Whether they're electric or hydronic, high-quality baseboard heaters have provided a fairly simple, reliable and cost-effective supplement to central air for many homeowners. But split-ductless heat pumps provide an option that rivals baseboard heaters in every critical aspect without the necessity of invasive ductwork.
The most common baseboard heaters are electric. They contain electric heating elements contained in metal pipes and are controlled by thermostats in each room. They are installed under windows so their rising warm air will counteract cool air falling from the window. The units must be placed by a window to work correctly and they have to be fitted perfectly to avoid losing heat between the unit and the wall.
The quality of baseboard heaters varies wildly. All but the most expensive models can be noisy and provide poor and inconsistent temperature control. They are hot to the touch and — since they hug the wall on the floor — are in reach of children and pets. Unless a humidifier is built in, baseboard heaters produce very dry heat that can lead to raw throats, itchy eyes and even bloody noses. Baseboard heaters require extra insulation and line voltage thermostats. Baseboard heaters emanate a burning smell after periods of non use because of the accumulation of dust.
Ductless heat pumps provide all of the benefits of baseboard heaters. Namely, they provide zoned climate control with individual thermostats in each room and, most importantly, they don't require ductwork. But the similarities stop there.
Ductless heat pumps provide precision temperature control and don't require proximity to a window to operate correctly. Unlike baseboard heaters, which can't be impeded by furniture or other household objects, heat pumps are mounted out of the way. They are more efficient and waste less electricity. They provide fresh, breathable heat that does not result in dry irritation, and — unlike baseboard heaters that run the length of the wall — they are small and sleek.
Like baseboard heaters, split-ductless heat pumps are ductless and can be controlled individually in zones. They don't, however, come with many of the drawbacks. They provide greater precision, control and flexibility in placement and — unlike many baseboard heaters — they aren't noisy and they don't give off a foul odor.
This article and its content are sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric US Inc., Cooling & Heating Division.