Oil, Gas, or Ceramic – Choosing the Perfect Home Heater
Choosing the perfect heating solution is not so easy when so many options are available on the market. Each type of heater has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. It is very difficult for the average consumer to pick the best heating solution according to their own needs, especially when 3 major types of heaters are available on the market – oil heaters, ceramic heaters, and gas heaters. In this article, we are gonna dissect each kind of space heater’s pros and cons in order to help you make the best buying decision.
An Oil heater, also known as an oil filled heater, column heater or oil filled radiator, is a common and popular type of heater. But it doesn’t use oil as its fuel source as many of us would assume from its name. They actually use electricity to generate heat whereas oil is used for its diathermic properties for heat radiation. Oil heaters warm up the room through the convection process. Although oil heaters are more expensive than other kinds of space heaters, they come with certain unique advantages, unlike others.
How Do Oil Filled Radiators Work?
Oil filled radiators consist of various “fins” which are filled with oil. The oil is never burned in the heater but merely heated up to increase the temperature. When the heater is plugged in, the heat generated by electricity is transferred to these fins to heat up the oil inside those fins. The fins are connected through an electric resistor which is responsible for converting electricity into heat. When the oil is heated enough, the heat is channeled to the metal exterior through built-in tunnels and then transferred into the air via thermal convection. Oil heaters take a longer period of time to heat a room since the oil takes more time than water and other substances to be heated. But they consume less electricity since the oil can retain heat for a longer period. Another great thing about oil heaters is that they remain warm for a good amount of time even after they are shut down.
Oil Heater Pros and Cons
There are many reasons behind the popularity oil filled radiators. They also have some disadvantages of their own. Following is a detailed discussion of oil heat pros and cons:
Oil filled radiators or column heaters consume less power than other space heater types. There is usually a temperature monitoring system which constantly compares the oil temperature and room temperature. When these two are in level the resistor which converts electricity to heat energy is triggered off. Similarly, when there is a fall in room temperatures the resistor is on automatically to level the temperatures.
Because of the diathermic properties of oil, oil filled radiators can provide heat for a longer period of time even if the heater is turned off. The fins filled with diathermic oil take time to heat up and cool down when plugged in and out respectively. So you can still be warm and comfortable for some time even if the heater is switched off.
Oil Filled Heater Safety level:
Oil filled radiators are the safest option of all the space heaters out there. The reason behind this is there is no flammable object exposed inside an oil heater. The oil inside the heater is in a closed chamber and perfectly safe from any fire hazards. Another thing is that oil heater design is compact and there are no electric components exposed which may lead to electrocution.
Oil filled radiators don’t use any fans to transfer the heat to room’s atmosphere. The radiant heating has many benefits since it doesn’t kick up dust like other space fan forced heaters. Furthermore, radiant heating doesn’t make any noise like other heaters.
Oil heaters are portable in size and they come with many variations. They are very energy efficient compared to the central heating system. Unlike central heating system, you can heat any specific rooms according to your need whenever you want.
Slow Heating and Cooling:
Since the thermal mass of oil is greater than water, it takes two or four times longer to heat oil up to a certain temperature. That is why oil heaters take too much time to heat up the room in comparison to other space heaters. It also takes time to cool down which can be an advantage for many. But if you need a swift heating solution then oil heaters are not suitable for you.
Only for Indoor use:
An oil heater is efficient only for indoor usage, especially if the intended room is smaller in size. It is not appropriate for outdoor. The reason behind is that the thermal convection heating process is ineffective in outdoor.
Price and Size:
Oil heaters are generally more expensive than other kinds of space heaters and they usually come in large sizes. Furthermore, although they are portable in nature they are too heavy in weight. That is a major impediment in regard to their portability.
The ceramic heater is one of the most popular choices of all the space heaters. Especially where the safety factor is critical, most of the people will go for this type of heater. Ceramic heaters use ceramic plates to contain heats in comparison to other heaters. Ceramic is semiconductive in nature. In typical space heaters, there are coils used for heat containment. The coils heat up and eventually burn. On the other hand, ceramic plates heat up as quickly as coils but after reaching a certain level of temperatures they decrease the power consumption. This is some sort of self-regulated control measures that made ceramic heaters safe and energy efficient.
Ceramic plates are generally made of magnesium oxide and barium titanate. But the handy thing about that is that ceramics can be made according to the required level of conductivity and insulation, making them essential as a part of your preparation for the winter weather.
