9 Pros and Cons of Using Hot Water Baseboard Heaters

A white baseboard heater in a room with a hardwood floor.

Hot water baseboard (HWB) heaters are a more cost-efficient alternative to electrical baseboard heaters. These devices employ hot water instead of electricity, pumping it from a boiler that keeps the water at a constant temperature. If you are thinking about getting a hot water baseboard heater, you should be looking into its pros and cons first.

1. Pro - Saving Money

The initial cost of this type of heater may be lower than the cost of installing a radiant heating system. However, this may be both a plus and a minus and will depend on several factors including the size of the room that needs heating and the type of boiler you choose. When compared to an electric heater, the initial costs of an HWB heater are higher, especially if you don't have a boiler and the space you have to heat up is large. However, in the long run, the investment is well worth it because you will save on the electricity bills.

2. Pro - Energy Efficiency

These heaters have gained popularity recently due to the fact that they are also considered more energy-efficient. This can, however, depend on the type of boiler it uses. Fortunately, there are several that are very economical, such as combination or other high-efficiency, condensing boilers or one that is fueled by pellets or wood. But if you have an electric boiler, this generally defeats the purpose of installing a hot water baseboard heater for energy-efficient heating.

3. Pro - Constant Flow of Warmth

The heater gives a constant flow of warm air due to the fact that the boiler maintains the water at a consistent temperature at all times.

bare feet in room with baseboard heater

4. Pro - Straightforward Installation

HWB heaters don't require sophisticated installation, unlike under floor heating, which will involve removing any current flooring.

5. Pro - No Risks of Toxicity

These heaters don't emit any toxic substances, since they only work using hot water.

6. Con - Low Heat

Hot water baseboards don’t produce large quantities of heat, especially in comparison to many electric heaters. If the room you’re heating is large, this type of heater will have trouble keeping it warm.

7. Con - Takes Longer to Warm Up a Room

The time required for a room to warm up depends on its size, but typically, the HWB heaters will take longer to heat a space than radiant heating systems.

8. Con - Location of Heater

The location of a baseboard is typically at the base of a wall, hence the name, so it won’t allow for complete freedom with décor or with the arrangement of your furniture.

9. Con - Regular Maintenance

The components of a baseboard heater (pipes, boiler, and water pump) are prone to wearing down with use, which increases the risks of leaks. In order to keep these delicate parts working, you need to be sure to perform regular maintenance. You should also invest in quality components from the get-go, so you will have fewer worries with repairing the heater later.