Where would we be without our trusty room heaters? Handy in a pinch when our central heating suddenly conks out and reliable as a zoned heater for everyday use. Room heaters come in all shapes and sizes but therein lies the problem – there’s a lot of different products out there which all claim to do the same job. ‘Room heating’ is quite a vague phrase and we all have different requirements for warming our home, so it’s to be expected that some heaters just won’t make the cut. So, what should you be looking out for when you come to buy a room heater?
Heat-up times are a big factor for some when choosing a room heater; you might be holding an exercise class and need heat straightaway, or you may have a living room that only requires a low intensity background level of heat.
Pure convection heaters are great for quick and effective heating at short notice, or for occasional use in areas of the home you use less frequently. Panel heaters provide warmth by heating air in the room, and their effects can be felt almost immediately as they create an exaggerated convection current. Our Stiebel Eltron panel heaters are wall-mounted convection heaters which are perfect for rooms that are used sporadically, such as guest rooms or home offices. They may not be portable, but they offer a more robust heating solution designed for permanent integration into the home.
Electric radiators that use thermal fluid elements like our Cointra Apolo range are a popular choice if you use your room heater regularly. While they can take time to reach comfort temperatures, they provide a more lasting heat suitable for long periods of use throughout the day.
If you want a good compromise between rapid heating and lasting warmth, opting for a radiator like the RC Wave might be the way to go. These radiators use dry thermal heating elements which warm quickly compared to many other electric radiators and still offer an effective combination of radiated and convected heat.
Nobody sets out to buy an inefficient heater but it’s an all too common occurrence for consumers to end up with one by accident. It’s not obvious how efficient a room heater will be just by looking at it, as each one will utilise slightly different mechanisms which will have an effect on its energy consumption.
In general terms, convection-based products like panel heaters or fan heaters are less energy efficient when compared to radiators as not all of the electricity used to power them will be converted into heat. Some of this energy will be turned into light, in the case of some cheaper heaters with exposed elements; or used to power components within the heater, like fans and motors. This might not present you with an issue if you only tend to use your room heater infrequently or for short periods of time. However, if you like to use your room heater on a daily basis, you’ll be much better served looking for a more energy efficient solution as your running costs will quickly add up.
Features and functions
Even the smallest of room heaters come packed with a range of features these days and it’s always worth keeping your eyes peeled for functions designed to save you money.
Programmers and timers
Many modern panel heaters and electric radiators come with some form of programming functionality to allow you to create a custom heating schedule around your lifestyle. These can be basic analogue timers or more high-end digital models. Some of these programmers are so versatile that they allow you to schedule your heating down to every hour of every day across the course of a whole week. You may not need this function if you only need on-demand heating, but for regular users this feature can allow them to pre-heat spaces before they come to use them and ensures that the heater switches off at the right times when heat isn’t needed.
For ease-of-use, you might want to go for a heater that can be used with a remote control. These can come in handy if you need to be able to adjust your heating quickly without having to get up and walk over to the heater itself. They’re invaluable if you have reduced movement and would rather manage your heat levels from the comfort of your chair.
Our Haverland RC Wave can have this function with the purchase of an additional remote control and is a fantastic choice if you want quick, easily manageable heating. The additional bonus of the RC Wave remote is that it can also streamline the process of programming your radiator and gives you the ability to refine your heating schedule down to the half-hour.
Basic room heaters will usually have very simplistic controls like turn-dials and switches to regulate heat. We’re all familiar with the non-descript knobs on the front of fan heaters, their vague gradient bars of colour indicating some sort of transition from cool to warm. They’re not particularly useful if you want to accurately monitor your room temperature, so if you need more control over your heating, you should look for products with a digital display. Heaters with LED or LCD screens will be able to provide you with a visual readout of the current room temperature and target temperature levels.
Size and weight
Most room heaters are quite small but their output is usually sufficient for average room sizes. That being said, it’s always worth checking the maximum room size the heater will be able to cope with before purchasing. The worst thing you could do is to purchase an underpowered heater that will be struggling to heat a space that’s too large for it to handle. When a heater is underpowered, it will constantly draw energy as it tries and fails to maintain the room temperature, severely shortening the lifespan of the appliance.
Another consideration you need to make is the weight of your room heater, if you think you might need to physically pick it up to move it. Some electric radiators can be fitted with casters to move them around without having to bend down to pick them up, but others with static feet will need to be manually handled in order to be placed in position. Always check the weight of a room heater before purchasing if you think you might struggle to move it otherwise.
To make it easier to match your needs to the right kind of room heater, here are our top recommendations:
Stiebel Eltron Panel Heater
Offers quick, convection heat in a slimline package for a permanent wall-mounted heating solution. Available with or without a timer function and has easy-to-use controls.
Cointra Apolo Electric Radiator
Provides long-lasting heat with its liquid thermal elements and has digital programming functions. Can be fitted with additional casters for easy portability without having to lift the heater.
Haverland RC Wave Electric Radiator
Uses dry thermal elements for a quicker heat-up time and effective convected and radiant heat. Includes programming features and highly accurate thermostat. Can be fitted with additional feet for a freestanding fitting and has an optional remote control.