9 Differences Between Electric Baseboard and Electric Heat Pumps
There are so many different ways to heat your home, but if you want to use electricity, the main options are heat pumps (aka mini splits) and baseboard heaters. Baseboard heaters became popular in the 1970s, and they’re still used in some applications today. Heat pumps have been around since the 1950s’, and they’ve become increasingly popular in the last decade as technology has improved their efficiency.
To help you decide between electric baseboard radiators and heat pumps, this guide breaks down their differences and similarities in a variety of categories.
1. How They Work
Electric baseboard heaters house heating elements in metal pipes. An electric current flows through the heating element and heats it. Then, the heat slowly radiates through the room.
Heat pumps use refrigerant to move heat from one area to another. This extremely efficient process extracts heat from the outside air. Then, the heated refrigerant moves to the indoor unit, and a fan blows air over the refrigerant, pushing warm air into the room.
2. Temperature Consistency
Unfortunately, the radiant heat of an electric baseboard heater often creates inconsistent temperatures. With these heaters, it’s often much warmer around the heater than on the other side of the room.
In contrast, the fan on a heat pump spreads heat consistently throughout the room. Many indoor air handling units also come with advanced features such as multi-vane technology or occupant sensors designed to improve comfort and consistency even more.
3. Zoned Technology
Both heat pumps and electric baseboard heaters typically feature zoned technology. This means that you can turn on or off the heat in different areas as needed. You can also choose different temperatures for different parts of your home. For instance, if you want your bedroom cool for sleeping, you can turn down the thermostat in that room. But if you want your child’s room slightly warmer, you can turn up the thermostat in that room.
Most other heating solutions use a single thermostat for the whole home. You can only choose one temperature, regardless of personal preference or how you use your home. Zone technology also allows you to install these types of heating solutions in a single room. For instance, if you finish an attic or a basement that’s not connected to your central HVAC system, electric baseboard heaters and heat pumps (mini splits) are both convenient options.
4. Energy Efficiency
The cost of heating your home varies based on multiple factors, but in general, heating with a heat pump costs about 50% less than using electric baseboards. Electric baseboards are one of the most expensive home-heating options.
To assess the exact savings, you need to look at the co-efficiency of performance (COP) of both types of heating equipment. This shows you how much heat the equipment generates compared to the amount of power it consumes. Electric baseboard heats typically have a one-to-one ratio, while heat pumps are generally the only heat source with a ratio over one.
In other words, heat pumps produce more heat than they consume in energy. The exact savings depend on the temperature. For example, with a 45-degree external temperature, you save about 75% on heating costs. As it gets colder, you can save even more. To put it into perspective, running baseboard heating is like keeping on your toaster all day long. It consumes a lot more energy than it produces.
Typically, you have to install electric baseboard heaters under windows. This can limit your design configurations. These heaters also heat your home more effectively if they are unobstructed. As they usually run the length of the wall, this can make it hard to set up your furniture.
In contrast, you can choose a range of positions for the indoor units of a heat pump. The traditional heat pump air handling units go on the wall, but you can also get units that sit closer to the floor or in the ceiling. The variety of positions allows you to choose the spot that works the best for airflow and home design.
6. Noise Levels
Both electric baseboard heat and heat pumps are quiet. Baseboard heaters don’t have any moving parts that make loud operational noises, but in some cases, you might hear some small electrical noises like buzzing or clicking.
The indoor units of a heat pump have built-in fans that generate about the same level of noise as rustling leaves. The outdoor units make about the same level of noise as a whispered conversation. Both options are much quieter than traditional furnaces or the outdoor compressor of a central AC system.
Unfortunately, baseboard hearts can dry out the air in your home. To deal with that, many homeowners have to use humidifiers along with their baseboard heaters. Heat pumps don’t dry out your home’s air, and they can also be used as a dehumidifier which can help to eliminate unwanted moisture in your home.
8. Air Quality
Electric baseboards don’t affect the indoor air quality of your home. Heat pumps, in contrast, improve the indoor air quality of your home. They feature built-in filters that can remove dust, allergens, and bacteria from your home’s air.
Obviously, electric baseboard heaters cannot cool your home. If you want AC, you need to pair them with window- or wall-mounted AC units. These units are noisy and inefficient. They also don’t cool your home that effectively.
In contrast, when you install a heat pump, you can opt for just heating or you can upgrade to a system that includes both heating and cooling. The AC of a heat pump works just like the heater but in reverse. It’s very efficient, and it makes your home extremely cool and comfortable during the hot summer months.
At Jones Services, we think the choice is clear — Heat pumps are an all-around better option than electric baseboard heaters. If you’re ready to learn more about the advantages of heat pumps, contact us today. Our focus is on making our clients happy, and we would love to work with you.