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Heating Guide

Heating - Types of heaters

Wet Central Heating Systems


Central heating systems with radiators are termed ‘wet systems’ because the heat is delivered from water which flows from the boiler to the radiators.


Wet central heating systems can be fuelled by natural gas, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), Oil, Solid Fuel or Electricity.


Modern wet central heating systems are safe, controllable and efficient to run.

By using heating controls properly you can:-

·   Improve the comfort of your home

·   Reduce the energy used and your fuel bills

·   Avoid the risk of condensation and dampness

·   To get the best out of your system, you should follow the manufacturers’ instructions. If you have mislaid the instruction booklet for your systems, most manufacturers can provide a replacement.

·   By utilising thermostatic controls properly you can set the temperature output of the heater in order to obtain the right level of warmth and use as little energy as possible.


Radiators are most commonly used in “wet” central heating systems. The water is heated by the boiler and travels through the radiators, giving out heat.

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRV’s)

TRV’s are found on radiators in rooms other than the room where the room thermostat is placed. The TRV senses the air temperature in the room and can be set to a specific temperature for that room. They can also be used to turn an individual radiator on or off.

Room thermostat

This is usually positioned in a hallway or general living area and is recommended to be set at between 18°C and 21°C. The room thermostat reacts to the temperature in the room where it is positioned. When the room is warm enough, it sends a signal to the central heating pump to stop heating the radiators until the temperature drops below the set level.

Electric heating systems

Electric heating systems are very different from a “wet” gas central heating system. The majority of homes heated exclusively by electricity have a combination of storage heaters and panel heaters with an electric immersion heater for the hot water.

Electric heaters are quick, easy and cheap to install, quiet and very effective: they are far more responsive at warming a room than a traditional wet system.

Modern electric heaters are extremely energy efficient in comparison to traditional wet heating systems. Most electric heaters have an Energy Efficiency rating of ‘A’ meaning that they have an energy efficiency coefficient of 3:1 – ie for every kilowatt of electricity they use they generate 3 kilowatts of heat. Some modern Heat Pump systems (including air conditioning systems that heat as well as cool) have an energy efficiency coefficient of 5:1.  


Electric heating systems usually have either thermostatic controls or heat settings.

“Heat settings” control the output of the heater. For example, on a 1.5kW heater there might be three settings.  Setting one will give a 500w output, setting two 1kW and setting three 1.5kW.  This allows you to have better control over the temperature in the room and the cost of running the heater.

Types of Electric Heaters

Storage heaters

These operate by storing heat during ‘off-peak’ periods when the electricity is cheaper, usually overnight. This heat is then released into the room the following day and evening. There are two controls (input/charge and output/boost) on the majority of storage heaters which have to be adjusted in anticipation of the following day’s weather.

Radiant heaters

Radiant heaters work by heating infrared rays, which are then radiated out and absorbed by surrounding objects like, for example, floors, furniture or people.

The increased temperature of these objects then heats the air surrounding them - and as floors absorb the heat, you'll find these kinds of heaters create warmer floor-level temperatures than many others.


Radiant portable heaters are efficient and quiet - so no noisy blowers or fans are required to distribute the heat.

Radiant heat is a unique transfer of energy that naturally searches out colder objects to warm. Instead of rising like warm air, radiant heat starts by warming the coldest and closest objects from its source. This is why radiant heating systems are generally placed under floors.

Unlike convectional heat, radiant technology heats people, walls and furniture rather than the
air around you. The result is a comfortable, gentle and evenly distributed heat reducing the 'Hot Head / Cold Feet' scenario. Radiant heat does not escape through draughts resulting in lower running costs.

Radiant heat is classed as the primary heat source: it is the heat we obtain from the sun and from an open natural fire. As such it is the type of heat the human body is most used to and responds best to.

Convector heaters

A convector radiator or heater is a popular solution for heating in the home or office because convector heaters are quick to warm up and efficient at heating medium to large rooms.

Convector Heaters are freestanding or wall mountable, easy to control and light to move around.

With a convector heater air passes over an electric element which warms it up and then the air is circulated back into the room, either with or without a fan.

Examples of electric heaters

Fan convector heaters - provide instant heat and warmth, especially if you are in the direct line of the fan.  They are small in size and light in weight so they can be easily moved and positioned to a person’s exact requirements. They take up next to no space to store when not required.

Convector or radiant panel radiators can be either wall mounted or free standing.  Panel heaters are available to suit any room – even bathrooms (check to see if they are IPX4 rated for bathroom use). Features can include: built in control thermostat; economy setback (background temperature control); built in timer

Oil filled radiators - oil filled radiators are maintenance free. The radiators are sealed units filled with oil that warms up whenever heat is required. Once they have reached the desired temperature the radiator stops consuming electricity but stay warm for a considerable time. They only start to consume power again when the temperature drops. Unlike fan heaters they do not make any noise and do not create dust. Oil filled radiators are the perfect solution when radiators attached to a central heating system are either not available or do not provide enough warmth.


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