Ashburn, VA

How much does a baseboard heater cost to install?

$300 – $1,100 average cost per unit installed
$5,400 – $7,800 total cost for a house (18 – 26 units)

Get free estimates from electricians near you, or view our cost guide below.

March 15, 2022

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 3 expert electricians on HomeGuide.

Baseboard heating cost

Baseboard heating costs $300 to $1,100 per unit with installation, depending on if it's electric or hydronic. Installing baseboard heat costs $5,400 to $7,800 for 18 to 26 units to heat a home. Electric baseboard heat costs $480 to $900 per month to run on average.

Baseboard heater cost - chart
Baseboard heater cost - chart

Baseboard heating cost
Home size (square feet) Units needed* Total cost to install
1,000 – 1,400 10 – 14 $3,000 – $4,200
1,400 – 1,800 14 – 18 $4,200 – $5,400
1,800 – 2,200 18 – 22 $5,400 – $6,600
2,200 – 2,600 22 – 26 $6,600 – $7,800
2,600 – 3,200 26 – 32 $7,800 – $9,600

*Installing 4-foot 1,000-watt heaters

Electric baseboard heat cost calculator

The following table shows the average cost per unit to install electric baseboard heaters.

Average baseboard heater cost per unit
National average cost $800
Minimum cost $200
Maximum cost $3,000
Average cost range $300 to $1,100

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Cost to install baseboard heating system by type

A baseboard heating system costs $200 to $1,300 per unit with installation. Heaters are placed along the baseboards, walls, and under-cabinet toe spaces to release ground-level heat, which rises to warm a space. Heat is produced by a direct electrical connection or hydronic, fluid-based system.

Baseboard heating installation cost by type
Type Average cost to install (per unit)
Electric baseboard heater $200 – $1,100
Hydronic baseboard heater (water or oil) $430 – $1,200
Wall heater $370 – $1,200
Toe kick $420 – $1,300

Electric baseboard heater installation cost

An electric baseboard heater costs $200 to $1,100 with installation or $50 to $130 for the unit alone. Electric heaters require no ductwork or plumbing, so installation is cheaper and easier than other heating systems. Electric units draw in cool air and heat it with electric coils.

Long baseboard heater installed in living room
Long electric baseboard heater installed in living room

Hydronic baseboard heater cost

A hydronic baseboard heater costs $430 to $1,200 with installation or $180 to $320 for the unit alone. Hydronic models circulate hot liquid from an internal reservoir or the home's boiler to provide radiant heat. Hydronic units heat slowly but stay warm long after the running cycle for more efficient heating.

Baseboard vs. wall heater costs

An electric wall heater costs $370 to $1,200 per unit with installation, depending on if the unit is surface-mounted or recessed in an interior wall. A wall heater provides fast, even heat by using a fan to circulate air. Wall heaters are ideal for bathrooms, workshops, and other small spaces.

Baseboard vs. wall heater costs
Factors Electric baseboard heater Electric wall heater
Unit cost $50 – $130 $100 – $500
Installed cost (per unit) $200 – $1,100 $370 – $1,200
Time to heat 30 – 60 minutes to heat a room Less than 10 minutes to heat a room
Lifespan 20 years or more 8 to 12 years
Temperatures Operates at lower temperatures and is cooler to the touch than a wall heater Operates at higher temperatures than baseboard a heater
Space required 6 – 8 feet of length and less than 12 inches in height 12 –16 inches length and height
Noise Nearly silent; a good choice for bedrooms Audible fan noise, but less than a standard home refrigerator

Toe kick heater installation cost

A toe kick heater costs $420 to $1,300 with installation or $175 to $430 for the unit alone. Toe kick heaters are space-saving and typically located under cabinets, vanities, and stairways to provide supplemental floor-level heat when needed. Electric and hydronic toe kick heaters are available.

