What is a Convector Heater?

An In-Depth Look at Convector Heaters: Functionality, Benefits, and Comparisons


Convector heaters, also known as convection heaters, have dramatically gained popularity over the years due to their distinct characteristics and advantages. But what exactly is a convector heater, and how does it work? Is it more efficient than other heating options like radiators or central heating? This article aims to answer these questions and delve deeper into the world of convector heaters.

What is a Convector Heater?

A convector heater is a type of electric heating appliance that uses convection currents to heat the air in a room. It operates by drawing cool air over a heating element and then releasing the heated air back into the room. This continuous cycle of airflow creates a warm and comfortable environment.

How Does a Convector Heater Work?

At the heart of a convector heater is its heating element. This element, typically made of a conductive material like metal or ceramic, is designed to generate heat when an electric current is passed through it. The electricity used to power the heater is converted into thermal energy, causing the heating element to become hot.

As the heating element warms up, the air in direct contact with it also starts to heat up. The principle of convection comes into play at this point. In essence, convection is the process by which heat is transferred through a gas or liquid by the bulk movement of heated particles to cooler areas. In the case of a convector heater, the heated air, being less dense, rises upwards and disperses into the room.

Now, as the warm air ascends, it leaves behind a space near the heater’s base. This space, or vacuum, is promptly filled by cooler air from the surrounding area. The cooler air gets drawn towards the heater — a process often aided by a fan in many convector heaters for more efficient circulation.

Once this cooler air reaches the heater, it comes into contact with the hot heating element and the cycle begins anew. It gets heated and rises, and even more cool air is pulled in to replace it.

This continuous cycle of heating, rising, and drawing in cool air creates a consistent circulation of warm air throughout the room, effectively raising the room’s overall temperature. This process continues until the heater is turned off or the thermostat signals the room has reached the desired temperature.

It’s a simple yet effective method of heating that allows convector heaters to warm up spaces quickly and maintain a comfortable environment.

Benefits of a Convector Heater

Convector heaters come with several benefits that make them an attractive option for many homeowners:

  1. Silent Operation: Unlike some other types of heaters, convector heaters operate silently, making them ideal for environments that require quiet, such as bedrooms or study rooms.
  2. Built-In Thermostats: Most convector heaters come with built-in thermostats. You can set your desired temperature, and the heater will maintain that temperature, providing a consistently warm and cosy environment.
  3. Energy Efficiency: The thermostat also contributes to the heater’s energy efficiency. It regulates the heater’s operation, turning it off when the desired temperature is reached and turning it back on when the temperature drops. This regulation helps save energy and reduce electricity bills.
  4. Versatility: Convector heaters can be wall-mounted or used as portable units, offering flexibility based on your space and needs.

Do Convector Heaters Use A Lot Of Electricity?

Like all electric heaters, convector heaters do consume electricity. However, their built-in thermostats help regulate their energy consumption, making them more energy-efficient than some other types of heaters.

Convector heaters, like all electric heaters, do utilize electricity to generate heat. The amount of electricity consumed by a convector heater largely depends on its wattage and how long it is run. Generally, most convector heaters used as space heaters will use between 1000 and 2000 watts of electricity per hour.

Let’s break this down further. A 2000W convector heater, for instance, would use 2 units of electricity for every hour it is running. If the cost of electricity in your area is 0.28p per unit, this heater would cost approximately 0.56p per hour to run.

However, it’s important to note that these figures represent maximum power consumption, i.e., when the heater is running continuously at full power. Many convector heaters come with built-in thermostats that help regulate their energy consumption. The thermostat works by turning off the heater when the desired temperature is reached and turning it back on when the temperature drops. This intermittent operation can significantly reduce the actual energy consumption and operating cost of the heater.

Furthermore, the energy efficiency of convector heaters can be impacted by factors such as the insulation of the room and the external temperature. A well-insulated room will retain heat better, reducing the need for continuous operation of the heater. On the other hand, in a poorly insulated room or during very cold weather, the heater may need to operate more frequently or at a higher power level to maintain the desired temperature.

While convector heaters do consume electricity, their actual energy usage can vary depending on several factors. Their built-in thermostats help regulate their energy consumption, potentially making them more energy-efficient than some other types of heaters that operate continuously at full power.

Are Convector Heaters Better Than Radiators?

The answer depends on your specific needs. Convector heaters heat a room faster than radiators as they circulate warm air around the room. However, radiators tend to provide longer-lasting heat as they heat objects and surfaces rather than the air.

Is it Cheaper to Use a Convector Heater Than Central Heating?

Again, this depends on various factors, including the size of the room, insulation, and the cost of electricity in your area. For smaller spaces or infrequently used rooms, a convector heater may be more cost-effective. For larger spaces or whole-house heating, central heating might be more economical.

Which is Cheaper to Run – Convector Heater or Oil Filled Radiator?

Oil filled radiators are generally more energy-efficient than convector heaters because they retain heat longer. However, they take longer to heat up. So, if you need quick heat, a convector heater might be a better choice.

When it comes to the cost of running a heater, it’s important to consider both the energy efficiency and the type of heat you need. Oil filled radiators and convector heaters have different strengths that can affect their cost-effectiveness in different situations.

Oil filled radiators typically consume less energy than convector heaters. This is because they heat oil inside the radiator, which then radiates heat into the room. The oil retains heat very well, so once it’s heated up, it can continue to provide warmth for a long time, even after the heater is turned off. This makes oil-filled radiators more energy-efficient in the long run, which can translate to lower running costs.

However, oil-filled radiators have a key drawback: they take a while to heat up. This means they might not be the best choice if you need quick heat. For example, if you come home to a cold house and want to warm up immediately, an oil-filled radiator might leave you waiting.

On the other hand, convector heaters can provide heat almost instantly. They work by heating air that rises and circulates around the room, creating a warm and cosy environment quickly. So if you value rapid heating, a convector heater could be a better choice.

But there’s a trade-off: convector heaters typically don’t retain heat as long as oil-filled radiators. Once you turn off a convector heater, the room can start to cool down fairly quickly. This means that to keep the room warm, a convector heater might need to run more frequently, which could increase its energy consumption and therefore its running cost.

In terms of purchase price, convector heaters are usually cheaper than oil-filled radiators. However, when considering the total cost, it’s important to also factor in the running cost over time.

Whether an oil filled radiator or a convector heater is cheaper to run will depend on your specific needs and circumstances. If you require a heater to provide lasting warmth, and you don’t mind waiting for the heat to build up, an oil-filled radiator can be a cost-effective choice. But if you require immediate heat and don’t mind potentially higher energy consumption, a convector heater could be a better option. You can learn more about oil filled radiators here.

Who is a Convector Heater Suitable For?

Convector heaters are suitable for anyone needing a fast, efficient, and quiet heating solution. They’re excellent for people living in small to medium-sized spaces, those needing supplemental heat for specific rooms, or those looking for a portable and flexible heating option.

Convector heaters offer a unique blend of speed, efficiency, and convenience. Whether you choose a convector heater, radiator, or another heating method ultimately depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Consider your space, heating requirements, and budget to determine the best option for you.