Ugly Heating Panels Have to Go
Wall-mounted heating panels don’t have to be an eyesore
We’ve finally found a house that’s right for us, except for its old, wall-mounted heating panels all over the house. We bought the house, and now I’m wondering how to update them. They still work great, but they’re an eyesore. Is there a solution that will keep us warm?
—Amanda Holtz, Milwaukee, WI
There certainly are better-looking options out there, and they’re energy efficient to boot.
You can find many more products by Googling "electric radiant wall panels". Or you can try Amazon.
The crucial specification to look at is their heat output, especially in your climate. Make sure the contractor doing the installation conducts a room-by-room Manual J calculation to determine how much heat each room needs on the coldest night of the year. You want panels with enough output—including equivalent direct radiation— to meet that expected demand, but no bigger. There's no need to pay for more heat than you're going to use.
As you replace your old panels, make sure the walls behind them are as well insulated as they can be. You want the panels’ heat to stay in the room, and not go outside.
It will cost more on the front end to make that switch—boilers aren’t cheap— but you'll end up with lower utility bills and a better payoff over the long term. You’ll still have to make the Manual J calculations; they’ll help you choose the right panel sizes and boiler size.
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