Last updated: February 2023
If you’ve had a browse on our website before, you may have come across certain electric heating terminology that left you drawing blanks. Convection, conduction, and radiation are the three methods of heat transfer, and we sometimes refer to them to describe our products. But what exactly do they mean, and why do they matter? Hold off on digging out those old schoolbooks… we’re going to do this the easy way.
Conduction is how heat transfers through solid materials. Particles in solids are tightly bound together, so when one particle is warmer than the rest, through a direct heat source, it starts vibrating with energy. This causes it to collide with its neighbouring particles, making them warm up too. Eventually, this warmth spreads throughout the entirety of the solid in question, raising its temperature.
- How a hot drink also makes the cup it’s in warm
- Touching a hot seatbelt when you get in a car
Which type of heater makes use of conduction?
It’s pretty rare to find a heater that will primarily rely on this type of heat transfer, as it’s quite impractical, not to mention rather unsafe! As you have to actually be touching a hot object to absorb its warmth through conduction, it makes sense why heating manufacturers don’t exactly jump at the idea. It does explain why the surface of electric heaters tend to be hot to the touch, though, so most heaters do produce some amount of conductive heat - just as a by-product.
Convection uses the air to transfer heat – as cold air passes over a heat source, it warms, creating a convection current. This cycle repeats again and again as long as a heat source remains stable, constantly circulating warm air.
Unlike solids, particles in the air aren’t fixed in place, so they move around freely, gaining energy like tiny indetectable Duracell bunnies. Because the particles are more spread out, hot air tends to be lighter and less dense than its chillier counterpart, which is why it rises – just think of a hot air balloon! This can create an uneven distribution of warmth, leaving the bottom half of a room colder than the top half.
- Feeling cooler on a windy day despite the actual temperature
- How a hot cup of tea creates steam
Which applications does convection suit best?
As convection works quickly, it particularly suits spaces which need a supplementary heat source that gets to work fast. Conservatories, home offices, garages, and draughty spare rooms are just some of the locations that benefit from convection heaters.
Which types of heaters make use of convection?
Our top convection heater: Ecostrad iQ Plus
The iQ Plus is a smart convection heater that combines the responsive benefits of convection technology with sleek, modern aesthetics to complement a variety of interior design schemes. Able to be both wall-mounted or freestanding, the heater can be situated exactly where warmth is needed most, ideal for draughty spots that struggle to retain heat. Pair the iQ Plus up with your smartphone through a compatible heating app to control its temperature, modes and weekly schedule from afar.
We know radiation can sound daunting, but don’t fret. From your car radio to the microwave in your kitchen, we’re surrounded by safe forms of it all the time - and we really do mean all the time! As humans, we’re constantly emitting and absorbing radiant warmth. Even the light you’re using to read this sentence is a form of it. When it comes to keeping homes warm, infrared radiation is one of the most versatile, safe and effective methods. Let’s run through how it works…
Radiant warmth travels in an invisible wave to provide a direct level of heat. When these waves come into contact with an object – an armchair for example, heat is absorbed and transferred seamlessly.
Heat is re-radiated back into a space, creating a bubble of comfort that can be enjoyed for hours on end. This makes it perfect as a primary heating source, as well as for something more intermittent.
With a radiant heating system, you can turn down the thermostat and still feel comfortable from the residual heat.
- Feeling warm when standing close to a fire
- Feeling cooler when the sun goes behind a cloud
Which applications does radiation suit best?
Radiant warmth is so versatile, there’s pretty much a heater for any domestic application. If you’ve got a chilly garage, a far infrared heater will work wonders in offsetting those uncomfortable draughts. Infrared panels can slot into any room in the house - even bathrooms! Not to mention your classic radiator… and we all know how great they are.
Which types of heaters make use of radiation?
Radiant heat: our top picks
Ecostrad iQ Ceramic Electric Radiator
An Electric Radiators Direct bestseller, the iQ Ceramic blends into the modern home like a dream. With CeramiQ Heat Lock technology, this smart electric radiator stores warmth in its core, steadily releasing radiant waves long after power is switched off at the wall. Packed with WiFi compatibility and Voice Control, managing the iQ Ceramic through either a smartphone or a smart speaker is totally straightforward, for ease of control even when you’re on the move.
Herschel Select XLS Mirrored Infrared Panel
Look once at the Herschel Select XLS and you’ll mistake it for a standard mirror, but under its reflective surface hides a clever infrared panel built to deliver long-lasting warmth throughout your home. As its heated surface repels condensation, it is ideal for use in bathrooms - no more foggy mirrors after a shower! When paired with a compatible external controller, managing your unit through WiFi is possible, making a whole host of features accessible via a smart device.
Check out this video for an in-depth rundown of infrared heating. What is it, what are its benefits, and how much do infrared heaters cost to run?
Start shopping with confidence today
Bolstered by your newfound knowledge, choosing an electric heater with us is guaranteed to be a walk in the park. Whether you’ve got a breezy hallway that could do with some soothing radiant warmth, or a guest bedroom that needs an extra boost every now and then, there’s a heater designed with your needs in mind. Take a look through our selection and upgrade the comfort of your home today!
- Conduction is how heat transfers through solid materials. Our heaters don't typically rely on this type of heat transfer, considering you need to be touching a hot object for the warmth to transfer! It does explain why a heater surface is hot to the touch when it's turned on, however.
- Convection uses the air to transfer heat – as cold air passes over a heat source, it warms, creating a convection current. As convection works quickly, it particularly suits spaces which need a supplementary heat source that gets to work fast. Panel heaters, storage heaters and electric radiators use this type of heat.
- Radiant warmth travels in an invisible wave to provide a direct level of heat. This heat is then stored in the objects themselves without getting disturbed by air movement.
- Radiant warmth is so versatile, there’s pretty much a heater for any domestic application. Infrared panels, infrared patio heaters and electric radiators use this type of heat.