As you shop around for new electric heating products, you’ll inevitably find something puzzling on the electric heating market. Whilst sites like ours are advertising energy efficient electric radiators from £199.99, other sites are selling similar looking products for as little as £99.99. Advertised as “panel heaters” or “convection radiators”, these products are slimline, smart and white, with digital control panels. They look very similar to our Haverland electric radiator collection – but they’re available for almost half the price. So, what’s the catch? Time for some jargon-busting. What are panel heaters? Are they radiators, or not? How do they differ from our energy efficient electric radiators?
First things first: what are radiators?
In truth, “radiator” is one of the most ambiguous and misused words in the heating industry. Technically, the word “radiator” should refer only to heaters which heat primarily through radiation – heating directly in the same way the sun warms the earth or an open fire warms your hands. In practice, however, the word “radiator” is widely used for a whole gamut of heating products – including gas central heating radiators which often heat primarily through convection. Our energy efficient electric radiators use a combination of radiated and convected heat for balanced and effective comfort heating.
So what are panel heaters?
Panel heaters is the name sometimes given to budget convection heaters sold at the bottom end of the electric heating marketplace. They are not to be confused with infrared panel heaters which are top-of-the-range electric heating products which heat solely through radiation. The main difference between panel heaters and our electric radiators is that the panels only produce heat through convection, typically using hot elements and a fan to blow hot air around the room. Heating purely by convection comes with three main disadvantages which you should consider before choosing this cheaper option:
Heating by convection is inherently less efficient than heating by radiation. Radiation warms people and objects directly, moving from the heat source to the object in one simple energy transfer. Convection, however, transfers heat by warming the air. Heat is transferred first from the heater to the air, and then from the air to the objects in the room – much less efficient. Heating by radiation effectively cuts out the middle man in the heating process, allowing far less scope for energy loss. This means that you will need much more power to effectively heat a room with a convection heater than you would with an energy efficient electric radiator. You can’t use our radiator calculator to work out what wattage convection heater you’ll need to heat your room. You may even find that a room which can be heated adequately by a 1kw electric radiator requires a 2kw panel heater for the same levels of warmth. Using twice as much power is twice as expensive – so your heating bills will quickly eclipse the savings you made when you bought the cheaper product.
Because panel heaters are less efficient than our electric radiators, they have to work much harder to heat indoor spaces. They also use moving parts in the shape of heating fans which have a much shorter lifespan than the static heating elements found in our electric radiators. Sold as a budget range, panel heaters are often very cheaply made – unlike our electric radiators, some of which even come with a lifetime guarantee on the radiator body! All of this means that panel heaters will have a much shorter lifespan than our electric radiators – so whilst they may be cheaper to purchase, you’ll almost certainly be replacing them sooner.
Another disadvantage of convection heating is that circulating warm air can disturb dust and agitate allergies. This is especially problematic for households whose occupants suffer from asthma, hay fever or other respiratory conditions or allergies. Because our electric radiators also heat by radiation, the convection element is much less fierce so the heat produced will be much gentler on allergies.
Whilst energy efficient electric radiators are undoubtedly a superior product, and certainly the most economical choice for whole home heating, we do think there is a place in the market for cheap panel heaters. In fact, we sell them – in the shape of our Ecostrad iQ Plus Panel Heaters and Technotherm Panel Heaters. Panel heaters are a good choice if you want an on-demand heat source in a room you use infrequently – such as a guest room or personal study. If you do not use the room on a regular basis, the heater will not wear out quickly and the running costs should not have too much of an effect on your monthly bills.
But if you’re looking for a whole house heating system that’s truly efficient, be careful of cheap alternatives – they will lose you money in the long term. For more information about the difference between panel heaters and energy efficient electric radiators, give our friendly sales team a call on 0330 300 4444.
Electric Radiators Direct are here to bring you the very latest energy news, views and opinions from across the UK. They are also suppliers of energy efficient electric heating solutions and are constantly assessing the market for the best products and the latest ground-breaking technology which they think will make a real difference to their customer's homes. Electric Radiators Direct are devoted to helping you reduce your carbon footprint and bring down your energy bills and they work hard to raise awareness of energy efficient products that can make all the difference. If you're interested in wall mounted electric heaters or infrared panel heaters, call Electric Radiators Direct today on 0330 300 4444 for a free assessment.