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Can You Put Furniture in Front of Baseboard Heaters?

For buildings that don’t have access to traditional ductwork, or for homeowners who are simply trying to save a bit of money on their heating bills, baseboard heaters are a great alternative method for providing warmth on cold days. They manage to sidestep the need for a bulky furnace as well as a complex system of ducts, which means they can be effective in any number of different buildings.

Baseboard heaters do have their limitations, however. It’s worth doing a little research into their strengths and weaknesses and trying to see if they are right for your home. Can you put furniture in front of baseboard heaters? Are they as powerful as other heating methods? Will they be cost-effective for your home? Read on to find out.

How Baseboard Heaters Work

A baseboard heater is an electrically powered heater that is mounted somewhere in the home. It’s usually placed underneath a window, not because it needs to connect to an outdoor area, but because cool air often creeps in through windows and chills the room. Having the baseboard heater in the correct spot can work to counteract that.

One of the major benefits that baseboard heaters bring with them is that they don’t blow air around. Often, heating systems make use of a fan, or blower, to circulate heated air into a room. This has the obvious downside, however, of also circulating dust and dander around the room, exacerbating allergies and leaving dust everywhere.

Instead of utilizing fans, baseboard heaters utilize convection technology to generate heat and transfer it throughout a room. Convection technology utilizes electricity to create heat, often by way of ceramic plates—in much the same way that a toaster works. The heat naturally causes the air to become less dense, which causes it to rise. It then naturally circulates through the room, with no fan required.

Benefits of Baseboard Heating

Empty room with orange walls and wood floors with baseboard heat.

We’ve already mentioned a few of the benefits of electric baseboard heating: versatility and the lack of a fan are the biggest ones. There are several others that are worth mentioning as well. Ease of installation is another major reason people often opt for this method of heating. Many methods of heating are quite invasive or require a great deal of free space to operate. You’ll need to have adequate ventilation for traditional heating methods to operate, which means installing a flue to allow harmful gases to be removed from the home.

Baseboard heating uses electricity to generate heat, which means that no harmful gases are produced as a byproduct. This in turn means no costly installation and no possibility of carbon monoxide leaks.

Many methods of heating are quite noisy. Baseboard heating operates very quietly, which is certainly a major benefit if you intend to leave your heater on when you are trying to sleep or otherwise relax, which most people do. They are also quite long-lasting. If they are properly cared for, your baseboard heater can last for decades.

Downsides of Baseboard Heating

There are several limitations that baseboard heaters have as well. For example, we asked the question, can you put furniture in front of baseboard heaters? The answer, in most cases, is no. Baseboard heaters need at least 12 inches of clearance from where the heat radiates. Otherwise, they can warp or damage furniture and even pose a fire hazard. They are often placed near windows but should be kept well away from curtains, as they can pose a fire hazard this way as well. The same goes for doors. If a door opens in such a way that it will be near your baseboard heater, it’ll become a fire hazard.

Baseboard heaters are also among the most expensive methods of heating to operate. While they aren’t expensive to purchase, nor to install, the fact that they utilize electricity means that they’ll drive your energy bill way up. Burning fuels such as propane or natural gas is significantly cheaper than utilizing electricity to create heat.

While baseboard heaters save space on having a large furnace, they do take up space in individual rooms. In any room you wish to have a baseboard heater, you’ll have to have room for it, as well as plenty of room around it for clearance. If your heating operates by way of a system of ductwork, they are concealed in the walls and ceiling and don’t take up space in any actual rooms.

Is Baseboard Heating Right for Me?

With its pros and cons, baseboard heating can be great for some and not others. If your home already has existing ductwork and other infrastructure, you may not benefit from utilizing this heating method. On the other hand, if your home is older or otherwise doesn’t have this existing infrastructure, baseboard heating may be cheaper than the massive overhaul that will be required if you decide to install something more traditional.

If you like the benefits that baseboard heating offers but are worried about the great expense and potential fire hazard, you might consider one of the advanced alternatives that are now available for homeowners. Heat pumps, for example, are among the most popular of these methods. They utilize electricity to operate but not to generate heat. Instead, they use the same technology a refrigerator does to move heat from place to place. This is a significantly cheaper method of heating the home that still does not require ductwork to operate.

If you are unsure of what heating method is right for your home, you should contact a trusted HVAC service like Entek in Portland. With years of experience in the industry, they will be able to advise you on what the best method for heating your home is, helping you to remain within your budget and not spend money unnecessarily on your energy costs.

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