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How Do Electric Heaters Work?

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Electric space heaters can be a godsend in winter, but have you ever wondered how they work? In this article, we are going to discuss how different types of space heaters convert electrical energy into thermal energy.

We are also going to highlight the benefits of using an electric heater and other important points that can help you learn more about these appliances. Click here to have a look at some of the best electric heaters that you can consider buying in Australia.

What is an Electric Heater?

In a nutshell, an electric heater is a device that can readily convert electrical energy into heat energy. There are different types of electric heaters that you can go for depending on your needs. Convection heaters are a favourite among most people due to their efficiency. Most convection heaters are fitted with powerful fans that help with the dissipation of heat for maximum heating effect.

Radiant heaters can prove useful when heating a small area. These types of heaters feature an exposed heating element that radiates heat to the surrounding air, causing the room to warm up. Infrared heaters are somewhat similar to radiant heaters, but the main difference is that they disperse heat through electromagnetic radiation and also heat surrounding objects rather than the air.

Ceramic heaters are one of the safest types of electric heaters. Additionally, they are energy efficient and equally lightweight. Oil column heaters are different from the other types of heaters that we have highlighted above. As the name implies, they are fitted with oil-filled columns that aid in the production of heat.

How Does an Electric Heater Work?

Electric heaters are equipped with heating elements that act as electrical resistors. When current is passed through the resistor, heat is produced, thus allowing the heater to increase the ambient temperature. Most electric heaters have heating elements that are made of nichrome wire. This is primarily because nichrome is highly resistant to oxidation and also delivers good results when used as a resistor.

In addition to this, nichrome alloy will remain stable even when exposed to extremely high temperatures. A good number of heaters that employ this heating technique have fans that spin at high speed.

As the fan spins, it draws in cool air from the surroundings and passes it over the heating element inside the heater. This will cause the air to warm up before it is pushed out through the heater vents, and the cycle repeats itself. The rate of heat transfer can vary based on the temperature gradient. This means the heater will conduct heat faster when the core temperature is high.

In electric heaters, heat can be dispersed through radiation, conduction, or convection. Most electric heaters on the market use the former method for effective heat transfer. Radiant heaters are easy to work with, making them ideal for anyone who is looking to heat warm up their space.

Nonetheless, a convection heater can warm up a larger area at a faster rate than a radiant heater. That said, if you are looking for a personal heater, the radiant models will do, but if you want to warm an entire room, you should consider a convection heater

How do Oil-filled Column Heaters Work?

The diathermic oil in oil-filled heaters is not only a good conductor of heat, but can also store thermal energy for an extended duration. Once the heating element inside the heater has converted electrical energy into heat energy, the heat is transferred to the oil columns, which circulate it throughout the unit.

The metal fins in the heater will then radiate the heat to the surrounding environment, causing an increase in ambient temperature. When working with this type of heater, you won’t have to worry about topping up the oil from time to time because it does not get depleted during the heat transfer process.

Plus, the fact that it has a high boiling point means it cannot easily turn into vapour. Unlike convection heaters, oil-filled column heaters do not have fans, so they are not noisy. However, oil column heaters are not as lightweight compared to other types of heaters.

What Are The Benefits Of Using An Electric Heater Over Gas Heaters?

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider using an electric heater:

Electric heaters are energy efficient 

One of the main reasons why most people prefer electric heaters over gas heaters is because they are energy efficient. Besides, the advancement in technology has allowed heater manufacturers to come up with units that can run for several hours without increasing your utility cost. They can also warm up a given area within a short period.

Electric heaters are good for the environment

The good thing about electric heaters is that they can generate heat efficiently without causing any emissions. This doesn’t apply to gas heaters, which are known to emit nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO). If you are using a gas heater, ensure that the unit is flued.

Electric heaters are easy to install

Electric heaters do not require any installation. Simply plug the unit into an outlet, and you will be good to go. On the other hand, some models of gas heaters may require installation and ventilation, which often comes at an extra cost.


Now that you have a rough idea about how electric heaters work, you can safely operate your unit without worrying about anything. With the right electric heater, you can effectively warm up your room in just a few minutes. Moreover, most electric heaters are portable, so you can carry them to the areas that need heating.

Also, these devices offer multiple heat settings that you can use in different scenarios. As such, you will be able to customise your heater according to your needs. To top it all up, electric heaters are very affordable and equally easy to use.


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