Electric Heating Comparison - Climastar

Electric Heating Comparison

The Electric heating sector is quite diverse at present. With a myriad of technologies and approaches to suit a variety of needs; there’s a lot to choose from.  

At the time of writing (May 2023) we face a lot of challenges as consumers.

These vary from:

 –  Cost of living

 – The price of energy

 – The amount of energy we are consuming

 – Addressing environmental concerns that reach towards reducing our carbon footprint.  

 

Taking that into consideration, we then look at the challenge of heating our homes to tick all of those boxes. As a potential buyer for electric heating, that’s a lot to consider.

Going back to the late 40s and 50s, with the development of electric storage heaters; the concept being that people were able to use an economy energy tariff alongside these to heat their homes.

Heat would be released from storage heaters during the day. Heating wasn’t managed centrally from a boiler per se, but room by room.

The downside of this, by the evening a lot of the time the house would be cold, and the storage heater wouldn’t be charging back up until midnight. This meant using additional heat sources to keep warm in the evening such as electric fan heaters. This, in turn, made an endeavour for cheap heating, turn into one that became potentially more expensive.

Additionally, when storage heaters were providing a heat output, there was little to no control of the level of heat being deployed.

Moving forward to the 60’s & 70’s with the inception of Gas Central Heating, this type of system was ideal at the time. Energy prices were a lot cheaper, and this approach to heating the home met more with the needs and lifestyles of the populace.

The heating would generally be off during the day while people were out at work (and youngsters were at school). Heating was only really needed during the evening when outside temperatures dropped.

Gas central heating, a relatively new concept during those times was ideal for this common arrangement for many households – where each room was heated all at once from a central boiler.

The advent of gas, coal, and electric fires allowed for periodic heating of a room (such as the living room) when families had more of a tendency to be entertained together. This would add additional costs on top of the use of central heating.

For those of us without smart electric heating in our current set-up, many of us still have central heating powered by either a gas or an oil boiler.

Fast forward to today, the lifestyles and heating requirements of many households are somewhat different.  Many of us are looking for various ways in which we can heat our homes without breaking the bank.

One common strategy is by future-proofing our heating, to make sure that we don’t run into difficulties in the future.

Children and teenagers tend to spend more time alone in their bedrooms – whether that’s watching their own particular choice of TV programme, playing computer games, or doing homework.

These bedrooms don’t really stay warm by using central heating for a couple of hours per evening (as would be in previous years) and there’s the desire for bedrooms to be as warm as the rest of the house.

To add to this, people generally are spending more time at home. A lot of this is attributed to working from home more recently. Although most people tend to work from one room in a home office –in the darker and colder months it’s often common practice to heat the whole house via a central heating system just to keep warm.

Within the current economic climate, alongside changes in the housing market -youngsters are also living at home with their parents for longer than in previous years.

The need for more space in households with extensions for larger living areas, also means more spaces to heat.

The move to electric heating

The UK government has proposed plans to move from natural gas to carbon-neutral sources. This includes efforts to stop the installation of gas boilers in homes by 2025.

With this move, many are looking to get ahead of the curve to move to electric heating, as it’s thought it will be more expensive to make changes later on.

(See article: https://www.britishgas.co.uk/the-source/greener-living/gas-boilers-ban-2025.html)

To add to this, there are other motivators for moving away from Gas. The finance giant Goldman Sachs has stated that Gas prices could treble in the winter of 2023, as demand increases.

This is due to the price of gas per Megawatt hour (Mwh) projected to be above £100 in the second half of 2023. (Current time of writing the price of gas sits around £36 per Mwh).

Energy prices and their effect on households - Office for National Statistics

(Image provided courtesy of National grid / Office of National Statistics)

Additional challenges around this are the limited storage capacity of gas, as there is only so much that can be stored ahead of season.

Further information can be found at: https://uk.investing.com/news/commodities-news/european-gas-prices-could-treble-says-goldman-sachs-3013629

.

Core Technologies

With this in mind, those looking to make the change are met with a variety of options with electric heating.

We’ve assembled some of the leading core technologies out there to compare these products, their benefits, and their disadvantages; so that you can make an informed decision on how to move forward.

Soapstone heaters

Soapstone has been used for thousands of years due to its heat retention properties in both a heating and a cooking capacity.

It has the ability to retain heat, as well as to radiate some of that stored heat into a room. This gives longevity to heating and allows a space to stay warm for longer periods of time (when compared to a standard electric heater).

The general rule of thumb with soapstone technology for electric heating, is the denser the soapstone is, the greater the heat retention property. The main theory behind using such materials is, that the radiator stays hotter for longer, so needs less power to run once heated up.

Disadvantages

Without a way to vary the flow rate of electricity, these tend to overheat to compensate for cooling periods, which will be dependent on the accuracy of the thermostat.

Serpentine convection

Serpentine convection uses material that’s folded into a “wave” formation (much like a serpent) to help even out the distribution of heat emitted from a radiator. This is usually arranged into a panel as part of a radiator to facilitate this flow of heat / air.

