When it comes to storage heaters, old versus new is a common comparison. Which is more cost-effective? Should I upgrade?
In this article, we will compare older storage heaters with their modern equivalents so you can see the benefits you’ll receive by upgrading. We will look into the future to see what’s in ‘store’ for one of the most popular heating methods in the UK.
We also explore how the humble storage heater has evolved through the years from a simple device that caused soaring day-time electricity usage in the ’60s to an increasingly efficient and high-tech method of heating our homes today.
The electricity boom
When storage heaters first appeared on the market in the ‘50s, they were considered an innovative technology. At the time, anything electric was thought of as being modern and therefore better.
As electric heating became increasingly popular, the UK’s electricity boards had a problem. Electricity usage soared during the day but took a severe decline at night. As power stations couldn’t exactly be powered down, they had to create demand for electricity at night.
Domestic storage heaters were developed in the early ‘50s to solve this problem. Storage heaters worked by using electricity overnight to slowly heat thermal bricks in the heater body. This heat could be released during the day as and when needed, then recharged overnight.
Night storage heaters worked in tandem with cheaper rates set by the electricity boards. The Domestic Economy (‘Economy 7’ outside Scotland) tariff helped make the use of surplus night-time electricity more attractive. Storage heaters provided a way for people to heat their homes at a lower cost than most other methods at the time.
Lot 20 and modernisation
From 1 January 2018, all new storage heaters were required to have certain features to comply with Lot 20. Lot 20 is part of the European Ecodesign Directive, which provides consistent EU-wide rules for improving domestic products’ environmental performance, including electric heating.
This essentially means that all storage heaters you can buy today must meet a minimum energy efficiency rating of 38% for a heat output above 250W. The result is that you will find nearly all new storage heaters include the following features:
- Digital programmers
- Open window sensors
- Electronic room temperature controls
- Adaptive start
- Fan assist
- WiFi control
The result of Lot 20 was that the days of basic storage heaters were over.
Learn more about how storage heaters work and cost in our related article, Free guide to electric storage heaters
Comparing old to new
Control and convenience
Over time the drawbacks of storage heaters became apparent. They relied heavily on users predicting their heating needs in advance because they could only be charged overnight in preparation for the coming day.
Older models often come with basic controls that feature two dials; an input so you can control how much heat it stores and an output to control how fast the heat escapes (the equivalent of temperature control). This minimal control relies on the user to predict their heating needs without making room for much change in their schedule, which is why older models often run out of warmth right when it is needed the most.
Modern storage heaters now come with more advanced controls and feature 24/7 programming. This allows you to set a heating schedule that fits your lifestyle so you can avoid wasting heat or energy. Much more efficient than older manual models.
Smart storage heaters feature WiFi control, allowing you to manage your heating from your phone or tablet easily. You can adjust and monitor your heating even when you aren’t at home. Some models also automatically manage their own charge for more convenient and efficient heating.
Old storage heater units were very bulky because concrete and fireclay bricks were used to store the heat generated by the element overnight. Their aesthetic meant that they no longer blend in with modern properties. The old-style design is one of the many reasons traditional storage heaters no longer are a good fit.
In principle, storage heater design has changed little over the years. However, modern storage heaters have a slimline design that uses denser and more effectively-insulated casing materials. They now look more attractive and take up less space.
The modern design attempts to replicate the aesthetics of standard radiators. Todays’ storage heaters also come in a range of neutral colour tones to blend into modern interiors.
Older, manual storage heaters cannot monitor the temperature of the room, meaning you need to adjust the output dial yourself.
New storage heaters have built-in digital thermostats and are able to adjust on their own. These thermostats ensure rooms are always kept at the right temperature to keep you comfortable.
Traditional night storage heaters have to be installed on internal walls to limit heat loss through the back of the heater.
Modern storage heaters have a purpose-built convection chamber that creates a heat blanket. This prevents the escape of heat, meaning a modern storage heater can be installed anywhere in your home.
Our recommended storage heaters
Dimplex XLE Slimline storage heater
The Dimplex XLE represents the new non-high heat retention standard for storage heating, raising the bar over conventional storage heaters.
It offers dynamic storage calculation, adjusting the amount of energy stored to meet your requirements without wastage. As a result, a more significant amount of electricity can be saved with off-peak energy. Other benefits include:
- Harness off-peak electricity tariffs for low running costs
- Dynamically stores the right amount of energy to heat a room
- Fan assisted to quickly, quietly and more effectively distribute heat
- Programmable room temperatures with three seven-day timer profiles
Learn more about the Dimplex XLE Slimline storage heater.
Dimplex Quantum Storage Heater
One of the most advanced, economical, off-peak electric heaters available. It uses low cost, off-peak energy making it very economical. The Quantum storage heater will deliver heat only when it is required, ensuring no energy or money is wasted.
The compact, state-of-the-art build of the Quantum ensures it is the perfect upgrade for static storage heaters, and its unique design covers previous fixing marks of most comparably sized storage heaters, making them an ideal replacement.
Learn more about the Dimplex Quantum Storage Heater.
Future of storage heaters
Expect more money-saving, high-tech features for storage heaters in the future:
- voice control
- highly advanced occupancy sensors which can detect movement in the room
- self-learning technology that allows the radiator to programme itself around your daily routine
How would the early pioneers of storage heater technology in the 1940s react to the amazing features we have today? We think they would be amazed at the advances we have seen, especially in recent years.
We have a feeling there’s more to come as our homes become smarter and more environmentally-friendly.
As you have seen, there isn’t much of a contest when comparing old storage heaters with today’s models. Newer slimline models provide greater control, heat retention and overall efficiency to help you cut your heating bills, which is why you should consider updating your storage heater today.
We hope this guide helps you in your decision to upgrade your existing storage heaters or just put your mind at ease that modern storage heaters are an efficient way to heat your home or office.
Use the links below to explore our range of modern electric storage heaters for your bathroom, or use our heating design enquiry form to tell us what you need for your business or home office. And you can always call our friendly team for advice about any electric heating on 01382 566942 (Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm).