About electric radiators
Electricity powers many homes around the UK. In fact, there are around 2.2m households (8.5%) in GB use electric heating, with higher proportions in Scotland (13%) compared to England (8%) and Wales (5%).
Electric central heating comes in two forms:
- an electricity-powered boiler, usually in place of an old gas-fired boiler, or
- efficient electric heaters, often replacing old storage heaters
How do electric radiators work?
An electric radiator uses electricity to create heat. They are either plugged directly into the wall in your home or are wired directly into the socket by a professional electrician.
How do electric heaters generate heat?
Convection heaters heat the air and then transfer the heat throughout that space to warm up people and physical objects. Convection is a quick and simple way of heating rooms of all shapes and sizes.
The disadvantage of convection as a method of heating is that the air in a room needs to be constantly reheated to keep the space warm.
Radiant heating uses harmless electromagnetic radiation to heat surfaces of objects. Unlike convection heating that heats the air, radiant heating emits infrared radiation, which travels unimpeded until it hits a solid object, which absorbs the radiation and warms up.
When using radiant heat in your home, the objects in your room retain heat better than air. This means that the temperature stays in the environment for longer, which is more efficient than convection.
Radiant heat comes in different strengths depending on what you need for your room.
It is essential to choose the right size radiators for your room. Radiators which are too small to heat your space will work inefficiently and will leave you cold.
We’ve made this really easy with our Electric Radiator Calculator. Simply enter the dimensions of your room into the calculator to find out what sizes you need. Also, be sure to read our guide to Measuring and Spacing for your new electric radiators.
How it electric heating controlled?
Electric heating controls allow you to control the electric heat in your home. Like electric heaters, they come in different shapes and sizes. Your heating system will have a single type of control, including programmers, timers, room thermostats, and smart heating controls.
Smart heating controls
Smart controls allow you to manage your electric heating remotely from a computer, tablet or phone using Wifi or Bluetooth technology. WiFi control allows you to switch your radiators on or off, or adjust the temperature, wherever you are in the world using compatible mobile devices. It also makes them easier to program off the cuff and ensures you’re always in control of your heating.
And some smart heating controls include advanced options like automation. Some can learn from how you use it and help optimise your heating for you.
Economy 7 (Domestic Economy) tariff
With Economy 7 tariff you get one meter which has two rates. One rate records all energy used during the day, and the other rate records energy used overnight. The Economy 7 tariff gives you seven hours of cheaper electricity overnight.
The Economy 10 tariff works in a similar way to the Economy 7 tariff. It gives you an extra three hours of cheap electricity, usually in the middle of the afternoon. It is designed for electric radiators rather than storage heaters. It gives you 10 hours of cheap rate electricity during a 24 hour day at certain times.
Total Living Control
Total Living Control is for Scottish homes that are highly energy-efficient, and have all-electric heating systems. It offers 8 hours of cheaper, off-peak energy, split across three times each day.
For more information about tariffs read our Running costs guide.
What are the benefits of electric radiators?
Electric radiators offer great flexibility because they can be used anywhere in the home, including as part of garage and loft conversions. You’ll find an electric heater to fit any room in your house, on nearly any surface.
Modern electric radiators come with a range of energy-saving features that help to curb your energy usage and cut down your heating bills, keeping you warm while preventing wasted energy. Some include an energy monitor so you can understand and keep track of your energy usage in real-time, identifying areas where you could make a saving.
Simple and low-cost installation
Electric heating is easier and significantly cheaper to install than other heating methods like gas, oil, or biomass. There are no pipes to install, and no flooring to lift. In fact, many electric heaters can simply be plugged in – no wiring necessary.
If you’re installing central heating from scratch – in an extension or a new house, for example – it’s the perfect time to choose electric central heating and future-proof your home. Did you know that the average cost of installing traditional central heating in a 3-bed house is £3000-£4000? With no boiler or trades needed, and good electric radiators starting from as little as £149, you can immediately see the savings to be made.
