efficiently to provide heat all across the room. It creates a strong convection flow that ensures a warm temperature during the day.
Unlike many other baseboard heaters, this one is quite compact. It doesn’t consume much space for the installation, and it’s capable of heating large rooms too. You’ll also like how quiet the unit operates.
In fact, even if the unit stops suddenly, you won’t hear the common popping or pinging noises that older baseboard heaters made.
Other than operating quietly for more comfort, the baseboard heater is also friendly to everyone in the room. While active, it won’t create a mess because the unit doesn’t have a fan. By featuring a natural convection airflow, the heater won’t distribute allergens nor contaminants around.
If you’re wondering whether this product has some flaws, the answer is yes. First, very much like many baseboard heaters, this one doesn’t have a thermostat either. You’d have to get it separately.
Secondly, installing the unit isn’t the most intuitive process. If you don’t have any experience in the matter, hiring a professional could save you a lot of trouble.
As you can see, those two observations are not dealbreaker problems. As long as you’re aware of what to expect, you’ll be able to handle any unexpected situation easily.
Radiators – Radiant Heat
And then, there are the radiators. Let’s take a closer look at this appliance to have a better understanding of how it works.
Radiators are on the other side of the spectrum. When compared to baseboards, you’ll notice that radiators are often way more expensive, and they’re not as easy to install either. No doubt DIYers can do it, but having a plumber install it would be a wise decision.
The price of the radiators varies depending on the brand, but most of them are available above forty dollars. If you consider that the price of some baseboards is around ten dollars, it’s safe to assume which one is more affordable.
Of course, we have to keep in mind that, due to the materials used to produce the radiators and their efficiency, the price is more than worth it.
Now, here’s when it gets controversial. Many people would say that the radiator is worse than the baseboards because it’s taller, and it consumes more space. While that may seem true under the first impression, it’s not really the case.
You see, even if the baseboard has a low profile, you still cannot put stuff above it, or you’ll risk interfering with the hot air flow. Whether you use a radiator or a baseboard, both need to have an open route on top of them. So, it isn’t entirely true that the radiator consumes more space.
At 180°F, the estimated BTU output of the radiator is around 1,632, making it more efficient than the baseboard.
How Does It Work?
Unlike the baseboard, which focuses on heating the air, the radiator focuses on heating the objects in the environment. That’s another big difference between these two appliances.
Considering that objects retain heat better than air, you can see why many people prefer the radiator instead of the baseboard.
Some Electric Radiator Heaters You Can Buy
The following are some of the most reliable radiator heaters currently available. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer.
4) PELONIS 2019 Oil Filled Radiator Heater
With three heating modes, this radiator heater is a suitable pick for every household. You can adjust the unit to operate on low, high, or eco to warm the room accordingly to your needs. Also, there are five temperature settings available, ranging between 65°F-85°F to ensure adaptability.
This unit is particularly good for large to medium-sized rooms. While working, it doesn’t produce any noise. Instead, the heater performs quietly, delivering a constant and stable warm temperature all across the area.
Other than being comfortable due to a quiet performance, the unit is also highly user-friendly. The structure features 4-swivel caser wheels, which allows you to move between rooms easily. If there are obstacles in the way, you can grab the radiator heater by the handle too.
Once set up at the perfect spot, you’ll be capable of using the radiator heater without a hassle. For more convenience, the unit has an LED display, timer, and remote control. Whether you’re near the appliance or lying in bed, you’re able to control it at all times.
Additionally, the radiator has a digital thermostat. Now, having a thermostat is not as good as it may sound. Previous customers mentioned that it doesn’t work as expected. Keep an eye on this issue to maintain the room at a pleasant temperature.
Safety features are highlights worth mentioning too.
For starters, there’s the power indicator, a visible light that shows when the unit is on. Secondly, the radiator heater features built-in protection to prevent overheating. Lastly, we have the tip-over safety switch, capable of shutting down the heater if someone knocks it over accidentally.
5) Aireplus 1500W Oil Filled Radiator Electric Space Heater
This radiator heater, much like the previous product, offers three heating options too. It can work on different Watts, whether it’s 600, 900, or 1500. As for the temperature range, it can vary between 40-65° F, changing one value per each press on the button.
