Electric Heating - The Ultimate Guide

What's in the guide?

Wind farm

What is electric heating?

Electric heating is any system that uses the mains power of your property to create warmth and it serves as an effective alternative to gas central heating. For a long time, people have associated electric heating with storage heaters and little else, but the truth is, electric heating offers so much more. There is a broad spectrum of different electric solutions out there, offering ways to heat your home without having to rely on dwindling fossil fuels like gas, coal and oil. You can choose from electric boilers, air source heat pumps, underfloor heating, electric radiators, infrared panels, storage heaters and more – all of which come under the banner of electric heating.

What are the benefits of electric heating?

Advanced Digital Programming

Electric heating has always kept in step with innovations in technology which is why you’ll find that most systems come with the very latest digital controls. Forget old-fashioned turn dials and mechanical timers – the advanced programming that comes with electric allows you to create a customised heating schedule that matches your routine every day of the week. It doesn’t matter what kind of hectic lifestyle you lead, digital programming ensures that your heating system only draws power exactly when necessary so no energy is wasted. You can switch your heating to a lower temperature when you leave the house and program it to make your rooms toasty and warm ready for when you arrive. This level of customisation is hugely convenient and gives you much more scope to slim down your energy bills.

Zoned Heating

If you’ve never heard this phrase before, zoned heating refers to controlling the temperature of each area of your property individually, creating distinct heating ‘zones’ throughout. Where central heating brings all areas of the home up to the same temperature (to varying degrees of success!) a zoned heating system gives you much greater control over your energy usage. With most electric heating systems, you can create completely separate heating schedules for each area of your home, reducing the amount of energy you use in spaces you occupy less often. For example, if you have a guest room that only ever sees occasional use, why heat it to the same extent as your living room or kitchen? You can keep it warmed to a lower background temperature and save energy and money in the process. The zoned heating offered by electric also gives you the freedom to schedule the heating in each room of your property so that it accurately reflects your routine. Your living room heater can be set to switch on at 5pm ready for when you arrive home, whereas your bedroom heater could be switched on much later for when you’re ready for bed. When each room follows a different heating pattern, all of these little energy savings build up to allow for greatly reduced running costs and a more efficient system overall.

Precision Thermostats

Electric heaters use electric thermostats which offer unparalleled accuracy compared to older mechanical models. A modern electric thermostat will monitor room temperatures to a fraction of a degree with some models accurate to within ±0.1 °C for near total precision. In comparison, bimetal mechanical thermostats can sometimes be a whole 3 °C away from your target temperature. This means they can overshoot comfort levels, wasting energy in the process, and also allow rooms to become too cold making your heating work all the harder. The precision thermostats in electric heating systems monitor room temperatures with pinpoint accuracy so that your heating switches off the second it reaches target. There are no yo-yo temperatures with electric: these systems let you walk into a perfectly heated room every single time.

Smart Technology

Haverland SmartWave electric radiatorElectric heating systems with smart capabilities open up a whole new world of control and are the ideal complement to modern homes. Smart functions can include Bluetooth or WiFi programming via app, energy-usage statistics, voice control and geolocation, though features can differ from brand to brand. App control can be particularly useful as it allows you to program your heaters from the comfort of your chair without having to physically crane over the appliance. This can be reason enough to invest in products with smart technology but the benefits don’t end there. Energy-usage statistics allow you to view the real-time running cost of your heating over days, weeks and months so you can easily spot any wasteful energy habits and reduce your heating bills. WiFi distance control has the added benefit of allowing you to interact with your heating from anywhere in the world so you never need to worry about forgetting to adjust temperatures when you leave the house. If you’re going to be away from home, you can easily set your heating to a background level until you return. Or, if you’re arriving early and need the heating to come on as soon as possible, all it takes is a tap of your phone screen and you’re all set. In essence, WiFi lets you react to changes in your routine instantly, so no matter how your schedule changes, your heating is always to hand. And, by having a single point of control - i.e. your phone or tablet, you can also have your radiators act like an electric central heating system, if you prefer.

Easy DIY Installation

If you need a reliable heat source at short notice, you’ll find that there are many electric heating solutions available that can be installed DIY. From portable, plug-in heaters to easy-mount infrared panels, our site offers a wealth of products that you can have set up in a matter of minutes. Most products suitable for DIY fitting come with all of the fixtures and fittings you need to get set up so all you’ll need to provide is the necessary tools. If you’re confident with your DIY skills, no professional callouts are required so you can save money and start enjoying comfortably heated rooms that much quicker.

Low Maintenance

One of the core benefits of electric heating systems is that they require little maintenance compared to traditional central heating. Most electric heaters will only need an occasional dust down to keep clean, though some larger systems – such as air source heat pumps – will need servicing every 2-3 years. Unlike central heating, there are no hidden costs with electric. There’s no need for annual safety inspections and no need for breakdown cover so you’re keeping more money in your pocket over the lifespan of the appliance.

Mix & Match Heating Options

Many electric heating systems are self-contained units that give you the freedom to place them wherever you like but another benefit you might not know is that you can also mix and match most heater types to achieve the fitting you like. You could have an electric radiator in the living room, a panel heater in the guest room and an infrared panel in the bathroom so you’re not constrained to just one system. Their modularity lets you find the perfect combination.

100% Efficiency: No System Losses

Electric heating systems are 100% efficient at point of use and all of the power they draw from the wall is turned into usable heat – not a drop of that precious electricity goes to waste. Fuel burning systems aren’t able to offer this level of efficiency because they rely on creating warmth via combustion, which is, by nature, an imperfect process that creates waste by-products. Central heating systems also experience heat losses through pipework so as heated water travels through the system, some of this warmth is leaked out beneath the floorboards so you don’t feel the benefit. For modular electric heaters this isn’t an issue because there are no pipes that link them together. The power they use creates heat that always goes directly to the end user. Electric tariffs do tend to be more expensive than gas but this is to take into account all of the steps required to generate pure energy. Gas is currently cheaper because very little processing needs to occur before it’s ready for use in homes, however, this could change over time as resources for natural gas become scarcer.

