How do electric radiators work?

17 January 2023
How do electric radiators work?

How do electric radiators work?

What is electric heating?

Electric heating can be understood as radiators that are connected to the mains electricity supply within your home (or other area in need of heat). Every type of electric heater contains an electric element converts electricity into heat, enabling the heater to emit heat in one way of another This method of heating differs from a standard central heating system which relies on a network of copper pipes to transfer hot water from a gas-powered boiler into the radiators and heated towel rails around your home.

A designer electric infrared heater mounted on a wallA designer electric infrared heater mounted on a wall

A central heating alternative

In the event that it is not possible for you to have a gas-fired boiler heating system in your home, then electric radiators are an excellent alternative. Modern electric rads are economical and cost-effective and very easy for a professional electrician to install. If you already have central heating but don't want the cost and inconvenience of adding pipework to a new room (such as a conservatory, converted attic or office) then electric radiators again come up trumps. Below are some of the most common types.

An electric storage heater in a homeAn electric storage heater in a home

Electric panel radiators

A very common type of electric radiator, these heaters contain an electric element and tend to be made of a material that is a good conductor of heat. The electric element transforms the electricity into heat which is then 'convected' around the room.

Electric panel rads usually have a very thin profile, making them perfect for wall-mounting and keeping them out of the way. They're very good at heating up quickly and usually contain a thermostat and a timer to easily get heat exactly when you need it.

Oil filled electric radiators

These energy-efficient types of electric radiator are a popular way of heating the home in the absence of a hot water central heating system. These radiators tend to be portable (on wheels) and contain a special type of thermal oil in a reservoir inside. This oil completely covers the internal electric element so that when the radiator is switched on, the heat is transferred from the element to the thermal oil, which flows around the radiator.

This works a bit like a hot water radiator but without the inconvenience of hot water pipes to take the flow of water in and out of the radiator. However, the thermal oil is sealed inside and can be used over and over again to heat up the radiator. This makes them a really convenient standalone way of heating your room usually plugging into a regular plug socket.

Infrared radiators

When you think of (and look at) a radiator, you’re not actually looking at a heater which radiates heat around a room. You’re looking at a heater which relies on a small degree of thermal radiation in the radiator to convect heat around a room. This is the basic principle of using a radiator in the home.

When someone would want their heat to be delivered directly at someone facing the source, they would want it from a source like infrared. Electric infrared radiators use electric to vibrate surrounding molecules, which release energy in the form of heat. This then heats the target space direct as heat molecules push in that direction.

The most significant advantage of infrared heaters is that they can hide in plain sight. The majority of these types of heater is that they look nothing like traditional radiators radiators, often coming with a mirrored finish or looking like a decorative wall hanging.

Storage heaters

Storage heaters were once a very popular way of heating homes that did not have conventional hot water central heating systems, whether for financial reasons or because the area was not connected to the mains gas supply.

Inside storage heaters are rows of ceramic bricks that would get store up thermal energy at night (when electricty is cheaper) and then release heat during the day (when electricity is more expensive). Homes with storage heaters tend to be on special electricity tariffs that differentiate between night and day use, in order to maximise the cost benefits of them. In theory this sounds good but in reality, many old storage heaters often provide too much heat in the morning and not enough in the evening, which is usually when you need heat the most.

Storage heaters are now generally considered as old technology and less efficient and less cost effective than modern electric radiators.

Electric Heated Towel Rails

Rather than being plumbed in to the central heating system, electric towel rads are connected up to your home's main electricity supply and can be switched on and off whenever they're needed. This allows for the convenience of being able to warm and dry your towels without needing to put the whole central heating system on.

Electric heated towel rails contain a special solution that i heated tup by the electric element. This solution fills all the bars on your rail so that all surfaces get hot. Similarly to oil filled radiators, the solution is sealed into the towel rail and can be heated up over and ver again without needing pipework to control the flow of water.

Modern and stylish electric radiators at

Electric heating has come a long way over the last decade and there are now a huge variety of styles and finishes available to purchase. Development has come on to such an extent that the choice of electric radiators rivals that of standard central heating radiators.

Here at Trade Radiators, we have a large selection of electric radiators in stock and are prices you won’t find anywhere else.  Our range promises simple but effective heaters that will match the décor in any room. With excellent efficiency as well as high BTU outputs, our electric radiators allow you to get the best of both worlds. 

While the above list shows the most traditional types of electric radiators, we have a range that goes far beyond that. You may not have realised just how stylish you can be when it comes to choosing an electric radiator.

Below are some of the most popular electric radiator designs you may not have previously considered.

  • Electric Column Radiators - The classic column design strikes a fine balance between modern and traditional and look great no matter what type of property, room or decor. The 2, 3 or 4 column profile handily allows you to increase the heat output without needing to increase the dimensions of the radiator.
  • Electric Designer Radiators - If making your electric radiator stand out is a priority, then you'll find some incredibly contemporary and stylish designs in our electric designer radiator section. Designer rads ensure that the way you heat your room becomes an integral part of your design plan rather than just an afterthought.
  • Electric Cast Iron Radiators - Period properties without central heating are particularly popular candidates for installation of electric cast iron radiators. Cast iron rads evoke memories of a glorious and triumphant past and are a superb choice if you want to maintain a sense of tradition in your home.
  • Electric Vertical Radiators - Just because you have a small room or space, that doesn't always mean you can't have heat in that area. Electric vertical radiators make fantastic use of upward wall space, such as either side of a big window or on a narrow wall. Don't limit yourself to horizontal rads when going up can often give you more.

If we have piqued your interest and highlighted electric heating options that you originally didn't believer was possible, make sure you click on the button below to view are full range of incredible electric radiators!