Hot water baseboards versus electric baseboards

Discussion in 'Boiler Forum' started by gtmtnbiker, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. gtmtnbiker

    gtmtnbiker New Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    I'm part of a committee that is trying to come up with the specifications for adding two bathrooms to my church. One of the design decisions is hot water baseboard heat versus electric baseboard heat.

    Is one cheaper to install than the other or are they equivalent? I did some rough calculations on the heat cost and hot water baseboards will be the way to go. I estimated that it will be about $90 for HWB versus $240 for electric per heating season.

    We're located in Massachusetts. We have gas boilers. In the newer part of the church, it's circulating hot water 24x7 in the main pipes with zone valves/thermostats (26 of them) supply heat as needed.

    In the basement where the bathrooms will be going (there will be two 7'x6' bathrooms), we will have to relocate an existing heater (one of those that looks like a Modine and has a fan) to a different part of the basement. The existing heater is connected to the main hot water trunk that circles the building.

    The plumber is already going to be working on the heating system (to move the existing heater) and it shouldn't be a big deal to also add two more baseboards with separate zone valves/thermostats.

    The other option is to have an electrician add two fan-style wall heaters and the necessary thermostat and wiring.

    I'm in favor of going with the FHW route but the other person on the committee thinks that the electric heat will be cheaper from an installation view point. I think the installation costs will be somewhat comparable but I don't really know. I know the operating costs are not the same.

    Any advice for me? Thanks.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Depends on how far he has to run wires from the panel an how far he has to run the heat piping and how much heat (therefore current - wire size) is required. If he was able to use PEX, fishing it where it needs to go labor wise would be a lot less expensive than hard piping it. The difference in operating expenses over the life of the system clearly points towards using the hot water.
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  4. Lightwave

    Lightwave New Member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    Electric heat is probably cheaper to install. Operating costs, however, dwarf installation costs over the lifetime of a heating system. Unless you have a very unusual situation, it is extremely unlikely ('struck by lightning' unlikely) that the cost benefit of installing electric heat will offset the cost differential of electric vs. gas during the years the heating system is in operation.

    Installing electric heat when you have a boiler available is a penny wise, pound foolish situation. Don't do it.
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