Pair with Green Tariffs & Renewables

Though a large proportion of electricity in the grid is currently generated by burning fossil fuels, this won’t always be the case. The UK is already making great strides toward providing green electricity, and in future, more electricity will need to be created via renewables in order to meet emissions targets. Electric heating is quickly becoming the green choice, and when paired with self-generated energy, it can even be completely carbon neutral. It’s the natural complement to zero carbon developments and eco houses.

Modularity

The problem with central heating systems is that when part of the system fails, it has a knock-on effect throughout your house. If there’s an issue with a radiator, it could block other radiators further down the line; or, in a worst-case scenario, your boiler could break down and then every area of your property will be left to go cold. This is where the modularity of electric systems can really come in handy. When a standalone heater experiences issues, it will only affect the room it’s placed in – the rest of your home will still be toasty and warm.

Off grid cottage

Is electric heating right for me?

Off-grid

Electric is often the first choice for homes that have no access to mains gas because it’s easy to install and offers a range of heating options. Some off-grid households use oil or LPG burners to keep their property warm but the major disadvantage with this is that you’re entirely at the mercy of your fuel delivery provider. If their service is running slower than usual, or if the weather prevents them from reaching your property, well, you’ll just have to cope without heat until they finally get there. Or, if you don’t have a regular service, it’s all too easy to forget to top-up your tank, leaving you to contend with the accusing glares of cold family members. With electric, you always have access to warmth, and you can manage your heating room by room to keep running costs at a minimum.

Smart Homes

Electric heating systems naturally make use of all the latest technological innovations and smart control is no exception to the rule. Many modern electric heaters come with WiFi connectivity so it’s never been easier to blend them into an existing smart home setup. There are also voice control compatible heaters available that can be used with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home.

home extensionExtensions & Conservatories

Extensions to properties come with unique challenges when it comes to heating. If you’re using central heating, extending pipework can be a time and money intensive process and you’ll also need to consider whether your boiler is able to take the additional load caused by fitting more radiators to the system. In many instances, the invasiveness of extending central heating and the cost implications are simply too much, which is why electric heating can be the best solution. It’s quick and easy to install and also offers a much greater freedom of placement so you can optimise your room layout how you prefer. Conservatories in particular can benefit from electric heating solutions because current regulations state that any heating installed in these spaces must be independently controllable from your main system. It can often be problematic isolating a specific radiator for independent control in a plumbed system so electric heating offers a convenient alternative that acts as a standalone solution. You can even find products tailored toward use in conservatories, such as reduced height electric radiators that fit onto dwarf walls.

Supplementary Heating

Where would we be without our trusty backup heaters? We rely on them the moment our boilers give up the ghost and they keep us cosy until the repairman arrives. Electric heaters are outstanding supplementary heaters whether you only use them every now and again to top-up temperatures or rely on them regularly for a bit of extra warmth in the evenings. There are many different products to choose from, some of which offer quick results and others which offer a slower but more efficient diffusion of warmth. For complete versatility, we highly recommend looking at our portable heaters and freestanding radiators for products you can pick up and place wherever you require reliable warmth.

Landlords

Electric heating offers a wealth of benefits for landlords. It’s easy to install, low maintenance and there’s zero risk of carbon monoxide. Electric systems don’t need regular servicing, saving you money on breakdown cover and annual callouts – all you need to do is have a professional inspect them periodically to make sure that they’re still running smoothly. Electric can also be enormously beneficial for tenants because if one heater breaks, it’s not the end of the world, the rest of the property will still be snug and warm. Central heating doesn’t give you this luxury. If the boiler breaks, every area of the property will get cold, leaving you with some very chilled through tenants. Some electric heaters are WiFi control compatible, so if you need to take charge of the heating for an HMO, you can adjust settings from a distance and ensure that no energy is wasted. The modularity of electric systems also means that there’s no ambiguity over whose responsibility the heating is in any given area. If there does happen to be someone wasting heat, the energy-usage statistics of an app-based smart heater will always help you find the culprit!

New Developments

Multi-storey flatsIn newly built properties, installing a traditional plumbed heating system can take a considerable amount of time and money, even more so for multi-storey builds where each dwelling needs to have its own separate boiler and network of pipes. Electric offers a much simpler solution. By opting for a system where each heater is independent, you can install them wherever you need to without the restriction of pipework and they’re much quicker and easier to wire into the mains than laying out a maze of copper piping. Electric heating also completely removes the issue of planning permission headaches for installing flues so you’re never restricted by the layout of your design. Central heating can also cause problems further down the line in new builds with the potential for gas or water leaks, causing disruption and potential property damage.

Modular Buildings

The strength of modular buildings lies in how quick they are to assemble. In a fraction of the time it takes to build a standard bricks and mortar property, a modular equivalent can be up and running, ready for business. So, in buildings like these, are they really best served by plumbed heating which is time, cost and labour intensive to install? We don’t think so. Many electric heaters are as modular as the buildings themselves and allow you to have a fully operational heating system set up in no time at all. They can be installed virtually anywhere and are also independently programmable so you have the option to manage your heating room by room. A great choice for modular properties that may be disassembled or moved further down the line.

Pylons

What are the different types of electric heating?

Electric Radiators

Electric radiators

How do they work?

Electric radiators use a metal heating element on the inside of the heater body to create warmth and project it out into the room. The metal element takes the electricity drawn from the wall to create heat via resistance, then will usually transfer this heat to another thermal medium – like oil or ceramic – to help diffuse its warmth out into the surrounding area.

