A homeowner installs an electric radiant floor – a type of electric heater – in his home

During winter and those unexpected chilly days throughout the year, you need a reliable heat source to create the most comfortable living space.

There are a ton of electric heating solutions to choose from and they are all a little different. Whether you want to heat your entire home or just a single room, there is an option out there for you.

Keep in mind that electric heat costs more than both gas and wood-fired heat sources. So if you are heating an entire home and have access to either, you may wish to consider those options first. 

However, there is an electric option for just about every situation so let’s take a look..

Types of Electric Heaters

1. Infrared Heating Panels 

If you’re looking for something that will heat your surfaces and keep your house warm, an infrared heating panel might be the best choice.

It is an electric heater that converts all electricity into infrared heat, which is then released into your house. 

Infrared heating panels are different from conventional heaters, traditional radiators, and electric fan heaters that only heat the air in your room. Instead, these appliances heat the surface they’re installed on, then radiate the heat to the rest of the room. 

A infrared heating panel on a wall above a couch in a living room
Courtesy of Yandiya

You can install infrared heating panels on your ceiling or walls. These electric heaters direct heat to the floor then radiate to the air, meaning all corners and surfaces in your house will be warm throughout the day or whenever you need that extra heat. 

Infrared heating panels are 100% efficient. They convert all the energy served into heat usable for your home. If you put in 100 kilowatts of electricity, you’ll get 100 kW of heat.

Advantages of Infrared Heating Panels

Here are the benefits of using infrared heat panels in your home:

  • 100% efficient – The panels convert all the electricity fed into them into usable heat for your home. So you won’t worry about paying too much for little returns. 
  • 100% safe – Install the panels on your ceiling or walls. Here, they’re out of reach of children and are less likely to cause accidents, unlike conventional heaters, which must be placed on the floor. 
  • Reduced carbon footprint – By using infrared heating panels, you’ll be helping to conserve the environment—electricity is one of the cleanest forms of energy compared to gas and fossil fuels. 
  • They come in different sizes – When choosing an infrared heating panel for your home, you can choose between many different sizes available. 
  • Different styles – Infrared heating panels come in various aesthetics. Depending on your tastes and preferences, you can choose the mirror, glass, or carbon effect varieties. 
  • They help reduce mold – Mold in your walls and ceiling is caused by dampness. Installing infrared heating panels will distribute the heat on these surfaces and dry out the mold. 

Disadvantages of Infrared Heating Panels

  • Only work if there’s no barrier between them and the house This concept is similar to you only getting warm in the sun if you have direct access to the rays. 
  • Rooms get cold quickly – Infrared heating panels don’t heat the air directly. Once you switch them off, the air in your house will get cold very fast. 
  • More expensive electricity in most parts of the country is three times more costly than LPG gas. The longer you use the infrared heating panels on your house, the higher your electricity bill. This can be a major factor if you are using them to heat your entire home.

2. Electric Forced Air Furnace

If you have ductwork for a central HVAC system, you can use an electric forced-air furnace. It works just like a gas-powered furnace, but it has a heating element to provide heat instead of a gas burner.

An electric forced-air furnace in a shop, a type of electric heater
Courtesy of Henan Sante Furnace

Central HVAC systems are one of the most effective ways to heat your home, which is why they are one of the most popular systems in the U.S.

The electric furnace has six heating elements that handle between 3-7 kW. Additionally, it has a sequencer that helps turn the heating elements on and off.

The sequencer also helps alternate the elements, so they don’t heat air simultaneously. 

Advantages of Electric Forced Air Furnaces

  • Lower carbon footprint – An electric forced air furnace doesn’t produce carbon monoxide like its gas-powered counterparts, which makes it more environmentally friendly.
  • Lower installation costs – Unlike gas-powered furnaces, an electric-powered furnace does not come with combustion pipes, making it easier and a little cheaper to install in your home. 
  • 100% efficient – Electric furnaces use all the energy fed into them to heat your home. Gas furnaces use some energy to burn and combust before releasing heat, creating wasted energy. 

Disadvantages of Electric Forced Air Furnaces

  • More expensive to run – You’ll be spending approximately three times more money with electric-powered furnaces than you would with a gas-powered alternative. 
  • Slower heating – Electric furnaces take time to heat the air through the heating elements, meaning you need to keep them on longer for your house to reach your desired temperature. 

3. Electric Boilers

An electric boiler uses radiators to heat water that circulates throughout your home and provides radiant heat. These electric heaters work just like gas or fossil-fueled boilers, only that they use electricity. It is the same case as forced-air furnaces.

With an electric boiler, water passes through a heating element before being released to the rest of the house. They maximize surface area to ensure heating as much water as possible at once. The water travels through pipes located throughout your home where it provides heat. When the water cools, it goes back to the boiler to be reheated.

Electric boilers are more energy-efficient than gas or fossil-fueled-powered alternatives. However, they are more expensive to run. Which is really the case for all forms of electric heat.

Advantages of Electric Boilers

  • Lower maintenance costs – Easy to care for and maintain.
  • More efficient – Like other electric heaters, electric boilers convert all the electricity they consume to heat. 
  • A lower carbon footprint – Electric boilers don’t release carbon monoxide, making them a more environmentally-friendly option. 
  • Easy to switch from a gas system – You can easily retrofit an electric boiler to an old oil, gas, or LPG boiler system. 
  • Safe to install and use – Electric boilers have less risk of explosion than their gas-powered counterparts.

