A well-heated room creates a cozy, comfortable, and inviting environment perfect for unwinding after a long day or entertaining guests on a cold winter night. One excellent way to heat a room efficiently and evenly is with a convection heater. But what exactly is a convection heater, and how does it work?
A convection heater is a type of space heater that uses convection to circulate warm air throughout a room. As the air around the heater warms, it rises and creates a current of warm air that circulates in the room, providing even heat distribution throughout the space.
While you may be familiar with convection applications in cooking, such as with a convection oven, understanding how convection works can help you choose the right heater for your needs and maximize its effectiveness. This article will explore convection heaters in more detail, including how they work, their types, benefits, and tips on using them effectively.
How a Convection Heater Works?
The science of heat convection is based on the fact that warmer air rises and cooler air sinks. This natural phenomenon can be harnessed to create a convection current, which is simply a circulation of air created by the difference in density between warm air and cold air.
A convection heater uses this principle to circulate warm air throughout a room. When you turn on a convection heater, the element inside the unit begins to heat up. As the air around the element warms, it becomes less dense than the cooler air surrounding it and begins to rise.
At the same time, cooler air from around the room moves in to fill the space left by the rising warm air. This air movement creates a current or circulation within the room, with warm air rising and cooler air sinking.
The result is a steady flow of warmth circulating throughout the space, providing even heating from floor to ceiling. This process repeats as long as the heater is turned on, circulating warm air throughout the room to create a comfortable environment.
Automatic convection heaters have a shut-off feature that automatically turns off the unit after reaching the desired temperature, so you don’t have to worry about over-heating your space.
Types of Convection Heaters
Convection heaters come in various sizes, shapes, and designs to suit a range of needs. The difference between the different types of convection heaters is mainly how they generate and circulate warmth. Common types of convection heaters include:
An oil heater, also known as a column heater, uses a heating element to warm up a tank of oil. As the oil is heated, it warms the metal fins around the element, which heat the air passing through them. And because oil has a high heat capacity, it can store heat for a long time, making oil heaters an excellent choice for long-term, steady heating.
Commonly used in residential and small commercial settings, panel heaters are thin, rectangular flat units that can be mounted on the wall or floor. They consist of a heating element behind a metal or ceramic panel that warms up when turned on.
The heat from the element is then conducted through the panel and radiated into the room. Panel heaters are available in a range of sizes and come fitted with time and temperature controls.
Unlike other convection heaters, fan heaters combine the warming ability of a heater and the circulating power of a fan to distribute warmth quickly and evenly throughout a space. A fan heater has a heating element that warms up when turned on and a fan that draws in cool air into the heater.
The air is then heated by the element and circulated back into the room by the fan. Fan heaters are available in a range of designs, including floor-standing units and wall-mounted models.
Institutional Convector Heaters
Institutional convector heaters are large, heavy-duty units designed for use in commercial and industrial settings. Their broad surface construction design makes them ideal for circulating warmth in large, open spaces.
They work by drawing in cool air from the bottom of the unit and passing it over a heating element. The air is then circulated back into the room by a fan, providing a steady flow of warmth.
Gas-Fired Unit Heater
While most convection heaters use electricity to generate heat, gas-fired unit heaters use natural gas or propane. These units feature a gas burner, thermostat, gas valves, an air filter, and a blower to circulate air.
The burner heats the air, which is then distributed by the blower to provide warmth. Gas-fired unit heaters are often used in larger commercial and industrial settings where a continuous heat supply is required.
Benefits of Using a Convection Heater
With their ability to circulate warmth evenly throughout a space, convection heaters are an efficient and effective way to heat your home or office. Some of the benefits of using a convection heater include:
- Even heating. Convection heaters provide even heating from floor to ceiling, ensuring a comfortable environment. As the hot air rises, cold air sinks, resulting in a steady supply of warmth as the circulation continues.
- Flexible placement. The versatility of convection heaters allows you to place them where you need them most. Floor-standing models can be placed in the middle of a room to provide even heating, while wall-mounted units can be placed high up on a wall to radiate heat downward.
- Cost-effective. Since convection heaters are more energy-efficient than other heaters, they can help you save money on your energy bills. Automatic shut-off timers and thermostats also help to conserve energy and lower costs.
- Safe. Convection heaters are designed with safety in mind. Most units are equipped with a built-in tip-over switch that automatically shuts off the heater if it tips over. They also have an automatic shut-off feature that turns off the heater when it reaches the desired room temperature.
How To Use a Convection Heater Safely?
While convection heaters are excellent at providing warmth, they can cause fires, accidents, and injuries if not used properly. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when using a convection heater:
- Read the user’s manual. Before using your convection heater, read the user’s manual and manufacturer’s instructions. This will help you understand how your particular model works and what safety precautions to take.
- Never leave a convection heater unattended. Always turn off the heater and unplug it from the outlet when you’re not using it. Avoid also letting children and pets play around or near the heater.
- Keep flammable materials away. Don’t place the heater too close to furniture, curtains, or other combustible materials. Maintain at least 3 feet (0.91 m) of clearance between the heater and anything that can catch fire.
- Exercise caution when using extension cords. Using an extension cord with a convection heater can cause an electrical fire. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it’s a heavy-duty cord rated for the heater’s wattage and avoid overloading it.
- Clean the heater regularly. dust and dirt can accumulate on the heater over time which can reduce its efficiency. Be sure to clean the heater regularly with a soft cloth or vacuum attachment. This will help prolong its life and keep it working properly.
- Use only manufacturer-approved replacement parts. When replacing any components on the heater, use only manufacturer-approved replacement parts. Using non-approved parts can void the warranty and cause the heater to malfunction.
Tips for Choosing a Convection Heater
Since convection heaters are designed for different applications, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider before purchasing one. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right convection heater for your needs:
- Size. The size of the room will determine the size of the heater you need. A large room will require a larger heater than a small room. Ensure you also pick a heater that’s the appropriate size for the space you want to heat.
- Type. There are several convection heaters, including wall-mounted, floor-standing, and portable units. Each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so choose one that best suits your needs and the layout of your home.
- Heating elements. Most convection heaters use either ceramic or metal coils as their heating elements. Some models also have built-in fans to help circulate the air. Consider the type of heating elements and how they will affect your home’s air quality.
- Safety feature. When choosing a convection heater, look for models with safety features like tip-over switches and automatic shut-off timers. These features will help to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Warranty. A manufacturer’s warranty helps protect your investment and provides peace of mind if the heater breaks down. Be sure to check the length of the warranty and what it covers before making your purchase.