How to Decide Between Fan Radiant or Oil Filled Room Heaters

There is nothing worse than sitting in a cold apartment in winter. The reasons for this are manifold. Additional heaters such as convector, radiator or an electric heater are a solution. The BAYERN 1 Environment Commissioner wants to know whether these devices are ecologically warm.


How to Decide Between Fan, Radiant or Oil Filled Room Heaters

The landlord must guarantee 20 degrees.

There is actually central heating or a floor heating, but the stall still stays cold? Annoying! Of course, this can have many reasons: The heating system does not work properly, and individual radiators do not get properly or evenly warm, apartment or house are poorly insulated and through the leaking windows the cold creeps into the apartment.

In Germany, there are also about 1.5 million night storage heaters that generate heat with electricity. In 2009, the Grand Coalition had actually decided to ban “night storage ovens” from 2020. Except for a few special cases, all night storage ovens should be replaced by then. This scheme affected equipment put into operation before 1 January 1990 and is located in buildings with more than five residential units. In May 2013, however, the then black-and-yellow coalition overturned this law again and the prospect of modern control technology for night storage furnaces, so to speak as energy storage for fluctuating amounts of electricity from wind power plants in the course of the energy transition. The night storage heaters are regarded as power eaters and no longer up-to-date. Environmental organizations and energy experts believe that night storage heaters consume large amounts of electricity, producing three times more greenhouse gases than gas-fired boilers and even ten times more than wood pellet heaters.

If you’re bubbling at home in winter, you don’t care why it doesn’t heal properly; the main thing is it gets warm again. It is up to the landlord to guarantee a pleasant indoor climate. If it is too cold, says Norbert Endres, an energy consultant at the Bavarian Consumer Centre, “then the landlord is clearly responsible for guaranteeing that at least 20 degrees of air temperature will be reached, at least during the healing period – that is, October to April inclusive.” If this does not work, this is even a reason for a reduction in rent. Of course, this is not the first step, but should first be submitted to the landlord in writing to demand his right to the 20-degree room temperature. This right applies to all rooms which have a radiator, namely closed windows and interior doors.


An additional heating is expensive and not a solution

If you are looking for an electric alternative to heat up, you usually have to choose between a heating fan, a convector or a radiator. All species have their advantages and disadvantages. Basically, all-electric heaters work with so-called heating resistors, which heat up when electricity flows. This heat can then be released directly to the room air via a fan or, in the case of infrared emitters, heat the environment directly. However, a storage tank is often heated (e.B. for electric heating with smouldering core, marble or natural stone). This heat is then either emitted entirely as radiant heat, or the heat dissipation runs with a fan’s help.

An additional heating source, which also depends on electricity, makes no sense of energy and economics. “Because direct electric heating is costly and you don’t heat anything other than the most expensive, high-quality energy source ever,” says energy consultant Endres, “namely the electric electricity.” And it has its price and costs about three times more than other fuels. If the price per kilowatt-hour of electricity, in the case of effective heat generation, is about 30 cents, it is just under ten cents for oil and only about five cents per kilowatt-hour for gas.” In a gas-fired power plant, at least two-kilowatt-hours of gas must be used to generate one-kilowatt hour of electricity. In coal-fired power plants, the factor is 3:1. That says a lot because you take fuel that you could use to heat directly to generate electricity. This is a very loss-making path, energetically.

Those who have to settle their heating costs via so-called “evaporative tubes” should basically leave their fingers on this type of additional heating. Here you pay twice: not only because you have your extra heating source attached to the power grid, but because these tubes indicate that you actually have it chubby warm. And this also has to be seen in the annual accounts.


Alternatives – Hydraulic Balancing

Of course, an additional electric heating source only makes sense when all other possibilities to get the apartment warm are exhausted. This goes beyond the window seals, the insulation up to the so-called “hydraulic balancing”. Especially in apartment buildings, the problem repeatedly occurs that the radiators still function properly on the ground floor or the first floor. Still, on the higher floors, the radiators do not get properly warm. This is because the return water from the nearest heat source of the heating control indicates that the heat supply will be switched off. Possibly due to too low flow resistance. This means that more distant radiators will no longer be warm properly. The power is often increased, but this leads to the hot water simply flowing back faster or even hotter, and the problem is not solved. Only heating specialist companies can remedy this situation by, for example, re-adjusting or closing thermostat valves. However, these measures can quickly cost more than 1,000 euros in an apartment building and are not a matter for the tenant.