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Cost factors to replace electric baseboard heating

Factors that impact the cost of installing electric baseboard heat include:

  • Home size – Larger homes require multiple heater units, increasing costs.
  • Number of units – Large rooms may require more than one heater to warm the space adequately. Some electricians offer a discount to install multiple units.
  • Heater quality – Basic, budget-friendly units start at $50, while high-end heaters with smart controls and improved safety features reach $250+.
  • Brand – King and Cadet offer heaters in multiple price ranges. Stelpro and Fahrenheat are high-priced units with more features and better energy efficiency.
  • Watts – Electric heat capacity is measured in watts; the more watts, the more expensive the heater.
  • Adding a zone – Installing an electric baseboard heater for supplemental zoned heating costs less than replacing the entire hot water central heating system.
  • Installing a thermostat costs $140 to $350 for a basic model or $270 to $450 for a smart thermostat. A smart thermostat pays for itself over time with improved energy consumption.
  • Hiring an electrician costs $40 to $100 per hour to add a dedicated circuit for the heater. A 240-volt heater is more energy-efficient but costs more to install since a dedicated circuit is required.
  • Hiring an HVAC contractor costs $75 to $150 per hour for labor to install baseboard heaters. Labor costs increase for complex installations, confined spaces, or older homes.
  • Warranty – Premium brands offer a longer warranty of 5 to 10 years, while cheaper brands have limited warranties of 1 to 3 years.
  • Permits – Renovations that alter the structure or extend an electrical, plumbing, or HVAC system require a permit. Permit costs are typically included in the estimate.
  • Seasonal rates – Some companies offer discounts for heater installation during the off-season.
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Baseboard heater prices by watts

Baseboard heaters range in length from 2 to 6 feet and typically produce 250 watts per linear foot. A 1,500-watt heater warms a 150 square foot room. Bigger spaces require a larger watt size or multiple units for adequate heating.

Baseboard heater prices by watts
Watts Price range per unit*
Up to 500  $35 – $250
750  $40 – $300
1,000  $60 – $350
1,500  $70 – $400
2,000  $100 – $480
> 2,500  $130 – $700+

*Installation not included.

When selecting heaters based on watt size, consider that two smaller heaters may provide more balanced heat in a large space than one large heater.

Baseboard heat cost per month to run

Baseboard heat costs $480 to $900 per month to run for 10 hours per day, depending on the home size. In larger homes, regions with high utility costs, or colder climates where heaters run more often, baseboard heating costs $1,500+ per month.

Baseboard heaters energy usage

A well-insulated room requires 10 watts per square foot of space, while a poorly-insulated older home needs up to 15 watts per square foot.

Baseboard heaters energy usage
Room Area Watts required Daily energy use*
100 sq. ft. 1,000 10 kWh
150 sq. ft. 1,500 15 kWh
300 sq. ft. 3,000 30 kWh
400 sq. ft. 4,000 40 kWh
500 sq. ft. 5,000 50 kWh

*Based on 10 hours per day of use.

Use the following formula to calculate the cost per month to run baseboard heaters:

Power (Watts) x Price Of Electricity ($ per kWh) ÷ 1,000 = Heating costs per hour

Is baseboard heating expensive?

An electric baseboard heater is one of the most expensive ways to warm a home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Electric baseboard heating costs more than other fuel sources, including propane, oil, or natural gas. However, baseboard heaters are cost-effective for secondary zoned heating.

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Baseboard heating vs. alternative systems costs

Baseboard heating provides low upfront costs to homeowners with a limited budget. However, the high running costs make baseboard heat impractical as the primary heat source in most homes.

The following table shows alternative heating systems and prices:

Baseboard heating vs. alternative systems costs
Heating system Average cost to install (per unit/zone)
Cove heaters / radiant panels $200 – $1,000
Radiator heater cost $700 – $1,300
Radiant floor heating $2,100 – $6,400
Forced-air furnace cost $2,000 – $5,400
Ductless mini-split cost $2,000 – $6,000
Heat pump cost $2,800 – $8,200
Geothermal heat pump cost $15,000 – $35,000
Space heater $30 – $300

How much does it cost to convert baseboard heating to forced air?

