Heater is the most important appliance in the house and helps you stay warm and comfortable in winters. It is always better to invest wisely on a good quality, cost-effective and power-efficient heaters as it is not viable to install electric heating system in a house leading to huge power bills. When you shop for an electric heater, you should check its specifications and safety features and choose the right one so that you save on your heating bill. With so many options available in the market, it is not easy to choose the best suited model for your home.
Our handy heater buying guide will help you find your ideal heater suiting your requirements and budget.
What are different types of heaters ?
OIL COLUMN HEATER :
Oil-filled column heaters are portable electric heaters and come in 1200W or 2400W models depending upon the number of electric elements it contains. In this, the electric elements are immersed in an oil-filled casing. As the resistive elements get heated, the heat is transferred to the oil casing which in turn warms the surrounding air in all the directions via natural convection process.
Pros - Oil column heaters are preferred over other heater types in terms of safety and efficiency. They are pretty safe for small children as there is no naked flame. They do not produce any noise and are best suited for heating small to large rooms. One of the other major advantage of this heater is that it continues to emit heat for little longer time even after it is switched off as oil being a denser fluid than water, retains heat for longer time duration. They are ideal for you if you have dry skin as they do not dry out the surrounding air.
Cons - These heaters are more expensive and take more time to get heated leading to poor energy efficiency.
RADIANT HEATER :
Radiant heaters (also called strip heaters) use quartz or halogen glowing tubes which generate heat through infrared radiation. When they are switched on, electric current is passed through the elements and electrical energy is converted to heat energy which is radiated out directly onto you. They are covered with metal grills so that you do not have direct access to heating elements and burn yourself. They heat up the room very fast as they provide instant and lot of intense heat and are ideal for areas like bathrooms or smaller rooms where heat is required for short span of time. They are commonly used and but are inefficient.
Pros - These heater models are reasonably priced. They are portable and can be wall mounted if required. They are very effective in smaller areas they produce quick and intense radiant heat. They provide personalised heating and are very effective in cold environment.
Cons - They are highly inefficient when used for longer time spans. For longer time duration, consider oil-filled heater or electric panel heater. You have to be extra cautious while using it as they do not have temperature control and can even lead to fire if kept too close to flammable materials. Do not use them in presence of small children or pets to prevent any kind of mishaps. They are best suited for spot heating but their heat diminishes immediately as soon as the heater is switched off.
PANEL HEATER :
Electric Panel heaters emit heat using natural convection as well as radiant heat emission process. They comprise of large panel surface which heats up the cool surrounding air and results in evenly distribution of heat throughout the room. They are ideally suited for dry climatic conditions as they maintain the room's moisture level and are perfect for patients suffering from asthama and various allergies. Panel heaters are normally wall mounted and offer efficient, cost-effective and permanent heating solutions in medium to large sized rooms like lounges, halls and bedrooms. They can be portable as well as can be permanently attached to wall or even a ceiling. They consume less power and emits less intense heat than other portable heater models like convection fan heaters or radiant heaters. They are safer to use and consume approximately one-third of electricity as compared to radiant heaters.
Pros - They are much cheaper and require minimal maintenance. They are light weight and provide noise-free experience. They are safe to use as they complement heat pump heating.
Cons - They are not waterproof hence should be used with proper caution in bathrooms. They are also not advisable in places where strong and intense heat is required in short time span.
ELECTRIC FAN HEATERS :
Portable fan heaters (also referred to as convection fan heaters) are very reasonably priced and provide instant heat. They have a resistive heating coil which converts electrical energy to heat energy. The cool surrounding air is drawn inside using a fan and the heating coil warms the air and is propelled out into the room. They are not suitable for people having respiratory problems or allergies and can also cause dry eyes and sore throats as they dry out the air and circulates it throughout the room along with some dust particles. They are inefficient in case you want to heat bigger rooms and for longer time duration. They are highly suitable for short term use in smaller rooms like bedrooms, study rooms having size upto 150 square feet. While buying the heater, make sure your heater is fully equipped with safety features like thermostat control (to control the room temperature and amount of heat being produced) and speed control (to control fan speed). They should not be kept close to water to avoid any kind of accidents and should be preferably placed on floor for even distribution of heat in the room. These heaters should not be covered while in use otherwise it can lead to fire hazard.
