What to Look for in a Room Heater

Last updated: June 2023

Where would we be without our trusty room heaters? Handy in a pinch when our central heating suddenly conks out and reliable as a zoned heater for everyday use. Room heaters come in all shapes and sizes but therein lies the problem – there’s a lot of different products out there which all claim to do the same job. ‘Room heating’ is quite a vague phrase and we all have different requirements for warming our home, so it’s to be expected that some heaters just won’t make the cut. So, what should you be looking out for when you come to buy a room heater?

Heat-up times

Heat-up times are a big factor for some when choosing a room heater; you might be holding an exercise class and need heat straightaway, or you may have a living room that only requires a low intensity background level of heat.

Convection heaters

Pure convection heaters are great for quick and effective heating at short notice, or for occasional use in areas of the home you use less frequently. Panel heaters provide warmth by heating air in the room, and their effects can be felt almost immediately as they create an exaggerated convection current.

Oil-filled electric radiators

Electric radiators that use thermal fluid elements are a popular choice if you use your room heater regularly. While they can take time to reach comfort temperatures, they provide a more lasting heat suitable for long periods of use throughout the day.

Dry thermal electric radiators

If you want a good compromise between rapid heating and lasting warmth, opting for an oil-free radiator that uses dry thermal heating elements will warm up quickly but still offer an effective combination of radiated and convected heat.


Nobody sets out to buy an inefficient heater, but it’s an all-too-common occurrence for consumers to end up with one by accident. It’s not obvious how efficient a room heater will be just by looking at it, as each one will utilise slightly different mechanisms which will affect its energy consumption.

In general terms, convection-based products like panel heaters or fan heaters are less energy efficient when compared to radiators, as not all of the electricity used to power them will be converted into heat. Some of this energy will be turned into light, in the case of some cheaper heaters with exposed elements; or used to power components within the heater, like fans and motors. This might not present you with an issue if you only tend to use your room heater infrequently or for short periods of time. However, if you like to use your room heater on a daily basis, you’ll be much better served looking for a more energy efficient solution as your running costs will quickly add up.

Let’s take a deep dive into what makes electric radiators and panel heaters similar, different, and which one is perfect for your home if you’re weighing up your options. 

Features and functions

Even the smallest of room heaters come packed with a range of features these days and it’s always worth keeping your eyes peeled for functions designed to save you money.

Digital programmers & precision thermostats

Many modern panel heaters and electric radiators come with some form of programming functionality to allow you to create a custom heating schedule around your lifestyle. Some of these programmers are so versatile that they allow you to schedule your heating down to every hour of every day across the course of a whole week. Electric heaters with precision thermostats measure room temperature with minute accuracy, maintaining your ideal comfort level and avoiding excess energy usage.

Digital displays

Basic room heaters will usually have very simplistic controls like turn-dials and switches to regulate heat. We’re all familiar with the non-descript knobs on the front of fan heaters, their vague gradient bars of colour indicating some sort of transition from cool to warm. They’re not particularly useful if you want to accurately monitor your room temperature, so if you need more control over your heating, you should look for products with a digital display. Heaters with LED or LCD screens will be able to provide you with a visual readout of the current room temperature and target temperature levels.

WiFi control

For ease-of-use, you might want to go for a heater that’s WiFi-compatible. These can come in handy if you need to be able to adjust your heating quickly from your smartphone, whether at home or on the go. WiFi app programming is accessible, convenient and extensive, giving you full control of your heater’s overall running costs and efficiency.

Size and weight

Most room heaters are quite small, but their output is usually sufficient for average room sizes. That being said, it’s always worth checking the maximum room size the heater will be able to cope with before purchasing. The worst thing you could do is to purchase an underpowered heater that will be struggling to heat a space that’s too large for it to handle. When a heater is underpowered, it will constantly draw energy as it tries and fails to maintain the room temperature, severely shortening the lifespan of the appliance.

In this video, we’re running down all things wattage. What is it, why does it matter and how do you calculate how much you’ll need? We’re here to explain it all. 

Another consideration you need to make is the weight of your room heater. Portable electric radiators are available with feet and are designed to be moved from room-to-room. For this reason, they are more lightweight than wall-mounted electric radiators, but it’s always worth checking the weight of a room heater before purchasing if you think you might struggle to move it otherwise.

Our recommendations

To make it easier to match your needs to the right kind of room heater, here are our top recommendations:

Ecostrad iQ Plus Electric Panel Heater

Our Ecostrad iQ Plus panel heaters are portable and DIY-friendly, perfect for rooms that are used sporadically. WiFi-ready with voice control, you’re guaranteed on-demand warmth.

Ecostrad Ascoli iQ Electric Radiator

The Ecostrad Ascoli iQ provides long-lasting heat with its heat-retentive thermal elements and innovative WiFi programming, maximising comfort and efficiency.

Haverland RC Wave Electric Radiator

The Haverland RC Wave uses dry thermal elements for quicker heat-up times and effective convected and radiant heat. It uses a highly accurate thermostat and comes with Bluetooth app control, so programming is both intuitive and convenient.

Choose your ideal room heater today

Whether you’re looking for a primary heat source or top-up heater, we’ve got you covered. Browse our full range of electric radiators and panel heaters or get in touch with our award-winning sales team for a personalised recommendation. If you want to find out the right wattage to comfortably heat your space, be sure to check out our handy radiator calculator. All it needs is a few key points about your property and it’ll do the rest!

Key learnings

  • If you’re looking to quickly bring rooms up to temperature, electric panel heaters are your best bet. They’re DIY-friendly, portable and their effects can be felt almost immediately.
  • It’s important to note that they’re not designed for permanent use and aren’t as efficient as other electric heaters.
  • Electric radiators are the ideal primary heat source for rooms. Oil-filled have a slower heat-up time but they’re very slow to cool, upping their efficiency.
  • Dry thermal electric radiators are the perfect combination of convected and radiant heat, giving you the best of both worlds.
  • We recommend opting for a heater with digital programming, or better yet, WiFi control. This is a surefire way to stay in control of your energy usage and running costs.
  • Finally, it’s important you consider the size and weight of your room heater, especially if you intend to move it around. Be sure to choose the correct wattage of your radiator to avoid underheating your space.