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Several questions about basement heating. (aka baseboard vs radiant with carpet, thermostat placemen

Daniel_G Member Posts: 1
I am finishing my basement sometime this summer, and am in the planning

stages.  I'm thinking about heating right now.  I live in Salt Lake City, UT. 

The basement is about 80% underground.  I plan to stud out the exterior walls

and put in R13 insulation.  We have insulation between our basement and main

floor (ranch house) and a door at the bottom of the stairs.  I am hoping that with the insulation and separation between floors, I don't overheat the upstairs by keeping the basement nice and warm.

I have a hall, small bathroom, two good sized bedrooms, and a common


I have attached a plan.  There is an already finished room

on the left that I am going to leave as is.  It uses the forced air from the

furnace which is okay for that room as we exercise there and like it kind of


I plan to put in duct work for each new room for summer cooling, but close the vents in the winter and heat the basement separately.  The basement is already fairly cool in the summer, so I think the current size of the furnace/central air is sufficient and am not planning to upgrade.  My guess is I'll open the vents in the theater in the summer for cooling because of heat from people/equipment, but the bedrooms will usually have their vents closed or just cracked in the summer.

I have estimated we need about 17000 BTUs for our space in the winter.

I like the idea of radiant heat, but found that it would cost upwards of $4K, and didn't know how effective it would be in most areas because my wife wants plush carpet in them.  We looked at the "CarpetMate" by speedheat but it's pricey and I don't know how much we _need_ radiant versus something like baseboard heat, and how durable it would be just sitting under the carpet. 

We decided to do radiant heat with tile in the bathroom for sure, and I am

thinking about doing baseboard heaters in the rest of the basement, which is

much less expensive.

I have shown with orange bars where I plan to put the baseboard heaters, and with pink boxes where I was thinking of placing the thermostats.  I'd love any ideas on better placement.


In the large room, we will have a theater area on the left side, and more of a play area on the right side by the window.  I believe we need two baseboard heaters, and on the diagram I show them on the north wall by the theater and one under the window.  I was thinking of using two thermostats, and I have pink boxes where I'd put the thermostats. 


I was thinking two thermostats because the projector/bodies and other equipment in the theater area may get it hotter in there.  So if the single thermostat were to turn on both

heaters it might make the theater area uncomfortably hot by keeping the area by the window comfortable.  I figured with separate thermostats, the second heater would only turn on if the theater area were to get too cold, otherwise the heater by the window would generally warm the room.  Am I thinking about this right?  If you suggest using only one thermostat, where should I put it?


I am a novice in this area, but have always wanted to make a basement that feels like being upstairs so people will actually USE it.  Being an engineer I tend to want to think things out a lot but have often found that reality differs from logic.  Some of you folks might be able to set me straight if my thinking is off based on real experience.


Thanks in advance for any advice!



  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Radiant is radiant...

    Consider doing the ceiling, or walls instead of the floor, that way your wife can cover the floors with polar bears if she wishes, and the basement will STILL be much more comfy than the upstairs.

    You heat loss calculations will tell you how much you need to put in, but my gut tells me you;d need to do maybe the 4 foot exterior band with the ceilings, or 4 foot up from the floor (wainscot high).

    I'd also recommend using non electric thermostatic radiator control valves for controlling the radiant. Much more comfortable than electronic thermostats.

    The human body does not care from where the radiant heat comes from, as long as it influences the Mean Radiant Temperature within the space. I have it in two of my homes, and intend to install it in the third as well.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
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