One of the questions we are frequently asked at Electric Radiators Direct is: what’s your most economical electric heater? For most applications we recommend our high-comfort, energy efficient designer radiators. However, we know all too well that in some situations it’s not the most energy efficient heating solution that will save you the most money. Whether you’re looking for a top-up heater to support an existing heating system, or searching for the cheapest way to heat a little-used room, sometimes a cheaper heater can be a practical alternative to a more sophisticated heating system – but how cheap should you go?
What should you look for in an economical heater?
Choosing the most economical heater for your home is all about finding the right balance between a cheap purchase price and affordable running costs. There’s no point choosing the cheapest heater on the market if astronomical running costs outstrip the purchase price of a better quality heater within a few months. So, to answer your question, Vicky Bailey sampled all the electric heaters available at Electric Radiators Direct to find out first-hand which heater achieved this balance best, offering most competitive value for money. Here she is now with an in-depth review of the Haverland Lodel Panel Heater – for her money, the most economical home heater available today.
The Haverland Lodel
For this review I tried out a Haverland Lodel 4 600w Panel Heater. Currently available for £99.99, the Lodel 4 is the smallest heater in the Lodel range, suitable for rooms up to 6m2. That’s about the size of a small bedroom, bathroom or study.
Size & Style
So, the facts: the Haverland Lodel 4 is 41cm wide, 58cm tall and 5.5cm deep. But how does this look and feel? At just above knee height, the heater is quite unobtrusive – especially if you mount it on the wall. It really is very slim – no thicker than the chicken tikka sandwich sat on my desk. The Lodel 4 only weighs 4kg, which is a real boon. It was easy to carry from office to office, and was not noticeably heavier than my laptop.
Style wise, the Lodel is very well made and exceptionally attractive for an electric heater. The design is simple yet aesthetically pleasing, with a fluid shape and perfectly smooth edges. Best of all, the Lodel is really and truly white – not the creamy off-beige colour that some manufacturers insist on using for their heating products. The Lodel I tried out was so well-polished I could almost see my reflection in the front panel. Would I use it in a stately home? Well, I like to think that if I owned a stately home I might be able to afford a more discrete heating system – but if I did have need of a portable electric heater, I’d be hard pushed to find one more elegant than the Lodel.
Installation & Maintenance
The Lodel comes with two fitting options: you can screw it to the wall using the supplied fittings, or you can mount it on the included feet to fit freestanding. I borrowed the Lodel 4 from our sales team – who were very keen to have the heater back by the end of the day – so I used the heater freestanding. All I had to do was screw the feet to the base of the heater and plug it into the nearest socket. The radiator feet are quite chunky; they add about 20cm to the total depth, if you’re counting, so not the best fitting option if you want to save space. However, they do seem very sturdy – this is one freestanding heater that would be difficult to knock over.
If you do want to wall mount the Lodel, I’m told it’s a simple matter of following our DIY installation video. Either way, installation is easy, fast and totally free – a big plus if you want to make the most economical choice for your home. The heaters are also maintenance free: all you need to do is keep them clean. It seemed that someone had splashed tea on the Lodel I borrowed – but it came off easily with one wipe of a dry cloth. Don’t worry, when you order from Electric Radiators Direct you’ll get a brand new product straight from our warehouse – not one of our office cast-offs!
Using the Heater
Once plugged in, I could begin using the Lodel immediately. I switched the heater on and within a minute could feel warmth rising from the top of the heater. Within 5 minutes, my cheeks were rosy and the temperature in the room had risen by several degrees. The Lodel heats using convection – warming the air as it circulates around the room. Convection is not the most efficient form of heat transfer because heat can be lost through draughts and open doors. Convection heaters work by filling the room with warm air, so naturally they will be less effective if you are heating a room which is large, open plan or has a high ceiling. For these spaces an infrared heater, though slightly more expensive, will be more economical to run. However, in our well insulated office, the Lodel was very effective. Most budget heaters heat using convection because convection elements are particularly easy to manufacture.
The Lodel did become quite hot to the touch after several minutes of heating. Both the front panel of the heater and the grill at the top were too hot to touch for more than a few seconds. The heat was equivalent to what you’d expect from a central heating radiator, an oil filled radiator, or the front of a fan heater, but nevertheless I wouldn’t recommend using the heater in rooms where children are left unsupervised. Usefully, however, the side panels of the heater are made from moulded plastic that does not get hot – so it’s possible to adjust the programming without burning your hand.
Thermostat & Programming
I always recommend choosing a panel heater with a thermostat because it makes it easy to limit your energy usage without losing any of your comfort. The Lodel thermostat did not disappoint, silently switching the heating elements on and off to maintain my set temperature of 21° C. The control panel displays an obvious heating icon when the heater is actually kicking out heat – and the thermostat was so effective that this icon only seemed to display for about a third of the time the heater was switched on.
You can change the temperature of the Lodel and alter its programming using either the control panel on the body of the heater or the free remote control. At first the Lodel didn’t seem to respond – but then I realised the control panel was locked. The heater display usefully shows a “key” icon when the control panel is locked, which in my haste to experiment with the Lodel I had overlooked. Unlocking the panel is a simply matter of holding the “+” and “-“ keys down together for three seconds.
Changing the temperature of the Lodel was easy and very intuitive. The Lodel has three heating modes: comfort, economy and anti-freeze, and you can select your desired temperature for each mode. “Anti-freeze” is the setting to use if you’re away from home over the winter. The heater won’t use power until the temperature drops below a set low temperature – say 5 °C – to protect your pipes from freezing. The manual humorously describes this setting as “recommended for unused dwellings in extremely cold climates” – you can tell these heaters were manufactured in Spain, sub five degrees is just an average winter day in Britain!
Programming the heater was the part I was most nervous about: just looking at the control panel, I didn’t know where to start. However, once I’d found the manual – supplied with the heater and also available as a pdf from the product page on our site – programming was easy, and I was impressed with how much information the manufacturers had managed to pack into the small display. What you have to do is click through each hour of each day of the week and assign your chosen heating mode to each hourly interval. Once I knew which buttons to press, programming was fast. The heater beeps loudly whenever you press one of its buttons, which I found annoying but I imagine this would be useful if you were using the remote control from across the room and needed confirmation that your changes were being registered. And of course, you only have to programme the heater once. If you want to make changes you do have to go through the process from the beginning, but it’s easy to skip over the days of the week if you only want to make one change.
I think the Lodel would make a great choice as a top-up heater for an existing heating system. If you use storage heaters, for instance, a top-up heater will ensure you have a way to stay warm if your storage heaters run out of charge early. The Lodel is ideally suited to perform this task: with its thermostat and programming facilities, you can set it to switch on in the evening if it senses the temperature dropping below set levels – it will heat as and when needed without you having to lift a finger.
The Lodel would also function well as a standalone heater for a small room which is used on an infrequent basis, such as a spare room, home office or conservatory. Its fast-acting convection elements make it suitable for on-demand heating, whilst the programmer and thermostat combination give it all the controllability of an electric radiator – but with a much cheaper purchase price.
The Haverland Lodel comes with a two-year warranty and is also available in 900w, 1200w and 1500w sizes. For more information about these high-spec economy heaters, give our sales team a call on 0330 300 4444.