The Complete Lowdown on Cove Heater Pros and Cons

Homeowners are looking for energy efficient home heating solutions with winter around the corner. Interest in cove heaters is growing as they promise to save space and money while still keeping you warm. But are cove heaters right for your home heating needs? Let’s take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of cove heaters and everything in between to help you decide.

Cove heaters, also known as high wall heaters, are a specialized type of electric heater that mounts high on the wall near the ceiling and projects heat downward. They can be an attractive and versatile heating option, but cove heaters do come with some limitations.

What Are Cove Heaters?

Before weighing the pros and cons, let’s cover the basics.

cove heaters pros and cons
DefinitionCove heaters, sometimes called high wall heaters or perimeter heaters, are wall-mounted electric heaters that are recessed into an alcove or cove near the ceiling. They emit infrared heat that warms people and objects.
How They WorkCove heaters utilize electric heating elements to quickly generate a focused stream of warm air that radiates heat onto the floor below. Many feature a fan to better circulate heat.
Key DifferencesUnlike space heaters, cove heaters are permanently installed. They generate more directional heat versus central heating or baseboards that warm entire rooms.

Now that we know what defines a cove heater, let’s analyze the positive and negative factors.

Benefits of Cove Heaters

Cove heaters offer several advantageous features over traditional heating systems when it comes to efficiency, controls, design, and health.

Energy Efficiency

One of the biggest perks of cove heaters is energy savings. Because they use efficient electric heating elements to directly warm people and objects rather than heating empty air, you end up using less energy. Wall radiant heaters consume less energy than central forced air and baseboard heaters.

Heat SourceCove heaters generate infrared radiant heat rather than using heated air. This precise directional heating avoids energy waste.
SavingsProperly sized cove heaters can save homeowners up to 20% on heating costs compared to forced air systems.

The caveat is that cove heaters work best supplementing whole home heating systems instead of fully replacing them.

Precise Temperature Control

Another useful feature of many cove heaters is precise temperature adjustability thanks to integrated electronic thermostats. This level of temperature customization is superior to central heating systems or baseboard heaters that lack individualized controls.

Granular AdjustmentsSet exact heating temperatures tailored to each room between 50 – 90 degrees. Responds more quickly than changing central heat.
Zoned HeatingProgram separate temperature schedules for occupied and unoccupied times in different rooms based on usage.

Space Saving Design

Unlike bulky baseboard heaters that take up floor space, cove heaters conveniently mount out of the way near the ceiling along the perimeter of rooms. This can free up valuable floor area.

Compact FootprintDoesn’t interfere with furniture placement since installed on the wall and out of walking paths.
Maximum Vertical SpaceMakes use of wasted ceiling space instead of the floor for better ergonomics.

Health Benefits

An underrated advantage of radiant cove heaters is reduced exposure to airborne allergens, mold, and dust compared to forced air heating from HVAC systems that circulate particles. The gentler infrared warmth may also alleviate sinus congestion and other cold weather discomforts.

cleaner airUnlike blowing air, radiant heating doesn’t stir up and spread dust and allergens.
respiratory reliefGentle warmth helps open sinuses without drying out air like forced air heat.

Design Flexibility

When it comes to placement, cove heaters offer more versatility and customization than bulky baseboard heaters. Units come in a range of standard colors and finishes to seamlessly match any room’s decor. Coves can also be painted to perfectly blend in.

Placement OptionsIntegrate above windows, doors, near stairs, and other architectural elements.
Color ChoicesChoose from white, beige, grey, and stainless steel finishes.
PaintableCustom color match to perfectly complement your design vision.

Smart Home Compatible

Today’s cove heaters feature smart connectivity for controlling temperatures whether home or away. Built-in occupancy sensors even automatically adjust heating output when rooms stand empty, preventing energy waste.

Remote AccessControl heating temperatures from smart phones and devices.
Occupancy DetectionCove heaters sense spaces with no one present and save power by turning down heat.

Drawbacks of Cove Heaters

For all their perks, cove heaters aren’t necessarily right for every home. Drawbacks like limited range and no residual warmth are worth factoring.

