Old Radiators vs new baseboard

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by rockycmt, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. rockycmt

    rockycmt New Member

    New York
    I am redoing my house one room at a time. I am up to the bedrooms. They currently have 1960s cast iron recessed radiators. Should I replace these with modern baseboard? Which is better? I know which is heavier, ha...

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  2. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    This is more a question about comfort & cush-factor than efficiency. But assuming they're all properly sized, deliver the same BTUs/hr to the room...

    Recessed cast iron RADIATORS vs. fin-tube baseboard, I'd go with the cast iron, hands down!

    Recessed wall CONVECTORS vs. fin-tube baseboard, even-steven.

    Cast iron recessed radiators vs. cast-iron baseboard RADIATORS (not fin-tube) the baseboard has a slight edge.

    Recessed convectors vs. cast baseboard radiators, definintly the baseboard.

    Basically, anything that delivers largest fraction of the heat via radiation rather than transferring it to the air to heat the humans will have a higher human-comfort factor (the sun on the face on a cold day feels better than just being surrounded by adequately warm air.) The more broadly/evenly the radiation is spread, the greater the cushy comfort zone.

    Oversized low-temp panel radiators have been the standard in Europe for a couple or three decades now. This dovetails nicely with high efficiency condensing boilers as well. Any time you're reconfiguring the radiation in a place, it's good to think about designing it to deliver the design-day heat at sub 125F water if you can. More IS better, from both an efficiency and comfort POV. Even fin-tube baseboard can be run at condensing temps all the time if you just plain have enough of it. Designing it for 180F water like in the good old days will seem like dinosaur stuff 20 minutes into the future (if it doesn't already.) Even with bang-bang old skool cast iron boilers you get ~3% fuel savings for every 10F you reduce the temperature, and running it at 140F or less on design day is usually possible/desirable in gas-fired systems.
  3. patsfan78

    patsfan78 Web Development | HVAC

    Depending on the type of radiator you have...I would always side with the radiator. Traditional fin type baseboard, in my opinion, is ugly and a poor waste of wall space. If the radiators are sized right, and they are in good condition id say keep em'. And if you don't want to keep the radiators I would explore other options other than the traditional fin style baseboard.
  4. Scuba_Dave

    Scuba_Dave Extreme DIY Homeowner

    South of Boston, MA
    I have Cast radiators & will be installing the same in our new additon
    We will actually spend more & buy decorative ones

  5. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy


    Big addition divided by fancy radiators = expensive
  6. Scuba_Dave

    Scuba_Dave Extreme DIY Homeowner

    South of Boston, MA
    Aw C'mon...it's only 864 sq ft of livable space
    With the $$ I saved by DIY I should be able to buy some nice finish materials
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Baseboard heat and radiators are seldom compatible in the same system. The operating temperatures and thermal masses are completely different.
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