You only heat the rooms you use
Modern electric radiators have an Intelligent Control System that works on a room-by-room basis, unlike traditional central heating with one central thermostat controlling all radiators. You set the desired temperature of your room, and the time of day you’d like your heating to come on. The radiator uses just enough energy to achieve the right level of heat, then lowers its heat output to maintain the correct temperature. With your heating monitored on a room-by-room basis, you’ll never waste energy on a room that’s already warm, or a room you don’t want to heat at certain times of the day. This can result in considerable savings over traditional central heating.
If a home has adequate insulation installed and modern, efficient electric heaters, then electric heating can still be perfectly efficient for some homes. On the right tariff and with the right setting programmed, electric radiators can be cheap to install, run, and maintain. The efficiency of all modern electric heating is excellent, with almost 100 per cent of electrical energy converted to heat.
Choice of styles
Electric heating design has evolved in recent years to bring you as a consumer, a great choice of stylish electric radiators, towel rails, and controllers. From traditional to contemporary styles, there’s something for every taste and every room.
No maintenance worries
With very few moving parts and no connected boiler, electric radiators need very little maintenance and don’t need to be serviced annually, saving you money and hassle.
Modern electronic controls on electric radiators allow you to set a thermostat so that the heater switches off when it has reached a specific temperature. A heater with these charge controls will automatically calculate how much heat it stores overnight, based on room temperature, previous usage and changes in daily weather patterns.
Some electric radiators can even detect if there is a window open in the room.
How much do electric radiators cost?
Electric radiators once had a reputation for being inefficient. Modern electric radiators are now efficient enough to be considered a viable, cost-effective alternative to most other central heating options including gas and oil. Together with solar power, electric heating is considered the energy of the future.
Cost to buy
A good electric radiator will start from as little as £149. The cost of buying electric radiators for your home will vary depending on the number of rooms you have and the size of those rooms. You can use our electric heating calculator to help you calculate the size of the electric radiators you will need. Alternatively, you can contact us using our heating design enquiry form, and we can help you price up a new electric heating system for your home.
Our article, ‘Wattage – getting the right radiator‘ will help you select the correct power output for your rooms.
Cost to run
In a well-insulated home, the cost of heating your home with electric radiators on the lower Economy 7 tariff (12-7am), would cost about £800-£1,000 per year. The actual annual running costs for an individual room/property will vary according to many factors such as:
- insulation levels
- weather conditions
- correct sizing of the electric radiator
- the quality of the radiator
- room temperatures required
- the energy tariff selected for your home
Tips for running your electric radiators efficiently
In colder weather, set the input or timer profile to a higher setting to get more heat. Read our other free guide to save money on your heating during cold weather, Automate your home’s electric heating and save money this Winter.
In mild weather, set your input to low to make the most of the opportunity to save some money. Make sure the output switch is turned down or off during the night.
Going on holiday
If you have an older electric radiator with input and output controls, set the output switch to down or off while you are away to avoid wasting heat.
If you have a newer model with timer profiles, you should be able to program a holiday mode setting that will help you avoid spending money on heating empty rooms.
Electric radiator safety
All modern electric radiators come fitted with the following safety features as standard:
Temperature limiters switch the radiator off if the surface temperature exceeds a set limit to prevent overheating.
Enclosed heating elements
Enclosed heating elements ensure safe, clean heating that will not damage your walls. Unenclosed elements are often found in electric heaters and panel heaters and can cause wall blackening over time as dust comes into contact with the exposed elements.
Accreditation badges demonstrate that a product meets standard safety criteria as set out by law. All electric radiators must be CE marked as a minimum. Additional accreditations such as the BEAB mark, VDE mark or NF mark, are also good indications of quality. Safety accreditation badges can be found at the bottom of product descriptions.
IP ratings measure a radiator’s protection against the ingress of solid particles and liquids. Essential to check if you want to install your radiator in a bathroom or any other space where the radiator may come into contact with water.
We recommend looking for radiators with a radiator body warranty of at least ten years. A long warranty is a good indication of the radiator’s quality.
Other guides about electric heating
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