How Do Ceramic Heaters work?
Ceramic heaters have lots of ceramic plates in them used for containing the heat energy generated from electricity or by burning fuel. These plates are connected with metallic fins. A fan is used to blow the heat via air through the convection process as air is an efficient convector of heat. And due to the composition and property of ceramics, the heating process slows down after reaching a certain temperature.
Ceramic Heater’s Pros & Cons
Ceramic heaters are efficient in design, but by nature, they have some disadvantages as well. The pros and cons of ceramic heaters are given below:
Like infrared heaters, seramic heaters can heat up your room very quickly. The diathermic properties of ceramic and fan circulation can provide you instant heat. The cooling down process is also quick in ceramic heaters.
Ceramic heaters are user-friendly and they come in various sizes. Many of the models are portable and lightweight. Because of their portability, you can heat up any room of your house according to your needs. You can also carry one with you to use it in your workplace.
Some ceramic heaters have target heating options which allow you to direct the fan’s direction. By this way, you can regulate the heating process in a room according to your need.
Ceramic heaters are the safest and most convenient choice of all the space fan heaters in the market. The self-regulating properties of ceramic can prevent any fire or electrocution hazard. This is crucial if you have any toddler or kids in your home.
Noise and Air Integrity
Since ceramic heaters use fans to circulate the hot air into the room, they make some unavoidable noise. The fan blades generate noise in the process of hot air circulation. However ceramic heaters are not as noisy as the fan forced heaters. Another downside of the fan is that it promotes the movement of germs and other pollutants.
Require Proper Insulation
As ceramic heaters transfer heat in the convection method, the room in which they are being used must be insulated properly. Otherwise, the hot air inside the room will leak outside and the cooler air from outside will take their place. Eventually, that would make your heating ineffective.
Ineffective in outdoor
Like all other types of space heaters, ceramic heaters are not suitable for outdoor use. The open air would make it impossible for ceramic heaters to warm up any certain area.
Gas heaters are the oldest form of space heaters available. A few hundred years ago, the gas heater was the only heater that could be seen beside a fireplace in households. However, the introduction to various other kinds of heating technology has made gas heaters less popular today. Although the new heating technologies have many attractive features, gas heaters still have some edge over them in some aspects.
How Do Gas Heaters work?
Gas heaters have a combustion chamber in which the gas is burned to produce heat. In modern gas heaters, the ignition is controlled electrically. In the gas heating system, cool air is drawn into the combustion chamber to heat up and then channeled to the house through home’s ductwork. Users can either include a humidifier or a dehumidifier in this channeling system. Gas heaters produce the same by-product gas as our breathing system does (carbon dioxide). Proper ventilation is essential to prevent any kind of gas poisoning.
Gas Heater’s Pros & Cons
Minimal Operating Cost
Gas heaters are the most cost-effective heating solution available today. The main reason behind this is that gas is cheaper than electricity and other kinds of fuel. Though the installation cost of a gas heater is high in comparison to the other types of heaters, its operating cost is very low. You can save even more installing a thermostat in your home.
Whole house coverage
Gas heaters are generally made for whole house heating coverage. The hot air is channeled to rooms through a ductwork system. If you are looking for a whole house heating solution, a gas heater would be the most suitable choice.
Although gas heaters have minimal operating cost, the installation and purchasing cost of the central gas heater is far more than that of other heaters. They also don’t have the versatility in sizes like the other heaters on the market.
Gas heaters produce monoxide gases that need to be ventilated properly. Otherwise, there is a chance of gas poisoning inside the room. Moreover, gas heaters have higher fire hazard risk than other kinds of heaters because of the flammable nature of the gas.
Gas heaters are suitable for the central heating system. They are not efficient for spot heating. You can’t heat just one room according to your need. You would have to install thermostatic radiator valves for enabling spot heating option which has its own costs to bear.
Each kind of heaters has their own kind of distinctive advantages over another. A clear-cut comparison between oil heater vs gas heater or oil filled vs ceramic heater is unrealistic since there is no heater which is better than all other types of heaters in all aspects. If you are looking for a quick heating solution, ceramic heaters would be a good choice in that respect. They are also considered as the safest solution of all. However, if you are looking for an economical heating solution, you should choose from a gas heater or oil filled radiator heater. If we compare oil heat vs gas heat, gas heat provides economical and swift heating solution but it has a higher installation cost than oil heaters. You must set your list of preferences among the various features heaters provide before choosing any type of space heater for your home.
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