In terms of how their heat feels to the end user, they’re just like central heating radiators, except that they’re standalone products that don’t need to be part of a larger piped system. Most electric radiators produce roughly two-thirds of their heat as convection, with the remaining third emitted as radiant heat, which is absorbed and retained by the fabric of your property. It’s a pleasant mix of heat that offers quick results and a lasting background warmth – one of the main reasons radiators have continued to be a home heating favourite for many years.

Electric radiators come in 3 types: oil-filled, oil-free and ceramic, each of which has its own distinct benefits. Oil-filled radiators warm using an engineered thermal fluid which retains heat for longer and offers a slow cool-down period, whereas ceramic radiators use metal wires embedded in a composite stone to offer a more intense form of warmth that’s good for hard-to-heat spaces. Oil-free radiators (also known as dry thermal radiators) don’t use ceramic or oil on the inside. They instead use aluminium elements that are lightweight and quick to warm for responsive heating.

Main advantages

  • Haverland RC WaveMany users find the mix of convection and radiant heat offered by electric radiators is just the right balance for total comfort.
  • As electric radiators emit some of their heat as radiation, they’re more energy-efficient than products like panel heaters and storage heaters, which only use convection.
  • They’re standalone products that let you control your heating room by room.
  • They come with full weekly programming and other automatic energy-saving features for set and forget heating.
  • WiFi and Bluetooth models are available to make programming easier and more intuitive.
  • They come in a wide range of sizes and styles, from budget to designer and traditional to modern.
  • Specialist products are available such as reduced height models for conservatories or ceramic radiators for high-ceilinged rooms.

How easy are they to install?

Many of our electric radiators are compatible with DIY fitting so look for the ‘plug & go’ icon to find products you can install without the need for a professional. It doesn’t take much effort to install these heaters: all you have to do is screw the mounting brackets to the wall, slot the radiator into place, then plug it into the nearest socket.

Some electric radiators must be installed by a professional because they are designed to be hardwired to the mains. While they may not be DIY compatible, this should still be a quick and easy job for an electrician, who will be able to wire it into a fused spur. A professional fitting will also be required if you’re looking to install an electric radiator in a bathroom or if you’re planning to install multiple heaters.

Best applications

Electric radiators can be used in exactly the same spaces as a central heating radiator. They’re great for everyday heating throughout your property and can be used in homes, businesses and civic spaces. If you’re looking for a radiator for a specific area of your home, browse the ‘Shop by Room’ section on the Electric Radiators main menu and we’ll guide you to the right products.

When to look for an alternative

Some people inherently prefer a centralised heating system with a single point of control. It may be because you like having your whole home at the same temperature or possibly because you don’t want to run around the house tweaking the settings of each individual heater. In these instances, you may be better off with products like heat pumps or electric boilers, which act much like central heating. However, it’s worth noting that WiFi compatible radiators do allow you to group heaters together, so if you do want all of your radiators to follow the same routine, it can be achieved through app control.

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Infrared Heaters

Infrared heaters

How do they work?

As the name suggests, infrared heaters warm using infrared radiation, which is more commonly known as radiant heat. This type of heat doesn’t need to warm the air in order to bring rooms up to temperature like most traditional heating systems do. Infrared travels through the air in a wave until it contacts a solid surface (e.g. the walls, floor or ceiling) and is then absorbed and converted into heat.

Infrared heaters warm a room’s surface area rather than its air volume but this doesn’t mean you have to have a heater pointed at each wall in your house – far from it. When infrared is absorbed by the brickwork of the walls, this heat is re-emitted back into the room and, in turn, reabsorbed by another surface. This can actually make them a more effective choice compared to convection-based heaters because they make sure your whole room is heated evenly from top to bottom and avoids the whole ‘cold floor, warm ceiling’ conundrum. An important thing to note about infrared heaters is that they do primarily operate on a line of sight basis so they should always be pointed to the areas in your room you want to heat first.

Main advantages

  • Accent Infrared Heating PanelsRadiant heat doesn’t need air to heat rooms so no warmth is lost through draughts.
  • It’s a lasting form of warmth that only requires the heaters to occasionally top-up temperatures. This is what allows them to be low wattage compared to other solutions.
  • Infrared heaters for indoor spaces use far infrared, which is the same type of heat created by the human body. It’s a natural way to keep yourself warm.
  • By heating surfaces, it can prevent damp and condensation from settling.
  • They don’t disturb dust and allergens, or create a ‘dry air’ feeling.
  • Infrared panels are exceptionally slim and have a sleek, contemporary aesthetic.
  • Some models are WiFi compatible for smart heating.
  • They have a simple design and no moving parts which allows them to have a long product lifespan.

How easy are they to install?

Infrared heating systems are formed of two parts: the heaters themselves and their external controllers. Though many are DIY compatible, fitting requirements can differ from brand to brand, and it may be that your chosen heater can be installed DIY but the controller cannot, or vice versa.

Always check the product text to determine whether it is the heater or the controller that is suitable for DIY fitting because in some instances one or both components may need to be installed by an electrician. Some panels require a professional fitting but come with a battery-operated controller, whereas others offer plug-in heaters but need their control system to be wired into the mains. Even if an electrician is needed to install your heaters, this is often a straightforward job with no lengthy callouts required.

If you’re looking for an indoor infrared heater that comes with everything you need in the box, we highly recommend our new range of Ecostrad Accent and Opus infrared panels, which can be easily set up in minutes. Or, if you need further advice and guidance, give our Sales team a call on 0330 300 4444.

Best applications

Infrared radiant panels can be used in any interior with a standard ceiling height and are as beneficial for homes as they are commercial spaces. If you need safe heating for customers in public-facing areas, you can opt for ceiling mounted panels which keep your heat source well out of reach. Infrared heating panels can be particularly beneficial for bathrooms and other areas that suffer with damp as they keep your walls and surfaces warm, which deters condensation from settling.

