Writing from Detroit, a Climate Zone 6 locale, Marlena Crows poses this question: Must electric baseboard heaters necessarily be installed at floor level, or can they be mounted higher on the wall and get an assist for heat distribution from a ceiling fan?
Crows owns a 20-unit apartment building and is planning to convert to electric baseboard heaters as she prepares for the installation of a photovoltaic system in another year. Apartments are small, in the range of 200 to 400 square feet, and strips of baseboard heat mounted at floor level, as they normally are, might get in the way of furniture.
She has noticed that air handlers for minisplit heat pumps are mounted near the ceiling, so why not the same approach with baseboard resistance heat, particularly when each room will have its own ceiling fan.
“I am wondering if anyone has a definitive reason why this would not work, or perhaps, why it should work just fine,” Crows says in Q&A post at Green Building Advisor. “My reasoning is to avoid blockage from furniture, as these are small units with few options for furniture placement, and I do not want to further limit that or reduce efficiency with flow problems.”
That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight.
Mount baseboard heaters as designed
Electric baseboard heaters work by convection. The element heats the air around it, causing it to rise out of the top of the metal housing. That, in turn, draws more air in at the bottom of the housing. These heaters should be installed near the floor, as designed, says GBA senior editor Martin Holladay.
“Temperature stratification is a real problem in many buildings, and you can make a temperature stratification problem worse by mounting your electric heaters near the ceiling,” Holladay writes.