Space Heaters

The recent advertising blitz in local newspapers and on national radio for Infrared Heating Systems products, such as EdenPURE or SUNHEAT, have generated several questions from our membership.

If you were to look at the four different heaters featured below, could you tell which one would deliver more heat? We’ll tell you later in this article, but nearly everyone is surprised. With the vast number of electric heater styles, shapes and sizes on the market, it’s no wonder that consumers are confused when shopping for the right one to fit their needs. Adding to the confusion are the exaggerated claims by a few advertisers, who boast their product has an “exclusive design” that will “save you big bucks on your heating bills”. At least one manufacturer claims it can cut heating costs up to 50 percent with its “space-age technology”. They even compare the power consumption to coffee makers.

A watt is a watt, no matter how it is delivered or in what package it is delivered in.

All electric heaters use a process called “electric resistance heating”. This simply means that electricity is sent through a material that is “resistant” to the flow of electric current. These materials glow red as they convert electricity into heat (visualize the elements on a stove). Because all electric heaters use this same process, they all have the same efficiency—100 percent. There are no losses. Whatever the heater’s shape, size, or marketing claims, the amount of heat coming out is the same as the amount of electricity going in. Therefore, any two heaters with a rating of 1,500 watts on the nameplate will deliver the same amount of heat, no matter what they look like. In other words, a 1500-watt standard portable heater purchased from Farm & Fleet or Menards is going to generate the same amount of heat as the EdenPURE or SUNHEAT 1500-watt heaters. They also have the same efficiency—100 percent. The difference is going to be the price point and how the heater is packaged. Now you know the answer to the question posed to you earlier in this article. A watt is a watt, no matter what!

They also compare the power consumption to a Mr. Coffee brand coffee maker. That is a very good marketing ploy since a Mr. Coffee brand coffee maker is 1500-watts as are these heaters. However, the coffee maker is only using electricity to keep your liquid hot after brewing, and that is not continuous as the heating plate cycles on and off. You also only use your coffee maker for a small portion of the day, where a portable electric heater is more than likely going to consume more power over the course of the day. For example, if you were to run this 1500-watt portable heater non-stop for one month, you could expect to see an increase of around $100 on your monthly energy bill.

Any portable heater is going to allow room-by-room variation in temperature. This “zonal heating method” can save money, but only by lowering the setting on the home’s central heating thermostat. Then in the occupied room(s), a space heater is used to boost the temperature to a comfortable level.

The success of this strategy is somewhat dependent on the home’s floor plan. For a home having a very open floor plan (few dividing walls), it’s difficult to close-off unoccupied rooms. The key to this zonal heating method is to be able to lower the temperature in a large percentage of the house, for most of the day.

As that famous radio personality that promotes these units would say: “Now you know the rest of the story...Good day!”

Jump River Electric Cooperative

PO Box 99

Ladysmith WI 54848

715-532-5524