When to look for an alternative

Infrared takes a while to get to grips with purely because of how differently it supplies warmth compared to most other heating systems. Radiant heat takes much longer to take effect when warming from cold because it’s heating the surface area of your property rather than the air inside. Those who need their heating to be more responsive will be better off with products that heat using convection, like electric radiators, offering results you can feel quickly. Infrared heaters also warm on a line of sight basis, so in awkwardly shaped rooms, this can sometimes present an issue. Convection-based heating systems don’t have this problem, as heated air will naturally circulate to every corner of the room regardless of its layout, so even if there are jutting walls in the way, they won’t create any noticeable cold spots.

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Convection Heaters

Convection heaters

How do they work?

Convection heaters use an exposed metal element that heats to a high temperature to quickly warm the surrounding air. This heated air rises to the top of the room, then falls again as it cools, ready to be rewarmed by the heater in a continuing cycle of convection. These heaters – like panel heaters or fan heaters – achieve quick results you can feel in minutes, which is why they tend to be used for on-demand heating as and when. However, they aren’t as efficient as products that heat via radiation – like electric radiators and infrared panels – because heated air can be easily lost through draughts or open doors and windows. That being said, these heaters are convenient, easy to use and still a firm favourite when you need warmth fast.

Main advantages

  • Ecostrad iQ Plus electric panel heaterTheir convection heat can be felt very quickly compared to most other heating systems and are great if you need to bring a room up to temperature in a short amount of time.
  • Most come with full programming and easy to use controls.
  • Wall mounted and freestanding products are available.
  • Their simple design makes them slimline and lightweight.
  • They can be economical to run if they are used infrequently.
  • They have a lower purchase price because they are easy to manufacture.

How easy are they to install?

Convection heaters are exceptionally easy to install because most are lightweight and designed to act as portable units. All you have to do is attach their feet for a freestanding fitting, then plug them in at the wall. Many are also suitable for a DIY wall mounted fitting, in which case, you simply need to drill some holes into the wall, screw in the mounting brackets, then attach the heater. Look for the ‘plug & go’ icon to find products suitable for DIY fitting.

Best applications

Panel heaters are best used in standard height spaces you use sporadically or for short periods of time because they heat up so quickly. They provide results in minutes, so unlike slower acting heating systems, you can get comfy the instant you want to use your space. They’re great for conservatories that tend to be used seasonally or for guest rooms that may only see use a few times throughout the year. They’re also superb if you need a bit of supplementary warmth to complement your existing heating system. Rather than turning up the thermostat for your whole home, convection heaters can give you that extra boost of heat to keep your spaces cosy so you don’t have to waste any extra energy warming rooms that aren’t being used.

When to look for an alternative

Convection heaters aren’t designed to act as a primary heating system throughout your property and their lower efficiency will quickly make running costs add up. They’re fine as a heat source for rooms you use less often, but for all your main spaces, you’ll need a more energy efficient heating solution. Electric radiators usually make the best alternative as they also provide quick convected warmth but it’s balanced out by the radiant heat they emit, which lasts for much longer and makes them more efficient to run.

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Towel Rails

Towel rails

How do they work?

Electric towel rails are, in essence, just a radiator in a different shape. They’re either filled with thermal fluid and use a heating element to circulate warmth across the appliance; or, they use a resistive wire element to generate and conduct heat across the surface of the rails. The main difference between a normal towel rail and its electric cousin is that electric models are self-contained and can be controlled independently. They’re not part of a larger plumbed system. The level of control for electric rails is also quite varied. You can choose basic manual models, which can be switched on and off at a fused spur; thermostatic models, which offer multiple heat levels; as well as fully programmable models that are great if you want your towel rail to act as the main source of heat for the room.

Main advantages

  • Towel railsElectric towel rails can be controlled independently. Great if you want towel drying without switching on your central heating.
  • Choose from manual, thermostatic or programmable models to find your perfect level of control.
  • Wide range of styles and finishes, from contemporary to classic.
  • Narrow and low-profile models available to suit even very small bathrooms.
  • They can act as a room heater when you choose a higher wattage option, or you can opt for a lower output product for towel drying only.
  • Gives you a place to store your towels whilst also keeping them dry and ready for use.
  • They’re a more practical option for bathrooms compared to electric radiators and storage heaters, which generally cannot be used for towel or clothes drying.

How easy are they to install?

To conform to UK safety standards, all electric towel radiators will need to be installed and wired into a fused spur by a professional. While this isn’t a DIY task, this is an exceptionally common job for electricians so a long callout will very rarely be needed. Something to bear in mind before you install your towel rail is whether it has an appropriate IP rating for your needs. The vast majority of electric towel rails will have a splashproof IPX4 rating so that they can be safely installed in a zone 1 or 2 bathroom location. If you think you might hose down your bathroom for cleaning purposes, we recommend opting for an IPX5 rated heater which ensures that it’s resistant to low pressure jets of water. You can learn more about IP ratings and bathroom zones in our blog.

Best applications

Heated towel rails are the natural complement to bathrooms because they offer room heating, towel warming and storage all in one. They’re also very convenient additions to kitchens and can be a great way to keep tea towels dry for reuse.

When to look for an alternative

Can you imagine using towel rails throughout your property? No, not many people can and part of the reason why is because they don’t come with the level of control needed for efficient home heating. Needless to say, if you need a heating system you can fit throughout your entire property, you will be better off looking for products like radiators and infrared heaters. You may also want an alternative to a towel rail in bathrooms with limited space as their rungs can protrude out into the room somewhat. If you need heating in a particularly narrow or awkwardly shaped space, a mirror infrared panel could be the better option as it still offers two bathroom necessities in one: it’s an effective room heater and also provides a reflective surface to help you get ready in the morning.

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Ceramic Heaters

Ceramic heaters

How do they work?

