Panel Heaters vs. Fan Heaters: Which is Best?

Convection heater

Last updated: May 2022

It’s the age-old choice whenever you need a quick heating fix: do you go for the panel heater with its quiet operation, or the fan heater with its immediate results? In this blog, we’re pitting these rival heaters against each other to settle the question once and for all. We’re going to look at which is more efficient, why it’s more efficient and other things you need to know to make an informed purchase. Which is the better option: panel heaters or fan heaters? Let’s find out…


List of Contents

Panel heaters & fan heaters: a comparison

Why are panel heaters more efficient than fan heaters?

Which offers more comfortable heat?

Which is better for the environment?

A panel heater that’s built to last: The Ecostrad iQ Plus

Panel heaters & fan heaters: a comparisonFan Heater

Before we assess which of these two heating solutions might be the better of the two, here’s a brief description of how they work:

Panel heaters: also known as convection heaters, panel heaters are versatile and incredibly responsive. By heating the surrounding air, they create a convection current that circulates warmth throughout the room. They use exposed heating elements that allow for maximum contact with the air, providing a more effective heating solution.

Fan heaters: small and portable, fan heaters use forced convection to supply warmth, which means using a fan to spread the cold air over a heating element. The fan then propels the warm air back out into the room for a fast, yet noisy heating solution.  

5 reasons why panel heaters are better than fan heaters

Panel heaters more often than not make the better heating solution and it all comes down to these 5 simple points:

  • Fan heaters can only be portable, whereas panel heaters can be wall mounted or freestanding.
  • Panel heaters are virtually silent when they operate. Fan heaters are notoriously noisy.
  • A panel heater uses all the energy it draws to create heat, whereas a fan heater has to use some power on the fan.
  • Good quality panel heaters come with 24/7 scheduling and smart features like WiFi app control.
  • Fan heaters are much more prone to yellowing. Panel heaters usually have metal grills which prevent this from happening.

These points show just how convenient panel heaters are in comparison to fan heaters. But more importantly, they also show that they’re cheaper to run overall, which leads us into our next big topic: efficiency.

Why are panel heaters more efficient than fan heaters?

Panel heaters don’t need to use energy to power any moving parts, so they give you more heat for your money compared to a fan heater. Also, if you choose a panel heater with an accurate thermostat and programming features, they can restrict their energy consumption to a far greater degree, helping you to save money. A budget fan heater simply won’t offer this level of control. Here’s why:

Digital thermostats

The turn-dial thermostats found on fan heaters aren’t a patch on what a modern panel heater can offer you. A modern panel heater can monitor room temperatures to within a fraction of a degree, so when your rooms are the right temperature, they switch off immediately to save energy. Turn-dial temperature control, at best, lets you guess what heat level you need, and can be an ongoing battle of switching it up and down to find the right setting. Only a digital thermostat will help you to save energy and keep running costs to a minimum.

Daily & weekly programming

Smart Control

If you’re planning to use your heater regularly, a programming function can prove to be invaluable because it lets you decide at exactly what times the appliance draws power. The panel heaters on our website let you set a custom heating schedule hour-by-hour, day-by-day, so they’ll never waste energy heating your space when it isn’t needed. With a  heater, the onus is on you to keep an eye on how often it’s used and it’s all too easy to leave it running for longer than intended. A wall mounted panel heater can be programmed to follow your weekly routine to the letter and help you reduce the amount you spend on keeping warm.

Smart control

The WiFi connectivity and voice control features used in high-end smart panel heaters make these appliances even more easy and economical to run. By using an app on your phone, you can quickly adjust your settings whether you’re in the next room or halfway across the country, helping you to effortlessly keep on top of running costs. Plus, with voice control, if you want to switch your heating on or off, or just change the temperature, you don’t have to lift a finger. Just use your smart speaker and let it take care of everything. Very few fan heaters are this sophisticated – yet another reason why panel heaters make the superior option.

Which offers more comfortable heat?

Panel heaters warm the room by allowing heated air to rise and fall naturally, whereas fan heaters will force the air to move by blowing it around. Both are classed as convection heaters but it’s really only the panel heater that allows convection to happen gradually and gently. This means their heat is less overwhelming and doesn’t feel like you’re being warmed by a blast furnace! Fan heaters can be very convenient because they produce results instantly, but their forced heat can quickly become a little overbearing and can kick up dust to a much greater degree. Panel heaters may be slower in comparison, but usually only take minutes before they start to take the chill off. So, if you’re willing to wait, you’ll likely find that panel heaters are more pleasant and comfortable over time.

Which is better for the environment?

Something that people don’t often consider is the environmental impact of the products they choose. By selecting a good quality panel heater that will last years and years, you’re creating less electronic waste compared to purchasing a fan heater that may need repeated replacement. Often, fan heaters will need replacing because their plastic housings can become yellow, brittle and damaged, making them unsafe to use or sell on. So, what happens to them? They get thrown away, disposed of in the local tip, or worse, placed in the bin without thinking. It’s far better to invest in a high-end panel heater that can be easily repaired by a professional electrician than buying a cheap heater that isn’t designed to stand the test of time.

A panel heater that’s built to last: The Ecostrad iQ Plus

For a slimline panel heater that packs a punch, look no further than the Ecostrad iQ Plus. Combining the on-demand warmth of convection with intuitive, user-friendly control, the iQ Plus is perfect as a supplemental source of warmth in any home.

The iQ Plus can be operated manually through its neat, recessed control panel. For greater ease, this smart heater is WiFi-enabled, so you can connect to your heater from your phone via the Ecosystem app, downloadable on a smart device. Manage temperature settings, set 24/7 schedules, or pair with a smart speaker all through the palm of your hand - you don’t even need to be at home!

With its silent TRIAC thermostat, the panel is notably quiet during operation - there’s no distracting clicks and clacks from moving parts involved. Able to be both wall-mounted and freestanding, the iQ Plus’ versatility makes it a brilliant addition to a whole host of places in your home, especially draughty spots that struggle to retain heat, like conservatories or home offices.

Find your perfect panel heater here

If an intelligent, easy to control panel heater sounds like the right choice for you, be sure to take a look at our range. Don’t just settle for the cheapest option – by spending a bit extra, you’re getting a product that’s more convenient, more economical to run and, let’s face it, far nicer to look at. Browse today and find a heater that’s quiet, heats fast and gives you more control options than you can shake a stick at – we’ve got it all at Electric Radiators Direct.


Key Takeaways

  • Panel heaters and fan heaters both use convection, but fan heaters generate forced convection. This can feel particularly overwhelming when used frequently.
  • Panel heaters are the better choice - just as fast-acting, virtually silent, and without any risk of yellowing.
  • Panel heaters with smart features like WiFi control and 24/7 programming optimise the energy-saving potential of your unit, keeping running costs and environmental impact low.

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