How to Determine the Appropriate Kick Space Heater

Kick space heaters are a popular choice for supplemental heating in homes, providing warmth and comfort in specific areas without the need to heat the entire living space. Determining the right kick space heater for your needs involves considering several key factors, including the heater type, room size and layout, heater size and placement, installation requirements, and maintenance considerations. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of selecting the perfect kick space heater for your home.

Heater Type: Hydronic vs. Electric

The first step in determining the appropriate kick space heater is to choose between hydronic (water-based) and electric models. Hydronic kick space heaters use hot water from the home’s boiler or water heater to heat the coils, while electric units rely on electricity to generate heat.

Hydronic kick space heaters are generally more energy-efficient and provide a more consistent, even heat distribution. They are well-suited for homes with existing hot water heating systems. However, hydronic units require both electrical and plumbing modifications, making the installation process more complex and typically requiring the services of a professional.

Electric kick space heaters, on the other hand, are simpler to install and can be a more cost-effective option, especially in homes without a central hot water heating system. They are also easier to control and adjust, allowing for more precise temperature regulation.

Room Size and Layout

how do you determine kick space heater

Accurately measuring the dimensions of the room where the kick space heater will be installed is crucial for determining the appropriate size and BTU (British Thermal Unit) output. The room’s square footage will help you calculate the required heating capacity.

As a general guideline, kick space heaters typically range from 2,000 to 3,500 BTU, with higher BTU ratings suitable for larger rooms. For a 240-V heater, you’ll need a 2-pole timer, while a 120-V heater can be controlled with a single-pole switch.

Heater Size and Placement

Kick space heaters are designed to be inconspicuous, installed at floor level beneath cabinetry or inside the wall or floor. When selecting the heater size, consider the available space and ensure it will fit seamlessly into the designated area.

Typical kick space heater dimensions range from 8 to 48 inches in width, with depths of 3 to 6 inches. The height is usually around 4 to 6 inches, allowing the heater to be installed flush with the surrounding cabinetry or baseboards.

Installation Requirements

Kick space heaters typically come with all the necessary hardware and wiring in a tidy, prepackaged bundle. However, the installation process is not a simple DIY task, especially for hydronic units, which require both electrical and plumbing modifications.

It’s highly recommended to hire a qualified professional for the installation of any kick space heater, as they have the expertise to ensure the unit is properly integrated into the home’s electrical and/or plumbing systems, in compliance with local building codes and safety regulations.

Maintenance and Service

Properly installed kick space heaters require minimal maintenance. The heating element is carefully constructed and tested, using non-ferrous materials that are resistant to corrosion and wear, so they rarely require service.

The cross-flow blower, which circulates the heated air, is also engineered with long-lasting ball bearings, with an expected lifespan of up to 10,000 hours. As with any electrical rotating device, it’s recommended to have the kick space heater inspected and cleaned annually to ensure optimal performance and safety.

Technical Specifications

To help you further understand the technical aspects of kick space heaters, let’s dive into some key specifications:

BTUH Ratings

BTUH (British Thermal Units per Hour) ratings for kick space heaters are typically based on an entering air temperature of 65°F. For example, a Model 48 Kickspace Heater has BTUH ratings ranging from 2,666 to 3,391, depending on the temperature setting.

Air Flow

Kick space heaters offer a range of airflow options, with low-speed airflow typically around 30 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) and high-speed airflow reaching up to 53 CFM.


Most kick space heaters operate on 110-120V AC, 1 PH 60 HZ power.

Piping Considerations

Hydronic kick space heaters should be connected to circulating hot water systems with a minimum flow rate of 1 gpm (Gallon Per Minute). They are considered small unit heaters and should be installed with a minimum of 12 inches between tees for optimal performance.

DIY Installation Considerations

While it’s possible to install a kick space heater yourself, it’s generally recommended to hire a professional, especially for hydronic units, which require both electrical and plumbing modifications. If you choose to tackle the installation yourself, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and adhere to all local building codes and safety regulations.


Determining the appropriate kick space heater for your home involves carefully considering the heater type, room size and layout, heater size and placement, installation requirements, and maintenance needs. By understanding these key factors and the technical specifications of kick space heaters, you can make an informed decision and ensure your supplemental heating system meets your needs effectively and efficiently.


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