There are two main reasons in relation to why you may be looking to replace a storage heater. The most obvious reason is that your existing storage heater may have stopped heating up correctly or doesn’t work at all. The second reason, is that you are finding storage heating to be expensive to run, and inefficient at retaining heat later in the day and evening and you are now hoping to replace it with something which is both cheaper to run and far more efficient. You may also be here because of a combination of both of the above and your storage heater is broken and now you hope to fit something better and which is cheaper to run!.
Lets start by approaching the first reason, and assume that your storage heater has stopped working and you now want to replace it.
Storage Heaters, are essentially very basic devices. They consist of special thermal blocks which heat up overnight using embedded electric heating elements, to a level of heat which is determined by a thermostat control, once the heat has built up the user selected level, the thermostat turns off and the thermal bricks slowly emit the stored heat throughout the rest of the day. In most cases, failure of the heater to produce the correct or adequate amount of heat storage is down to the failure of one or more of the electric elements inside the heater, or the thermostat failing to register the correct temperature. Both of these items are considered to be consumable items and can easily be purchased and replaced by an Electrician or even a competent home DIY’er, and at a fraction of the cost of buying a brand new storage heater.
Storage Heaters can cost in the region of £150 to £350 each to replace, and so it will always be much cheaper to repair an existing unit in situ, rather than buy and fit a brand new unit. You will find a large and comprehensive range of spares available online for all makes of storage heaters, ranging from Elements, Thermostats, Heat Brick Packs and even replacement insulation for new and old types of storage heaters, often dating back many years.
If your storage heater is failing to produce any heat at all, then if it is the smaller (850w / 900w) bathroom model then it could still be a failed element as this model only uses one single element. However if its a larger model which uses more than one element, then its unlikely that all of the elements have failed at the same time, and so the failure to produce any heat could be as simple as a fuse blowing in the spur outlet located close to the heater or a fuse blowing / circuit breaker tripping in the Economy 7 fusebox and these are the things which should be checked first.
If the problem doesn’t lie with a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker, then the likely suspect is either a small fuse/ thermal link located inside the heater which is designed to fail and break the electrical circuit if the heater overheats or overloads, or it could also be a completely failed thermostat which is no longer passing electricity current to the elements. Some new storage heater models now use electronic circuit boards for their thermostat and heat input control, but even these pcb control units can be replaced fairly cheaper.
Next, lets look at alternatives to Storage Heaters. Unfortunately, if you are already on an Economy 7 tariff and use storage heaters then you are already on the tariff which is the best & cheapest for Electric heating. You may be tempted to replace broken or old storage heaters with cheaper to buy panel and convector heaters and revert from the Economy 7 Tariff to a standard single rate tariff, however these are actually more expensive to run as they use standard electricity at a cost of 12p+ per unit, compared to the storage heaters which charge up with heat overnight, using an off peak tariff which costs around 6p per unit. So effectively, using standard electric heaters will cost you around twice as much to run in the longer term, compared to sticking with storage heaters on the Economy 7 tariff.
You may also have been tempted by a new range of “Energy Efficient Electric Heaters” which work like storage heaters but profess to cost a fraction of the price to run and so will miraculously lower your energy bills. Let me first advise that there has been much discussion in relation to the claims made by the manufacturers of these space age heaters and the general opinion is that the claims of the savings possible are grossly exaggerated and they will not save anywhere near to the amount of money that they claim. Its also worth mentioning that most of these heaters have little or no facility to store long periods of heat unlike conventional storage heaters which use thermal bricks, and so are not suitable to be run on Economy 7 tariffs.
If you are still considering these “special” energy efficient heaters (which generally are extremely and frighteningly expensive to buy), then I would first ask you to search Google and read the many reports and discussions relating to them – virtually all of which are pretty damning and often contain negative feedback from those who have actually bought and used them, and doing so may save you a lot of money and disappointment.
However, if you wish to try and lower your Economy 7 Heating costs and seriously want to find an alternative to your existing storage heaters or a cheaper method of supplementing them, then I would recommend that you also take the time to read our Economy 7 alternatives page.