Many homes in the UK, particularly flats and old post-war builds without access to mains gas supply, rely on night storage heaters as a solution to heating needs.
Storage heaters are designed to accumulate heat in bricks during the night (when electricity is cheaper) and release during the day. These have been used somewhat successfully for years, though have developed a reputation for being inefficient and sometimes difficult to use. In recent years, a new product has come along pitching itself as a more modern alternative to storage heating, electric radiators. However, do these bring anything new to the table or does efficient heating still rely on homeowners being able to play weatherman?
Electric Radiators : It’s easy to see why electric radiators are regarded by some people as being storage heaters in all but name. Like their predecessor, they can be spur-wired into the wall, require little or no maintenance, and feature an internal construction that offers partial storage benefits. This, however, is pretty much where the similarities end.
Electric radiators, vertical radiators and their close relation, panel heaters, are all much different to storage heaters in performance and aesthetics.
An electric radiator is designed to look much like a conventional radiator and heat up to operate like one too. Crucially, though, there is none of the pipework associated with ‘wet’ system radiators and a much higher level of control is afforded.
Electric radiators are not storage heaters, but they are a pretty good replacement for them. Rather that storing heat over night and emitting it gradually during the day, electric radiators provide heating on demand, 24-hours day. With these heaters you don’t need to worry about heat output being too hot on mild days and running out too quickly on cold days – you just flick the on switch whenever you need heat. Like storage heaters, they are 100% efficient (every kilowatt of electricity is turned into a unit of heat), but you never need to concern yourself with wasted heat due leakage.
Better control of temperature is also something that has been addressed with these more modern products. Rather than having to constantly tinker with a confusing dial, electric radiators can be supplied with built in thermostatic controls or connected to a main thermostat to allow temperature settings to be adjusted according to the needs of the household. Moreover, when they are in use, heat is modulated to ensure room temperature is constant.
As we’ve already touched upon, electric radiators are much different to storage heaters in terms of appearance. Models are just 70mm deep and are sleek and stylish enough to look the part in any contemporary home. Thanks to their ability to be simply plugged into a standard wall socket, they can also be installed anywhere heat is needed – wall mounted or freestanding to suit your preferences.
Electric radiators and storage heaters might share a few things in common, but only one really belongs in the 21st century home and it does not have to run at night.