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under Cabinet ToeKick heater

In my kitchen today I have aproximitly 8' of hot water baseboard heat, I want to put kitchen cabinets in that corner. Can one under counter heater replace 8' of baseboard? Is this a relitly simple project? Are ther web sites I can research?

Re: under Cabinet ToeKick heater


Yes, I would say it's a RELATIVELY easy project, depending on your experience in handling copper tubing, soldering copper tubing, making an electrical connection to a 120V junction box.

This project is very widely done because of exactly what you describe----the typically cramped wall space in nearly all kitchens due to cabinets, appliances, furniture, etc., make the install of a kickspace heater very practical.

In addition to being able to solder copper tubing (the fittings inside the kickspace are 1/2" sweat), you would have to: A) cut a 11" X 4" hole in the bottom of the cabinet with a jig saw or sawzall; B) shut down the heating system, drain a gallon or two from the boiler drain valve, cut out the baseboard section & cap off the connections there; if you can subsequently use the same connectors from the baseboard to connect to the kickspace, this project will be LOTS easier and simpler.

If for some reason, you can't use the original baseboard copper connectors, you will have to cut into the supply piping near the kitchen cabinet where the kickspace will go, & install some 1/2" copper tubing for a supply & return line to & from the kickspace; for example, if your supply piping main is 3/4", you would have to cut the line, solder in 2 copper tees (using a monoflo tee on one side) going from 3/4" to 1/2" for the new supply/return lines to the kickspace.

This would also depend on how your baseboard piping is piped now; you may have a series loop piping arrangement that would require a direct connection to & from the kickspace; see the heating help site for diagrams.

How easy or hard this last step goes will depend on how good an access you have to the kitchen cabinet floor & the supply HW piping, under the floor or behind the cabinet; as previously noted, if you can use the copper connectors that were used for the removed baseboard convector, it's a simple matter of connecting the kickspace to these connectors.

If you have easy access from the basement & the kitchen cabinet base is on the 1st floor, then routing the copper tubing into the cabinet base is a piece of cake.

If this is on an upper floor, or you don't have a cellar, etc., it could be really tedious to make these connections.

Hot pumped boiler water for baseboard heating supply is usually rated at 180 degrees @ 3-4 gallons per minute.

Thus, 8' of baseboard puts out heat @ 550 btu/ft. @ 180 deg. = 550 X 8' = 4,400 btu/hr

If your kitchen is warm enough now, you can get one of the smaller kickspace units that puts out about that same btu/hr of heat, such as a Beacon-Moris Twin-Flo 3 Model K-42 (4,470 btu/hr).

There are plenty of other mfgrs, so shop around for a decent price.

These units have a little fan inside them; when they sense hot water flowing inside, they automatically kick on & the fan quietly emits heat into the kitchen, shutting off automatically at the end of cycle.

The beacon-morris site has diagrams & installation instructions, but the instructions are skimpy.

Sometimes it's easier to use 1/2" PEX oxygen barrier plastic tubing with shark-bite brass fittings if access is restricted, since the PEX is easy to route thru tight spots if you have limited access; there is also flex copper coils, but the price for this has risen quite a bit recently; since you're probably dealing with short lengths of copper tubing, this might be a wise option.

After installing the kickspace, you would have to turn the boiler back on, add any makeup water needed to get the boiler gauge back to 12 psi, check for leaks, & bleed any air that has accumulated in the piping.

Some of the other sites below perhaps also have instructions; you can also Google "install kickspace heaters" or "fan/coil heaters" (without the quotation marks) for lots more sites on this topic.

At the beacon-morris site, click onto products, residential, then onto twin-flo; the burnham site also has instructions at "literature".

After reviewing the "diverter-tee" and "loop hot water" piping diagrams at heating help.com, & checking your own system, please post back if you experience connection problems to advise what kind of piping system you have.

Figure ~$125-$150 for this unit; visit several plumbing supply houses, they usually give a better deal than HD/Lowe's.


Re: under Cabinet ToeKick heater

I have a couple of related questions. I currently have oil/hot air, and am contemplating a switch to propane/hydronic. My house is very small though, and locating baseboard heaters is a challenge. I'm considering using 2 or three toekick heaters instead.

1. Any experience using these in loactions such as a bottom step riser or using the in-floor kits?

2. If a heating circuit (water, not electrical) serves only toekick heaters, can they be piped in a simple series circuit? I'm assuming the pressure drop concerns go away when every element is the same, but maybe I'm wrong.


Re: under Cabinet ToeKick heater


There are usually far better options for the rest of the house than toekicks.

The standard practice is to go with baseboard whenever possible, due to its wide availability, low cost, & extremely wide manufacturing by hundreds of mfgrs, which keeps the cost low.

Standard baseboard puts out 600 btu/hr per foot; there are also high output versions which put out 800 btu/hr per foot.

In a pinch, 3-foot wide hi-output baseboard units could be placed under the windows, along with floor vectors (Beacon-Morris site), in order to accomodate the heat load of most rooms of limited floor space.

First calculate the HEAT LOSS (free sites below) of a particular room, then divide by 600 or 800 (output of each foot of baseboard) to get the amount of feet of baseboard, high-output baseboard or floor vector you would need.

Your heat loss calc should roughly equate to a heat loss factor of 40 btu/hr per foot of floor space; thus, the heat loss for a room 15 X 10 = 150 sq.ft. x 40 = 6000 btu/hr divided by 800 = 7.5 ft. of hi output baseboard needed for this room, or 10' of std.baseboard for this room.

The Beacon-Morris site also has examples of high output free-standing & recessed convectors, which are space-savers.

The only convectors to be found in HD/Lowe's would be baseboard, for all the others, consult the Yellow Pages under "Heating Equipment" for the local heating supply houses in your area.

The strategy is to avoid the extra expense of elec. for the fan units, as well as the fan noise in bedrooms & living rooms, where it is more noticeable, unless there is no option.

Also Google "Burnham fan/coil units".

Kickspace units in floor landings work fine; floor vectors are avoided where installation would involve cutting into floor joists.

Series-loop piping for baseboard is 3/4" copper or PEX to maintain at least a 4 gpm hot water flow; to add a kickspace, it is recommended that a monoflo tee takeoff be done to go from the 3/4" series baseboard loop to the 1/2" tubing in the kickspace.

Why are you switching from oil-fired forced air to propane-fired hydronic??

If it's because of the cost of oil, first do a free fuel cost comparison (below) which compares 100,000 btu of oil heat with 100,000 btu of propane heat.

Propane is also very expensive in most areas, so check it out.

There are propane power gas burners that can be fitted to your oil-fired furnace if the cost of propane is advantageous.

Consult your local service tech to see if they can do it.


Re: under Cabinet ToeKick heater

Thanks for the lengthy response; I'll do some calculations and see what makes sense.

I'm switching because I want a cleaner, more efficient heating system, but also to reclaim basement space. With a wall-hung boiler, I can remove the furnace, water heater, oil tank, and chimney from the basement (and chimney from the other floors) to get much-needed floor space in this 900 sqft house.


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