Buying Guide: Heaters
Fight off the cold weather with a range of heaters to choose from, each with their own strengths. Get help picking between them with this guide, including an overview of gas, electric, fan heater, panel heater and ceramic heaters.
Electric heaters convert electrical energy into heat. There are several types of electric heaters:
- Column heaters: Heat oil inside the columns; the heat of the oil is then transferred to the circulating air. Column heaters are suited to rooms where they will be on for a long period of time, such as bedrooms.
- Convection heaters: Warm the air near the element or body of the heater, the warm air then circulates around the room. Many convection heaters – like a ceramic heater – have a fan, which provides faster warm-up and more even heating. These are suitable for larger rooms
- Panel Heaters: Most commonly mounted on a wall a panel heater is designed to provide heat for long periods of time.
- Fan heaters: Supply almost instant heat. A fan heater is best used for heating small areas and the fan can be noisy.
- Radiant heaters: Have glowing electric elements with reflectors to radiate heat directly. They provide quick directional heat to a small area of a room; radiant heaters aren't efficient enough to warm an entire room.
Gas heaters require that your home has a gas mains supply. Gas is a relatively cheap form of energy, and gas heaters offer high heat output. However, they give off waste gases from the combustion process.
- Flued heaters: Eliminate the problem of ventilation by directing all of the fumes and gases outside; this is ideal for bedrooms and living areas.
Have You Considered Reverse-Cycle Air-Conditioning?
Reverse-cycle air-conditioners are great for providing heating (or cooling) for larger areas as required. They are available as a:
- Window unit: Mounted through a window or on a wall, these are ideal for small rooms.
- Split system: The compressor is installed outside your home, with the fans mounted inside. Split systems are suited to heating (or cooling) one or more adjoining rooms.
- Multi-split system: Uses an outdoor compressor, with multiple fans inside to distribute warm (or cool) air throughout the home.
- Ducted system: A large outdoor compressor pumps warm (or cool) air to multiple rooms through ducts in the ceiling cavity.
What Type Of Heater For Your Space?
- Portable heaters are designed to be moved around. They supply almost instant heat but only for small areas, such as a study.
- Space heaters are designed to heat a single room and are often portable.
- Lounge rooms or family areas need background warmth; panel and other convection heaters are suitable.
- A portable fan or radiant heater will do the job of "spot heating," for instance, if you're watching TV or standing at the kitchen sink.
- Bedrooms require less heat than living areas. Choose from a panel or oil-filled column heater with a thermostat and timer.
Some Key Features To Consider
- A home heater with a fan helps a room warm up faster and distributes the air more evenly by preventing heat build-up near the ceiling.
- Thermostats maintain an even temperature and conserve electricity.
- A timer allows you to turn a heater on to warm up a room before you enter it, or to turn it off after you've left.
Choosing The Size Of Your Heater
The heater you choose should depend on the size of the area you want to heat; oversized heaters can be a waste of money and energy.
If the area you want to heat is small, or you'll seldom use the heater, consider a cheap heater. Even if it's a bit more expensive to run, you will still save money in the long run.
If you need to heat a large area for long periods buy an efficient heater with low running costs, even if it has an installation fee, as it'll pay off in the long run.