Ceramic heaters are designed for large interiors that are hard to keep warm and can also be used in sheltered outdoor spaces. They use a length of resistive wire coiled beneath a ceramic plate to create longwave infrared, which is able to project over longer distances compared to the heat from an infrared panel. The ceramic plate has excellent thermal properties, easily retaining heat as well as conducting it efficiently out into the space. These heaters work best on a line of sight placement to ensure that they’re pointed toward areas that are occupied regularly. Wall mounted heaters can help to direct heat down to living levels, or for an even greater spread of heat, a ceiling mounted option can be more effective.

Main advantages

  • Ceramic heatersUnlike most patio heaters, they produce no light when operating, making them a discreet option for commercial and public-facing spaces.
  • They can project their heat across very spacious interiors.
  • Multiple heaters can be used to achieve thorough heating in large properties.
  • The type of warmth they produce is designed for all-day heating around the clock.
  • They can be paired with external thermostats for full weekly programming.
  • Ceiling and wall-mounted solutions are available to suit your space.
  • Their higher output makes them a good fit for hot yoga studios.

How easy are they to install?

All of the ceramic heaters we offer will need to be installed by a professional electrician, however, this normally doesn’t require a lengthy callout and is certainly a quicker process than other industrial heating solutions.

Best applications

The longwave infrared emitted by ceramic heaters tends to work best for interiors that would be difficult to keep warm using conventional means. They are great for commercial properties, like leisure centres, showrooms and hotels; civic spaces, like churches, schools and meeting halls; as well as industrial properties, like warehouses, garages and workshops. That’s not to say that they can’t be practical options for homes either – if you have a mezzanine floor or a lofty barn conversation, the long range heat of these products can make sure that the spaces you use most are kept comfortably warm throughout the day, without any heat lost to the ceiling. Ceramic infrared heaters also make excellent solutions for hot yoga studios as their output is strong enough to reach the 45 °C temperatures required for this type of exercise. When paired with a hot yoga thermostat, their radiant heat can help to relax muscles and promote flexibility.

When to look for an alternative

Ceramic heaters are made for warming large or hard-to-heat spaces, so if you have a regular interior with a standard ceiling height, there’s no need to invest in their high output heat. Normal interiors will often be best served by the lower wattages and slimline designs of infrared panels. While ceramic heaters can be used in outdoor spaces, it’s important to stress that their gentle heat can be offset in areas that are exposed to frequent gusts and breezes. In an unsheltered outdoor location, a halogen heater will be more effective and provide a stronger form of heat that can counteract the feeling of cooler temperatures.

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Storage Heaters

Storage heaters

How do they work?

Storage heaters are the only electric system that can work with economy tariffs to provide low-cost home heating. Economy tariffs offer cheaper night time electricity in exchange for an inflated day time rate to encourage people to use power during hours when demand isn’t so high. Storage heaters take advantage of these economy tariffs by generating and storing heat overnight, ready for the next day. This means they only use the cheaper night time rates for your heating and avoid having to use the higher daytime price. They store heat by using ceramic bricks on the inside of the appliance, which are designed to stay warm over long periods. The bricks emit radiant heat during the night as they become hotter and hotter, but once the heater stops drawing power from the wall, the majority of warmth will come from convection as air circulates around the hot bricks. Storage heaters typically come with high wattages because they have to create a whole day’s worth of heat overnight in preparation for the following morning.

Main advantages

  • Storage heatersWorks with economy energy tariffs to take advantage of cheap night time electricity.
  • They can be very economical for people who are at home during the day.
  • Modern storage heaters come with full weekly programming and other energy-saving features.
  • Some models are WiFi control compatible.
  • They’re low maintenance and have long product lifespans.

How easy are they to install?

A professional electrician will always need to install your storage heaters because they need to be wired into the mains of your property. Your energy supplier will also need to provide you with a meter that displays separate readings for your day and night time energy usage. The heaters must be hardwired into the night time circuit of your property to ensure that they don’t draw power during the day. If you install storage heaters without making the switch to an Economy tariff – beware! This means you will be using these heaters with the rates from a standard tariff, which can massively inflate your bills. If you’re ever unsure, speak to an electrician or your energy supplier for further advice.

Best applications

Storage heaters tend to suit people who stay at home during the day, such as retirees, night shift workers and people who are able to remotely work from home. They release their heat slowly from the morning onwards so, if you’re at home during the day, you’ll always have a ready supply of warmth. However, the warmth from storage heaters can run out by evening time, making them less suitable for people who work during typical business hours. They can also be useful for some businesses who need heat during the day but do not necessarily need it after closing time.

When to look for an alternative

Though some households can make superb savings from storage heaters, those living a typical 9 – 5 existence will see the least amount of benefit from this heating system because they emit most of their stored warmth during the day. By evening, much of their heat will have dissipated, leaving you to rely on backup heaters whenever they fall short of being able to keep you comfortable. Newer storage heaters come with in-built programming to minimise this issue but the average person will find products like electric radiators and infrared panels easier to get to grips with, as well as the more aesthetically pleasing alternative. As storage heaters primarily rely on convection to warm rooms, they do have a tendency to create that ‘dry air’ feeling you can get during days of low humidity and can aggravate those with sensitive respiratory systems. If you need a home heating solution that doesn’t change the atmosphere or ambient humidity, an infrared heater will be preferable because it heats the space rather than the air.

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Patio Heaters

Patio heaters

How do they work?

Electric patio heaters are able to create instant heat using specialised bulbs. They’re a bit like a scaled-up household light except these products have a far higher output and use different filaments, like carbon fibre or tungsten, to create more heat. These filaments reach ultra-high temperatures to produce a strong form of infrared and become so hot that they glow brightly – a handy extra light source when you’re using your patio heater in the evenings. Electric patio heaters are effective outdoors because their vigorous infrared isn’t affected by air movement, so even when you’re sat outside, heat isn’t blown away. They direct their warmth to whatever they’re pointed at and make great spot heating solutions for patios, gardens and alfresco dining areas.