They are available in two different shapes- tall and slim, and short and flat. The taller model is better among the two as it circulates more air faster.
Pros - They provide instant and cost-effective heating solutions in small to medium sized rooms for short periods of time. They are very cheap, portable and can be easily carried anywhere.
Cons - These heaters have high operating cost when used in larger areas for longer time duration leading to high power bills. They are noisy and affect the health of asthamatic and allergic patients as they dry out the air causing dryness in atmosphere.
What should be the size of heater ?
Heaters come in variable sizes and while selecting it, you should opt for appropriate capacity so that it heats up the whole area efficiently. There are various factors that determine the heater capacity like the climate you live in, ceiling height of room, size of the room, how much sunlight the room recieves, number of floor on which the room is located and of course any other means of insulation. We will provide the handy guide to calculate the capacity of heater accurately so as to provide warm and comfortable environment.
1. Measure the room size (in square feet) by multiplying length with height or width. For example, a 11 ft by 10 ft room measures 110 square feet. To get heater capacity, multiplying room size by 10 which indicates that 1,100 Watt heater is required to heat the space. Calculate BTU (British Thermal Units) by multiplying the number of watts by 3.41. A 1,100-watt heater generates 3,751 (1100 times 3.41) BTU per hour.
2. As a thumb rule, well-insulated room of area 20 square metres will require 2000 Watt electric heater whereas if the same room is poorly insulated, then it will need higher capacity heater of minimum 2400 Watt. In colder areas, you should buy heaters with more heating power.
How to minimise electricity bills by choosing Right heater ?
There are a number of features to look out in a heater that will help you save money on your energy bills upto 60% as follows :
1. Variable Thermostat : Thermostat registers the room temperature and automatically switch the heater on or off to maintain that comfortable temperature. Normally all heaters have built-in thermostats to conserve electricity.
2. Adjustable Timers : Timers are used to switch on the heater at a desired time. You can set the timer to warm the kitchen or room at the lowest temperature and auto-off timers will always turn your heater off before leaving to provide you customizable comfort.
Auto-shut off : This feature is provided in all latest heater models to ensure safety as it automatically shuts off the heater if it senses low amounts of oxygen in the air or accumulation of carbon monoxide preventing overheating and malfunctioning of equipment.
Fans : Fan helps the room warm up faster as it circulates the air throughout the room more evenly and prevents accumulation of heat near the ceiling.
Fuel : Heaters are either oil filled or non-oil filled. Oil-free heaters tend to heat up more quickly, and are generally lighter and more portable than oil-filled heaters. Oil-filled heaters take longer time to warm the room and hence are less energy efficient but they retain the heat for longer time span even after it is switched off.
Remote control : It is a very handy device and you can easily access on-and off-control from anywhere in the room.
Use of Portable heater can be beneficial as you can keep it at a place where you spend maximum time with thermostat at a low position.
What are the safety features/measures to be considered while using a Heater ?
When you purchase heater to fulfill your heating needs in the home workplace, make sure you follow below mentioned safety tips :
1. Always use a heater in an upright position, especially oil heater to avaoid any leakage.
2. Always supervise an electric heater when it is plugged on so as to avoid any mishappening. Keep the heater on a flat surface away from the reach of children or pets. Do not keep the heater on a table or any other furniture as it would damage them.
3. Always switch off the heater when not in use. Do not keep it in children's room without your physical presence.
4. Keep a distance of at least three feet between the heater and any volatile or combustible material like curtains, bedding or furniture. Leave some cleared space for air intake and outlet.
5. Do not keep it on a damp or wet area like bathrooms or verandahs unless it is specially designed for it. Moisture can cause sparking and damage it.
6. Do not cover the heater while it is being used as it can lead to fire hazard.
7. Follow the safety instructions carefully provided in the owner’s manual.
8. Avoid keeping the heater setting at maximum level for long periods of time as it can lead to overheating and any kind of accidental damage.
9. Never place electrical cord below a carpet or rugs or in walkways as it can lead to wire abrasion.