Limited Range

Unlike central forced air systems designed to evenly warm entire homes, the directional heat from cove fixtures dissipates quickly with distance. This focused heat leaves rooms feeling uncomfortably cold outside the immediate area underneath the ceiling heater.

Focused Heat StreamThe radiant warmth concentrated directly under the cove struggles heating whole large, open spaces.
Best Room SizesCove heaters work better warming small to medium rooms under 200 square feet like bathrooms.

No Residual Heat

Another downside is that the warmth shuts off immediately along with the powered heating element once you switch a cove heater off. This differs from heat that lingers from baseboard radiators or even space heaters after being powered down.

Quick Cool DownRooms grow cold fast once the heating element cuts power since coves lack thermal mass to retain warmth.
No Passive HeatNearby objects and walls don’t absorb and radiate warmth like traditional radiators.

Operating Costs

In addition to lower energy consumption, cove heaters also carry affordable purchase and maintenance costs.

Purchase Price

Pricing for cove heaters starts around $100 for smaller units designed to supplement other heating up to $300+ for larger standalone heaters. This initial investment is on par with baseboard heaters and cheaper than replacing an HVAC system. Choose the correctly sized heater for each space to maximize efficiency.

Maintenance Needs

Without any moving parts or components that commonly break down, maintenance demands are minimal. Cove heaters don’t require regular servicing, repairs, or seasonal tune-ups. Units have long lifespans around 20 years with simple filter cleaning as the only periodic upkeep.

Safety Features

Modern cove heaters come packed with features to prevent injuries and overheating accidents including automatic shutoffs if tipped and cool-touch exteriors.

Auto ShutoffIf tipped more than 45 degrees, heaters immediately power off as a precaution.
Overheat ProtectionThermal sensors cut power if internal temps spike to unsafe levels before fire risk.
Cool-Touch SurfacePlastic housing stays cool to the touch, protecting curious kids and pets.

Be sure to follow all manufacturer safety guidelines for installation including mounted height and clearance requirements around drapes and furniture.

Environmental Impact

For eco-conscious homeowners, energy efficient cove heaters check the box for sustainability. Their long lifespan avoids waste while cutting home heating emissions.

Energy SavingsUse up to 20% less power than forced air and baseboards to reduce your carbon footprint.
durableWell built to last over 20 years unlike disposable space heaters.

Today, many cove heaters utilize recycled aluminum and plastic housing materials as another green perk. When powered by renewable energy like solar, the environmental benefits grow further.

Key Considerations When Deciding

We’ve covered all the notable upsides as well as the limitations to weigh when considering installing cove heaters. But the ideal heating solution ultimately comes down to your specific needs.

Room Size Compatibility

Make sure to assess room dimensions, ceiling height, and layout to pick appropriately sized cove heat models. Large open floorplans may prove difficult to sufficiently warm without cold zones or gaps in coverage. But for heating small defined spaces like bathrooms or offices, cove heaters excel.

Whole Home vs. Supplemental Heat

While cove heaters work well accenting existing central heating systems, relying solely on them to warm entire homes often leaves rooms uncomfortably chilly. Carefully balance supplemental cove heaters in frequented rooms with broader central heat or baseboards providing background warmth throughout the house.

Cost Analysis

Crunching the numbers on both purchase and long term energy expenses will clarify if investing in cove heating for your specific needs makes financial sense or if another heating system offers better value.

For their efficient radiant heat directed exactly where you need warmth the most, cove heaters can serve as an attractive supplement in the right applications. Areas like bedrooms, home offices, and bathrooms often make ideal candidates. Just be realistic about heating capacity limits in large open rooms when deciding between stylish cove heaters versus more powerful but utilitarian baseboard heaters.

Hopefully weighing all the pros, cons, costs, and considerations covered here makes your buying decision clearer. With energy expenses steadily rising, having comfortable yet affordable warmth this winter takes on heightened importance. Within reason, cove heaters can be one piece helping you achieve heating happiness without sending utility bills through the roof!

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