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Electric Radiators vs Electric Panel Heaters: What’s the Difference?

electric panel heaters

The sun is our giant radiator. It gives off 63 million watts of energy per square meter. Of course, most of that energy doesn’t reach us. Kind of like when you’re sitting behind three other people from the only heater in the room.

The most common heaters you see today come in two different forms: electric radiators and electric panel heaters. They both have their sets of pros and cons, but which one is right for your home?

To answer that question, we need to examine how they work, how much they heat, and how efficient they are.

Assess Your Home

How big is your home? How many rooms need to be heated? If you need a heater for just one room, then you could get by with a portable. We don’t recommend doing that because it’s less efficient to heat each room with a separate heater.

How well your home is insulated will also play a big factor in how effective a radiator or electric panel will work. Get an energy audit done on your home to detect any insulation issues.

Figure out the placement of your heater, giving it an unobstructed path to distribute heat is key.

Energy Efficiency

All electric heaters are converting 100% of that electricity into heat. The way to measure efficiency is how that warm air gets distributed and where it goes. Turning the heat higher on a thermostat also does nothing to heat the room faster. The heater will just stay on longer to reach the designated temperature.

Also, contrary to popular belief, small portable heaters aren’t more efficient. These small heaters waste a lot of electricity trying to blow warm air with a tiny fan. The heating elements inside these heaters just aren’t strong enough to impact the temperature beyond its own space.

Radiant Heaters

Your classic space heater is a type of radiant heater. Referring back to the sun, it simply radiates heat in a uniform path outward. That means that said heat gets absorbed by anything in its path.

Radiators are great for providing a high amount of heat in a short period of time. Radiant heaters don’t use a fan to deliver heat, either, so they won’t stir up dust or pollen. This type of heater is highly recommended for those on a budget.

You can find a radiant heater for less than twenty bucks. Cheap heaters should be avoided, though, as these are less safe and are prone to burning out. Although, it is worth noting that major retailers won’t carry heaters that don’t have fail-safes.

Radiators were unfairly labeled unsafe, back when older space heaters could easily tip over and set fire to surfaces. These days there are safety ‘kill-switches’ that cut power as soon as the heater is off-balance.

Electric Panel Heaters

These types of heaters work by moving hot and cold air in a cycle. It starts by pulling cold air in the panel, running it over a heating coil. This air is then pumped up out of the heater towards the roof. This process creates a circulation in the room, heating it regardless of the number of occupants.

That isn’t to say that electric panel heaters always heat a room evenly. If the fan that moves the air through the heater isn’t strong enough, you end up with pockets of cold. A common symptom of inadequate heating is having cold feet and a hot head.

These heaters can often be quite noisy, too. The fan can make it hard to hear details or whispers in your TV program.

Panel Heater Types

We are specifically covering electric panels, but it is worth noting that there are also other panels out there. Some use oil-filled columns to heat the air, but they are much bigger and heavier. There are also micathermic panels that use a mineral called mica, which is supposed to increase heat absorption.

Electric panels are light, can heat the room evenly, and use less electricity. The trade-off is that these types of heaters are more expensive and are louder. The average electric panel heater will run $100-200. Higher-end models can cost up to $400.

Which is the Most Economical Heater?

You’ll need to survey how your home will utilize the electric panel and the electric radiator heater. Would you benefit the most from a direct, radiating heat from one side of the room? If that answer is “yes,” then a radiator will be a cheap form of heat.

If that answer is “no,” then reconsider the placement of the heater before jumping to an electric panel. If you have a ceiling fan, you can effectively distribute that warm air better. The same goes for any heater, really.

Even with the fan on an electric panel heater, it does much better with a ceiling fan help to push that cold air away.

If you live in a multi-story house, then you may have up to 10 degrees colder difference upstairs. The best solution is to get a separate heater for upstairs. While it is another expense, the net result is a more evenly heated home. This could effectively lower your heating bill if your home is well-insulated.

Prepare for the Big Chill

We’re a little biased, but we’re going to choose to go with what has worked for generations. Electric panel heaters have only been a thing for a couple decades. The first radiator was invented in 1905. No moving parts, no loud fans, and fewer variables to account for.

Buying an electric radiator now is ideal. Get ahead of the crowds as winter approaches and prices begin to go up with demand. Plus, there’s nothing worse than waiting in a freezing home for a repair or replacement to arrive.

Take a look at our electric radiators that we have on sale. These aren’t your parent’s old radiators. They’re slim, safe, efficient, and easy on the eyes. We guarantee that you’ll be glad you bought a radiator from us instead of settling for what’s on store shelves.

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