Cove heaters are among the most popular residential heating options. These systems warm up people and objects in a room rather than the air, giving off the same comfortable type of heat as the sun.
Like all other systems, though, they come with pros and cons.
The main advantages of cove heaters include an energy-efficient and space-saving design. They target people and objects, warming up things fast. Cove heaters are usually installed on a wall, saving floor space, and are safe for households with pets and children. However, they have a limited heating range, provide no residual heat, and can’t be integrated with your AC.
The table below shows a quick overview of the cove heater pros and cons:
|Energy-efficient design||Limited heating range|
|Space-saving installation||No residual heat|
|Safety||Separate from HVAC|
|Higher air quality||Expensive for large spaces|
|Flexible temperature control|
|Multiple size options|
What Are Cove Heaters?
Cove heaters are electric radiant heating units that are typically wall-mounted – although ceiling installation is also possible.
These systems use infrared radiation that targets the objects (and people) rather than the air in the room. Because of this, you can feel the warmth as soon as you turn on the unit.
Fast heating enables you to save money on electricity bills by turning the heater off when you leave the room, then turning it back on only when needed.
While cove heaters are available in various size options, they are the most efficient in small spaces.
Cove Heater Pros
1. Energy Efficiency
The main advantage of cove heaters is how energy-efficient they are compared to other systems.
According to the US Department of Energy, heating alone makes up about 29 percent of the utility bill – more than any other system in a home.
However, cove heaters allegedly enable you to save up to 15 percent of the yearly bill by maintaining a lower temperature in the room – while still being warm enough to feel comfortable.
2. Space Saving
Most conventional heating systems have a common disadvantage – they take up space in areas where you could place furniture.
This is the case with conventional or electric radiators and freestanding heating units. Even baseboard heaters limit furniture placement.
However, cove heaters allow you to save space.
For efficient heating, these units must be placed high on the wall, typically in the upper half and usually right under the ceiling.
Thanks to this placement, they enable you to fill the room with furniture and don’t even limit the amount of wall art you can display.
If you want to place the heater lower on the wall, you can opt for a decorative unit that doubles as wall art.
Installing the cove heater high on a wall doesn’t only allow you to save space; it is also safer than most heaters, especially in households with pets or children.
Its placement prevents little fingers or paws from touching the hot surface, lowering the risk of accidental burning.
The heater can’t be tripped over either, so you won’t risk setting anything on fire as you would with a freestanding gas heater.
4. Air Quality
Cove heaters are excellent choices if you want to save on electricity but also if you want higher air quality in your home.
Like all infrared systems, cove heaters emit radiations that warm up objects and people directly. This is about the same way the sun warms the Earth and everything else on it.
Unlike conventional heaters, they don’t draw in air to warm it up and then throw it back into the room. Thus, they don’t disturb air particles and maintain higher air quality. This is particularly important for people suffering from allergies.
5. Temperature Control
Another advantage of cove systems is the flexible temperature control.
All cove heaters are compatible with room thermostats that enable you to set temperature limits. By pairing the heater with a smart thermostat, you can even turn the heater on and off from a distance. Alternatively, you can schedule on and off times.
By installing a thermostat in each room (or using a smart thermostat), you can even set different temperature ranges in different spaces. For instance, you can keep the bedroom slightly cooler than the living room.
6. Convenient Sizing Options
Cove heaters are often recommended for small rooms, but these systems come in various sizes and work in open spaces, too – even if you should be aware that their efficiency drops in large spaces.
The table below shows what size heater you need based on the climate zone you live in:
|Climate||House Insulation Level||Recommended Watts/Sq. Ft.|
|Warm (Zone 4)||Above standard insulation||4|
|FHA Standard insulation||5|
|Warm temperate (Zone 3)||Above standard insulation||5|
|FHA Standard insulation||6|
|Cool temperate (Zone 2)||Above standard insulation||8|
|FHA Standard insulation||10|
|Cold (Zone 1)||Above standard insulation||10|
|FHA Standard insulation||11|
Note: Data in the table is sourced from Radiant Systems Inc. and is accurate for the brand’s Comfort Cove heaters. Check the specific recommendations of the brand you plan to purchase from for accurate sizing.
7. No Maintenance
Busy homeowners may also appreciate this set-it-and-forget-it type of heater. Once hardwired and mounted on the wall, these units are ready to go.
Connecting them to a wall thermostat is recommended, but you can also turn them on and off manually if you don’t want to invest in separate equipment.
Whether or not you install a thermostat, you won’t have to worry about releasing any air out of the system or replacing any oil.
Cove Heater Cons
1. Limited Heating Range
One of the main drawbacks of cove heaters is their limited heat range – which is the reason why these systems are typically recommended for small rooms.
Infrared radiation has a range of about nine feet at an angle of about 120 degrees. Objects located farther than nine feet won’t be warmed up.
2. No Residual Heat
As explained, cove heaters warm up objects and people in a way similar to the sun. Thus, as soon as the heater turns off, the objects will start losing heat rapidly.
You will feel the temperature drop almost immediately, so you might have to keep the heater on for as long as you’re in the room.
On the bright side, cove heaters can warm you up equally fast, which means that you can turn them off completely when you’re not in the room.
3. Separate From HVAC
Cove heaters are electric units hardwired into their own circuits. They don’t heat the air and are not connected to the HVAC ducts.
This could be a drawback if your dream is having centralized air cooling and heating in your house. Otherwise, the fact that you can’t connect the heater to the AC system might not bother you much.
4. Heating Costs (In Large Spaces)
This drawback is linked to the limited heating range. Infrared radiations can travel up to nine feet. If your room is larger and you want to avoid cool spots, you have to install two or more units in a larger room – the exact number depends on the room size.
However, running two or more heaters at the same time drives up costs and contrasts with the energy efficiency claims.
Cove heaters are sought-after systems suitable for those who want to save on heating in small rooms. They also suit people suffering from allergies, as they maintain higher air quality than conventional systems.
These units are easy to control via a wall thermostat, are safe for households with kids and pets, and are virtually maintenance-free.
Cove heaters provide no residual heat, and you can’t integrate them with the HVAC. Nevertheless, they can warm you up fast and are more energy-efficient than other heating systems.