Conservatories are a wonderful addition to any home – providing extra space and that feeling of being close to the outdoors for a fraction of the price of an extension. However, most conservatories are only suitable for relaxing in a few months a year due to the typical British weather making them too cold. This is where a conservatory heater comes in – the perfect way to change your conservatory from being “Summer Only”, to an all-year-round room in your home!
Most conservatory owners will understand the difficulty in heating this under-insulated room. Made primarily with glass, which means hot air can transfer through to the outside and cold air can get in, plus often made with a glass ceiling also, home owners can find attempting to heat this room costly and time consuming. Equally, not heating the room means that it is often either too warm or too cold to sit in comfortably, and can lead to damp problems in winter, making it even more important to find the right conservatory heater before purchasing. We looked at features of many of the top conservatory heaters on the market to provide you with enough detail in this Buyer’s Guide for you to be confident in what type of conservatory heater you need.
Only Got 5 Minutes?
The first decision that you need to make is the type of heater that is right for you. The two main types of conservatory heater that we would recommend are electric and infrared heaters. Both with different benefits and working in completely different ways, it is important to find a heater that is going to be cost-effective, powerful enough to heat your conservatory and that is going to be suitable for your room.
Electric heaters work by heating elements inside the heater, which then transfers to the air around the radiator in various different ways depending on the style of heater (see below for more details). As we know from all of our science lessons at school – heat rises. This means that the warm air next to your electric heater will rise and move away from the heater, leaving cool air in its place. This process continues, warming your conservatory so that you are able to use this wonderful addition to your home regardless of the time of year!
Infrared heaters work very differently – using (safe) radiation to heat the actual contents of your home and yourself, these heaters help to avoid the issue of heat that is lost due to most conservatories not being particularly well insulated. Infrared heaters don’t heat the air in the room, which in a conservatory in the middle of winter can be incredibly cold, they heat actual “things” that are around them by sending out radiation to these objects, which then absorb this radiation. These objects then give off this warmth into the room, so your sofa will be nice and warm to snuggle into even while it is snowing outside!
There are many features that it is important to consider when purchasing your conservatory heater, such as;
- Programming features – this will allow you to set times that you would like your heater to come on, just like with your central heating system, so that your conservatory can be nice and warm when you get home from work or first thing in the morning. Also, some heaters have a thermostat so that they will switch off when they reach a certain temperature, and start up again when the temperature cools – this is perfect for if you are wanting to leave the room for any period of time as it saves you coming back to an oven (and a large electricity bill!).
- Energy Saving – Due to recent changes in the importance of energy saving, most heaters will now have energy efficient features. However, it is always important to check the rating of your heater and other features that it might have to help save you money on your energy bills!
- Power – check both how the heaters are powered (usually this will be through mains electricity) and also the power that each heater uses. All heaters will have different efficiency levels – something that is important if you are planning on using the heater regularly.
- Safety features – All heaters will have to follow the latest safety regulations, although some will come with additional features, such as a temperature limiter, to avoid overheating.
- Wall mounted or portable? Wall mounted heaters are obviously going to draw less attention and tend to fit in better with the overall look of the room, whereas portable heaters are perfect if you want to be able to use the heater in different places
- To slimline or not to slimline? In recent years, conservatory heaters have become smaller and smaller. This has the benefit of the heaters being less obvious in the room, and easier to fit in smaller places, but the smaller heaters can struggle to heat a larger room unless they are very high quality!
- And arguably the most important …budget. It is important when buying a conservatory heater that you don’t just consider the initial outlay for buying the heater, but also the running costs moving forwards. Some heaters will be cheap to purchase initially but will not heat as efficiently as others, meaning increased electricity bills if you are planning on using the heater regularly!
Electric heaters have been very popular for a number of years, due to them being so easy to use and relatively cheap. Equally, most electric heaters will be portable, so you are able to move them to another part of the room, or a different room altogether when not needed in the conservatory. However, there are wall mounted options available for purchase if you have one particular place in mind for your heater.