This can help to provide some efficiency value to an electric heater with even heat distribution.

Clay core heaters.

In a similar approach to Soapstone technology, Clay Core technology is a material that has good heat retention properties. The clay “core” is made from this material and is heated by a heating element.

Much like soapstone technology, the accuracy of the thermostat here will dictate when to draw further power.

Disadvantages:

Clay cores can require a lot of heat in order to be fully up to temperature. More heat (generally) requires more power.

Convection chamber

Most electric radiators now incorporate a form of “convection chamber” to enable efficiencies in the convection of heat into a room. The general principle is that cold air is pulled into the radiator from the bottom via vents, heated by an internal element, and then released out of the top of the radiator.

This approach allows the electric radiator to create a “heat blanket” (which is ideal for under windows where there may be an opportunity to combat draughts) and to push hot air back into the room.

A picture containing illustration, design Description automatically generated with low confidence

Thermostat

Most thermostats on the market have an accuracy of +/- 2C, meaning that a room has to lose 2 degrees of temperature before a heater can re-engage. This can become costly in terms of power consumption, as the heater has to then heat up again from a colder temperature.

The Harmony (by Climastar) thermostatic controller has a degree of accuracy to 0.1C.

This allows a much more accurate performance of the radiator, and doesn’t allow our efficient electric radiators to cool down enough to require excessive amounts of power.

Silicium Magma Stone Technology (by Climastar)

“Silicium”, is the name for a compound combining silicon and aluminium. This gives the advantage of heat retention with the silicon, and the highly conductive heat property of aluminium.

A picture containing diagram, line, rectangle, text Description automatically generated

The silicium is made by heating both aluminium and silicon up to a molten state, and combining these elements. The silicium “magma” is then formed into a plate, and pressed under 400kg per cm2.  This is then further baked at 1200˚C to create the magma stone plate.

The Harmony range by Climastar uses not one but two magma stone cores (one inside and one front plate) to provide both radial and convected heat.

We’ve taken a cross-section of core technologies in the electric heating sector, and arranged a handy comparison chart for you.

Clay Core Heaters

Soapstone Technology

 

Silicium Magma Stone (Harmony by Climastar.)

Has great heat retention properties.

Has great heat retention properties.

Use of silicon gives great heat retention properties. .

Use of aluminium’s conduction properties  also allows for fast heating of a room.

Requires a lot of power to fully heat up the core(s).

May overheat to compensate for temperature drop, requiring more power consumption.

Only uses power required to bring magma stone / room up to temperature.

May overheat to compensate for temperature drop, requiring more power.

In combination with a convection chamber & serpentine convection, will help to give an even heat distribution.

No overheating due to TRIAC technology & Harmony Cruise Control (HACC), only drawing what power is needed to maintain room temperature.

Thermostat accurate to 0.1C, allowing only minimal power consumption to be used..

Possible loss of efficiency value due to the accuracy of thermostat.

Possible loss of efficiency value due to the accuracy of thermostat.

The manufacturing process uses no resins or agglutinates.

No risk of fumes emitted when using.

.

Future Proofing

When looking at future proofing your heating with electric – it’s always a good idea to check whether new systems support smart heating controls. Many companies provide this as standard with their heating systems.

Although this tends to be a broad term, here are some features that meet expectations for the definition of “smart heating controls”

  • Remote access and control of your heating system via a smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi – giving you the option to control your heating even when not at home.
  • Easy to use time and temperature controls for scheduled programs, to meet your lifestyle habits and routines.
  • Efficiency controls: As part of the Lot 20 framework for electrical efficiency we see features like “open window technology” being offered. This allows your heating to disengage if a sudden drop in temperature occurs (from the opening of a window or door for example). The heating won’t re-engage until the room temperature has stabilised.

You should also expect to see other features as standard for an electric heating system such as:

  • Frost protection: allows your heating to come on if the temperature drops below a certain level (usually 6C) to guard against mould/mildew forming.
  • Wireless controller: allowing perfect placement of a thermostat controller within any space without the need for wires, ducting etc.

Takeaways for future proofing your electric heating

Electric heating has come a long way, since it began to take off in the late 1940s with storage heaters.

From the move towards gas and oil central heating, all the way to now with a room by room, smart controlled, environmentally conscious, low carbon footprint approach.

We are entering a world now where all elements have to be considered, and to future proof your heating these all need to be factored in to meet the growing needs of now, and of the future.

Can we be of any further help?

One of the main things we are asked by enquiring customers is for a climastar price list. We don’t provide these, as we operate on a survey basis to provide the right product for your needs and a price is given based on those requirements.

If you’d like to know more about Climastar UK, and would like to look at our product range click the button below to request a brochure. We have a range of electric radiators, electric boilers, and water heating systems to suit most heating and hot water needs.

Request a Survey

Request a Free Brochure

Thinking of changing your existing heating system, or building a new home or extension and want some information on the best heating system to compliment your lifestyle?

REQUEST A FREE BROCHURE

Get In Touch

CONTACT US