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Radiant "Cove" Heat vs. Baseboard Heat

I have a 15 year old home with a propane furnace for gas-forced air heat. The problem I have is that the duct system was poorly designed for the walk-out basement level, so the 2 rooms (and bath) on that level are very cold in the winter. I've had my HVAC contractor try to find a way to improve it, but he's given up.

I need to install supplemental heat in those rooms, and I'm considering 2 types of electric heat: one is from a company called "Hydro-Sil" and it's essentially baseboard heat with silicone as the medium in the pipe rather than water. The other is radiant "cove" heat, which is installed near the ceiling rather than the floor.

I'm looking for advice on this - am I looking at the right alternatives, and is there a significant difference between these two? I'm leading toward the radiant cove heat.

Also, these both come in either 110 or 220V varieties, and I suspect that running 220V to those rooms would cost me a small fortune. I think 220 is more efficient, but I may only have access to 110. Am I wasting my time to install this with 110V?


Re: Radiant "Cove" Heat vs. Baseboard Heat


Kinda hard to tell without seeing the lower level what the best solution is.

Electric resistance heat should be the LAST heat to consider & used only when all else fails because it's a very expensive way to heat rooms.

The first method of choice is to try to WORK WITH THE HEATING SYSTEM you have in place to see if something workable can be fashioned---this always costs lots less in propane and electric bills.

Perhaps another contractor could offer a workable solution with your existing furnace---this would assume the furnace has enough heating capacity to heat the lower level, as well as the upper level.

Furnace heating capacity is usually stamped on the furnace in btu output---thus a typical furnace, for example, would state "50,000 btu/hour" as its heat output.

A rough estimate of how much the lower level needs in heat would be to assign 40 btu to each square foot of area---thus a lower level of 15' X 30' = 450 s.f. X 40 = 18,000 btu/hr to heat the area.

The total house btu heat need can be so calculated and checked with the furnace output to see if the furnace has sufficient heat output to heat the house.

Also Google "heat loss calculation" to get more precise calcs of furnace output and building heat requirements.

A different contractor may be able to simply adjust/modify the ducting (the easiest/most efficient fix) to effectively heat the lower level.

By contrast, electric heat assigns 10 watts per sq.ft. to heat an area---thus a room 15 X 15 = 225 s.f. X 10w = a 2250 watt elec. baseboard element to heat this single 15 X 15 room--that's about the same wattage use/cost as an electric range oven.

There is usually no problem or big cost in running 220v lines to the area to be heated.

If the least expensive possibilities aren't feasable, other solutions might be to install a separate small propane furnace with its own t-stat that can be kept at low temp, install a heat exchanger in the present furnace plenum for hot water baseboard, etc.

Some contractors are wary of taking on these projects if they suspect they may have to come back time and again until the modification works, so you may have to have 4-6 contractors over until you hit on one who is knowledgeable & effective.

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