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Standard or Hydronic Baseboard heaters

Have an 800 square foot mobile home in NC w/o a heating system.  Do not want forced air/ or ducts.   Am looking into baseboards or PTAC/PTHPs.

Lowes sells the baseboard heaters (I'd need 4 maybe 5).  The only difference in specs between the 30 dollar standard baseboard heater and the 180 dollar 'hydronic' baseboard heater is the price.  All the btu,amps,volts are the same.

What is the difference, really?  These are not the kind that are hooked to a waterline or anything, they are self contained oil filled.

I also thought about PTAC/PTHPs like hotels have.  Even though square foot wise I could get just one unit...I'd want 4 smallest units so there would be no cold spots.  But I can't figure out compared to the baseboards that disclose the watts so I can calculate how much they'd cost...I can't figure that out w/ the PTAC/PTHPs.

Your site was recommended- can you help me out?


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,715
    edited September 2009
    First you have to know

    how much heat you actually need. This is done with a heat-loss calculation of the building. Then you size the various heat emitters and the heat generator.

    Then it's time to pick a fuel, and this is where it gets interesting. You have to know how much that fuel will cost you per BTU. So far, all the heat sources you've named are electric. These are relatively cheap to buy, but cost the most to run unless you live in a TVA or similar area where electric rates are cheaper than elsewhere in the country.

    The "hydronic" baseboard you mention uses electricity to heat water (or some other fluid) inside the unit, which then "holds" its heat after the thermostat has shut off. This provides a more even heat than the usual electric baseboard, but still costs as much to run.

    Generally, the cost per BTU of electricity is highest. Propane is next lower, then oil. If you have natural gas available, over time it usually works out to roughly the same as oil.

    But the most efficient system is the one that doesn't have to run. Insulate that MH to the hilt, upgrade windows etc. before doing the heat loss and choosing a heat source. You will then have the pleasure of buying a smaller system!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
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