Baseboard, Kickspace & Panel Heaters: Pros & Cons
Whether you need a whole-house system or simply want to warm a single space, baseboard, kickspace and panel heaters are versatile enough to solve almost every heating challenge. In other articles, we’ve discussed each system in more depth, so we’ll focus on the highlights here.
Baseboard, kickspace and panel heaters share a range of desirable qualities, including the fact they:
Are comparatively affordable up front.
Don’t require a central furnace or heat pump. (Hydronic systems require a boiler.)
Work without the need for ductwork.
Are relatively fast and easy to install.
Function as individual units or integral components in a whole house system.
May be controlled by a central, zone, room or individual thermostat.
Deliver heat at floor- or lower-wall level where it’s most useful.
Produce steady, even heat without the temperature variations common to forced-air systems.
Tend to be less drying than forced-air systems.
Require minimal maintenance.
Have trim profiles.
Both electric and hydronic (hot water) baseboard systems have their own advantages and disadvantages, but in general, they share these commonalities:
Compact profiles and some slimline designs are only 3 inches deep.
Good whole-house heating solution.
Effective way to establish heating zones for greater comfort and lower heating costs.
Advantageous for allergy suffers since there’s no fan to circulate dust and allergens.
Consume some floor space, because they’re installed on or in front of the baseboard.
May limit furniture placement and window treatment options.
May be hot to the touch and pose some threat to inquisitive children and pets.
Kickspace or toekick heaters also come in electric and hydronic versions that represent a versatile solution for difficult spaces.
Flush or recessed installation preserves floor space.
Ideal for challenging spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms, stairwells, etc.
Quieter and more powerful than early units.
Not as quiet as baseboard and panel units, because they incorporate a fan.
May be noisy if not installed properly.
Panel heaters are slim, typically mounted on the wall and designed to deliver heat precisely where it’s needed.
Ideal for rooms plagued by cold spots.
Suitable for allergy suffers because there’s no fan to circulate allergens.
Energy efficient with low operating costs.
Occupy wall space.
May be hot to the touch.
Any of these technologies might be found in new construction, but because they require no ductwork they’re especially valuable in retrofit situations. Conceivably any of them could also function as a whole-house system, but typically baseboard units serve as the primary system while kickspace or panel heaters are installed more selectively to eliminate cold spots or heat tricky spaces. To determine the best combination for your home, consult an experienced HVAC professional.