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Convection Heater Buyers Guide

By Tobias RobertsRise Writer
Mar 2, 2023

Convection heaters are an excellent option for homeowners looking to stay warm during long, cold winter months. While adding some weatherproofing around that leaky door frame, or adding a bit of insulation in the attic, can help to keep your home warmer and your energy bills lower throughout the winter, you may still be left with unwanted cold spots. Adding space heating in certain rooms of your home is also an option worth considering. Convection heaters offer a "quick fix" to heat the parts of your home where a little extra warmth can improve your comfort levels.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a convection heater?
  2. How does a convection heater work?
  3. How much space can a convection heater heat?
  4. Are convection heaters good?
  5. Are convection heaters safe?
  6. Can you leave a convection heater on all night?
  7. What are the best brands of convection heaters on the market today? 

What is a convection heater?

A convection heater, also known in some areas as a convector heater, relies on convection currents to heat and circulate air inside homes, businesses, and other buildings. These heaters circulate the convection currents throughout the appliance, sending the incoming air across the electric heating element inside the body of the heater.

The heater takes in the cold air from the surroundings, blows it across a heating element, and warms up a part of your home by circulating the hot air back out. Convection heaters also include a small fan inside that helps to better circulate the warmed air throughout the room where it is located.

Most convection heaters today run on electricity and can be plugged into any outlet throughout the home. However, you can find convection heaters that run on combustion, using gas, propane, or any other fuel type. Some models of portable convection heaters may also include a thermal mass inside the heater to hold the created heat and slowly release that heat throughout the night. Regarding the actual heating element, most convection heaters today use metal coils or nickel-chromium resistance wire. However, you can also find options that rely on thermal liquid or ceramic heating elements.

Stelpro Convection Heater
Stelpro Convection Heater

How does a convection heater work?

Following the principle of thermal conduction, the heating element heats the air, reducing its density relative to colder air and causing it to rise. When the warmer air molecules begin to rise, they displace or relocate the cooler air molecules downwards towards the heating element. As a result, the displaced cool air is heated. This warm air then decreases in density, rises again, and repeats the cycle.

It is important to note that as convection heaters rely on a heating element to heat the cooler, incoming air, they generally use a fair amount of electricity. Most convection heaters used as space heaters will use between 1,500 and 2,500 watts of electricity per hour. Though this is a fair amount of energy for space heating needs (some heat pumps only use around 800 watts per hour to heat larger areas of the home), convection heaters do become more energy efficient as you use them for longer periods.

Furthermore, though convection heaters tend to warm up more slowly than radiant heaters, they can heat larger areas over time. For example, if your kitchen is notably cooler than the rest of the home and you tend to spend long parts of your day in your kitchen or dining area, a convection heater can efficiently heat this space throughout the day.

Convectair Convection Heater
Convectair Convection Heater

How much space can a convection heater heat?

The total amount of space that a convection heater will be able to heat up will depend on several factors, including:

  • How airtight your home building envelope is;
  • The type and quality of insulation that your home has;
  • Issues with thermal bridging that may affect the energy efficiency and thermal performance of your home;
  • Air leaks around windows and door frames;
  • The types of windows in the room.

As is the case with any heater, a convection heater will be able to heat up larger areas more efficiently in homes that incorporate the best energy-efficient building techniques. As a general rule, however, homeowners can expect to need 10 watts of heating power for every square foot of floor area in the room they are trying to heat. Expressed as a mathematical formula:

"Total Wattage / 10 = Total Square Footage OR Total Square Footage x 10 = Total Wattage"
Delonghi portable convection heater
Delonghi portable convection heater

A 2,000-watt portable, plug-in convection heater should reliably heat an area measuring up to 200 square feet. A 1,500-watt heater could heat a smaller, 150-square-foot room. These calculations, however, are used when the convection heater is the primary heat source for a home. However, most convection heaters should be able to heat larger square footage areas of the home when used as a supplemental heating source.

Furthermore, most convection heaters on the market today can be connected to your smart thermostat that detects the room temperature. This will automatically turn on and turn off the convection heater based on the temperature inside your home, the occupancy, and other similar factors. This can improve the convection heater's energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption.

Are convection heaters good?

Convection heaters offer several benefits for homeowners looking to add a supplemental heat source to certain areas of their homes, including relative energy efficiency compared to many other options.

Firstly, convection heaters are usually more energy efficient than radiators, especially when using an electric heater, the most common option on the market today. Secondly, convection heaters are generally better at heating larger areas in shorter periods. For example, suppose you have a large living room that tends to be uncomfortably cool due to some problem with your HVAC distribution system. In that case, a convection heater should be able to heat that larger space in shorter periods. Also, the convection heater is generally a good option for evenly distributing that heat across the room.

Convection heaters are also much quieter than other types of heaters. A convection heater might be a good option for homeowners who don't like the loud "buzz" associated with other types of space heaters. It can also be used in home offices or in businesses that want a reliable heating solution without the nuisance of distracting noise.

Stiebel Eltron CON 200-2 Premium Wall-Mounted Convection Heater
Stiebel Eltron CON 200-2 Premium Wall-Mounted Convection Heater

Are convection heaters safe?

Portable convection electric heaters are often considered one of the safest home heating options on the market. These convection heaters are easy to use and only need to be plugged into an outlet. This can allow the homeowner to decide the safest place to put the convection heater (away from the curious hands of a crawling toddler, for example).

Furthermore, electric convection heaters do not use combustion, which is essential when considering the best ways to protect your home's indoor air quality. When poorly installed and without quality venting, portable gas heaters can lead to excessive levels of carbon monoxide buildup in the home. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include flu-like symptoms, headache, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. According to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), "every year, at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning."

Because electric convection heaters use no combustion, homeowners do not have to worry about carbon monoxide buildup. Furthermore, convection heaters aren't as hot to the touch as other types of heaters (such as radiators). This makes them safer for homes with small children and pets where there is a risk of being burned by touching the hot surface of traditional radiators. Homeowners can strategically hide convection heaters from sight, thus leaving the unit to heat the room without being an unsightly addition to your home.

Stelpro Convection Heater
Stelpro Convection Heater

Can you leave a convection heater on all night?

Most convection heaters on the market today do not have exposed heating elements. This is done as a safety measure so that people (especially young children) do not suffer burns. This feature also means leaving a convection heater overnight on the low setting is generally safe.

Clear the convection heater of any furniture, curtains, and other items. Also, consider purchasing a convection heater connected to your smart home thermostat so that the heater automatically cycles on and off throughout the night to keep your room at a comfortable temperature.

What are the best brands of convection heaters on the market today? 

Today, homeowners have several different options for purchasing quality convection heaters for their homes. Some of the best brands that manufacture and distribute quality convection heaters today include Stiebel Eltron, Stelpro, Delonghi, Dimplex, and Convetair.

  • Stiebel Eltron: This company makes a surface-mount CON 300-2 Premium convection heater that uses natural convection for silent draft-free heat without a fan.
  • Stelpro: This company offers several convection heater options with a built-in smart thermostat.
  • Delonghi: This Italian company also makes several high-quality and energy-efficient convection heaters.
  • Dimplex: The Dimplex panel convector heater can heat small spaces. Their models include built-in thermostats.
  • Convetair: Lastly, this company offers different convection heaters with varying wattage options for every home heating need.

Here at Rise, our online store carries several safe, energy-efficient, and high-quality convection heaters. Check out this link to browse the best convection heaters we offer. No matter which brand you choose, convection heaters offer an efficient, safe, and straightforward solution for keeping your home comfortably warm this winter.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2023-03-02T19:46:36+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.

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