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jll92651
Premium
join:2013-10-11
Laguna Beach

[Electrical] Buying a convector baseboard heater

House built in 1951 had two gas wall heaters for whole house that The Gas Co. condemned and shut off last winter. I want to buy a Dimplex convector baseboard heater for my bedroom to try it out and if I like it, buy several more for other rooms. I know my house is wired for 220 because I had a jacuzzi put in and needed it. For the heater, do I buy 120v or the 208/240v unit? Will it make a difference if I later get more heaters? Bedroom is 185 sq. ft. so I'm thinking 1500 or 2000btu unit as I live in sunny southern California where a temp below 40 degrees at nite is rare. My main concern is high utility bill.



pike
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-01
Washington, DC
kudos:3

Nearly every home is "wired" for 240, as that's how residential electrical service is delivered. It's split in to two 120v lines at the main distribution panel.

Do you currently have any other form of heat in the home? You stated your main concern is high utility bills, and you live in CA where electricity is expensive, and you have NG available at your home. With that information, have you looked in to adding gas heat to your existing air conditioning system? It may be more cost effective in the long run.

Installing these baseboard heaters will probably require you to hire an electrician to first evaluate if you even have enough capacity in your existing electrical service and then quoting prices to run the new wiring for them.



SparkChaser
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join:2000-06-06
Downingtown, PA
kudos:3
Reviews:
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said by pike:

Installing these baseboard heaters will probably require you to hire an electrician to first evaluate if you even have enough capacity in your existing electrical service and then quoting prices to run the new wiring for them.

Agree, if the house is 1951 and had gas heat it probably does not have the capacity. I've had electric resistance heat for 34 year in the NE so I, at least, have a feel for it.

You probably need 200A service, if you start adding heaters.

Can the NG heaters be made usable?
--
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"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." - Neil deGrasse Tyson

jll92651
Premium
join:2013-10-11
Laguna Beach
reply to pike

My electrician put in a whole new master and a new box. I have a rental unit over my garages that has its own box but the same master, I think. There is no existing airconditioning and or duct work available at all. The house is not insulated, it is lathe and plaster in, stucco out, one block from the beach and it gets real chilly inside because of the dampness and old windows. I thought that the expense of putting in a gas unit would far exceed these Dimplex units as it would require the whole deal, wiring, unit, etc. and probably a thermostat also. Last winter I used a space heater I carried from room to room.


jll92651
Premium
join:2013-10-11
Laguna Beach
reply to SparkChaser

The Gas Co. pronounced them dead and I must admit lighting the pilot each year was an adventure with a clothes hanger and a wood match, flashlight and a dose of stupidity if you also tried to look down into the hole while lighting it. I really only need heat at night and maybe early a.m. It remains around 70ish+- here thru the winter months.



nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
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reply to jll92651

Electric heat in SoCal may not make sense due to extremely high rates.
Your electrical terminology doesn't make any sense. The concerns of the other posters is whether or not your electrical service is properly sized to heat your home with electricity.

What size is the electrical service to your building? There are three "garden" varieties of single phase residential service: 100A, 200A, and 320A. A 100A service could be too small, especially if you have other high demand electrical appliances (jacuzzi). A 200A service may be too small if it's split between 2 dwelling units.

Let's say you add 5 kW of electric heat (5 X 1000W units). If you are paying $.23 / kWh, then it will cost you $1.15 / hour to operate them.

Typically for heat, you would use 240V to allow for smaller wire gauge.
You should really consult with a LICENSED electrician in your area before you purchase anything. Paying a guy for an hour of his time may save you big money in the long run.

You should also look into a ductless split system with a heat pump. You get the added advantage of air conditioning.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.



leibold
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join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
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1 edit
reply to jll92651

With only limited usage you may be ok with electric baseboard heaters but as mentioned above, for the same amount of heat electricity will cost you more then natural gas.

If you do install electric baseboard heaters read and understand all the safety warnings before deciding where to install them. They look perfectly harmless but can quickly start fires if the airflow is inadvertently obstructed. Worry about curtains and bedding but also avoid areas that invite to put something temporarily.

I would run 240V to electric baseboard heaters (less current for the same heat output).

Is the property completely disconnected from gas at this point or are you still counted as gas subscriber despite not using any ? This is very important because it has a very big impact on your electric utility rates (at least in PG&E territory, but probably everywhere in California). If you are a gas subscriber your electric baseline is much lower and you may pay tier4/tier5 prices if you start to use electric heat!

Edit: nunya See Profile is correct about suggesting a heatpump. You are in the perfect climate to take advantage of it and most likely won't even need electric heatstrips (for emergency heat when it gets too cold).
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djrobx
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join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
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reply to jll92651

I thought that the expense of putting in a gas unit would far exceed these Dimplex units as it would require the whole deal, wiring, unit, etc. and probably a thermostat also.

If you have NG running to the old gas wall heaters, you're probably better off putting in some sort of NG heat replacement. SCE's tiered rates will eat you alive if you start to consume well over average amounts of electricity, which is easy to do with resistive electric heat.

Aside from the possible capacity (Amps) issue the others have mentioned, you will most likely need new dedicated wiring from the Dimplex units back to the panel. So they may not simplify your install as much as you might think.

My advice: Get some quotes from HVAC contractors for NG or heat pump solutions. It sounds like you're exploring electric heat because you're afraid of the costs involved with "the whole deal", but you don't really know the costs involved.

Mr Matt

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Eustis, FL
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reply to jll92651

Check with the gas company for an estimate for what electric heat will cost to use based on the amount of gas you used in the past. Did the gas company give you a quote for replacement gas heaters when they condemned the old ones? Sometimes your fuel supplier will give you the best deal when replacing appliances that use the fuel they are selling. Remember they are in the business to sell fuel not gas heaters. By the way, years ago I found some old bills my late parents had not discarded for fuel oil. Back in the early 50's they were paying eighteen cents a gallon for fuel oil. After the Arab oil embargo in 1974 they spent a lot of money insulating the house and improving the efficiency of the heating system.