Heater Buying Guide

Heaters can be essential in peak winter periods to keep the whole family warm and cosy. Portable heaters may be the cheapest heaters to buy, but they may not be right for your home. Whether you’re looking for a Gas Heater, Oil Heater, Fan Heater, Panel Heater, Portable Heater or Convection Heater, this Heater Buying Guide will help you work out what factors are important so you can find the perfect heater for your home.

1. Powered by Gas or Electricity

The first thing to consider is whether you want a gas heater or an electric heater.

Electric Heaters

  • Portable electric heaters are usually cheaper to buy than gas heaters, and they’re better for enclosed areas.
  • Reverse cycle split systems are great for open spaces and are the most energy efficient heaters if they have a good star rating.

Gas Heaters

  • Flued or unflued:
  • - Flued gas heaters are built in and vented outside so can be used in big or small rooms
  • - Unflued gas heaters don’t need a built in wall vent but need to be in a big room with good ventilation
  • Portable unflued gas heaters can only be used in well ventilated open spaces
  • Gas heaters are usually cheaper to run that portable electric heaters
  • Gas heaters don’t need to be plugged in so the heater still works during power outages

2. Types of Heaters

Electric Heaters

Portable heaters that plug into a power point and can be moved from room to room can be:

  • Radiant heaters – Instantly heat whoever or whatever is in front of them (they don’t heat the air). They’re usually the cheapest heaters to buy and can have a:
  • Quartz heating element – one or more flowing tubes sit behind a metal grid but are still exposed, so you may need to be careful if you have children or small pets.
  • Ceramic heating element – generates instant heat from a wider area than quartz models and can be thin so well suited to wall mounting.
  • Oil column – The oil inside the columns heats up slowly. Oil column heaters are safer than quartz heaters and are good for heating bedrooms overnight.
  • Fan – A good little heater for one person and/or a small room as it heats the air quickly. Some fan heaters have heating and cooling settings for winter and summer.
  • Convection heaters – Generate warm air that then rises so only good for low-ceiling spaces. Panel heaters have a thin design that saves space in small rooms, and models with a fan distribute the hot air around the room, but running costs can be high.
  • Electric fire effect – Produce a fireplace flame effect at the flick of an electric switch with no flue needed.

A built-in reverse cycle split system air conditioner is a heating and cooling solution that:

  • Warms the room in winter and keeps it cool in summer
  • Suits large open-plan living areas and bedrooms
  • Is the most energy efficient heating option
  • Costs less to run than other kinds of heaters
  • Quietly keeps your home comfortable

If you’re weighing up a reverse cycle split system vs ducted heating, keep in mind that buying a reverse system that heats and cools is easier and cheaper to install than a ducted heating system (which you need to install floor or ceiling ducts for and needs to be tailored to your home).

Gas Heaters

  • Flued – Built-in flued heaters push emissions outside via a tube (the flue), and some have fans to circulate the hot air around the room.
  • Unflued – Portable and run on natural gas or LGP. You need to have really good room ventilation to protect the air quality, and you can’t use an unflued gas heater in bedrooms, bathrooms or other small rooms.

Heating and cooling

If you want your heater to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer consider:

  • One of the latest portable fan heaters with heating and cooling settings
  • A reverse cycle portable air conditioner that heats and cools and be moved around easily
  • A built-in reverse cycle split system air conditioner that heats and cools (must be installed by a qualified professional)

3. Energy Efficiency

Which type of heater is the cheapest to run? A really energy efficient reverse cycle split system air conditioner is the most efficient way to heat (and cool!) your home.

Reverse cycle split systems have separate heating and cooling energy efficiency star ratings (rated on a ten-star scale), with more stars meaning more environmentally friendly and more bill savings. Many states offer rebates on energy efficient appliances – check with your state government to see if you’re eligible. To find out more about how you can heat your home in the most energy efficient way and save on bills, read Quick tips for choosing an energy efficient heater

4. Additional Features

  • Tilt-safety switch – switches the heater off if it’s ever knocked over.
  • Fan­ – circulates warm air around the room to heat the whole room.
  • Overheat shut-off mechanism – automatically switches off the heater to stop it overheating.
  • Oxygen depletion safety device (gas heaters) ­– senses low oxygen levels and shuts off the gas supply.
  • Flame failure shut-off (gas heaters) – automatically stops the gas supply if the flame fails.
  • Thermostat – allows you to set the temperature you want the room to be and stay at.
  • Oscillation – moves the heater from side to side for better heat distribution.
  • Humidifiers – add moisture to the air to stop the heater from drying out the room.
  • Air filter – filters impurities from the air to minimise airborne allergens like dust.
  • Filter clean alert – tells you when to clean the filter so the heater works efficiently.

5. Control Settings

More expensive models will tend to have electronic controls and displays, with a range of automated programs. For instance, some heaters have:

  • Thermostatic controls­ – they measure the temperature of the room and switch off the heater when the set temperature is reached, turning it on again if the temperature drops.
  • Programmable timers – allow you to set the times of the day you want the heater to automatically turn on and off.
  • Remote controls – so you can make adjustments without getting off the couch or out of bed.
  • Child locks – to protect the little ones in your household from the heater.

6. Installation

Need to get your gas heater or reverse cycle split system air conditioner installed fast? The Concierge Home Installation service from The Good Guys can assist with arranging for a licensed and insured professional to install your new gas heater or reverse cycle split system air conditioner. No stress, no mess, all work is guaranteed and you can start using it sooner.

7. Additional Information

For more help choosing the heater that’s right for you:

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