Central heating systems are a blessing during the winter months, but even the most efficient system can fail to reach certain areas of the home sufficiently. That is where baseboard heaters can help. The heaters are installed along the floor to provide heating in hard to reach places such as basements, drafty bedrooms, or a built-on room that wasn't connected to the central heat directly.
There are two primary types of baseboard heaters: convection and hydronic. Each type of unit has its own merits and pitfalls and the choice will ultimately come down to your personal needs and preferences. Consult your HVAC installation company for more information and tailored advice.
Convection baseboard heaters have electrical coils that heat up and disperse warm air out the vented casing. The only other part to the baseboard is the thermostat that can either attach directly to the casing or to a wall like a traditional central heating and cooling thermostat.
Advantages of electric convection baseboard heaters include low cost, easy installation, and low likelihood of repairs due to the limited number of components.
The trade-off is that these heaters aren't the most efficient models on the market as the heaters only warm what is directly in front of them rather than dispersing the air well around the room. When you turn off the heaters, the room stops feeling warm pretty quickly.
Convection heaters could still be the best choice if you have a tight budget or the room in question only needs to be heated occasionally.
Hydronic baseboard heaters combine electricity and oil fuel for more efficient heating. There are still electrical coils that heat up, but the coils heat the oil instead of the air. The heated oil then takes care of warming the air.
The oil can hold its heat for some time after the electrical coils turn off, which means these baseboard heaters can keep your room warmer for longer even if the heater isn't running. However, the unit will take longer to produce the initial heat when turned on as you have to wait on the oil.
Another potential downside is the cost as hydronic units are substantially more expensive than convection even without factoring in the eventual need to replace the oil. The heat efficiency might prove worth the investment in a well used room as fewer of the hydronic units will be needed and the room will stay warmer overall.