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Hot Water Toe Kick Heaters vs. Radiators- HELP!

Dian Member Posts: 2
My contractor has begun not only a kitchen remodel, but a flip of our living room/kitchen. So the current living room is 16 sq ft & has 28 ft of baseboard heating that must be removed for new kitchen cabinets to be installed. The walls are currently gutted. The question is do we have 2 toe kick heaters installed or 2 - 3ft x 3 ft built in radiators on opposite walls of the room, where we have space for the 2 of them. We have gas heat, and this room has cathedral ceilings as well. I have been reading pros & cons about toe kick & have received conflicting opinions from some plumbers about the right way to go, so we are really at a loss about what to choose. May I also add that both my husband & I no nothing about heating systems which of course, doesn't help this matter.
- Thanks for any "expert" feedback.


  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    It starts with a room heat loss calculation to properly size the emitter-rad or TK or fin tube bb. The toekick should be the last resort if there is no wall space for rads etc. Has radiant flooring been considered?

    Toekicks need to be piped correctly in order to work well and not affect the rest of the heat zone negatively. They are dust collectors, they make noise, have moving parts, use energy, and are the least desireable for making heat.

    Get the heat loss analysis done and see what you need for heat, and take it from there.
  • A do it yourself heatloss program is available from the SlantFin boiler company website. It will work on iPads/iPhones, android, and PC's.
    Remember to do it room by room, and it will keep track of the total.--NBC
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited December 2014

    You have cathedral ceilings. Hot air rises. You have whatever radiation already installed.

    In my experience, I have met many rooms with cathedral ceilings that have trouble heating evenly. The only solution was either toe kick heaters or fan coil cabinets. Fan coils force circulate the air, Baseboards do NOT. Fan coils have two speed motor switches, baseboards do not. Ceiling paddle fans help a lot, baseboards do NOT.

    And if you have any recessed ceiling lights in your cathedral ceilings, they can be giant energy suckers. They suck the heat right out of the room.

    Smith's Enviromental makes some really nice floor units that are dedicated floor units. If you have a wood suspended floor, they are really nice. The grills are really nice. Nothing like the cheap metal warm air grills you see on scorched/Polar air systems.

    They also make some really handsome recessed and semi recessed fan coil cabinet units. You have a difficult space to heat with baseboards alone. Don't let anyone scare you away from Toe Kicks. My experience with them has always been positive. If you have a 36" kitchen sink base cabinet, one can fit nicely in there. And the ladies just love the warm air blowing on their cold feet in the morning when they get up. Someone once told me that the best part of her remodel job was the toe kick heater under the kitchen sink.

    That, and the 33" single bowl sink that fits in the same cut out as a double bowl that you can get many pots in at the same time, and wash small dogs and children in.


    And these:

  • Dian
    Dian Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the comments. We thought about radiant since there is easy access from a crawlspace directly below, & do not want to remove the current oak flooring, but was hesitant with the installation expense. Contractor thought this was the best option & could be less expensive in the long run. Then, we thought about 3 ft of baseboards in 3 corners, but didn't think these were enough to heat the room. Now, will rethink all & do those heatloss calculations. And wow, they just installed LED highhats, so looks like we have another loss of heat challenge? Whew!
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    """ And wow, they just installed LED highhats, so looks like we have another loss of heat challenge? Whew! """

    The can lights in cathedral ceilings really become a problem if your building codes require that the roof space above the insulation has to be ventilated. You are required to have soffit vents and wither ridge vents or gable end vents so that there is airflow between the top of the insulation and the bottom of the roof sheathing. They want airflow to get rid of moisture from forming on the underside of the roof. They make "air tight" can lights that aren't airtight. Once you are up and running, take a infra-red thermometer heat gun and shoot the dot into the light when it is cold out. If the inside of the light is really cold inside but the ceiling is warmer, the light is sucking energy.

    Don't discount those Smith's Environmental floor heaters. I did a job for someone that was so anal that he needed a good slap to straighten him out. He wasn't happy with any choice available. Anything he found that he liked, was too expensive. I found those heaters. He loves them. What really got him was the quality of the floor grates. They are heavy round extruded aluminum along with an extruded aluminum frame around it. And they are extremely quiet. They are two speed, and on low speed, you really can't hear them running. They will fit between floor joists and don't need to have joists headed off.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    Aren't LED can lights sealed? At least the ones I've seen are. I know the regular incandescent ones leak a ton of air, but the LED ones come with a gasket and have a sealed front.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,737

    Aren't LED can lights sealed? At least the ones I've seen are. I know the regular incandescent ones leak a ton of air, but the LED ones come with a gasket and have a sealed front.

    I recently installed a bunch of these in someones house. I know there are all different kinds, but I would use the term "sealed" very loosely on the ones I installed. The ones that are wet or damp rated for bathrooms are definitely better. Some of them are the exact same housing as the incandescent with a different trim and bulb with transformer attached. Again I am sure there are a ton of different ones out there just describing the ones I have installed.
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  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,477
    Led bulbs get very unhappy if they over heat so some method of heat removal has to be used if the element draws much over 10w. Convection is the cheapest way for the manufacturer. Are those IC rated by UL?

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
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  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    All I'm saying is that if you have recessed can lights in a ceiling that is a ventilated cathedral ceiling, or a flat ceiling into an unconditioned but ventilated space, they can suck vast amounts of energy from a building. Either heating OR cooling.

    When I lived in the North, I only saw it in heating and it was often a serious problem. Now that I live in the South, I found it just as bad with cooling. If your energy source is larger than needed, you may not notice it. If it gets close, you will know it right away when the conditions change.

    The fixture cans aren't watertight or air tight.