There are some pretty easy to see differences between electric fireplaces and baseboard heaters. We’ll go over some of those later in the article. Right up front we go over one of the more important but least obvious is how efficient they are.
Infrared heaters have the potential to be much more efficient than electric heaters because of the physical way they heat the space around them. Infrared heaters heat objects inline with their heating elements while convection or radiant heaters like space heaters transfer heat to the air around them. This may seem a counter-intuitive and that’s because it is. However, professionals and physicists assure us infrared heaters are indeed more efficient.
Electric Baseboard Heaters
When it comes to controlling air temperature, installing a baseboard heater directly under a window can help reduce the amount of cold air in a room. In fact they are almost always installed here. This is because windows are the least insulated part of a home. They cause the most heat loss. Placing a heater underneath the window helps keep the temperature in that room more stable. Basically, you can put to most heat where the room is the coldest.
Some electric baseboard heaters are hydronic heaters. This means they heat up a liquid, usually oil, which then transfers heat to the surrounding air. The liquid retains heat and continues to warm the air even after the unit has stopped drawing electricity. Think about boiling a pot of water on the stove. Even after you turn the burner off the water remains hot for a long time. The same thing happens to the liquid inside a hydronic baseboard heater.
This heater is portable which gives it a few significant advantages. Its great to take with you to a remote cabin in the woods. Also, it plugs into a standard electrical outlet. It does not require complex installation or alterations to your home’s wiring.
Fahrenheat FHP1500TA Portable Electric Hydronic Heater
This one is a 240-volt heater which means you will most likely need a certified electrician to install it.
Fahrenheat PLF1004 Hydronic Baseboard Heater, 46-Inch, Navajo White, 240-volt, 1,000-Watt
Hydronic heater considerations
There is a downside to using a hydronic heater though. When the heater first turns on, it can take longer for it to provide heat. This is really only an issue if you are turning the heater on in a very cold room. For example, a hydronic heater is probably not the best choice for a shed or separate garage where you occasionally work. In this scenario you might keep the shed around 50 degrees Fahrenheit most of the time and then increase it to 70 or so when you are working. An indoor safe propane heater would probably be a better choice then. For a home however, the temperature will remain fairly consistent. A hydronic heater that warms up more slowly and is more efficient is a good choice.
Other differences: electric fireplaces vs baseboard heaters
Some electric fireplaces come with cool touch technology. The cool touch feature is very important if you have small children in the house. Baseboard heaters do have guards in place to help reduce the chances of burns and they do a good job.
Electric fireplaces almost always have a more appealing look to them. They also come in a variety of styles. Conversely, baseboard heaters are discreet and have the potential to take up less space. If space is a concern it may be worth checking out an entertainment center style electric fireplace. Since it serves two functions, it can cut down on the amount of furniture in your living room.
Black Electric Fireplace Heaters
Another nice feature of the two Duraflame electric fireplaces is that they both come in black. Black electric fireplaces are the most popular because they mimic the color of old cast iron fireplaces. There isn’t anything inherently rustic about the design of the black electric fireplace, so you don’t need to worry about remodeling to blend your new appliance in with the rest of your interior.
Infrared vs Electric Fireplace
The Duraflame electric fireplaces we just talked about are infrared heaters like more of the electric fireplaces on the market today. There are regular electric fireplaces that blow warm air to provide heat. While models like the GMHome Free Standing Electric Fireplace may not be as efficient as their infrared counterparts, they do make great boot dryers in the winter with their forced air delivery.
The GMHome Freestanding Electric Fireplace is about the same as your standard space heater except it looks a lot nicer. One advantage something like the Crane Mini Tower Heater has is the ability to oscillate, or turn, from side to side.
Space heaters have a bad reputation from design flaws that led to fires. That is ancient history. The Space heaters and electric fireplaces of today have automatic shutoffs if they are tipped over and thermostats to automatically turn them off before temperatures get out of control.
Both electric fireplaces and baseboard heaters can be permanently installed or portable.
240V baseboard heaters must be permanently installed by a qualified professional. If you want to be able to plug your baseboard heater into an outlet on the wall, look for one that is 120V.
Some electric fireplaces are standalone appliances that can easily be moved around. Others are actual inserts installed into the wall like a wood burning fireplace.
Electric Fireplace vs Baseboard Heater
We discussed a number of different situations where and electric fireplace or baseboard heater would be a better choice. Each type of appliance has a unique set of advantages that makes it better depending on where you intend to use it. Duraflame makes some of the best electric fireplaces on the marketplace today, so we recommend taking a look at their models first.