This is how hydraulic balancing works.

The energy consultants of the Consumer Centre can help here. Norbert Endres. has even concrete decision-making aids for the landlord: “This heating optimization, i.e. even the replacement of old heating circulation pumps with modern, highly efficient and also the heating optimization as a whole – keyword: hydraulic balancing – is supported by the state. The Federal Ministry of Economics gives a 30 per cent subsidy for such measures.”


Convector – for short-term use

Convector heating transmits heat to the room air by convection, using the thermally-induced ascent of air masses into cold layers. The cool room air flowing into the radiator from below is heated by the convector and releases the heated air at the top of the room. The warm room air rises upwards, the cold room air “falling” downwards, the convector sucks up the cold room air from below, and thus an air circulation in the room is created. To blow the warm air away from the convector and heat the room more effectively, a fan is installed, which is of course, not silent. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to whether there is the possibility of switching off the fan with convector heaters.


Heating fans – pay attention to storage heat.

The classic heating fan also has the advantage of quickly heating the room air. However, most appliances are only suitable for small rooms (e.B bathrooms). Because the blower, in particular, makes noise, it is important to compare the devices before purchasing.

When operating a heating fan, it is also essential to ensure that it is as free as possible and that the airflow is not obstructed. Congestion heat (e.g. due to too little intake air or blocked exhaust air path) leads to overheating of the device and its shutdown in a short time, but can also lead to fires in exceptional cases.


Radiator – takes a little longer.

A radiator is simply a mobile electric heater. For example, an oil radiator does not burn oil, but only heats the oil inside the radiator. The heat of the oil is then released to the room air via the housing. The radiator’s ribs increase the surface through which the heat can be released, and therefore large rooms can be heated with the device. However, oil is not the only heating medium used in this mobile electric heating system. There are also versions in which water or gas is passed through the ribs. No matter which heating medium is used, a heating unit is always heated, which requires electricity for operation. A radiator’s disadvantage is that it takes longer for the room to warm up, as no blower or fan distributes the heat better. The advantage is that the radiator is largely silent and correspondingly safer when it comes to fires. Even if some people are advised to distribute the warm air more effectively with a small fan, this is, of course, nonsensical from an ecological point of view, because an additional power source is used.

Fan heater

Fan heater

The classic heating fan also has the advantage of quickly heating the room air. However, most appliances are only suitable for small rooms, such as the bathroom. Because the blower, in particular, makes noise, you should compare the devices before purchasing.

When operating a heating fan, care must also be taken to ensure that it is as free as possible and that the airflow is not obstructed. Congestion heat caused by too little intake air or blocked exhaust air can cause the device to overheat and shut down in a short period of time – but in exceptional cases, it can lead to fires.

The best introduction to energy efficiency is the personal advice of an expert – information on this can be found at the Consumer Centre.

Infrared – for targeted heat

The advantage of infrared heaters is that the infrared rays heat only the area or object they encounter and absorb this radiation. Therefore, an infrared heating system also needs less electricity than other additional electric heaters. “So such marble or infrared heating panels, you can hang them on the ceiling,” recommends energy consultant Norbert Endres, “there are even spotlights for under the table, so if you have cold feet in the office or there are such heaters in church benches.”

Besides, the targeted heat dissipation does not change the humidity in the room. Disadvantage: The infrared heaters usually have to be permanently installed.



There is no question: if the apartment or even individual rooms are cold, environmental aspects fall at the back. But the BAYERN 1 Environment Commissioner cannot, of course, approve of an additional electric heating system. The efficiency, i.e. the utilization of the primary energy used, is at best just over 50 per cent. This means condensing boilers that use gas or oil or pellets, bring significantly higher efficiencies. The life cycle balance of electric heating systems would, of course, be significantly improved if the appliances were heated 100 per cent with green electricity. It would also be good and useful to have a timer in the device that starts to heat up at time X, e.B. before getting home from work or in the bathroom in the morning before getting up.

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