It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re looking for an electric heater—there are so many types to choose from and dozens of considerations to keep in mind. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the most common types of electric heaters, as well as the pros and cons of each, to help you find the one that’s right for you.
Can I use my air conditioning to heat my home?
Given the Australian climate, you might consider looking for an air conditioning unit that can also be used as a heater. A reverse-cycle air conditioner can easily be repurposed as a heater in the winter months. However, this option can be expensive, and since air-conditioning units often require fixed installation, finding a second-hand one might be tricky.
Most electric heaters rely on convection and operate by circulating air in the room. Convection heaters are a great choice for heating a whole room and can be used for longer periods of time. Whether you opt for an oil column or panel variety, convection heaters are considered a safe option. This is because they have no exposed heating elements, lower surface temperatures and tend to be heavy or mounted on the wall, making them more stable.
Radiant heaters (sometimes called ‘personal heaters’) heat by emitting infrared radiation. This directly heats nearby things and people. Although effective, radiant heaters have exposed elements that can be a fire risk: don’t leave them unattended with young children or animals around. They work best for short periods of time when you’ll be staying close to the heater.
Oil-filled column heaters
Oil-filled column heaters don’t actually burn oil. They use electricity to heat the oil (or other liquid) which is contained inside their columns. The heat is then transferred to the air circulating around the columns. These heaters are relatively safe and they’re cheaper to operate than fan-assisted heaters, but they take longer to heat a room, so they’re better for use over longer periods of time.
Panel heaters, which are convection-based, draw cold air over an electric heating element. The warmed air rises from the heater to the ceiling and the cooler air moves in to replace it. This type of heater usually has a fan, so you’ll find that the room heats up faster and more evenly, and you won’t experience that ‘cold feet’ feeling. However, one downside is that they can be noisy. They usually come with a wall-mounting kit.
Fan heaters are usually smaller and more portable than other types. They can heat the air in a room quickly and consistently. They tend to be less expensive but are often also less power efficient and therefore have higher operating costs.
Today’s electric heaters are much safer than earlier models, which couldn’t be left unattended. These days, nearly all electric heaters should have component safety features, such as thermal ‘cut-outs’ and ‘tilt switches’. All electric heaters must comply with Australian Electrical Safety Standards, so check for compliance stickers and, when buying a used heater, ask the seller to send you a photo if it isn’t clear in the advertisement.
Finally, when trying to heat a room, think about efficiency. Are you losing heat because of draughts? Draught stoppers can help with this. Heat can also be lost through windows, so consider closing your curtains to preserve heat.
Once you’ve decided which option is right for your space, explore all kinds of electric heaters for sale locally on Gumtree.