What is a Fan Heater

Understanding the Basics of What a Fan Heater is

Fan heaters are popular and versatile devices that play a crucial role in making our environments comfortable, particularly during the colder months. These compact yet powerful appliances provide quick and efficient heating, making them an excellent choice for those seeking immediate warmth.

Combining the principles of heat transfer and air circulation, fan heaters not only warm up a space quickly, but also ensure even distribution of heat.

Whether you’re seeking to add some extra warmth to your office, home, or any poorly insulated area, understanding how fan heaters work can help you make the most of these handy devices.

In this article, we will delve into the world of fan heaters, exploring their workings, benefits, and everything else you need to know about them.

What is a Fan Heater?

A fan heater is a device that uses a fan to pass air over a heat source; this heats up the air, which then leaves the heater, warming up the surrounding room. They can be electric or gas-powered, but the most common type is the electric fan heater.

How Does a Fan Heater Work?

Let’s look at how fan heaters work. The heart of an electric fan heater is its heating element. This element, often made from a metal alloy with good heat conductivity such as nichrome, is designed to resist the flow of electricity. As an electrical current is passed through it, the resistance causes the element to heat up. This is known as Joule heating or resistive heating.

The second key component is the fan. Once the heating element is hot, the fan, powered by a separate motor, kicks into action. It draws in cool air from the room and directs this air over and around the heated element. The cool air absorbs the heat from the element and rapidly increases in temperature.

As the hot air is lighter than cool air, it naturally wants to rise. However, the fan helps to force this warmed air out into the room instead, which significantly speeds up the process and helps create a stream of warm air leaving the heater. This process is known as forced convection.

This continual process of drawing in cool air, heating it, and then expelling it out into the room results in a steady increase in the room’s overall temperature. The speed at which the room heats up can be controlled by adjusting the power level on the heater, which essentially alters the amount of electrical current flowing through the heating element.

In summary, an electric fan heater works by converting electrical energy into heat energy using a resistive element and then employs a fan to distribute this heat quickly and efficiently throughout the room.

Benefits of a Fan Heater

Fan heaters come with several advantages that make them a popular choice for home and office heating:

  1. Fast Heating: Fan heaters are excellent at throwing out hot air quickly. As soon as the heater is turned on, it starts producing warm air, making it a great option for instant heat.
  2. Effective in Poorly Insulated Spaces: Due to their fast heat production, fan heaters can effectively warm up spaces that are poorly insulated or particularly drafty.
  3. Even Heat Distribution: The built-in fan doesn’t just blow out hot air; it helps circulate the warm air throughout the room, ensuring even heat distribution.
  4. Suitable for Large Rooms: Thanks to the powerful fans they contain, fan heaters can effectively heat larger rooms.
  5. Portable: Fan heaters are typically lightweight and compact, making them easy to move from one room to another.
  6. Dual Functionality: Many fan heaters also have a cool air setting, allowing them to be used as cooling devices during warmer months.
  7. Can Be Used in Bathrooms: Properties that have all electric heating can take advantage of a fan heater in the bathroom. Fan heaters are excellent for spaces that have high humidity, as they do not add to the humidity and can help dry out the air.

Energy Consumption of Fan Heaters

Like all electrical appliances, fan heaters do consume electricity. How energy efficient a fan heater is, will depend on the wattage of the heater and how long it is left running. Generally, higher wattage heaters will consume more electricity but will also produce more heat.

The power rating, measured in watts (W), is an essential factor determining a fan heater’s energy consumption. This rating essentially tells you the maximum amount of electricity the heater will use per hour when operating at full capacity. For instance, a 2000W fan heater will consume 2000 watts of electricity in one hour if run continuously at its highest setting.

However, most fan heaters come with adjustable settings allowing you to control the heat output and, therefore, the energy consumption. Running a heater on a lower setting will naturally use less electricity.

Another important factor is the duration the heater is used. The longer a fan heater is left running, the more electricity it will consume. Therefore, using the heater only when necessary and turning it off when not in use can help conserve energy.

To calculate the electricity cost of using a fan heater, you’ll need to know your electricity tariff (the price you pay per kilowatt-hour, or kWh). You can then multiply the heater’s wattage (in kW) by the number of hours you use it and the cost per kWh.

In summary, while fan heaters can consume a considerable amount of electricity, their actual energy usage can be managed by mindful usage and taking advantage of built-in energy-saving features. As with any appliance, balancing comfort with energy efficiency is key.

Fan Heaters vs Radiators

Fan heaters and radiators both have their advantages. While fan heaters are great for quick, targeted heat and are highly portable, radiators tend to be better for creating long-lasting warmth in a space. However, radiators usually take longer to heat up.

Fan Heaters vs Convector Heaters

The main difference between a convector heater and a fan heater lies in the way they distribute heat. A convector heater warms up the air, causing it to rise and create a cycle of warm air circulation. On the other hand, a fan heater uses a fan to blow air over the heating element, which results in a more immediate and forceful heat output.

Who is a Fan Heater Suitable For?

Absolutely, fan heaters offer a versatile heating solution that can be tailored to a variety of needs. Let’s delve deeper into who might find a fan heater particularly beneficial.

  1. Office Workers: Offices can often be cold, particularly in large open-plan spaces where it’s hard to regulate the temperature evenly. A fan heater can provide a personal source of heat for office workers, ensuring they remain comfortable throughout the day. They’re also useful in home offices, where central heating may not be needed or available.
  2. Homeowners: For homeowners, fan heaters are excellent for quickly heating up specific rooms. Whether it’s a chilly bathroom first thing in the morning or a living room on a cold evening, a fan heater can bring the temperature up rapidly. They’re also handy for older houses with poor insulation, where maintaining a consistent warm temperature can be challenging.
  3. Renters and Students: Given their portability, fan heaters are a boon for people who move frequently, such as renters or students. They’re easy to pack and move, and can turn a drafty rental property or dorm room into a cosy retreat.
  4. Workshop and Garage users: Fan heaters can also be invaluable for those working in unheated spaces like workshops or garages. They can provide spot heating, ensuring a comfortable working environment even in colder months.
  5. Elderly individuals: Older people often feel the cold more intensely. A fan heater can provide immediate and targeted warmth, making it easier to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  6. People living in mild climates: For those living in areas where winters are relatively mild, investing in an expensive heating system may not be cost-effective. A fan heater offers a more economical alternative for the few months of the year when additional warmth is needed.

Fan heaters are suitable for a wide range of people. The key is to consider your specific needs, such as the size of the space you want to heat, how often you’ll need to use the heater, and how portable you need it to be. With these factors in mind, a fan heater can be a valuable addition to many homes and workplaces.


A fan heater is a practical and efficient solution for heating spaces quickly and evenly. Its working principle, which combines resistive heating and forced convection, makes it an effective device for those seeking immediate warmth.

With benefits like fast heating, portability, and dual functionality for both heating and cooling, fan heaters are versatile appliances that cater to a wide range of needs. Whether you require a heating solution for a large room, a poorly insulated space, or a personal heating device, a fan heater may just be the ideal choice, and have a look at the best fan heaters here.

Understanding how it works, and its benefits, can help you get the most out of this impressive device and make your surroundings more comfortable during colder months.