Blog Post Monday 04 May 2020
Portable heaters are a great option for keeping the chill off through winter. With them, you’re able to heat the home room-by-room, and not worry about those rooms that aren’t being used. Additionally, portable heaters have a small footprint, don’t come with installation costs, and are easy to replace at the end of their lives.
There are many choices of portable heater on the market, and it’s important to find the right one, because a heater that isn’t powerful enough to warm a room will remain chilly and uncomfortable (but still increasing the power bill!), while one that is too powerful will overheat the room, leading to discomfort (and also a higher power bill!).
It all starts with the measuring tape. Before you start shopping around for portable heaters, measure out the size of each room that you’re looking to heat, so you know exactly how powerful the heaters will need to be.
There’s a simple calculation that you can use that will depend on whether the heater is an electric heater or a gas heater. To have the ideal electric heater for your room, multiply the number of square meters by 100 and that’s the number that you want to find for your heater – so a 3x5 room, which is 15 metres squared, would need a 1500W (or 1.5KW) electric heater. Meanwhile, for gas heaters, do the same calculation, but multiply by 75. The same room would be adequately serviced by a 1125W (or 1.1KW) gas heater in this case.
There are a large number of different types of portable heater available on the market, and each has its unique pros and cons:
Radiant heaters – These are simple and generally inexpensive heaters that operate by heating an element in the device and then relying on the heat to radiate out to fill the room. There are both floor and wall-mounted models available, and the low cost can be highly appealing, but it’s important to note that radiant heaters are a potential fire and burn risk, as they rely on the very hot element being exposed. They’re also not great at heating space – you’ll feel comfortable if you sit in front of them, but they’re not a solution for a large room.
Oil-filled column heaters – These iconic heaters often come on wheels and look like a stack of pancakes turned on their side. Oil-filled heaters run electricity through the columns to heat oil stored within, which then radiates the warmth out. These heaters are useful for warming rooms over a long period of time, as the warming and cooling process is slow. On the downside, the heat distribution of these devices can be poor if there’s not a fan or lot of movement in the room to “push” the heat around.
Convection and panel heaters – These heaters use active moving parts (fans) to draw cold air over an electric-powered heating element. Now warmed, that air is pushed back out of the device, which then rises to the top of the room, heating downwards from there. The benefit of these heaters is that they are very thin and can be wall-mounted, meaning they take up a minimum of space in the room. On the downside the warmth won’t reach your feet, so be sure to have a good pair of room socks. The fan and mechanics in the device can also be distractingly loud.
Fan heaters – These very simple heaters tend to be the smallest and most portable of all portable heaters, and are one of the safest. They operate by pushing heated air across a room, and thus are also good for rapidly warming a room. The downside is that the fan can be noisy, though innovations such as Dyson’s “fan-less” fan heaters are helping to make these devices quieter.
Infrared heaters – These are a newer innovation, and a fascinating technology – infrared heaters don’t heat air, as all others do. Instead, they heat the objects in a room, much like how the sun generates heat (minus the radiation risk). These heaters can be wall or even ceiling mounted, and because they warm objects rather than air, if you’ve got a room that isn’t as well sealed against the outside conditions. The downside is that these heaters tend to be expensive, and they can only heat objects that are in line of sight to the device.
Once you have an idea of roughly the kind of heater that would be right for your space, the final task is to go shopping and compare your (many) options. Some brands and models that are popular amongst Australians include:
- Delonghi 2400w Dragon Oil Heater
- Noirot 2000W Panel Heater
- Dyson AM09 HotCool Portable Heater
Even then be sure to check out comparison websites and consider other options. Just as every room is different, so too will the ideal heater for that room.
Finding the most effective heater for your environment really depends on the design and conditions of the room, so carefully consider how the pros and cons of the above might apply to your spaces. With all heaters (aside from the infrared heater) you will benefit from having a ceiling fan switched on. Hot air rises, and the ceiling fan will act to push that heat back downwards, helping circulation across the room.