What is the Most Efficient Form of Electric Heating?

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The most efficient and cost-effective heating system is always going to be the one that offers some degree of radiant heat. It lasts for much longer compared to convection, isn’t affected by air movement and helps us feel cosy, but how does it actually work and which heating systems provide the most radiant heat?

What is ‘radiant heat’?

We have to go back to school a little on this one. Radiant heat is just another way to refer to infrared radiation, which is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Though it’s a kind of radiation, it’s not anything to be afraid of – all solid objects in the world, including ourselves, absorb and emit infrared constantly. In fact, we couldn’t live without it! It’s one of the main ways we perceive heat and regulate our body temperature, so if we didn’t have infrared, the world would feel like a very cold place indeed. A lot of heating systems use radiation to keep us warm – like radiators, underfloor heating, infrared panels and patio heaters – so you’ll be more familiar with this type of heat than you might realise.

Why is it so energy-efficient?

Radiant heat is easily absorbed and retained by solid objects (including human beings), so when your heaters use this type of warmth, it sinks deep into the walls, ceiling and surfaces of your room. It gets effectively locked into the fabric of your home for a long-lasting sensation of warmth throughout the day. This isn’t the only reason it’s efficient though:

- Radiant heat travels in a wave without needing the air to transfer warmth so it doesn’t get blown away by draughts. Overall, more heat stays in the room.
- With a radiant heating system, you can often turn down the thermostat and still feel comfortable because the heat warms you directly.
- When the surfaces of your property warm up, they then re-radiate this heat to other areas of the room, so again, less heat is lost.

Is radiation more efficient than convection?

Some products, like panel heaters and storage heaters, work by transferring heat to the air, which rises and falls to distribute warmth throughout the room. It’s a quick way of achieving warmth but far more prone to heat loss, especially as people come and go from the room, allowing this heated air to escape to cooler areas. Whenever this happens, these convection heaters have to work even harder to bring the space back up to the right temperature, which is clearly far less efficient than radiant heat.

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Which electric heating systems are the most efficient?

Electric radiators and infrared panels are the most efficient form of electric heating because both use radiant heat to maintain room temperatures.

Electric radiators

Ecostrad Accent infrared panel on wallMost electric radiators will produce two-thirds of their warmth as convection to bring rooms up to temperature quickly but will also offer one-third of their heat as radiation. This provides a lasting background warmth, so even if you do keep moving from room to room, you won’t lose as much heat from air movement. For maximum efficiency, look out for ceramic radiators which are able to produce a much greater proportion of radiant heat. As ceramic has excellent thermal properties, these radiators offer up to 50% of their warmth as infrared heat. You can still enjoy the quick results of convection if you need fast warmth but you also get a much slower cool down time which helps to keep running costs low.

Infrared panels

Also known as radiant panels, these electric heaters produce 100% radiant heat, making them super-efficient for homes and businesses. None of their heat is lost to air movement, however, they do take much longer to warm up a room from cold so some may still find the responsiveness of an electric radiator preferable. Perhaps the biggest draw of infrared panels is that they are lightweight and consequently offer a lot more freedom of placement in your room. They can be mounted higher on the wall or even on the ceiling so you can direct heat toward specific areas that are occupied most frequently i.e., above sitting areas.

Does heating control have an impact on efficiency?

It certainly does – the number of energy-saving measures an electric heating system has to offer will definitely impact how efficient they are to run. As a rule of thumb, you should always look for the product with the most amount of control options, but at the very least it should offer weekly programming and either an adaptive start or open window detection feature.

The energy-efficient electric radiators we offer come with their control systems and digital thermostats built into each unit. No other accessories are needed to set these products up, making them highly convenient if you need to get your heating system up and running quickly. Infrared panels, on the other hand, usually require you to purchase a separate external thermostat, although this does give you the option of upgrading or changing your control system later down the line.

What control features offer the most efficiency?

Ecostrad iQ Ceramic electric radiator on wallWe offer electric heating systems with a wealth of extra efficiency measures, so to keep running costs low, we recommend taking a look at products with the following features:

- Precision digital thermostats
- 24/7 programming
- Adaptive start
- Open window detection
- WiFi distance control
- Energy usage monitoring & statistics
- Motion sensing capabilities

Few products will have every single one of these features built in but you can simplify your search by narrowing down which functions you want the most, then focus your attention on products that offer these specific functions. Out of all the electric heating systems on our website, the ecostrad iQ Ceramic comes closest to packing all of these features into one body, so if you are looking for extra-efficient heating, it’s certainly one of our strongest contenders.

Finding the heating system that’s right for you

To keep your rooms warm and your running costs low, we offer a vast collection of energy-efficient heaters to suit every space. This includes WiFi controlled electric radiators, oil-filled radiators with Bluetooth connectivity, as well as infrared panels that are smart speaker compatible. Browse today at Electric Radiators Direct and find everything you need for efficient heating right here.

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