Fin, Fan or Panel? Which portable electrical heater is best for you?
Portable electric heaters are not the most efficient way to heat a large room over a long period of time. They are really only space heaters for smaller rooms. If this is your only heating option, make sure the room you are heating is isolated (close doors to other rooms) and make it as draught-free as possible.
Below we go through the style of heaters available and the cost of running them.
There are three basic types of portable heater: Radiant heater (using an element), and oil column header (with the fins) and the panel heater. There are variations between these categories depending on the design.
The Radiant heater is the one you’ll find your pets and kids curled up in front of. The radiant heater has an element that heats up and warms the immediate area surrounding it. If it has a fan, it will be slightly more effective.
These are the worst sort of heater to leave unattended, unless they have a ceramic element. If you have children, those with a ceramic element are less likely to burn them or catch fire if flammable items are too close to the heat.
Virtually all of these heater made within the last several years have a safety feature where they turn off if not sitting flat.
Oil Filled Column Heater
These ‘fin-type’ heaters don’t burn oil. They use electricity to heat the oil within the columns to warm the space. They may use materials other than oil, but the theory is the same.
These are generally passive heaters, but they often come with timers that allow you to put them to work without you being in the room.
Convection and Panel Heaters
These heaters draw cold air in from the bottom, drag it over a heating element and push it out the top.
They usually have a fan assisting. Use the fan, because it will heat the room faster and more evenly. But beware! They can be noisy with the fan on, so maybe not the best choice for the TV or bedroom.
Cheap or Energy Efficient?
You may have to make a choice, but it is not impossible. If you have a ceiling fan that can be switched on to LOW and has a ‘winter ' setting in the room the heater will be used in, it will push the warm, heated air down while the cooler air gets warmed up.
This helps the column heater close the gap on the fan fitted types in terms of efficiency. It’s not a huge difference, but by adding a ceiling fan the cost per hour in terms of heat generated and safety the winner is the column heater (fin).
These charges are estimates and the actual tariff charged by your provider will determine the cost. Number of hours per day the heater is one will also impact the final cost. This was estimated at 6 hours per day.