Heaters Gonna Heat
"Heater Heats Room!"isn't a newsflash. HOW a heater heats might surprise you: Welcome to the Bone-Warming World of Portable Electric Heaters, where radiant and convection electric heaters toasty you up—without paying to heat the whole darned house.
Why is a microwave faster than an oven? That's the difference between radiant and convective heat. One heats the air, the other heats objects.
Imagine you have pot pie, a microwave and an oven.
A microwave penetrates only objects—the pot pie and the plate—with electromagnetic radiation, a.k.a. radiant heat. The pot pie becomes warmer as its molecules whirl around in a fruitless bid to realign with the microwave's alternating electrical field.
An oven's super-heated element warms the air around the pot pie—but not the pot pie itself—a la convection heat. The pot pie becomes warmer as its molecules warm, rise and replace unheated molecules, eventually bringing it to temperature.
When picking a portable electric heater, know that a watt is a watt is a watt. Two heaters with equal wattage will provide an equal amount of heat, no matter a heater's physical size.
Heating one square foot takes 10 watts; portable heaters range from 750w to 1500w. That means a 1500w electric heater is technically capable of warming a space up to 150 ft2 in size—a 10'x15' room.
That being said, you should consider a room's size and shape, insulation (or lack thereof) and airflow—all variables that impact your satisfaction in a heater's performance.
A 1500w portable electric heater costs $0.15 per hour* to operate, based on Seattle City Light's average electricity rate of $0.10 per kWh.
|1 hour||$0.15||@||30 days||$4.50|
|4 hours||$0.60||@||30 days||$18|
|12 hours||$1.80||@||30 days||$54|
|24 hours||$3.60||@||30 days||$108|
*Calculating Kilowatt hours (kWh)
Heater wattage (multiplied by) hours of use (divided by) 1000 = kWh
kWh (multiplied by) 0.10 (cost per kWh) = operational cost
Infrared, quartz & parabolic are types of radiant heaters. They use a concentrated beam of invisible light quickly warm nouns (people, places and things). But not a roomful of nouns—probably two, tops.
HOW IT WORKS:
Radiant heaters generate infrared-spectrum light, which we feel as heat. A benign form of electromagnetic radiation, infrared waves penetrate solid objects—you, your cat, the couch—but not the air. Sunshine and campfires feel warm on our skin because of infrared light.
Focused heat in drafty, poorly insulated rooms
- Stays cool-to-the-touch
- Maintains ambient humidity (won't dry you out)
- Quiet to silent
Not effective for whole-room heating; must be physically close to feel heat.
Ceramic, fan-forced & oil-filled are types of convection heaters. They use heated elements to warm the air within a room. Convection heaters sustain heat over a longer period of time and in larger areas than radiant heaters.
HOW IT WORKS:
Convection heaters pass either room air or heat-conducting oil over a hot element. The resulting warm air rises via natural convection (like heat from an oil-filled radiator) or with the help of a heater's attached fan, raising a room's air temperature and making you feel warm.
Sustained, room-filling warmth in an enclosed space
- Available in an array of physical sizes
- Best results are in well-insulated, non-drafty rooms
- Warmth is consistent throughout room
Reduces ambient humidity (may dry you out); may be hot-to-the-touch.
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