In the late 1940s, hydronic baseboards were introduced as lightweight and easily installed alternatives to cast-iron radiators. Today, they dominate both new and retrofit markets for hydronic heating. But what is hydronic heating? How does a hydronic baseboard differ from an electric baseboard? Let’s go over the basics of hydronic baseboards and why they’re the safest, most efficient option for heating your home.
How Hydronic Baseboard Heating Works
The mechanics of a hydronic baseboard unit are similar to, but slightly different from, those of an electric unit. Electricity still generates the system’s heat, but instead of doing it directly, it does it indirectly. To start, an electrical current warms up an enclosed fluid—either oil or water. This fluid is obtained from a boiler, which is heated by gas, oil, or electricity. Once the fluid is heated, it’s pumped through a series of pipes installed in the baseboard. These pipes are usually fin-shaped, which ensures faster dissipation of heat from the surface of the pipe. The fluid radiates heat throughout the room and, once it has cooled down again, is piped back to the boiler room, replaced with fresh fluid, and reheated.
The Benefits of Hydronic Baseboards
Now that you know the basics of hydronic baseboards, let’s look at the benefits. Hydronic baseboard heating systems are more efficient than electrical units. Once the fluid is warm, it takes longer to cool down. The metal fins in an electric baseboard, by comparison, cool down quickly. In short, this means a hydronic baseboard is better at retaining heat, which translates into a warmer home and reduced operating costs.
Another unique benefit of hydronic baseboard heaters is the lack of forced ventilation. Compared to a home where a central air conditioner is blowing air through the vents, hydronic baseboard heaters are quieter and produce less dust. They’re also safer than electric units. With a hydronic-based system, you won’t have to worry about damaged furniture, burns, or worse.
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