Types of Electric Heaters: A Comprehensive Guide


As winter approaches and the temperature drops, our need for warmth and comfort in our homes increases. One of the most convenient ways to achieve this is through the use of electric heaters.

These devices generate heat by converting electrical energy into thermal energy. Electric heaters are generally safe, efficient, and easy to use. They come in various types, each with their unique features, advantages, and ways of operation.

In this article, we will explore some of the best types of electric heaters and how electric heaters work, namely Halogen Heaters, Oil Filled Radiators, Fan Heaters, and Convector Heaters.

Halogen Heater

A halogen heater operates by using halogen elements combined with an infrared heating process. The halogen lamps inside the heater emit infrared radiation when electricity passes through them. This radiation then heats up the objects it comes into contact with, rather than the air, resulting in a quick, efficient, and focused source of heat. They are ideal for personal or spot heating because they warm up quickly and are highly portable. However, they can be a fire hazard if not used carefully and are not ideal for large spaces.

Oil Filled Radiator

Unlike what the name suggests, oil filled radiators do not burn oil to produce heat. Instead, they use electricity to heat up thermal oil inside the radiator. Once the oil is heated, it circulates around the columns or fins of the radiator, emitting warmth into the surrounding space. These heaters are known for their efficiency, as they continue to radiate heat even after the power is turned off. They are ideal for heating larger rooms or areas over longer periods, but may take a while to heat up.

Fan Heater

Fan heaters work by using a fan to pass air over a heat source, which is usually a ceramic or metal heating element. The heated air is then blown out into the room. These heaters are popular due to their compact size, portability, and ability to provide instant heat. They’re perfect for quickly heating small to medium-sized rooms. However, they can be somewhat noisy due to the fan and may not retain heat for long once switched off.

Convector Heater

Convector heaters operate on the principle of convection. They heat the air near the heater, causing it to rise and create a circulation of warm air throughout the room. These heaters are often equipped with a thermostat and timer for better control of the heating process. They are typically quiet, making them suitable for bedrooms or offices. They are also good for evenly heating larger spaces, but like fan heaters, they do not retain heat for long once switched off.

What is The Best Efficient Electrical Heater?

Looking for the most efficient electrical heater that costs pennies to run per hour? Unfortunately, it is a bit more complex than pointing out a particular heater that is cheap to rum. There are many factors to consider when finding the best efficient heater, first you need to establish the best type of heater for your needs.

All heaters consume electricity, if a convector, fan, Halogen, and oil filled heater produces 2,000 watts of heat an hour, the cost will be the same for all of them 2,000 electric heaters, the difference is the type of heat required.

If you are requiring heat for your outside patio space, the most efficient heater will be a Halogen heater. If you use a space heater such as a convector heater, the heat will be lost to the outside air and making this 1,000 watt heater less efficient than a 1,000 watt Halogen heater, even though they have the same heat output.

If you have a poorly insulated room, and require instant heat pumped around the room, a fan heater will be the most efficient for this scenario as it pumps heat into the room fast, keeping the room warm due to heat being pumped into the space fast vs heat being lost through poor insulation.

An oil heater would not be good for this scenario as it takes longer to get to temperature, you will lose heat faster during the initial warming up stage, and it does not force hot air to move around the room. Meaning you will need to use the heater for longer to get the same heat effect as a fan heater.

If you are in a small to medium room with average insulation, and want something quite that can provide instant heat at a steady temperature as and when you need it, a convector or oil heater maybe the most efficient for you. You can set it on a low temperature, so it uses less energy. The heat from a fan heater might be too stuffy and make you feel uncomfortable in this scenario.

As you can see from the examples above, there is no one size fits all for efficiency, an efficient electrical heater is determined by your required use.

What is The Best Type of Electric Heater?

This question follows from on from the question above. The best type of electric heater will be determined by the space you are trying to heat, for example: a garage that is poorly insulated, the best type of heater for this space is a high watt fan heater due to its ability to pump hot air around fast.

If you are in a tiny box room that is well insulated, and only need a small amount of heat. A Halogen heater may be the best type of heater for this scenario as there is not much space, a heater that warms you direct will be most efficient, you can set it on its lowest setting of 300 to 400 watts, and this will provide a nice amount of heat whilst using very little electric.

As you can see from the examples, the best type of heater will depend on the space you are heating.

Is it Cheaper to Heat One Room with an Electric Heater?

If you currently have a gas central heating, or a full electric heating system, in general, yes it will be cheaper to heat one room.

For example: if you have a gas central heating system, although gas costs less per kWh, you need to factor in what the total kWh is for your gas central heating.

If you only need a short burst of heat, and will be in one room, it is worth having some sort of electric heater for this, as it will cost less than putting the whole central heating system on for a small amount of time.

If you are in the middle of a freezing cold winter, you do not want to keep an electric heater on full blast to heat up one room, as this will be expensive.

The most efficient way, is to put your central heating system on, get the baseline temperature in the house and room warm, ensure all doors are closed to keep heat in rooms. Once your home’s baseline temperature is warm, set the electric heater thermostat to the desired temperature, such as 24 degrees (electric heater must have thermostat settings).

As and when the temperature drops below 24 degrees in the room you are in, the electric heater will kick in and provide heat to keep the room at a nice constant temperature. As the electric heater will not be constantly on due to thermostat settings, this will save you money and keep you warm.

In Conclusion

The choice of an electric heater largely depends on your specific needs. Whether you want a quick blast of warmth from a fan heater, the silent operation of a convector heater, the sustained heat of an oil-filled radiator, or the focused warmth of a halogen heater, there’s an option out there for everyone. Always remember to consider factors such as room size, heater size, energy efficiency, and safety features when making your choice.