Easily the cleanest, safest and most convenient way to provide heat where it's needed is with portable electric heaters that are convenient and effective in producing a lot of heat quickly. air
This is perfect in most situations, especially in the home and where safety is a major factor.
However, despite the convenience and ease of use, electrically powered heating devices have drawbacks that take the shine off their appeal in some circumstances.
This part of the website is here to take a look at the pros and cons of owning and using heaters powered by electricity while providing information and resources as well as some top product reviews to help you decide if this is the kind of heating device that is right for you and your needs.
The Benefits of Electrical Heating Units
Simplicity, safety, cleanness and convenience are the four main benefits that come with most kinds of heaters that are powered by electricity. Let's look at these in some more detail:
Most people like to keep things as uncomplicated as possible in their lives. And when it comes to providing warmth where it's needed at home or in the workplace, simply plugging a device into a wall socket then turning it on and walking away is about as simple as it gets.
There is no messy solid fuel to bother about, no gas canisters to hook up or replace when they are depleted, no naked flame to worry mothers of small children and no potentially dangerous emissions to cause health problems. Electric heaters are very simple to use and most people like it that way.
With no flame produced, there is far less to worry about in terms of potential fires being started by inadvertently knocking over the heater. There is far less danger to children who are naturally curious about fires and have a habit of wanting to poke fingers in to see how hot it really is!
While many portable heaters still utilize a heated coil to produce the heat which can potentially set fire to anything flammable that is placed too close to it, in general these devices are about as safe as can be as long as they are not maltreated.
By not needing to burn a flammable fuel to produce the heat, these are also free of any noxious gases that are naturally produced by burning such fuels. This is a big safety issue for many who like to keep all their windows and doors tightly closed to keep the precious heat inside the room they are occupying.
As already mentioned, with no fuel to have to burn to produce heat, there is no mess with "clean" electricity as the power source, at least not at the point of consumption. More about that further down the page.
For parents of families that have the safety of their children in mind as well as the no-mess appeal of an electrically powered heat source, this can be a big plus side when deciding on what kind to buy.
No one likes getting all messy stacking wooden logs for a wood fire or central furnace any more than anyone like the idea of getting covered in black coal dust every time the fire needs refilling. Even less appealing is the cleanup time when all the burned fuel residue and ash needs to be swept up, bagged up and then disposed of.
Lastly, the convenience angle is often the deciding vote when it comes to which type of heat source to buy. Without any of the mess described above and the simple turn on and turn off usability of these devices, there is little more convenient in this area.
That makes an electrical heater very appealing since there is no fuel refill or cleanup afterward to worry about. Just turn it on when it's needed and turn it off when you're done.
The Disadvantages of Electrical Heaters
No matter how convenient, clean or safe an appliance may be, there are several problems associated with heaters that are powered by electricity. These fall into the categories of economy, ecology and vulnerability as shall be explained below.
Everybody is well aware that the price of power is constantly and relentlessly rising over time with no sight of it ever being reduced. The gap between the cost of some fuels and electricity is getting wider making this an ever more expensive way to provide warmth during the cold winter months in homes and workplaces.
While modern devices are much more efficient than their predecessors, they are still losing ground to modern, more highly efficient burning wood and coal furnaces as central heating systems. It must come to the point where a decision has to be made whether to go for the convenience and other nice things that make electrical heating so appealing, or to add the economy of running such a solution in the home or business budget and weighing up the costs.
As mentioned above in the paragraphs on cleanness, while electrical devices of all kinds may appear perfectly clean when used in the home or other point of consumption, the source of that power is in most cases most definitely not clean. Here is why that is.
The electricity that supplies homes and businesses in civilized locations must be centrally generated at power stations and fed into the local or national power grid. The most common kind of power station burns fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas or oil to drive the turbines that generate the power.
These fuels emit many poisonous, polluting gases that get into the air and water supply. The waste products are dumped in the soil and further poison the land that is meant to feed and support us.
The next most common form of power generating station runs on nuclear fuel to produce electricity. The polluting waste products of these station do not break down readily and are a long term problem for governments of all western civilized countries.
Much lower down in the power generating percentile are those power stations that produce electricity from renewable sources.
In the US, less than ten percent of all electricity is generated by renewable sources with the most common of those being hydro-electric stations. Wind and solar farms are way behind despite them being potentially two of the greatest and cheapest resources that we have.
So next time you plug in your electric heater or use your air conditioning, spare a thought for the source of the power that makes it work. Out of site does not necessarily have to be out of mind.
I'd also like to add that while there exists very low powered cooling alternatives such as ventless portable air conditioners (swamp coolers), there are no real low energy electric heating alternatives. To produce sufficient heat to be usable, an electrically powered device must use a reasonable amount of wattage (generally 1kW or greater) to be viable.
Lastly, there is a massive drawback from having a home or workplace derive its sole or major source of winter heat and hot water from electrically powered devices. As is happening with greater frequency in modern times, when the grid power goes down during brown- and black-outs if you do not have a backup source, you're going to get cold fast.
Many businesses have a backup diesel gen-set to provide the electricity they need to keep running, but few homes have this luxury. A backup propane heater or solid fuel fireplace with stored fuel in readiness for these inevitable power outages is a sensible move.
While electricity is still the most commonly used power source for providing heat, hot water and somewhere to cook, it has its vulnerabilities in that individual homeowners cannot control when it is being supplied or when it is taken down. This is probably the most important factor to bear in mind when considering your next purchase of a portable ventless heating source whether it's for additional space heating or as a backup in case your home's central system fails.
More Information and Resources
If you need more in the way of information and access to useful resources in your quest for the right kind of heating device for your home, garage, workshop or office, there are some more detailed articles in this section that you can read.