Disadvantages of Electric Boilers

  • Not recommended for large homes – An electric boiler can only heat a specific amount of water at a time. So if you have a large household, the water may not be sufficient to keep the whole house heated. 
  • More expensive – Electricity is more expensive than LPG gas.

4. Electric Convection Heater

Electric convection heaters use a heating coil to heat air. They also have a fan that releases warm air into your home. 

An electric convection heater installed along the baseboards in a laundry room

We all know that hot air rises and cool air drops. Convection heaters use this scientific principle of convection to keep the air in your house constantly warm. 

Advantages of Convection Heaters

  • Easy installation process – Setting up a convection heater is faster and cheaper than installing a new central heating system in your house.
  • Low maintenance costs – If you use the heater well, you may never incur maintenance costs. 
  • They save on space – The heaters are usually small and won’t take up too much space in your home. 
  • 100% efficient – Convection heaters convert all energy to heat, unlike gas-powered heaters, which use some additional energy to heat the air. 

Disadvantages of Convection Heaters 

  • Poor heat circulation – The hot air doesn’t circulate easily around the house. If a convection heater is the only heat source in your home, you might have to keep changing its position to keep the whole house warm. 
  • May require a ceiling fan to distribute hot air – These heaters have fans, but they aren’t very powerful. If you want the heater to warm an ample space, you’ll need another fan to distribute the hot hair. This requirement calls for additional costs to improve the heater’s efficacy. 
  • Too much heat in some areas – The area near the convection heater will always be too hot.
  • Expensive – A convection heater needs to be on at all times to keep your house warm, leading to higher electricity consumption and higher costs. 

5. Night Storage Heaters

Night storage heaters store heat generated at night and release it for use the following day. The heat is stored in ceramic bricks or clay banks to help keep your house warm on cold days. The night storage heaters are wall-mounted and look like radiators. 

These electric heaters come with simple controls to help you adjust the amount of heat they collect and store. If you don’t spend much time indoors, you can limit the heat stored to be more energy efficient. Night storage heaters also have an output setting that controls the amount of heat released into your house during the day. 

Advantages of Night Storage Heaters 

  • Use less expensive tariffs to charge – Night storage heaters collect and store heat at night when electricity is cheaper, lowering the cost.
  • They’re durable – Once you install night storage heaters in your home, you’re unlikely to need repair them unless they’re tampered with. This quality level makes them an ideal choice for residential use
  • Easy to install – Night storage heater installation doesn’t require expensive and messy plumbing. Instead, you can quickly hardwire them in your house. 

Disadvantages of Night Storage Heaters

  • Not good for bedrooms – Most cheap tariffs take effect after midnight. Therefore, if you use night storage heaters in your bedroom, it will be cold until then. The room might also be uncomfortably warm in the morning and can disrupt your sleeping routine. 
  • Not ideal for some lifestyles – If you spend most of your time away from home during the day, you won’t utilize the heat collected by night storage heaters well. 

6. Electric Baseboard Heaters

These heaters are built to resemble baseboards. They are installed where baseboards would typically be and can provide electric heating to a single room or to your entire home.

An electric baseboard heater along a wall joint

Advantages of Electric Baseboard Heaters

  • They’re noiseless – Unlike other electric heaters with fans, a baseboard heater is silent as the air is heated on already hot metal fins. 
  • Don’t require ductwork – Baseboard heaters don’t need heavy plumbing to install and maintain. As a result, they’re ideal for old houses. 

Disadvantages of Electric Baseboard Heaters

  • Expensive to run – If you want the baseboard heater to serve your whole house’s heating needs, you must keep the heater running all day and night long. This operation means high electricity consumption. 
  • Can only serve small areas – A single electric baseboard heater can only heat one room, meaning you have to keep moving it to keep the whole house warm. Alternatively, you can install one heater per room, which could be an expensive venture. 

7. Electric Radiant Floors

Electric radiant floors warm your home through thermal radiation. When the floor becomes heated, it radiates the heat to other objects such as walls, furniture, and yourself, keeping your house warm while evenly distributing the temperature. 

The mechanisms of an electric radiant floor in a home

Advantages of Electric Radiant Floors

  • Energy-efficient – Once the electric radiation starts working, all the electricity channeled there is fully converted to heat. 
  • Easy to use – This heating method requires no maintenance and often comes with a 30-year warranty. 
  • Don’t limit your floor designs – Electric floors work with all floor designs to keep your home warm. 

Disadvantages of Electric Radiant Floors

  • Expensive to install – Electric radiant floors are more expensive than other electric heating systems. They also take longer to install. 
  • They increase floor height – Installing electric radiant floors will increase your floor height by at least ½ an inch (0.4 feet). 

Final Thoughts

In general, electric heat is better for the environment and the equipment often lasts longer than gas-fired alternatives.

However, electric heat is more expensive across the board. Whether electric is right for you depends on numerous factors.

If electric is your only option, you would be wise to search around for the most energy-efficient heat source. This ensures you won’t be wasting money on operation costs when it isn’t needed.

Furthermore, many local and state-wide governmental agencies offer rebates and incentives for upgrading to energy-efficient and eco-friendly HVAC equipment.

If you are looking to install an electric heater, look around for these incentives as they could save you quite a bit of money.

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