Main advantages

  • Ecostrad Sunglo infrared patio heaterThey provide instant heat with no messy or time-consuming preparation needed.
  • No annual gas safety checks are required – these all-electric solutions are extremely low maintenance.
  • 100% of the energy they draw is converted into
  • heat, unlike fuel burning patio heating options.
  • They offer much greater freedom of placement with wall and ceiling mounted fittings. Some can even be used freestanding or attached beneath awnings.
  • Glowing patio heaters offer extra supplementary light.
  • Some products come with remotes to provide access to extra heat management features, whereas others can be paired with external controllers.

How easy are they to install?

Look for electric patio heaters with the ‘plug & go’ icon to find products that are suitable for DIY fitting. Some DIY compatible patio heaters are designed to be used with a portable stand so it’s simply a case of placing the heater in position, plugging it in at the wall and enjoying its effective heat. If you’re planning to have your patio heater permanently installed outside, you will need a professional electrician to hardwire it into the mains so that its cables won’t be exposed to the elements.

Patio heaters are easy to install for a professional but you will need to make sure the product you choose has an appropriate IP rating that will protect it against rain. IP ratings are a system used to indicate the level of protection a product has against the ingress of water and solid particles, so if you’re installing a patio heater outside, we recommend a product rated at least IPX4. This rating means a heater can withstand splashes of water from all sides and will prevent rainwater from entering the appliance housing.

Best applications

Unsurprisingly, the best place to use an infrared patio heater is outside in your garden to keep any seating areas warm and inviting. Low-glare heaters are great for any outdoor space and provide the strongest level of heat to offset the cold. Other electric patio heaters use a gentler form of heat and will be better suited to sheltered outdoor spaces with less air movement, so always be sure to check individual product pages for more information. Electric patio heaters are also the only kind of outdoor heater that can safely be used in some indoor applications. They’re useful for hard-to-heat interiors with no soft furnishings, such as garages and workshops, so if you spend your free time tinkering with your car, an infrared patio heater can provide some convenient spot heating whenever you indulge in your hobbies.

When to look for an alternative

While patio heaters do have some indoor applications, they’re certainly not for everyday home heating. Their high-intensity heat can be hazardous in standard interiors where they will be near to carpets, curtains and other flammable soft furnishings. For everyday heating in homes and businesses, always look for a heating system that’s designed for this use and leave patio heaters outside to do what they do best.

Shop our bestselling patio heaters

Coins

What are the costs of electric heating?

Product Costs

When choosing an electric heating system, price is always the largest factor, but it’s not just about finding the cheapest option. It’s also about value for money: just what are you getting for the price and how does that compare to the other choices available? This table compares a selection of our bestselling products from different product types so you can see the basic differences at a glance.

* Prices correct as of July 2020

Haverland SmartWave Electric Radiators

Ecostrad iQ Plus Electric Panel Heaters

Ecostrad Accent iQ Infrared Panels

Technotherm TTB-E Duo Storage Heaters

Sizes available

5

5

4

4

Price range

£299.99 - 499.99

£184.99 - 389.99

£209.99 - 315.99

£479.99 - 659.99

Wattage range

450 - 1700w

500 - 2500w

350 - 1100w

850 - 3400w

Heats up to range

5.5 - 20m2

5 - 25m2

7 - 22m2

6 - 26m2

Weekly programming

WiFi connectivity

Voice control

Open window detection

Adaptive start

Self-programming

Installation Costs

Many electric heating systems, such as electric radiators and panel heaters, are suitable for DIY fitting so in these instances, you won’t need to pay a penny for installation. If you’re a dab hand with a drill, you can wall mount your heaters yourself by attaching the brackets to the wall then slotting the heater into place.

If you need your heaters to be hardwired, you will need to hire a contractor to fit your heaters and the cost of this will all depend on how many appliances you’re looking to install, as well as the condition of the wiring in your property. Before you embark on a massive overhaul of your heating, it’s always best to consult an electrician who will be able to price up your installation and offer you further guidance.

Running Costs

The running costs of any heating system will vary depending on a number of factors including the age and insulation level of your property, your preferred set temperature, the length of time you run your heating for, as well as the price of your energy tariff. While the price of electric is currently higher than gas, it’s able to have comparatively low running costs by allowing you to control your home heating on a room by room basis, trimming down energy usage to a bare minimum. By keeping each room to a separate schedule and heat level, you can save energy by warming secondary spaces to a lesser degree, rather than trying to bring your whole property up to the same temperature. If you want to learn more about running costs, including how to make your own estimations, read more in our blog here.

Maintenance Costs

Unlike with central heating, electric systems come with no hidden maintenance costs and, actually, very few systems need upkeep aside from the occasional dust down. They’re much like any other electrical appliance – if it’s working normally and shows no signs of damage then there’s nothing more you need to do. The only time you will require a professional is in the event of a breakdown. Larger systems, such as air source heat pumps, will need servicing periodically but this will usually be every 2-3 years.

Which type of electric heating is the most efficient?

Technotherm KS electric radiatorAll electric heating systems are 100% efficient at point of use because they convert all of the power they draw from the wall into usable heat, but there’s more to a heater’s efficiency than purely how it converts energy. After all, that would make portable fan heaters just as effective as electric radiators for home heating, which simply isn’t the case! Much of what determines a heater’s efficiency is how it heats and what energy-saving features it offers.

Heating efficiency: convection vs radiant heat

The type of heat an electrical appliance emits can have an impact on overall efficiency. Some heaters work by warming the surrounding air (i.e. through convection), whereas others warm rooms by projecting out waves of infrared (i.e. through radiant heat).

Electric heaters that only use convection to warm rooms tend to be less efficient to operate because any heated air can be easily lost through air movement. So, every time you open a door or window, the air will flow away, making the heater work all the harder to try and compensate. Radiant heat, on the other hand, isn’t affected by air movement. This form of heat is absorbed and retained by the brickwork of your property to provide a longer lasting warmth, so appliances that emit this type of heat don’t need to use as much power to keep spaces warm. This is why products like electric radiators and infrared panels are cheaper to run than panel heaters. They emit some or all of their heat as radiation to make sure you don’t lose too much warmth from your space.

