Where would we be without the convenient warmth of an electric heater? They’re our trusty fall-back solution when our main heating systems fail and quickly come to the rescue when we need to take the chill off a space quickly. As some of the most varied heating solutions on the market, you can grab an electric heater for as little as £20 or even spend upwards of £300 depending on how sophisticated you need your heater to be, so which should you choose? Do you opt for the low-cost portable heater or plump for something a little more expensive? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of low-cost heaters versus more advanced models.
Pros and Cons of Budget Electric Heaters
The draw of these products is always going to be their low initial cost. Budget heaters range all the way from bargain basement prices between £10 – 20, to slightly higher price tags around £70 – 80. There’s a profusion of electric heaters between the two ends of the price spectrum but quality can vary so it’s best to look at reviews before making a purchase. Running costs for these heaters also tend to be particularly high because of how inefficient they are to run so don’t get too reliant on their heat. Anyone who’s had to rely on a fan heater over winter because of a boiler malfunction will attest to how costly they can be in the long term!
Usability & Convenience
Nothing’s quite as simple as a portable heater: you just plug it in, turn the temperature dial and enjoy directed warmth in an instant. In the case of fan heaters, their ability to project heat can also be a blessed relief if you need rapid warmth directed to a specific area of the room. Budget convection heaters have dials to adjust their output but these thermostatic controls are basic at best, leaving plenty of room for error when it comes to maintaining heat levels. Spaces can suddenly become stiflingly hot or uncomfortably chilly, all of which means you’re making repeated manual adjustments to your heater. That might not sound too bad at first, but if you’re doing it repeatedly throughout the day, it stops being a minor inconvenience and quickly turns into a major source of irritation.
Let’s not fool ourselves. Cheap electric heaters are not also ‘cheap to run’ electric heaters. These basic appliances are notoriously inefficient to run because they prioritise effectiveness over efficiency, so if you’re planning on frequently using your heater, you’ll be better off opting for something with more energy-saving features. Taking a look at a standard portable fan heater, it’s easy to see why they’re so inefficient to run. Not all of the energy they use is turned into heat because of how they function. The moving components – though intrinsic to the design of these heaters – will use a good chunk of the energy drawn from the wall, as will an oscillating base if it has one. Inaccurate thermostatic controls serve to exacerbate their inefficiency even further and means that energy can be wasted by the appliance overheating your room space.
Manufacturers of portable heaters have to work within the confines of making a product that’s both lightweight and compact, which unfortunately means that you’ll rarely find anything more exciting than the boxy-looking heaters we’re all familiar with. If you’re not partial to the whirring of a fan or the glow of heated coils, you’ll find they’re not the most discreet options either. Out of all the low-cost electric heaters available, convector heaters are the least obtrusive: they don’t contain any moving parts and are almost entirely silent. The heat they create isn’t quite as ‘punchy’ as a blow heater because they lack the means of projecting heat out with force but they’ll still warm spaces rapidly.
Pros and Cons of High-End Electric Heaters
Good quality electric heaters tend to be priced over the £100 mark and are in a league of their own compared to cheaper products. They produce the same effective heat but offer a wealth of superior control options that allow you to slim down your bills and make your heater more convenient to use at the same time. Yes, they cost a little more but their improved accuracy and enhanced energy-saving features means that they’re certainly more economical to run compared to their cheaper counterparts.
Usability & Convenience
Electric heaters in the higher price bracket often have digital thermostats that allow you to select a precise comfort temperature instead of relying on fiddly and inaccurate knobs that never seem to strike the right balance. If you want a cosy 20 °C temperature, just set your electric heater and the rest will take care of itself. The digital thermostats in high-end heaters are often accurate to within a fraction of a degree which makes these heaters much more responsive to changes in temperature.
Along with enhanced output control, more sophisticated heaters come with digital programming capabilities so you can schedule your electric heater to pre-heat spaces before you come to use them. Granted, this feature will not be as useful if you only want your heater for portable on-demand heating every now and again, but it’s an absolute must for anyone using their heater with any degree of regularity.
Style takes a quantum leap forwards with higher-priced electric heaters. There’s no off-white housings that look like they’ve sustained years of nicotine abuse – premium heaters come with a premium aesthetic that will look good in any environment. With sleek modern designs and slim, lightweight housings, they’re definitely worth splashing out for if you’d rather not be looking at the squat dimensions of a standard portable heater.
Cheaper heaters are handy in the right situation and it’s always useful to have one around the house in case you find yourself suddenly in need of some quick warmth. However, regular users of their portable electric heaters could stand to benefit from a high-end product with better accuracy and more heat management features. Whatever your budget, always look out for models with as many features as possible to avoid paying over the odds for your on-demand heating, and as usual, do your research beforehand. If you’re looking for a heater with all mod-cons, take a look at our fantastic Ecostrad Eco, which offers convenient control at an affordable price. For more information, take a look at our range of Ecostrad electric heaters.