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What type of heater should I buy?
Wondering whether to get a convector heater or an oil filled rad? Comparing Space heaters and Infra-red?
Check out this guide for a low down on what type does what.
Oil Filled Radiators
Oil filled radiators are popular domestic heaters as they are silent and tend not to promote dust. They are sealed units that contain oil. The oil is heated, which then releases the heat over a period of time. Once the temperature is reached the electricity switches off. Oil retains heat well so oil filled heaters give out a very even heat over a period of time. As there is no fan, there is no noise making them ideal for use in bedrooms. These models often incorporate different heat settings (1.5kW, 2.5kW, etc), 24 hour timers and thermostats that enable you to maintain a set temperature in a room.
Most oil filled radiators are free-standing on wheels but some can be wall-mounted too. As they contain oil they tend to be relatively heavy to move around (between 5-18kg) but are very sturdy units and can last many, many years.
Convector heaters use wire heating elements inside an exterior casing. The casing has holes in the bottom and top. The air flows through the heater driven by the natural convection of hot air rising. These are lighter in weight than oil filled radiators but can promote dust due to the strong air currents flowing through them. Some convector heaters will incorporate fans to increase the volume of air flowing through, thus providing more rapid heating of an area.
Some convector heaters are free-standing on feet (not wheels as they are light weight and easy to move) or some come with brackets for attaching to a wall. As well as fan boost, features include different levels of output, 24 hour timers and thermostats.
Fan heaters provide a very rapid blast of hot air to a room. A fan will push air past electrically heated wires. Some fan heaters will oscillate from side to side so that the hot air is evenly spread around a room. Wall-mounted fan heaters often incorporate blades on the air outlets that will move up and down or side to side to spread the warm air. Fan heaters rarely incorporate 24 hour timers as accidentally covering this type of heater can lead to over-heating and if it is switching on automatically, there is more potential for them to be accidentally covered when they are inactive. However, most available fan heaters incorporate over-heat cut-outs. Some fan heaters do have off-timers though so that you can set them to turn off in a matter of minutes or hours.
Other features that are often included are different outputs, oscillation, remote control and thermostats. As fan heaters incorporate a fan, they can be used in the summer with the heater element turned off to promote air movement and a cooler atmosphere.
Radiant Infrared Heaters
Radiant heaters work on infrared technology. They emit infrared heat, which is a form of light. They are ideal for heating a local area in a larger room or for heating people while they are outside. As the heat is emitted as a light, it cannot be “blown away”. People or surfaces in the near vacinity to the radiant heater will be heated with the light but not the air in between. This makes radiant heaters great for industrial areas, like garages and workshops, and patios or smoking areas outside pubs.
A useful feature often included is PIR (motion sensors) detectors so that they only turn on when someone is near. As the heat they give is instant, when nobody is in the local area the heater will turn off and automatically turn on and provide heat again when someone is near. A great way to save energy.
Space heaters are used to heat large rooms. Powerful fans push lots of air passed electric elements and out of a wide opening. Large volumes of warm air are emitted, rather than hot air like a fan heater, so that the overall ambient temperature of a room is increased steadily. The outputs are much larger than fan heaters with up to 15kW and most require industrial 3-phase power supplies (they don’t come with 3-pin plugs and need a professional electrician to install them).