Converting baseboard heating to a forced-air system by installing a new furnace and ductwork costs $3,400 to $11,000. A forced-air system uses air ducts and vents to circulate temperature-controlled air throughout the home. Conversion costs decrease for homes with existing ductwork.

Frequently asked questions

What is baseboard heating?

Baseboard heaters are slim, metal heaters placed at baseboard level to create zoned heating without ductwork. They release ground-level heat, which rises to warm the space. Electric units heat cold air with a heating element. Hydronic units heat oil or water from inside the unit or a connected boiler.

Who installs electric baseboard heaters?

An HVAC specialist installs electric baseboard heaters. Hire an electrician if outlet modifications are needed.

How much baseboard heat do I need?

The amount of baseboard heat needed depends on the home's age, room sizes, regional climate, and whether the home is properly insulated.

Follow these guidelines to select the right amount of baseboard heat:

  • Approximately 10 watts per square foot of electric heat are needed.
  • Electric baseboards typically provide 250 watts per square foot of heat output.
  • Newly constructed homes have reduced heat requirements of 5 to 8 watts per square foot.
  • Older or poorly-insulated homes have increased heat requirements of 12 to 15 watts per square foot.
  • Due to lower heat requirements, homes in southern climates rely on baseboard heat as a primary heat source.
  • Homes in extreme winter climates typically use baseboard heat as a secondary heat source to provide zoned heating for added comfort in the coldest rooms.

How long do baseboard heaters last?

Baseboard heaters last 20 years or more if cleaned regularly.

Is baseboard heating bad?

Baseboard heaters provide quiet, zoned heating with no ductwork required. They are cheap to install but expensive to run. Baseboard heaters pose a burn risk and should be used with caution in homes with small children. Installing away from furniture and fabrics is essential to reduce fire risks.

Tips to keep baseboard heaters running properly and safely:

  • Position the heater under a window for more efficient heating.
  • Clean regularly to achieve maximum heat efficiency.
  • Do not block the heater with furniture, as proper airflow is necessary for optimum heating.
  • Curtains or drapes should be a minimum of 6 to 12 inches away to reduce fire risks.
  • Add a programable or smart thermostat for better heat control and energy savings.

Are electric or hydronic baseboard heaters best for me?

When deciding between electric or hydronic baseboard heaters, consider the following advantages and disadvantages of each system.

Electric vs hydronic baseboard heaters
Baseboard heater type Pros Cons
  • Low up-front installation cost
  • Quiet heating
  • Energy-efficient zoned heating with individual thermostats to heat a room only when in use
  • Low-maintenance, simple system with few moving parts
  • High running costs – electricity is more expensive than gas or water heating.
  • Less balanced heat since the coils cool quickly after the thermostat shuts down
  • No fans to circulate air – not recommended for large or drafty homes
  • Fire risk – Requires clear space around the unit
  • Burn risk – units get very hot and pose a safety risk, especially in homes with small children
  • Long-lasting heat – liquid stays hot long after the running cycle
  • Energy-efficient heating
  • Balanced heat – no need for thermostat to kick on and off to stay at temperature
  • High up-front installation cost
  • Slow heating – liquid heating takes longer to warm up than metal coils
  • Loud heating – some gurgling from liquid heat
  • Fewer size options
  • Safety risk – units get very hot and pose a burning risk, especially in homes with small children
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Finding and hiring a baseboard heat installer

When hiring an electrician or HVAC specialist for a baseboard heater installation, be sure to:

  • Get at least three estimates that include comparable equipment to compare.
  • Look for licensed contractors with experience installing baseboard heating units.
  • Browse their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Select insured and bonded companies that have been in business for more than five years.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead for work completed.

Questions to ask

  • What baseboard heater type and brand is included in the estimate?
  • Is the hydronic heater self-contained, or will it connect to my boiler or water heater?
  • How long will the installation take?
  • Do you charge an hourly or flat-rate fee to install a baseboard heater?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • How many baseboard heater installations have you completed in the last year?
  • May I have a copy of your insurance policy for my records?
  • Can you provide a list of references with contact information?
  • Do you guarantee your work or offer an extended warranty?

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