Electric Heaters – The Differences Between Convection Heaters And Conduction Heaters
Choosing from amongst the huge array of electric
heaters can be extremely difficult, especially with the vast array of available
options. The price and the operating costs are important considerations, but
finding the optimum type ultimately depends upon your specific needs. This
guide will help you to sift through the various electric heater options, and prevent
you from spending more than you need.
The majority of electric heaters use one of two
processes to heat a room, namely convection and conduction. Convection heaters
heat the air and circulate it around the room, providing gradual heat. Many
convection heaters use a fan to physically push air around the room, whilst
others rely upon rising hot air to circulate warmth.
Conduction heaters, conversely, uses radiant heat to warm objects directly, rather than indirectly heating the air. This direct heating action, provided by exposed elements, ensures that conduction heaters are unaffected by drafts, and provide focused and intense heat.
Oil Filled Radiators
Convection Heaters – The Gradual And Efficient Electric Heater
This familiar style of electric heater uses electrical power to gently heat a sealed oil reservoir. This liquid releases warmth into the atmosphere gradually, slowly heating the entire room. It takes a little time to heat the oil and circulate warm air around the room, but oil heaters are by far the most economical electric heater; it takes little extra electricity to maintain the temperature after the initial heating. Oil heaters tend to fall into the mid-price range, and the lack of moving parts ensures that they are sturdy and durable.
The economy and gentle heat generated by oil heaters makes them into a great option for providing permanent heat throughout the day and night. Oil heaters are the safest option, and can be left to run overnight with no more danger than any other electrical appliance.
Oil heaters do have some disadvantages, and are not always the best solution. The main downside is that they do not deliver instant heat, and need to be turned on an hour or two in advance. In addition, oil heaters heat the entire room so, unlike conduction heaters, everybody has to endure the same temperature. Finally, larger oil heaters are heavy and cumbersome, so are best used as a static heat source.
Fan Convection Heaters
Fan convection heaters use an inbuilt fan to force air over an element, providing quick heat and good air circulation. Fan convection heaters are available in a range of sizes and capacities, from the small desktop heaters to larger freestanding types. Many natural convection heaters give the option of using a fan, and this hybrid type provides the best of both worlds.
However, fan convection heaters have some major drawbacks, and should be used sparingly The inbuilt fan means that they need a lot of electricity to operate, and fan convection heaters are a poor choice for heating large spaces; they are best used for delivering quick heat.
The most serious disadvantage of fan convection heaters is that they are prone to overheating, especially when the element accumulates a covering of dust. Higher quality fan convection heaters contain inbuilt safety cut out switches, and these are worth the extra cost.
Natural Convection Heaters
Natural convection heaters heat up the air, via an
element, and allow natural circulation carry the heat around the room. Natural
convection heaters draw cool air into the bottom of the unit, heating it as it
passes over an exposed element. Warm air rises from the top of the natural
convection heater and circulates around the room, gradually heating the entire
Natural convection heaters are cheaper to buy than
oil filled radiators, and they heat the room much more quickly, reaching
operating temperature in a couple of minutes. The downside of this is that they
use much more electricity, and natural convection heaters do not deliver
instant heat as quickly as conduction heaters.
Natural convection heaters are much less liable to overheating than fan-assisted convection heaters, although it is vitally important to keep the air vents clear of any obstructions. Like most convection heaters, they struggle to heat large spaces, especially when there is a door to the outside, constantly mixing warm and cold air and disrupting the circulation. Natural convection heaters are a good compromise between the various factors, a natural balance between economy and quick heat.
Radiant heaters are the use an exposed element to
directly heat an object, through conduction, rather than heat the surrounding
air. Old-fashioned electric bar heaters, and halogen heaters, are the two most
common examples of radiant heater. Radiant heaters provide instant and intense
heat, so are a godsend if you have just come in from the cold. Radiant heaters
provide directed heat, so are a great option where only a few people feel the
Conduction heaters are not designed to heat up large spaces, and are limited in range. In addition, they are extremely uneconomical, especially when compared with oil heaters. Conduction heaters are best used for a quick blast of instant heat rather than to provide permanent heating. Finally, radiant heaters can be extremely unsafe, easily causing burns or electrocution. A model with robust guards and an anti-tip cut off is the only safe option.
Electric Heater Summary
For quick, direct heat, radiant heaters are the best
option, but they are too uneconomical to provide permanent heat. Oil heaters,
by contrast, are an economical and efficient way to heat up large areas.
Natural convection heaters are the best compromise option, providing a great balance between economy, efficiency and practicality. Fan heaters are the worst option, and are the most inefficient and uneconomical of the electric heater types.
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