Often Conservatories are built onto a building long after the original heating system was installed, and for this reason it is difficult or expensive to add onto an existing gas fired heating system, however if the boiler capacity does exist, then it should be considered, as Gas Central Heating still remains one of the cheapest forms of providing heat to ANY room.
However, extending the existing heating system may not be possible to do, or may be prohibitively expensive, especially if the Conservatory is only used infreqently or for short periods, and for this reason many people turn to the huge range of Portable Electric Heaters to fulfil the need.
First of all, let me state once again, that ALL electric heaters are 100% efficient, and this basically means that every bit of energy that is drawn from the socket gets turned into heat, which is good news, because Electricity is not cheap and one of the most expensive methods of heating a room or Conservatory.
However, you should not be tempted to spend a large amount of money on any Electric Heater professing to be some kind of miracle, if it consumes 2kw then it will give out 2kw of heat, regardless of whether it is a £20 Convector Heater or a £500 “Miracle” Radiator, so save your money and don’t fall for polished marketing techniques.
The only difference between Electric Heaters is the design, a Fan Heater will quickly heat the room, a Convector Heater will warm the room gradually by convection and an oil filled radiator will give a nice uniform heat output by first warming oil from which heat then gets convected into the room, Many people prefer the latter two types of heaters as they don’t have any associated fan noise, however they all have one thing in common, if they are all rated at 1.5kw then they will all consume 1.5kw and will all cost exactly the same to run, plus they will all output 1.5kw of heat into the room
Many people get confused with energy ratings, and will choose a heater based on its running costs. Buying a heater which is marketed as being low energy and rated at 500w or 700w may be very tempting as it will cost 50% less to run than a 1000w or 1400w heater, however it will also output 50% less heat than a 1000w or 1400w heater, because you don’t get something for nothing, the power consumption is directly related to the heat energy output, so a 700W heater gives out 700w worth of heat into the room.
So, choose your heater ratings carefully, after all, if a Conservatory requires 1500 watts worth of heat to warm it to a comfortable level on a cold day, then a 700w or 1000w heater will not provide the heat energy required, and whilst it may be cheaper to run, it won’t do the job, and you will still be sat there in your coat!.
From experience, the minimum heat output that you should be considering for a small Conservatory is 1000 – 1500w, remember that most heaters have two or more heat settings, so it can always be turned down if the weather isn’t that cold, or background heat is all that is required.
Another type of heater is an halogen heater, although they are just as efficient as any other type of heater, they work on a slightly different principle. Halogen Heaters work on the basis that they heat the person, rather than the air in the room, a bit like those outdoor / patio heaters you see in smoking areas outside hotels, directing their heat energy onto the people in front of them.
Halogen Heaters should be chosen in cold areas which are diffcult to heat, or which are poorly insulated, and on the basis that Conservatorys are generally entirely glass and so lose heat energy from inside quite readily, this would often be the best type of heater to use. The main drawback with Halogen Heaters, is that they have to be used as ‘spot’ heating, and pointed directly towards the person they are warming, and they also will not heat the room itself. So whilst a Halogen Heater may be fine for warming one person sitting reading or watching TV, it would not be the best solution for heating a group of people all using the same room.
For more information:- Halogen Heater Information
There is also one other type of portable heater which should be considered for heating a Conservatory. Called an “Inverter Heater” these portable heaters use domestic heating oil as a fuel source and so cost significantly less than Electricity to run (7p vs 12p per kw).
For more Information:- Portable Inverter Heaters