Installing baseboard heating

I have a 3 1-bedroom townhouse with long term tennants in place. I have been getting hammered by gas bills even after installing a new furnace a couple of years ago and am interested in installing baseboard heating and having tennants foot the heating bills.

Two of the tennants are on month-to-month leases and pay their rent religiously on the 1st and the last tennant is on a year lease. Any suggestions on how to install the baseboards with tennants still occupying? Is this a difficult process to install and something which needs an apartment to be fully emptied?

How have experienced landlords handled this process in the past?

Please help

I have just had electrical baseboard heating installed in a couple of units. Is it electrical heating you are interested in?

You need a licensed electrician who will shut off electric to the unit, upgrade the electrical panel if needed, and run the wiring to the baseboard electrical panel.

The panels come in different lengths: 4 foot, 6 foot and I think cost $200-$260 thereabouts. The cost is in the electrician. This is a job that you get bids on. The tenant will be inconvenienced for a day. They will understand, you’ll have to get the electrician in the unit first to give bids.
Sometimes I give my tenants a gift envelope of a $10.00 Starbucks coupon to mellow them out on repair day.

The only big negative, I have had tenants melt stuff that sat too close to those units. The newer ones aren’t as risky according to my electrician.

I always install the electric baseboard heat myself. The heaters are $30-$60 at Lowes. The thermostats are about $12. The last time I bought electrical wire, a 250 foot roll was about $150 (it’s probably higher now). You do not have to shut off electric to the rental to install the heaters because they will need to be on a separate 220V circuit. The only real inconvenience to the tenant is having the landlord in and out of the rental for a day. I can install electric baseboard heat in a 2 story house by myself in one day. Most apartments can be wired in an afternoon. EASY AND CHEAP!

This is again a good example of why I do all the maintenance myself. Let’s assume that Furnished owner is right that baseboard heat runs about $250 per heater installed. Let’s also assume that we’re installing 8 heaters in a rental. Having this job done by a contractor would cost $2,000! OUCH! On the other hand, if I did the job myself (assuming the heaters were $50 each, thermostats were $12 each, I needed one roll of wire ($150), and $50 in misc. stuff, my cost would be $696, and I would earn the other $1,304 for one day’s work!!! Personally, I’ll take that any day!


Thanks for the information very quite helpful


Dang! you out-managered me again! But did you give them a Starbucks coupon?

:smile FurnishedOwner

Dang! you out-managered me again! But did you give them a Starbucks coupon?

No, I didn’t “out-manager” you, I’m just a cheapskate when it comes to money. And no starbucks coupon either (but not a kick in the butt, so that’s something).


Out of curiosity, how are you able to fix drywall, mud and tape, then paint in one aftermoon? I’m pretty handy, but maybe I’m just slow. If I was to run new wire throughout the whole place, it would take me quite a bit longer.



The baseboard heaters are installed close to the floor (which is why they are called baseboard heaters). I usually just drill a hole in the floor under the baseboard heater and install the wire in a very short piece of surface mounted conduit. EASY! No drywall repair needed. You can paint the conduit if you want it to match the wall. If you have a 2 story house, you can either make a small hole in the wall under the baseboard heater and then drill a hole in the floor inside the wall and feed the wire down through the wall (not that difficult, but you need a helper for that). In low income rentals, you can just surface mount conduit on the 1st floor walls to reach the 2nd floor. EASY and good enough for low income tenants. Very little to no drywall repair in any of these scenarios.

If you must patch drywall and paint in a short period of time, you can use 20 minute drywall joint compound (the kind you mix). I’m usually not in that big of a hurry and it dries too fast for me, but you can do it.


Thanks Mike, that’s great info!


If I’m not mistaken, you invest largely in SFHs? I’m curious: what’s the approx. difference in market rents in your area for a SFH (or an apartment) WITH versus WITHOUT heat/ht water included?



I am new to installing baseboard heat as well. Most baseboard heat I’ve seen has a thermostat in each room about the height of any other thermostat. How do you go about running the wires up to the thermostat without running it in the wall? Do you just run conduit up to it?

Thanks… I’m really interested in the easiest way possible to install these heaters.


Lowes has thermostats that replace the cover on one end of the heater. So, it basically all becomes one unit, with no separate thermostat. I’m too lazy and cheap to do anything else.

If I'm not mistaken, you invest largely in SFHs? I'm curious: what's the approx. difference in market rents in your area for a SFH (or an apartment) WITH versus WITHOUT heat/ht water included?

Actually, I have both apartments and SFHs. I don’t know what the difference is between rents for units with paid heat and without. I never buy buildings that don’t have separate heat and hot water. I do have friends that have units with paid heat and I know that they got killed by the high gas prices the past couple of years.



If you dont mind can you show us a link or PM a link for which baseboard units / thermostats you use from Lowes.

You can find the heaters and thermostat that I believe he is talking about here


What size wire do you use for these heaters and do you need to run each one to a separate breaker or how many can you put on 1 220V breaker?



I’m a little hesitant to give you specifics, since you don’t appear to understand the basics of electrical theory or the electrical code. I WOULD STRONGLY SUGGEST THAT YOU GET HELP FROM A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW TO DO ELECTRICAL WORK. Failure to do this right can result in a fire, not to mention electrocuting yourself (OUCH!).

Having given you this disclaimer, number 10 wire is generally good for 30 amps (and will require no bigger than a 30 amp breaker). From this breaker and through this number 10 wire, you can install whatever number and combination of heaters that will add up to no more than 30 amps. Each different size heater draws a different number of amps. For example, the first heater shown on the link you provided was a 96" heater that drew 8.3 amps. If you were installing all 96" heaters, you could only install 3 of them. The bottom line is that the total draw of the heaters you install MUST be less than or equal to the amperage rating for the wire you use.

Again, if in doubt, hire someone to do the job or at least to help you!!!

Good Luck,


Thank you all for demystifying baseboard heating for me. I am a utilities paying landlord in the one older property I have. I believed the previous owner that ‘it wasn’t much’ … and know better now. He’s never paid bills anyway and sold before it could have hit him. The deal was, however, to start out with higher rents, translated, for this area, to a rent of $550 for a 2-BR instead of $475 without utilities.
Well, while the bills haven’t killed me the income could be higher. I am determined to insulate. It has worked well and was cheap in our own (old)house.
For the rentals, I’m aiming for e.g. cellulose insulation in the attic, perhaps siding with a high R-value styrofoam, long-term new heat pumps (altough someone said it did not lower the bill … would like to hear more). And going green in all that is also the goal.
Still, I think I’ll make the next set of tenants pay their own utilities … If affordable, they’ll be happy. Improves my chance for long-term tenants. So I see it working both ways.
I may even get energy efficient grants if I ever work that out …

long-term new heat pumps (altough someone said it did not lower the bill .. would like to hear more).

I would not install heat pumps. They are relatively high maintenance (especially in rentals) and people love to steal the outside units! I let all relatively low income tenants provide their own window air conditioners.


What would you guess if the light bill was 100.00 w/out baseboard it would be w/them? Have you ever heard anyone say?

In my 1 bedroom units with baseboard heat, I think the average bill for electric is about $60-70/month.
Listen to Mike about window A/C units. A good one can be had for $200 brand new. Much cheaper than other A/C or heat pumps.
Another way to use less electricity is to insulate the water heater (obviously if it’s electric). You can get and insulation wrap kit with a cover for the top of it for about $25 at your local hardware store.