There are many different types of electric heaters:
- Oil-filled – using electricity to heat the oil inside the heater, this oil then releases heat which warms the room. Usually cheap to purchase but can take time to heat up and be difficult to move if on the large side!
- Fan – the electricity powers a fan that is over a heating element. This element heats up the air which is then pushed out of the heater because of the fan. Fan heaters will heat up quickly but depending on the quality can have the noise issue from the fan itself.
- Convector – this type of heater works by pulling air through the appliance, and when doing so, across a heating element. As this warm air rises, cooler air flows into the heater which is then in turn warmed, and so this continues. Available in both wall mounted and portable options this type of electric heater is likely to be able to meet all your needs when placing in your home – however cheaper models can struggle to heat larger conservatories so more than one heater may be needed.
Why Electric Heaters Could Be Right For You
All have their own benefits but in general electric heaters are quick to heat up, so can start warming your conservatory sooner. Due to them working in different ways to standard central heating, the heaters can start letting out a lot of heat very quickly – perfect for such a cold room like a conservatory
They function in various different ways, meaning you can find one that is more likely to be suitable for your room and also come in varying styles – because although heating up the room is important, we appreciate that appearance is also!
Convection heaters (such as radiators and electric heaters discussed above) work by heating the air around them, and then this air circulates as the warm air rises. Although this is more than adequate in normal rooms in your house, this can often be less than sufficient in rooms like conservatories where there are a lot of draughts and “weak-points” for the warm air to be lost.
Enter the infrared heater – heating the room using safe radiation, it is easier to have your conservatory at a comfortable temperature, and then for this temperature to be maintained. Don’t panic when you read the word ‘radiation’. Infrared radiation is a completely natural form of heat, the same as sitting in front of a fire, or when we are sat out in the sun!
The Science Behind Infrared Heaters
Infrared heaters use the scientific principle that heat moves from hot places to cold places. Using this idea in heaters means that the actual building and its contents (including you!) are directly heated by the heater. You absorb the infrared, and so does your furniture, the walls, your flooring, etc.to leave you feeling warm and comfortable in your conservatory all year round. This has the added benefit that even after the heater is switched off, you and your belongings will continue to give off infrared heat for some time afterwards, keeping the room nice and warm.
Why Infrared Heaters Could Be Right For You
It is easy to question whether an infrared heater is right for you and your conservatory. “If they’re so good – why don’t we use them throughout our homes?” I hear you ask! The discovery of cheap and bountiful supplies of gas and oil, coupled with the invention of central heating, led to a quick switch into the use of radiators as the main source of heating. However, this form of heating is considerably less efficient than infrared heating, as it relies upon being able to warm the whole room, and keep the room at this temperature for you to be able to feel warm and comfortable relaxing in your conservatory
Due to economic changes, and our ever decreasing supplies of fossil fuels, development in infrared heaters has moved quickly in recent years. The benefits for you is that there are now a range of infrared heaters on the market in different sizes, colours and wattage, so you are sure to find a heater that is right for you!
WATTAGE – Don’t be concerned if the wattage of infrared heaters is considerably less than other heating options that you are considering. This is due to how effectively they work – they simply do not need the same power as other heaters to do the same job!
Frequently Asked Questions?
Yes, depending on the style of your conservatory. A lot of people are now opting to have their conservatory roof insulated. This is a relatively cheap process – although not in comparison to buying a good quality heater – and will cause minimum disruption while the work is being completed.
This can vary massively with each individual heater. As a general rule a 3kW heater that is used on full power for an hour will cost around 49p to run. Although this is obviously an additional cost to before you had a heater in your conservatory – if the heater allows you to reduce your central heating use through having one less (and difficult) room to heat then this can help to balance those running costs.
Many rumours have suggested over the years that these styles of heaters can be dangerous for numerous reasons. It goes without saying that the heaters get hot – that is what they are made to do – so it is important not to touch the top of the heater when they are switched to full power. Equally putting clothes on this style of heater to dry should be avoided. Otherwise these heaters are perfectly safe and most now come with a switch off temperature to avoid them overheating while in use.