October 24, 2023

Family enjoying heated house in St. Louis, MO

Baseboard Heaters vs. Central Heating

When considering building a brand-new house or updating your current climate system, considering what type of heating to install is a big decision. As a homeowner, you have several options for heating your house, each with many things to consider. Central heating units and baseboard heaters are two of homeowners’ top choices. Let’s explore the upside and downside of each so that you can make an informed decision on heating your home in St. Louis, MO.

Baseboard Heaters

Baseboard heaters have a heating element that heats up when turned on. This heating element releases warm air into your room. An HVAC technician will place these heaters on the wall just above the floor or on the baseboards, hence the name. Placing the units on perimeter walls is a common practice, as this works to combat the cold from outside.

The most popular baseboard heater models run off electricity. These electric heaters are wired into your home’s electric grid during installation and are generally not portable. You can also find gas and hydronic (hot water) units, though they are far less common.

Pros of Baseboard Heating

Quiet Operation

Electric baseboard heaters typically run with little to no noise. Hearing strange or loud noises from these units is unlikely during operation unless there is a mechanical issue.

Easy Installation

There is no ductwork to install with electric baseboard heaters, so your HVAC technician can place them easily in your home. The most complicated part of installing baseboard heaters is connecting them to your home’s power source.

Low Installation Cost

Along with the ease of installation comes a lower installation cost, given that it takes much less time to place these heaters. There are no additional supplies like ducts and vents. Fewer supplies mean a lower price tag.

Zone Heating

With baseboard heaters, you can choose which rooms you want to heat and at what temperature. Controlling each standalone unit separately means you don’t need to heat rooms that aren’t in use. You can also set higher or lower heat settings in different rooms based on usage.

Easy to Clean

Baseboard heaters are easy to access, making them easy to wipe clean. Most have a removable cover on the front that allows for clearing out the dust and debris for more intensive cleaning.


Most baseboard heaters can last at least 20 years. These heaters can give you decades of home comfort without needing to be replaced. If one unit gives out, you need only replace that one while leaving all the others in place.

Cons of Baseboard Heating

Takes Up Space

Since baseboard heaters need to be installed in each room, they do take up precious space in your home. Arranging furniture and appliances may be somewhat of a hassle with baseboard heaters, as you have to work around them.

Safety Issues

Baseboard heaters get hot when they are in use and can pose safety problems. Never put furniture, curtains, or other items directly against the heaters, as this could pose a fire risk. Keep an eye on young children so that they won’t get burned.

Dry Heat

Dry heat provided by baseboard heaters can irritate your body. When using baseboard heaters as your primary source of home heating, you may need to add a humidifier to add some moisture to your air.

No Ductwork

Although this may seem like a benefit, and it can be, there is also a downside to having no ductwork for your heating system. Baseboard heaters require you to set each unit, which could have you running around the house whenever you want to reset the temperature.

Interior Design

As far as visual appeal goes, baseboard heaters tend to stick out like a sore thumb. You can choose from different styles and colors, even some with patterns, to coordinate with your home decor. However, matching your baseboard heaters with your interior design may prove difficult.

Central Heat

You’ll find a few different options available when researching central heating units. The most common of these are gas and electric furnaces. Using central heat, you have a single unit that creates warm air to be distributed throughout your home using vents and ducts. A central heating unit is often installed in your basement, bathroom, or closet so that it is out of sight.

Pros of Central Heating

Easily Controlled With a Central Thermostat

Controlling your central heating unit is simple with a centrally located thermostat. This thermostat is strategically placed in your home, as it monitors the temperature around it and adjusts the furnace accordingly. Programmable thermostats are available and work by controlling the heat based on your lifestyle.

Filters Out Dust and Allergens

A central heating unit uses filters to remove dust and other allergens from the air forced into the heating ducts. These filters are easy to remove and change as needed, and you can purchase them from your trusted HVAC company or hardware store.

Easy to Find Parts and Make Repairs

Since central heating units are popular, they are relatively easy to repair. A licensed HVAC technician has vast knowledge of the heating units and can find the parts and make the repairs rather quickly, eliminating the need for a new furnace.

Cons of Central Heating

Uneven Airflow and Temperatures

Thanks to the laws of science, central heating does have some inconsistencies with keeping different rooms warm. Heat tends to rise and when blown out of a vent, it rises more quickly to the ceiling. You may also notice some rooms farther from the furnace not warming as much as others.

Noisy Operation

Many central heating units are noisy when running. This noise is due to the motor and the blower. Depending on where the heating unit is in your home, some could interrupt daily activities such as watching TV.

Requires Ductwork

Installing a central heating unit creates the need for ductwork throughout the house. This airflow ductwork is generally run through the walls when possible. If there isn’t enough space behind your walls, the ducts may be installed in areas that leave them exposed.

More Expensive to Purchase

The initial purchase price of a central heating unit can be high and could be much higher than those of other heating options. Though there are some benefits that can offset this price down the road, you need to consider the upfront cost.

Choosing the Right Type of Heat for Your Home

After looking at your different options and weighing the ups and downs of each, you can make an informed decision that works best for your needs. Talk with a licensed HVAC technician who can answer any questions you have or address concerns about types of heating for your house.

Baseboard vs. Central Heat – Which Will Keep You Toasty?

Ready to take the next step? With over 45 years of service in the St. Louis area, our trusted and knowledgeable technicians are ready and available to install your heating source. We offer a comprehensive list of residential and commercial HVAC services, including zoning systems and geothermal contracting.

Call Scott-Lee Heating Company today and get your home ready for winter!