How to Choose The Best Conservatory Heater
A conservatory is a wonderful place to relax in summer, bridging the gap between your home and garden.
However, in the winter months, your conservatory may get less use. It can become cold and bleak and feel like a waste. What’s more, any plants in your conservatory may die as the temperature plummets.
Luckily, there’s a range of conservatory-heating solutions that can help you keep it a comfortable space all year round. And, let’s face it, having somewhere to retreat to, that is bright, warm and beautiful, is even more important through the cold, grey days of a British winter.
So, you can keep your conservatory warm and inviting by investing in one of the best conservatory heaters.
There are lots of things to look out for, but don’t worry. The following tips will help you make an informed purchase…
The Benefits of a Conservatory Heater
Finding the best conservatory heater for you will help you get more use out of it in the colder months. You can transform the conservatory from a cold zone where no one goes, to another comfortable hang-out spot.
Heaters can also help keep the air warm in your conservatory, which may help keep any heat-loving plants you have in there happy.
Furthermore, these heaters are great to use any time you just feel like you need a little extra boost of heat alongside your central heating. The great thing about this style of heater is that you can buy one predominantly for use in your conservatory, but it will be portable enough for you to take anywhere in the house.
Most of the conservatory heaters on this list can even be temporarily used in a shed or garage.
Choosing the Right Size
If you’re looking for a heater that you can move around as you wish, make sure that it’s not too large or heavy. Most heaters are designed to be portable, so you’ll probably find it has wheels anyway. But a heavy heater might put you off using it exactly as you’d hoped.
If you only have a small amount of floor space, you should check the dimensions of the heater to make sure that it will fit well. Alternatively, you could consider a wall-mounted option like the Wärme flat screen wall mounted conservatory heater which won’t use any floor space at all!
A larger heater won’t necessarily do a more efficient job of heating your space. Generally, a 1kW convector heater will heat a room of around 14 cubic metres to a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius.
Most heaters will have an energy efficiency rating displayed in their description. Nowadays, it’s relatively easy to find heaters with excellent energy efficiency ratings, so don’t waste your time considering a model which isn’t up there with the best.
A thermostat is a great way to improve energy efficiency. If you set the thermostat to a certain temperature, the heater will stop heating once it reaches that goal. Naturally, this saves energy as it doesn’t use more than is necessary.
Similarly, if you buy a heater with a couple of power options, you can avoid using more energy than you need. For example, the Duronic HV102 Electric Conservatory Heater lets you choose between a high and low power setting. Therefore, if you only want low-level heat, you have the option to do so instead of only being able to blast it on full power.
Different Types of Heater
There are several different types of heaters which can be used in a conservatory. There are pros and cons to each type, so it will depend on what you’re hoping to achieve.
These heaters work by warming the air in the room. As the air warms, it rises, and cooler air takes its place. As a result, the warm air is constantly moving around the room. These are a great option if you are looking to warm a whole room. This type of heater often has a thermostat which can save you money, as it avoids overheating. Here are some different types of convector heaters:
- Fan heaters work well and push hot air around the room. They may not be as energy efficient as other heaters because not all energy is put into creating heat; some is used on expelling air. Warm air can be easily lost through open doors and draughty cracks, so it’s important to keep the area airtight if you’re trying to use a fan heater to warm the room.
- Oil heaters are slower to heat up than fan heaters but offer steady convection heat. They will also stay warm for a while when switched off, so they continue to heat even when they’re not using any power.
- Electric convector heaters are generally 100% energy efficient, because all of their energy is converted into a heat output. They can be relatively cheap to run and include smart settings to give you more control over your heating.
Radiant heaters don’t heat the air like convector heaters do, but they focus on heating the objects directly in front of them. They don’t tend to evenly heat a room. These heaters are perhaps better suited to being used for short periods of time, just to keep one person warm in a static position.
- Halogen heaters, recognisable by their orange glow, will provide warm heat to objects directly in front of them. They are not very efficient at warming a whole room because they do not focus on heating the air.
Most of the heaters on my list are electric convection, as this type is most energy efficient and heats a whole room. This is usually preferred over heating what’s in front of the user.
Many conservatory heaters will have some safety features. The most common are overheat cut-out switches to stop them from overheating, and an anti-tip mechanism which makes them switch off if knocked over. That said, there are still some things to bear in mind when using a conservatory heater.
Don’t leave a conservatory heater on overnight – even if they have an automatic cut-off switch to avoid overheating, it’s still dangerous to leave them unattended for hours.
Be careful about nearby materials – place your heater somewhere with lots of space around it to avoid materials being melted.
If you have young children or pets, consider a wall-mounted conservatory heater that can be installed out of the way.
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Conservatory Heater FAQs
What is the cheapest type of electric conservatory heater to run?
This will depend on your usage. In general, the cheapest portable electric heaters are either oil filled radiators, oil-free panel radiators, or halogen/infrared heaters. Bar fires and fan heaters tend to be more expensive to use in the long run.
Don’t get confused with oil filled radiators vs gas fuelled: these are different. Oil filled heaters do not need to be replenished with oil so there is no recurring cost of re-buying gas cylinders.
Is it safe to use portable heaters around children and pets?
Electric heaters are very safe as long as you follow certain precautions. If you have young children around, you might want to choose a wall mounted panel heater. Alternatively, you could use a ceramic fan heater or an oil-free panel heater that is positioned out of their reach.
Electric heaters often have a variety of safety features including anti-tip mechanisms which are activated if the unit is knocked over, and cut-out switches to avoid overheating. Always ensure you check the safety guidelines of the heater you choose; each will have different safety requirements.
How can I protect my plants from frost in my freezing conservatory?
Using a heater on a low ‘frost protection’ setting can help keep temperatures above freezing in a conservatory. That said, you shouldn’t leave a heater unsupervised overnight.
As well as using a heater, you can wrap your plants in fleecing and take them away from the window ledge, as this is going to be the coldest spot in winter.
You can also use an organic material called mulch, which is placed at the base of your plant. This protects them against freezing and root damage.
Finally, you can DIY a cloche. This can be a glass jar, or a plastic bottle cut in half. Place it over the top of your plant during the night to protect it from getting too cold.
What size heater do I need for my conservatory?
The best conservatory heater for you will depend on where you want to use it. If you’re hoping to bring it from room to room, you’ll benefit from a smaller, lightweight heater. However, if you’re intending to use it in one room, you should feel free to choose whatever sized heater you like.
In terms of heat production, size is not as important as energy output. A small electric conservatory heater can still pack a big punch. So, here are some general guidelines for heating your space correctly…
As a general rule of thumb, 1kW will heat 14 cubic metres to a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius.
Bear in mind that non-electric heaters won’t produce a continuous level of heat. They do not keep a consistent energy output, varying from their maximum ability throughout the duration of being switched on. Therefore, for gas fuelled heaters to heat a room of 14 cubic metres, they must have a higher energy output than the figures above, perhaps 2 or even 3kW.
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