Although a tiny home offers many benefits such as the ability to easily turn it into a mobile home and reduced home maintenance expenditures, there are many challenges associated with building this type of home. One challenge is finding a way to affordably heat the inside. For some, baseboard heating seems like a good solution, but is it really optimal for this type of home?
Benefits of Baseboard Heating
Baseboard heating does have a few benefits that would be attractive to tiny home owners, and the most compelling is the price. These appliances are fairly inexpensive, costing an average of $150 to $200 to install a basic unit. It's even cheaper if you have experience wiring electricity, because you can do the installation work yourself. However, finding an affordable electrician who can do the work for you at a reasonable price is usually not that hard either.
Another potentially money-saving advantage is that baseboard heaters run on 100-percent electricity. If you install solar panels on your tiny home, your energy costs will be zero. Additionally, electric heating powered by solar energy is a good option if you plan on making your tiny home capable of being mobile. You won't be forced to only take your tiny home to places where you can plug into the grid or find natural gas or other fuel for a gas-powered heater.
This type of heating unit can also help save space. Since it attaches directly to the foot of the wall, you may have room for other items in your home, such as additional furniture.
Finally, you're not using any combustibles like gas to run the appliance. Therefore, you don't have to worry about leaks or safely storing natural or propane gas.
On the flip side, there are some drawbacks to this sort of heating. While these heaters don't take up floor space, they do require at least 8 to 12 inches of clearance for safety and adequate air flow. This means you can't place anything in front of them like a couch or table, so you'll need to design your tiny home carefully to accommodate this requirement.
You'll also need to make sure you can connect to the grid if you're not going to use solar panels to generate electricity, which can limit your mobility if you're planning to use your tiny home for travel. It is possible to use a generator to produce electricity in places where there's no connection to the electrical grid. However, you'll have some of the same challenges you would have if you used a gas-powered heating system (e.g. buying and storing fuel).
Of course, if you do choose to power your tiny home using solar, you have to factor in the cost of the system. The average solar panel produces about 200 watts of electricity and costs about $7 to $9 per watt to install. Baseboard heaters use about 250 watts of power per foot. So to power a 2-foot heater, you would need at least 3 solar panels, which will require an upfront investment of $4,200 to $5,400, and that doesn't include the number of solar panels you may need to provide electricity for other things.
Lastly, it may take awhile for the heat from a baseboard heater to evenly distribute throughout the tiny home. Like any other heating system, maintaining the temperature is not a problem once the area warms up. However, getting to that point may be more of a challenge than other types of heating systems because there generally is no fan to help blow the warm air around. This may mean cold bathrooms in the morning and fall days when you'll need to wear an extra sweater for a while.
Overall, baseboard heating can be an inexpensive and safe alternative to gas-powered heating sources. Do your research to find the one with the features that best support your needs and lifestyle. For more information about electric baseboard heaters or assistance with installing one, contact an electrician like Feldman Brothers Electrical Supply Co.