Your guide to finding the ideal storage heater
A storage heater is an electrical heater which stores heat at specific times, normally during the night, when base load electricity is available at a low price and releases it during the day.
Storage heaters are one of the most popular forms of electric heating, and indeed heating in general, as they offer effective and efficient heating, are cheap to install and maintain, and take advantage of utilising inexpensive off peak low-tariff electricity.
Typically storage heaters are used in conjunction with a two-tariff electricty meter which records seperately the amount of electricty used during off-peak periods in order for this electricity to be billed at a lower rate.
An example of the off peak tariff in the UK is the Economy 7 tairiff.
Storage heaters offer comfortable warmth throughout the day taking advantage of drawing low-tariff electricity during off peak times in order to generate heat. This heat is then stored in clay bricks, or an equivalent ceramic material, due to its low cost and high specific heat capacity, to be used throughout the day to provide heat.
Storage heaters tend to have two controls: an input or charge control to control the amount of heat stored, and an output or draught control to control the amount of heat released.
The Input Controls controls tend to be either MANUAL: where the storage heater is manually set to start charging as soon as the two-tariff meter switches to the lower off-peak rate, and continues charging for however long the user sets it to (normally until the off-peak tariff finishes); or they are AUTOMATIC: where the storage heater will start charging as soon as the two-tariff meter switches to the lower off-peak rate, and will continue charging until the bricks in the storage heater have reached their full charge capacity, whereby additional sensors in the bricks alert the storage heater to stop consuming electricty.
Automatic Storage Heaters tend to be around 15% more energy efficient than Manual Storage Heaters despite the fact that on average they are only around £5 - £10 dearer to purchase than the equivalent Manual model. For this reason, we would always recommend opting for Automatic Storage Heaters.
Just as the Input Controls can be either MANUAL or AUTOMATIC, the Output Controls can be either MANUAL or THERMOSTATIC. As the name suggests, MANUAL controls allow the user to adjust the temperature output of the storage heater manually up or down, whereas THERMOSTATIC controls will automatically adjust the temperature output of a unit in order to regulate the room temperature at a pre-determined set figure throughout the day.
Many storage heaters also have an inbuilt convector heater to provide an additional heat boost when required during the day time. These units are effectively two heaters in one as the built in fan can provide heat by itself or be used in conjunction with the storage heater for a rapid boost to room temperature.
The technology used in the design and manufacturing of modern storage heaters has come on leaps and bounds over the last ten years: significant advances in heat retention and insulation have resulted in modern storage heaters being a particularly effective and cost efficient method of heating when used properly.
Not only are storage heaters cheap to buy and install; but daily running costs tend to be around 36 pence per storage heater at current energy prices (October 2008). Added to which, storage heaters have no internal moving parts, are virtually maintenance free and do not require an annual safety check.
Indded, it is worth noting that utilising storage heaters as a property's primary form of heating can add up to six points to the property’s SAP energy rating.
Please do call or email if you require further information regarding storage heaters - lines are open 8am - 10pm seven days a week.
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