Panel heaters, also known as convection heaters, are a low-cost heating solution that can be wonderfully effective in the right circumstances. By looking at the initial prices of the products alone, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that electric panel heaters are the best budget heating method, especially as our cheapest electric panel heaters come in at less than half the price of our lowest cost electric radiators. However, it’s important to differentiate panel heaters from other electric heating methods as they have a much more specific purpose. Before you decide on your purchase, take a look at this quick guide on panel heaters and where to use them.
Why should I choose a panel heater?
Convection heaters are popular for when instant heat is required, as they quickly create a warm air current that can be felt the moment the heater is switched on. They’re an excellent solution for rooms you occupy less frequently or use for short periods of time. Smaller rooms can benefit most from convection heaters as their reduced volume can help to exaggerate the effects of warm air rising and falling – perfect for box rooms, dressing rooms and studies.
The main fact you need to keep in mind about panel heaters is that they’re not the same as electric radiators and shouldn’t be confused with them. Unlike radiators, which heat via a combination of convection and radiation, a panel heater solely uses convection. Convection works by warming the air above the heater, which then rises and displaces the cooler air above it, creating an air current which eventually distributes hot air throughout the room. Radiation, by contrast, heats people and objects directly rather than warming the air, effectively cutting out the middleman as heat is transferred. Both radiation and convection have their merits so it all depends on the type of heat you need for your space.
As electric radiators use radiation and convection, they do take longer to heat up, but their radiant warmth provides a more lasting heat that is less susceptible to loss through draughts. It’s for this reason that they’re used as a primary heat source throughout the home.
Do electric panel heaters cost more to run?
Costing an electric heating system is always one of the main considerations for potential buyers, and in this respect, panel heaters can be an attractive option. Electric panel heaters are typically much cheaper than electric radiators because they’re easier to manufacture and use simpler heating elements. However, as convection is a less efficient method of heating compared to radiation, panel heaters have to work harder than other products to raise room temperature and therefore use more energy. Convected heat is also more easily dissipated, so if you’re coming and going from the room repeatedly, it’s very easy to lose all of the heat created through the use of a panel heater.
Though panel heaters cost more to run on a side-by-side comparison with electric radiators, you also need to consider how much you will be using the heater to warm your space. If you’re using a panel heater for a room you may only use occasionally or for short periods of time, your infrequent energy usage will offset its higher running cost.
For the main spaces in your home, electric radiators will always be the better option as they’re more energy efficient and their radiated warmth will provide a more lasting heat in comparison. For short-term heat that you may only need every so often, a panel heater can work wonders; but for everyday home heating, always look for an electric radiator.
Style and control options
Panel heaters come in a range of designs to complement various interior design schemes, and because of their simple construction, tend to be exceptionally slim and lightweight. Our Ecostrad Eco+ panel heaters have a modern, stylish design, not too dissimilar from many of the electric radiators we sell. The same is true for their control systems: the Eco+ offers the same controllability as an electric radiator with its digital thermostat and 24/7 programmer, allowing you to minimise energy consumption as much as possible. This heater comes in four sizes and can heat room spaces up to 18m2. The Eco+ comes with additional clip-on feet to transform into a portable, lightweight heating solution ideal for heating on the move. If need your heat to be mobile – for example, if you teach classes at different locations – a portable panel heater can be the most effective and convenient choice. To make it even more easy to use, every unit of the Eco+ comes with its own remote control, so you don’t even have to get up to adjust your heating.
Weighing up your options
To summarise, electric panel heaters are best viewed as ‘situational’ heaters with more specific applications. They’re ideal for less visited spaces, such as offices and seldom-used guest bedrooms, or as a portable heater to top-up your room temperature occasionally. With infrequent use, your heater won’t wear out quickly and won’t have a heavy impact on heating bills. So, while they’re not designed for long-term everyday use, they can certainly be convenient for swift heating at a moment’s notice.
If you are looking for a more permanent heating solution for your main rooms, you may want to consider other heating options. Our website stocks a range of alternative products, including a considerable selection of electric radiators and infrared products. Although they require a greater initial investment, these more energy efficient options can save you money in the long term by using less energy.
For further information regarding any of our heating products, or to find a solution which best suits your needs, visit our advice pages, read our blog, or call our friendly sales team today!