Energy efficiency: automatic control features

What separates a portable electric heater from its wall mounted counterparts? Is it simply size or weight that sets them apart? Though they might heat in the same way, the biggest differences between them is often the level of control they offer. Cheap portable electric heaters usually come with basic thermostats so they’re less accurate at maintaining a precise room temperature. They won’t be using their heat efficiently to keep your room warm and will be much more wasteful overall compared to a product with a more precise thermostat. This might not be so bad if you’re only using a portable heater every now and again but, for whole-home heating, the lack of accurate control would quickly become costly and inconvenient. When looking for an energy efficient product, you should always look for heaters with the most up to date features, such as digital thermostats, programmers, open window detection and adaptive start. These functions operate automatically to trim down energy usage to a minimum and also means you don’t need to spend as much time adjusting your heaters to ensure they’re running optimally.

Living room

Choosing an electric heating system

What is the best electric heating system for homes?

Electric heating is so diverse that you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a system for your home. You could choose an electric boiler for a modern spin on central heating, electric underfloor heating for total luxury, storage heaters for economy or a mixture of different systems to achieve the type of heating you want. Here are our top 3 choices for heating homes with electric:

Ecostrad iQ Ceramic radiator1. Electric radiators

These heaters give you the same reliable warmth of a central heating radiator but with much more scope for control and energy management. As they’re self-contained units, they allow you to schedule your heating on a room-by-room basis to more accurately reflect how you use each area of the home, trimming back running costs as much as possible. They’re also much easier to install than a plumbed system and aren’t restricted by pipework so you can choose a fitting location which best suits your space. We also offer a range of electric bathroom radiators for products which can be used for clothes and towel drying.

2. Infrared panels

One of the most discreet electric heating solutions available, infrared panels are able to effectively warm rooms by using radiant heat. Infrared heats the fabric of your property rather than warming the surrounding air, which offers a lasting heat that isn’t blown away by draughts. More heat stays in the room so the panels don’t need to use as much energy to maintain heat levels. Infrared panels are one of the most versatile electric heating systems available because they’re modern, slim, stylish and can be installed on either the wall or ceiling for an unobtrusive heat source. Some are even designed to look like ordinary household mirrors so they can blend into the background of your interiors unnoticed and are a particularly good solution for bathrooms because their heated surfaces provide an anti-misting effect.

3. Storage heaters

Older storage heaters had a reputation for having basic controls that were deceptively hard to master but how times have changed. Modern models are now keeping up with all the current trends in heating control and even offer full weekly programming to match your routine. They’re leagues apart from the storage heaters of the 60s and 70s with their turn-dial controls – new storage heaters are able to calculate what charge they will need based on your settings so you can leave them to take care of themselves. These heaters are able to capitalise on economy heating tariffs and save money on your heating by charging up overnight when electricity is cheaper. This gives you a ready supply of warmth and can be an exceptionally effective option if you tend to be at home during the day. They may not suit every lifestyle but they can be an excellent way to make your money go further if you know how to maximise the benefits of Economy 7.

What features help keep costs down?

Electric heating systems come with a whole trove of extra features to help keep your running costs to a minimum but these are the main functions you should look for in an energy-efficient heater:

  • Digital thermostat
  • Weekly programming
  • Open window detection
  • Adaptive start
  • Smart app control

We’ve explained these features in more detail below if you want more information on how they can save you money. It’s worth noting that most electric heating systems will offer some combination of the above in order to meet current EU regulations. If you want to know more about how our electric heaters comply with these regulations, please see our Lot 20 section below.

Digital thermostats

Thermostat accuracy is essential to the overall efficiency of any heating system, and when it comes to precision, few can beat electric. The reason electric heaters are able to precisely monitor room temperatures is because they use modern digital sensors. It gives them an accuracy that far outstrips traditional mechanical thermostats, which can let temperatures drift by up to 3 °C either side of your target comfort level. Digital thermostats can be as accurate as 0.1 °C for near-perfect temperature control. They prevent your heaters wasting energy and also stop the issue of temperature fluctuation which can be part and parcel of older central heating systems.

Haverland SmartWave electric radiatorWeekly programming

Creating a heating schedule that fits around your routine is an absolute must for an energy-efficient system, otherwise you’d be wasting money heating empty rooms when you’re out of the house. With a programmer, you can decide when your heaters draw energy during the day so you can take more control over your running costs and ensure rooms are cosy and ready to use at the right time. Once programmed, you generally won’t need to adjust the settings again unless you want to tweak your schedule, so it offers a set-and-forget system that runs itself. With some smart heaters, like the Haverland SmartWave, they can even program themselves throughout the week for completely hassle-free heating and are a great option if you find programming an onerous task. Electric heaters either come with their digital programmers built into the appliance or are designed to be purchased with external thermostats.

Open window detection

This feature automatically detects if there is a draught nearby which is causing your room to lose heat too quickly. If a sudden temperature drop is sensed within a certain amount of time, the open window detector will pause the heater to stop it from trying to heat a space that’s cooling too rapidly. Depending on the brand of heater, some sensors will re-engage themselves once temperatures normalise again, whereas others may require user input in order to resume the previous heating pattern.

Adaptive start

When creating a weekly heating schedule, it’s tempting to set a long pre-heat time in order to make sure that your rooms are warm when you come to use them. So, for example, some may set their heaters to come on at 5:00pm in order to make sure their room is the right temperature for 6:00pm when they arrive home from work. In reality, your rooms may only need a fraction of this time to bring them up to the right level, which is why adaptive start was created. This feature is designed to pre-heat rooms using the least amount of time to eliminate user error and minimise energy usage. Adaptive start essentially brings your rooms up to the right temperature at the right time, using the least amount of energy possible, and means you don’t have to plan a schedule that takes pre-heating into account. This means if you want your room to be at 20 °C at 6:00pm, there’s no need to set your heating an hour early – adaptive start takes care of everything.