The unit has a 24-hour timer that activates and deactivates as needed. If you’re not a fan of that, the included remote control will allow you to operate the heater too. Both of these elements provide not only comfort but also convenience if you don’t want to get close to the unit each time.
Something that most people like about this appliance is its look. The black, sleek design, combined with the control panel, make it a beautiful heater. Not only that, but it feels great too! While using them, you’ll notice the buttons are soft, improving the experience as you operate the unit.
Making adjustments to the radiator isn’t difficult in the slightest. Thanks to the clear icons that work as indicators, changing settings like the temperature is quite intuitive for everyone.
Once it’s active, the radiator heater works silently. Whether you use it for the adults or baby rooms, no one will notice the unit as it works. Even better, the temperature remains stable throughout.
Although assembling the unit is easy, you may struggle with the wheels. Attaching one of the stands required more effort than expected. Unfortunately, the manual doesn’t help much either. There’s no need to worry, though. With some time and patience, everyone can get it done.
This radiator heater is a sleek unit that fits well in any household. That’s why many people rank it as one of the best.
6) DeLonghi KH390715CB 1500Watts Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater
Due to the SmartSnap technology, this last one takes only a few moments to assemble. The wheels come pre-assembled, which already saves you plenty of time. Because of the already-attached wheels, customers can move the unit to the desired installation place rather quickly.
Another reason to like this radiator heater is how efficiently it uses energy. If you’ve had trouble spending a ton of money with other heaters, this unit comes as an incredible alternative. It automatically maintains an optimum temperature at a stable performance, ensuring less power consumption.
Regular maintenance is something that shouldn’t worry you either. The permanently sealed oil system secures a reliable performance without the need to refill the heater. Thanks to its convenient structure design, the unit is a maintenance-free radiator heater.
Among the many features provided by this unit, we have the thermostat, a thermal shut off mechanism, and multiple heat settings.
Everyone gets to use the radiator just the way they want to. If there’s ever overheating, the internal mechanism will keep the surrounding area safe by blocking it.
Although the unit works most of the time silently, you’ll notice some clicking noise periodically. This issue is noticeable when the heat cycles on and off, which could happen regularly during the night.
The clicking could complicate having a refreshing night of sleep if your body reacts to the slightest noise nearby.
Fortunately, that’s the only issue that you must keep in mind. If you’re cool with that periodic clicking sound, this radiator heater would be an incredible purchase. Shut the door, set the radiator on, and within an hour, the room should have a comfortably warm temperature.
Ideally, the clear answer would be the radiator. Radiators work continuously, focusing on heating objects nearby to retain the heat for a longer period.
A baseboard heats the cold air, but it’s an effect that wears off rather quickly. Because of that, the baseboards have to go on and off regularly to keep the temperature in the room in a comfortable state.
As mentioned in the first section of the article, while both appliances have the same goal, their methods to achieve it are way different. With that in mind, the question is not really which one is better, but rather which one is more convenient for you.
If you don’t have any trouble with any of that, then, by all means, go ahead and set up your own radiator.
The Bad and the Good
Although radiators may be more efficient than the baseboards, they’re quite heavy, way more expensive, and installing them could be a hassle too. None of those issues would concern you if you had a baseboard instead.
Baseboards are affordable, lightweight, and they keep a low profile for the most part once installed.
As you can see, choosing between the two is a choice that ultimately falls upon what you and your household needs. If you can’t deal with the implications of having a radiator, perhaps the baseboard would be a more suitable pick for you.
Regardless of which one you’re getting, consider contacting a professional to do the installation. Also, they would be in a better position to let you know which one would be better for your home. And if you need extra accessories, they would be able to help you out.
Radiators surpass baseboards by a long mile in terms of performance, and the long-lasting effect of the heat produced. The downside is that they’re expensive, and a hassle to handle due to their weight.
Baseboards, on the other hand, are less efficient, but they’re less expensive, and they’re lightweight too.
Consider the options, find out what you ultimately need, and choose the one you like the most between the baseboard VS radiator units.