Electric Baseboard heater
Looking for a way to make your electric baseboard heated home more efficient? Why not consider swapping out your antiquated thermostats with a more modern programmable unit? Despite the bad rap, heating a home with direct resistance heat can be a bit de-humidifying, but it's actually a fairly efficient use of electricity. All of the energy consumed gets emmitted directly as heat, where as with a combustion heat (oil or gas) there are losses. Only a percentage (although significant) of the total energy of combustion is utilized. The only factor is really the amount of time the electric baseboard heat is on and the temperature at which the thermostat is set. 

Typically when we sleep, temperatures in the house can dip down to 60-62F and we are still comfortable under the covers. When we rise in the morning, the temp should be around 66-68 F otherwise getting out of bed is not very tempting. Leaving for work or play? Have the heat ramp down to 60 till you get home in the evening. If you have a temperature sensitive pet, make sure they have an area where they can keep warm during the day. Coming home to a house that's comfortable temperature makes returning home that more enjoyable.

Here are some simple instructions for swapping out your old baseboard heat thermostats.

Turn off power at circuit breaker

Turn up thermostat to make sure the heater does not turn on

Use current sniffer / Volt alert tool to make doubly sure power is off.

Remove the old thermostat, typically only need a blade screw driver.

Note: Most homeowners do not remove the thermostats when painting. While you have the thermostat(s) off the wall, apply paint that matches the walls around the thermostat. Home stores will match the paint, just bring them a chip. Use a hair dryer to have it completely dry in a few minutes so you can get to the main task at hand. Painting around thermostats can be done, but often it gives you a very unprofessional looking result.

Wire the outer two wires to the black wires coming from the heater, wire the inner red to the neutral (white wire) coming from the heater.

Use wire nuts and make sure to use good quality electrical tape to secure wire nuts. (Baseboard heat due to it's cycling will cause wires to come loose easily through thermal contraction and expansion. Apply the tape and wrap it counter clockwise to make sure the wire nut will not come loose inside of the wall box.

Many job boxes are small, so take care to place the wires back into them carefully, I like to use the end of a screw driver for the final push to make sure they are pressed inall the way.

Do one last visual check on the wires to make sure none fall out or have become loose.

Screw on the baseplate of the new thermostat.

Install the 9V battery and program the unit based on your schedule and your requirements for the room.

Switch the heat slider on the right side of the unit to on, then place the control portion onto the base module.

Turn the breakers back on and then make sure the heater turns on properly, if not you have something mis-wired and will have to try again. (The usual culprit, is that you wired the inner black wire instead of the outer black wire.)

I have had good results with the LUX ELV4 unit. PPL electric will give you a 100% rebate on these units (save your reciept) up to $50 each. So take advantage of this offer while it lasts.



05/26/2011 14:08

Hi--I was just trying to do this exact thing, but when I pulled out the old thermostat I had 3 black and 3 white wires going into the old thermostat. I had no idea how to deal with this so I just put it back. Do you have any idea how I can do this? Does this mean that the heater is on 2 different circuits?

Jennifer Andrews
07/31/2011 15:05

I have a "dumb" question. I have a 30 year old berm home--it's really neat, but they put in electric baseboard heat. The heaters only have a dial directly connected to them to turn them on and set temp --1-10. It would be really nice to put them on a thermostat. Can I do that? It would seem I'd have to install something in the circuit of the heater to allow it to accept a signal from a remote thermostat. Is there such a thing or do I have to replace the old heaters?
Thanks for your help. It's hot now but someday it will again be cold.


07/31/2011 15:29

Jennifer, you may be able to splice in some wires that connect to the dial on the older unit, fish them up to a wall plate and connect a modern programmable thermostat - it will render the dial useless, and make some holes in the wall that you have to patch, but seems worth a try before you trash the old units.


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