Choosing the ideal electrical heating option to suit your requirements
There’s a wide range of electric heating types and choosing the right one – or ones – to suit your needs is important so as to be as comfortable as possible while not spending too much on unnecessary running costs. Whether tubular, fan, convection or halogen, there are electric heaters to suit most requirements.
Running certain types of electric heaters can be expensive compared to central heating, so care needs to be taken when analysing the choices.
These compact and tubular shaped heaters are particularly suited for prolonged heating of an area due to their very low running costs. They can cost as little as half a pence per hour depending on the type used; they’re usually available in power outputs ranging from 60 to 360W.
Tube heaters are popular in spaces such as conservatories to provide inexpensive background heat and frost protection. They can be plugged into a conventional mains socket or wired directly into the supply, and are available with various types of thermostatic controls and timer systems to efficiently and cost effectively heat a space.
Due to their compact dimensions (they’re often available in sizes ranging from 1 to 6 feet), tubular heaters take up far less space than other types of electric heater such as, say, an oil filled radiator. They can be grouped together in specially designed brackets if more than one is to be used.
A heating element is warmed up and the heat is distributed by a fan. They’re useful if instant heat is required as most other types of electric heater take a certain time to produce heat, but they’re noisy compared to the silent operation of tube heaters.
They’re also an expensive way of heating a space for a prolonged period and have limitations as to where they can be used – wet and humid conditions should definitely be avoided. They do pose a safety risk if not used properly and shouldn’t be left unattended.
A halogen element provides the heat.
They’re quite an inexpensive option but can only really be used to heat a localised area due to their lower heating output. They give off a lot of light which may help to psychologically give a feeling of warmth but can also be a drawback if excessive illumination in the area isn’t desirable.
A heating element heats the surrounding air which rises and circulates before being replaced by cooler air that is then heated up; the cycle continues until the air in a space is warmed up. They’re silent and reasonably quick acting although you may need to use them on a higher output setting to initially warm a room through, and this could rack up costs depending on how long you use them at these settings.
Similar to a convection heater but tend to be wall mounted. They’re mostly directly wired into the mains supply (they often form part of an electric central heating system) while a convection heater is usually portable and only plugs into a mains socket.
Uses electromagnetic radiation to create heat and direct it outwards via a shield. They’re good for quick heating of a localised area but would be a costlier option for prolonged use as they usually start at 500W output versions.
They’re popular for outdoor settings such as patios.
Usually oil filled, they look and act like the type of fixed radiator used in gas or oil central heating systems but are portable and plug into the mains. They work on a convection basis in that they heat cooler air nearby which rises and circulates to be replaced by more cool air that is heated up and the cycle continues; they’re generally heavier and sturdy so offer a safe to use portable heating option.
Many can be thermostatically controlled, but they’re slow to heat up and respond to adjustments in temperature.
An effective solution
Efficient and affordable background heating is often an ideal solution with perhaps a ‘top up’ from a more expensive to run option as and when needed. So for example, using very cheap to run and efficient tubular heaters with perhaps a convection heater to provide an occasional boost is often the best choice.