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What is the difference between Radiant Heat and Convected Heat radiators?

Radiant heat and convected heat are differences in the way electric radiators emit heat.

Radiant heat electric radiators are fluid filled and emit heat from within the radiator. Convected heat electric radiators draw in cold air at at the bottom, heat the air inside and emit the hot air out of the top.

We will explore in further detail how each radiator works:

Radiant Heat Radiators

Each of these radiators contains a water-based fluid that includes boiler silencer, rust inhibitor and anti-freeze. Because they emit heat from inside by heating this fluid, they generate an ambient heat within the room. As heat is emitted from the whole surface area of the electric radiator, the radiant heat generated will feel much like the heat given off by a standard hot water radiator.

Internally, the electric element and the water-based solution combine to create a heat cycle. The probe on the element heats up the solution which circulates up and around the radiator. AT the bottom of the radiator, the element pulls the cooler solution up from the bottom and back across the probe, where the process starts again. This cycle of the solution getting hot and rising then cooling and falling continues until the radiator is switched off.

Radiant heat radiators are very suitable for any room in the house and all come with a thermostatic control, whether it be a single heat element or a variable heat element with a control plate.

Convected Heat Radiators

These radiators work differently because they create a physical airflow, almost like an air conditioning unit but with hot air. Cold air is pulled in at the bottom of the radiator, then heated up over an electric element before being projected out of the top. When the hot air starts to cool, it falls and is sucked back in through the bottom of the radiator for the process to start over again. This creates constant air movement in the room they are being used and can mean that air around your ankles may feel slightly cooler than air around your upper body.

The positive things about convected heat radiators are that they are slightly cheaper to purchase than their radiant counterparts. They also are able to provide a noticeable increase in heat very shortly after being switched on.

Although they are economical to run, convected heat radiators may use slightly more power than radiant heat radiators because circulating air into a room requires more energy than heating up fluid internally. However, they do come with thermostats, giving you control over the heat that is generated.

These types of radiators are very useful in cold rooms that require instant heat or rooms that are used less often (e.g. second bedrooms, conservatories). They are also popular as free-standing units as they can be brought out to supplement another heat system and then be put away again when not needed.

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Article by Benjamin Clarke