Baseboard or Ductless Heat: Which Is Better In Havertown, PA?
Towns like Bryn Mawr, Havertown, and Drexel Hill have plenty of old homes that never had ductwork. As a result, we see a lot of radiators and baseboard heaters in houses like these. Today, however, before you update with a new baseboard system, you should consider ductless mini-split heat instead.
These systems offer some of the same benefits as baseboard heaters for homes without ductwork.
Neither rely on forced air. So, you don’t need to drastically change the look and feel of your home by adding ducts and vents.
And, they both offer zoned heating. In other words, you don’t have one thermostat controlling. Instead, each unit works on its own. This way, you don’t (necessarily) end up with that one room that’s colder than the others.
But, most of the similarities stop there.
In this post, we’re comparing old baseboard heaters with newer ductless heat mini split systems to help you determine which is the best choice for your home.
We’ll run down both of them according to these criteria:
- Energy Efficiency
Baseboard Heat Vs. Ductless Heat: Price
Upfront, baseboard heat beats out ductless when it comes to initial cost. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 per room for baseboard heaters and their installation. By contrast, ductless starts easily over $1,000 for one heat pump and air handler.
It’s worth noting, however, that most ductless mini splits are eligible for rebates from PECO. We’ll get into why a little later.
But, the bottom line is that Cipollone can help you knock a few hundred or even a thousand dollars off the price of the units.
Baseboard Heat Vs. Ductless Heat: Price
This one’s a close call. Both are pretty easy to install. They’re certainly much less invasive and complex than new ductwork. But, ductless takes a little more work.
We’ll go through the basics of each without getting too technical.
With baseboard heat, you buy the heaters and wire them up with 240-volt cables. You’ll likely need to run the wiring through the walls.
But, once you’re done that, all that’s left is fastening the unit to the wall.
Mini Split Installation
With ductless, it’s a little more complicated. The mini split system uses a heat pump outside connected to air handlers in one or more rooms.
The most popular type of hander is the high-wall unit: A rectangular device about a foot tall and a foot deep, and a few feet wide. It hangs on the wall, usually in a corner near the ceiling.
Others are a ceiling cassette that’s recessed into the ceiling or a low-wall unit that takes up more room but sits on the wall close to the floor.
You’d place the heat pump outside and decide where to mount the air handlers. Then, you connect them with a line that contains refrigerant that runs in a closed loop between the two.
Most times, we can snake the line, along with a drain line and power supply, through the walls. Other times, we run a line set along the wall or outside.
Baseboard Heat Vs. Ductless Heat: Performance
Here’s where baseboard heaters start to come up short: They may cost less than ductless to install. But, they don’t work nearly as well.
For starters, baseboard heaters take a long time to get a room to the temperature you want. Depending on how cold it is, and how big the space is, it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more to get the job done.
Ductless, on the other hand, does a much better job of circulating the air and maintaining the temperature you want.
Each air handler has sensors in it that detect hot and cold spots. Then, they can direct the air where it’s needed.
Plus, with inverter technology, the handlers often work in a low-power mode in the background. This way, they maintain the temperature all the time. Most other HVAC solutions wait until the temperature dips a few degrees, then click on to correct it.
Another notch in favor of ductless: If you go with high-wall or ceiling units, you don’t need to re-arrange the room. That out-of-the-way air handler can do the job while tucked away in a corner.
With baseboards, however, you can’t put anything along the wall where you’ve placed the unit. Otherwise, the heat won’t radiate properly.
One more way the mini split is better: The same units that heat your house also provide air conditioning in the summer. This way, you’ve got one system handling everything.
Baseboard units only offer heat.
Baseboard Heat Vs. Ductless Heat: Maintenance
Baseboard wins out here. As long as you keep the actual unit clean, you’re all set. Now, if dirt builds up, it will prevent the heat from radiating. But, you can handle this yourself, and it’s easy to do.
Mini splits require a little more. You have to clean the filter every month, for instance. And, we highly recommend getting a tune-up twice a year by a certified professional.
The benefits are twofold: First, you’ll avoid breakdowns. And, the system will run more efficiently, keeping your energy bills low.
Second, you need to show that you’ve properly maintained the system to keep the warranty valid. With a big investment like this, you want to stay protected.
Baseboard Heat Vs. Ductless Heat: Energy Efficiency
And, here’s where the ductless mini splits take a solid lead and cross the finish line way ahead of baseboard heating. Dollar for dollar, ductless costs you less over time. Much less.
Here’s the trick to it: The heat pump transfers heat from one place to another. The baseboard system has to generate it.
The heat transfer system uses much, much less electricity than generating thermal energy. We’ve seen people chop their energy expenses in half by switching from baseboards to ductless.
That’s why you can get a rebate from PECO. The utility company offers incentives for people to install energy-efficient, Energy Star-certified products, and appliances in their homes.
Ductless fits the bill. Baseboard doesn’t.
Thanks to advances in technology over the last 15 to 20 years, ductless heating is now far superior to baseboards. They offer more comfort and have a much smaller impact on your energy bills.
Of course, the downside is the high investment price: You’ll pay hundreds, if not thousands, more to install a mini split than you will baseboard. And, there’s also the cost and effort of regular maintenance.
But, in our experience, these pale in comparison to the energy savings and superior comfort you’ll get with a mini split.
From time to time, we still notice situations where maybe one small baseboard heater is a better fit than a mini split. But, those are pretty rare.
If you’re thinking about going ductless, give Cipollone a call. With a free consultation, we’ll inspect your home, assess its needs, and help you find the solution that’s right for you.