Smart app control

App control can be a boon for anyone who finds programming a chore because it allows you to adjust settings from a more intuitive interface. Heating apps let you program schedules with a simple swipe and tap of a phone screen and also mean that you don’t have to physically crane over the heater to make any changes. In the age of smart technology, it’s becoming increasingly convenient for people to interact with their heating via their phone because it’s one of the few gadgets that travel with us wherever we go. Apps can also include a lot of extra features, such as energy usage information and geolocation, and as they’re a constantly evolving piece of software, it allows your heating to improve and upgrade without any need to change the appliances themselves. App control can come in the form of Bluetooth, which allows smart programming from close proximity; or WiFi, which offers easy programming at a distance.

How do I know what size electric radiator I need?

calculatorChoosing the right size electric radiator is easy with our handy calculator. Just enter in a few simple details about your room dimensions and property and we’ll provide a wattage estimate to keep your spaces comfortably heated. Then all you have to do is choose a heater or combination of heaters that meets the estimated wattage.

If you can’t find a heater that meets the exact wattage, we recommend rounding up to the next available size to make sure you’re choosing a heater that will be able to easily cope with the heating requirements of your space. Try to avoid rounding down because you’ll be running the risk of choosing an underpowered product that will struggle to keep your rooms warm. This means the heater will spend more time on trying to keep your space heated and could reduce the lifespan of the product.

Please note that the electric radiator calculator specifies wattages for electric radiators only. It shouldn’t be used to estimate wattages for any other product type. If you need to find an electric heater that matches your room size, all of our products display a ‘heats up to’ value so you can see at a glance which are suitable.

Both the calculator and the ‘heats up to’ values displayed on the site assume a standard ceiling height of 2.7m, so if you need to specify for a room that’s more spacious, get in contact with our Sales team directly. They’ll be able to create a free, no obligation quote tailored to your room dimensions, as well as recommend the best products for your space.

Are all electric heaters suitable for DIY fitting?

We offer a wide range of products that are compatible for DIY fitting, so if you need to install a heater quickly, look for the ‘plug & go’ icon to find suitable products. If a product doesn’t have this icon, you a contractor will need to install your heater. This is typically the case for heated towel rails, bathroom heaters and some infrared patio heaters.

Please be aware that in some instances you will always need a professional fitting for your heaters. Heaters for bathrooms will need to be hardwired into a fused spur in order to comply with UK safety standards, which is not a DIY task. Also, if you are planning to fit a number of electric heaters, it is advisable to discuss the project with an electrician beforehand to avoid overloading the ring main of your property.

I need an electric heater for a specific space. What can you recommend?

Heating for conservatories Heating for bathrooms Heating for garages
Heating for rooms with high ceilings Heating for flats Heating for outdoors

Is electric heating safe?

It certainly is! Like any other heating system or electrical appliance, electric heating is completely safe so long as it’s used properly. Here are the main reasons why it’s the safe option:

  • Electrical socketElectric heating produces no emissions

With electric heating, you don’t need to worry about any dangerous emissions like carbon monoxide because these products don’t burn any fuel. This means no gas safety checks are needed so you can save money with ongoing maintenance, but also more importantly, there’s no risk of gas leaks and potential explosions.

  • Heaters are tested to European CE standard

All of our products are CE marked which indicates they comply with European safety requirements so you can purchase knowing that your heater meets an internationally recognised standard of quality.

  • Thermal cut-outs prevent overheating

In case a product overheats, a thermal safety cut out feature will engage to stop the heater from drawing power, preventing it from being able to become any hotter.

Safety tips for electric heating

If you’re new to electric heating systems, here are our top safety tips to make sure that they’re used safely:

  • Don’t cover heaters or use them to dry clothes – choose a towel rail or bathroom radiator for this type of use.
  • Don’t install heaters behind curtains or block them with furniture.
  • Always observe the clearance distances stated in product manuals when installing.
  • Don’t leave portable heaters unattended.
  • Always use portable electric heaters on a level surface.
  • Let any portable heater fully cool before it is stored away.
  • Always have a professional electrician hardwire heaters in bathrooms.
  • Never use an extension lead to bring a portable heater into a bathroom.
  • Any heater for use outdoors or in a bathroom needs to have an appropriate IP rating to ensure it is protected against water.
  • Check your heater regularly for signs of wear and tear. Don’t use the heater if you’re not certain it will be safe to use.
  • Always use the product according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Are your electric heaters Lot 20 compliant?

All of our electric heaters are compliant with EU Ecodesign regulations which came into force in January 2018. These regulations – known as Lot 20 within the industry – ensure that electric space heaters are brought up to a higher standard of efficiency, making it easier for customers to find products that minimise energy usage.

The information below displays the minimum requirement for products to be Lot 20 compliant:

Heater type

Requirement for Lot 20

Portable heaters

Mechanical thermostat

Fixed heaters (e.g. electric radiators, infrared panels)

Digital thermostat and weekly timer + one or more of the following:

  • Open window detection
  • Adaptive start
  • WiFi distance control

Storage heaters

  • Electronic charge control
  • Digital thermostat and weekly timer
  • Adaptive start
  • Open window detection
  • WiFi distance control

OR

  • Electronic charge control
  • Digital thermostat and weekly timer
  • Fan assist

Electric towel rails

Lot 20 exempt

Electric patio heaters

Lot 20 exempt

Many of our products exceed the minimum requirement for Lot 20 products or achieve the maximum requirement possible so you can be certain that you’re investing in quality. Each product displays how it complies with Lot 20 requirements in the manual provided with the heater.