Panel space heaters are helpful in making your space nice and warm in an instant. Since they are available in a variety of choices, we've put together this guide to help you make the best possible purchase and keep you from getting caught out by cold weather.
What heating technology should I go for?
The heating technology you choose to buy will play the biggest role in the type of experience you have with your heater. At present, there are three major types of heating technology commonly available in homes, so we'll get you started by taking a look at the first major kind: convection heaters.
Convection heaters are arguably the most common type of heaters available. They function by moving air over an internal heating element and creating a "convection current" within a room. You can think of convection currents as "rivers or streams" of warm or cold air. Because warm air is less dense than cooler air, it rises as its temperature goes up.
This rise in warm air pushes cold air to the bottom of your space and, ideally - back into your convection heater to be warmed up. Eventually, this process warms all the air in your room, leaving very few cold spots. "Fan-forced" heaters can speed this process up by creating a current using an internal fan that sucks in the air around it regardless of temperature. Fans can also blow out as opposed to pulling in depending on the design.
Convection panel space heater pros:
- Heats your entire room evenly with few cold spots
- Easy to install
- Leverages natural phenomena to maximize efficiency
- Long-lasting heating
- Cheap by comparison to other types of heating
Convection panel space heater cons:
- Usually isn't great at spot heating, so you'll have to wait a few moments to notice the effects
- Fan-forced models can overheat if their fan stops working
- Requires clearance to function properly
- Some energy is wasted as hot air pushes against the ceiling
- Potential for allergen movement around rooms due to air currents
- Fan-forced models can become noisy over time
Convection panel space heaters are extremely well suited for maintaining the temperature of a single room, for a prolonged period. If you work at home or need a warmer office or bedroom, these heaters are ideal.
Radiant panel space heaters are arguably just as common as convection heaters, but function entirely differently. Instead of heating air and creating currents that warm the entire room, radiant heaters apply spot heating to objects directly in front of them. Generally, radiant heaters use a heating element like a quartz tube to generate infrared radiation that directly heats whatever it encounters.
Radiant Heater Pros:
- Extremely efficient at spot heating - ideal for use near beds, couches, and desks
- Heating is instant in a close range
- Very little air movement, so allergens and dust won't circulate around your room
- Very energy efficient when used for spot heating
Radiant heater Cons:
- Heating takes a long time to be felt across a room
- Can be hot to the touch
- Short range of effective heating
Micathermic heaters, in some ways, are the best of both worlds. These - typically tiny - pieces of innovative genius create convection currents for effective room heating while generating radiant heating for instant warmth. Micathermic panel space heaters are normally fan-less and silent, so they are especially well suited for A/V rooms and dining areas.
Micathermic heater Pros:
- Wide variety of options for placement due to small size
- Completely Silent
- Quick spot heating
- Can heat entire rooms for prolonged periods of time
Micathermic heater Cons:
- Requires clearance for proper airflow
- Generally expensive in comparison to other types of heater
When making a final call on the type of heater you choose, try to consider where you expect to use your heater and for how long. For instance, if you already have decent central heating, but want something to keep you warm when you sit down to watch a Netflix series, then a radiant heater might be optimal for you.
If you live in a small studio apartment, a larger mica thermic heater could be well suited to your needs. You'll be able to position it near your desk or couch for direct heat while keeping your entire area as warm as possible for a longer period.
What size of panel space heater do I need?
Once you have an idea of how you'll be using your heater, the next thing to consider is exactly how much power you'll need to expand in order to meet your heating needs. It's better to have a larger heater and not use it, but there's a pretty basic ratio that you can use in order to quickly judge whether a heater is properly suited for your space or not.
The Heating Ratio
Total area (sq. ft.) x 10 = Required Wattage
The ratio above, in layman's terms, means that for every 10 feet of square space in your room, your heater requires 10 watts of power, especially if that heater is the primary heat source in your room. If you have a solid central heating system, then the ratio becomes more forgiving.
The opposite is true if you have a high ceiling, like a theater or a large dining hall. Higher ceilings mean significantly more air to heat, so multiply your normal ratio by 1.25-1.5 in order to find a better estimate.
Panel Space heaters are sleek, stylish, and normally feature-rich. Modern models come with thermostats, power saving auto-off switches, and even timers. These shouldn't be the only features you settle on, however, especially with the wide range of options available. Here are a few other features to consider when purchasing your next heater:
Wheels + Handles - Mobility makes heating far more customizable and useful. Instead of having a single, stationary panel heater than can be potentially limited in use, having wheels and cool-to-the-touch handles means you can apply heat wherever and whenever you need to.
Fall protection switch - If you have children or rowdy pets and are unable to make a perfectly secure installment of a stationary heater, then purchasing a heater that automatically shuts off if it falls can save you from very unhappy accidents. A fallen heater can waste energy and even run the risk of burning something - not to mention children or pets.
Burn protection/Cool-to-the-touch - This feature is especially important in stationary setups, since visitors or children may not be very conscious of your heater. Being cool-to-the-touch means you'll pretty much never run the risk of an accidental burn.