Electrical Outlet Above Hot Water Baseboard Heater: Is It Safe?

Nowadays to control the temperature and humidity of the house, people install the baseboard heater. It is an effective way to keep your room’s temperature under control if you are living in very cold-prone locations. But before installing the baseboard heater it is better to know the perfect location in the house.

The position of the electrical outlet above the hot water baseboard heater may be safe or even may not be. The raw answer would be to avoid the usage of old electrical outlets above the hot water baseboard heater.

It depends upon various things such as the inner insulation system of the wall and the electric insulation feature. Here we shall get enlightened about the fact if the installation of the baseboard under an electric outlet is safer or not.

Electrical Outlet Above Hot Water Baseboard Heater

Should you keep an electrical outlet above hot water baseboard heater?

In the early 80s, people used to keep the electrical outlets above the hot water baseboard heater. Because at that time the baseboard heaters were not that powerful. Besides, the building codes were not used properly.

But, in this era violating the building codes is a crime. People must follow the construction codes of the municipality strictly to avoid legal actions. And, in many cases, the installation of the baseboard heaters just below electric outlets is strictly prohibited. Besides, manufacturers also prohibit the installation of electric outlets above the baseboard heaters.

Fire Hazard

The electrical outlets are mostly made of plastic framing. Baseboard heaters possess a  boiler or heater that generates heat by boiling the water. The temperature of the baseboard heater rises slowly but rises to an immense temperature. It depends upon the different models of the baseboard heaters how much temperature they can produce.

Nowadays, baseboard heaters have a very dynamic heating mechanism. These heaters produce a temperature of about 200F. Continuous exposure of the heat to the electrical outlets may cause damage to the electric outlets. The plastic coating may start melting with time. Besides, rapid overheating of the electrical outlet may cause fire generation.

If the electrical outlets are surrounded by different household accessories then it is possible to catch fire instantly. Moreover, below average ventilating system enhances the heat generation from the baseboard heater. Since the wirings of the electrical outlets are also plastic-coated, they may catch instant fire. 

The minimum distance of safety for the electrical outlets from the baseboard heaters is considered to be around 15-20 inches vertically above the baseboard heaters. As the heat has a tendency to move directly in the vertical direction, it accumulates in the outlets to cause a fire. That is why, for safety reasons, the electric outlets should be positioned very carefully near the hot water baseboard heaters.

Electrical Hazard

The hot water baseboard heaters can generate an immense amount of heat and temperature. The latest models have the capability to transfer heat at a higher rate to their surroundings. Electrical outlets have a high-density plastic framing with multiple wirings inside them. All these are mainly made of plastic.

The heat generated from the hot water baseboard heater reaches vertically to the outlets if positioned in that way. It accumulates easily surrounding the electrical outlets. Along with the rising temperature, the internal wirings may start to deform and expose the main metallic wiring to each other. This shall lead to an electrical short circuit which is very dangerous.

An electrical short circuit will lead to a sudden outbreak of fire when overheated. Besides, the cords attached to the electric outlets just above the baseboard heaters will degrade due to overheating with time. Its coating may rupture and make the entire plastic coating very vulnerable. 

The metal wire from the coating may get leaked due to overheating of the coating. As a result, electrical accidents may occur if someone touches the cord after very long exposure to heat to the electrical outlet. It is not safe for the kids as well. You must keep an eye on the kids regularly to avoid them going near the baseboard heater.

Safety Hazard

Many constructions and building codes have been saying that installing the electrical outlet just above the baseboard heater is illegal. It is because the baseboard heater is capable of raising the temperature of the boiler up to 180-200F. The electrical outlet located below the safety line may also get overheated with time.

Heat when accumulated for a long time becomes devastating. Especially for the younger ones. If the kids in the house go near the electrical outlets in a running condition and touch it accidentally then instant skin burn may happen. Besides, electrocution may happen as well. For all these reasons, electric outlets are positioned at either corner of the baseboard heater rather than directly above the heater.

How close can an outlet be to a baseboard heater?

The location for the installation of electrical outlets above the hot water baseboard heater depends upon the power of the heater. Besides, it also depends upon the area of the room and the length of the wall.

There are many types of baseboard heaters available nowadays. The hot water baseboard heaters are the most popular one because it is more effective and less energy-consuming. 

Hot water baseboard heaters work on the principle of conducting heat through copper coils. And copper coils radiate energy very rapidly. That is why an electrical outlet should be at a minimum distance of 10-15 inches vertically below the baseboard heater. This distance will be enough to spread the heat energy to its surroundings to keep safety enabled. 

For low-powered baseboard heaters, 10 inches is a safe distance for installing the electrical outlets. Nevertheless, the distance of the electrical outlet should never be below 10 inches from the baseboard heater.

How to keep the electrical outlet above the hot water baseboard heater?

Following the stated steps the electrical outlets can be installed above the hot water baseboard heater.

Keeping the minimum distance

The minimum distance from the safety rulebook should be followed strictly. The hot water baseboard heater’s manual will tell you the minimum distance required for installing the electrical outlets. No matter what, the distance should not be below 10 inches vertically from the baseboard heater.

Following the safety protocols

You can install the electrical outlets above the baseboard heater if you have the surroundings free enough to prevent heat accumulation. You must keep the area clean and free from clusters of furniture or other accessories. This will help to regulate the heat equally to the surrounding. 

Following the rules

It is overall better to install the electrical outlets on either side of the baseboard heater. This shall prevent the electrical outlets from being exposed to the direct heat radiated from the baseboard heater. Moreover, you can freely use it without causing violations of safety protocols.


Here, we shall learn about the general question asked frequently about the location of the electrical outlets above the baseboard heater.

Can you have an outlet above a baseboard heater?

There is no hard and fast rule about the installation of the electrical outlet above the baseboard heater. Until the safety measures and rules from the manufacturers are followed strictly, accidents are unlikely to happen. Overall, it is not recommended to put an electrical outlet above the baseboard heater.

Are hot water baseboard heaters a fire hazard?

Hot water baseboard heater causes rapid growth and radiates heat energy to its surroundings. The electricals above the baseboard heaters located very nearby may get overheated very easily. Besides, the plastic mainframe of the electrical outlet may result in a fire outbreak if not maintained properly.

Do hot water baseboard heaters use electricity?

Hot water baseboard heaters do not use electricity. Rather it runs on the principle of running hot water from the boiler through copper pipes to radiate heat to its surroundings.


We can conclude by saying that hot water baseboard heaters are capable of generating some major hazards. Especially to the objects located surrounding it such as an electrical outlet. It is recommended to follow the installation guidelines and building codes very strictly before putting the electrical outlet above the baseboard heater. 

If no hard and fast guidelines are found, then a minimum of 10 inches of vertical distance should be maintained. Or even better, the electrical outlets should be installed at either corner of the baseboard heater. 

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Joshua Glickman

I think you mean the outlets should be above the heater not below. Radiators don’t possess boilers.

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