Although conventional heating systems use gas or oil to generate heat and hot water, the use of electricity to provide heating and hot water is rapidly increasing in popularity. What has become popular due to many aspects is the German electric heating systems.
Why use an electric system instead of a conventional one?
Natural resources such as gas and oil will inevitably end within half a century, so electricity could be the best next thing to use to heat our homes. Among the many benefits of installing an electric heating system there are:
Zero risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
Ideal solution to heat properties outside the useful range of the gas network
Almost instant response to turning on central heating
Main Types of Electric Heating Systems
There is a wide array of electric systems to choose from. However, each of them is best for a specific purpose, so you must learn the differences between them to choose the one that best suits you. Here are the main types of electric heating systems:
- Electric boilers
- Infrared panels
- Electric storage heaters
- Air source heat pumps
- Ground source heat pumps
Electric boilers work on the same principle as any other types of boiler, except from the fact that they use electricity instead of burning fuel such as oil, wood or gas.
These boilers work best for homes off the gas network or for properties that don’t demand a very powerful heating system to generate heating and hot water. Such properties include small apartments, bungalows, and even smaller houses.
Unlike conventional radiators, infrared panels directly heat people and objects around them. This makes them very efficient, as they start generating heat as soon as they are switched on. Furthermore, they don’t circulate dust around the room as conventional heaters do.
Infrared radiation is similar to radiation coming from the sun, but without the harmful UV rays. Although some people fear infrared panels could make them ill, in fact this heating solution may actually provide your health benefits.
Electric Storage Heaters
Also known as night storage heaters, electric storage heaters use electricity from the mains to store heat during the night. The next day, they release this energy, thus allowing you to save money by taking advantage of the lower price of nighttime electricity. They store the energy while it’s cheap and release it during daytime, when tariffs are higher.
Air Source Heat Pumps
Air source heat pumps are among the most efficient renewable heating systems available today. They suit bigger houses, even though their installation requires some outdoor space.
Air source heat pumps suck in air with the help of a rotating fan. Then, the air passes through a coil system that contains a refrigerant fluid, which passes through multiple aggregation forms until it evaporates, thus, generating the heat for this type of central heating system.
This type of heating system can work all year round, some of the models being able to generate heat even when outside temperatures drop to -25C.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
Ground source heating pumps are also renewable and efficient heating solutions. The difference is that ground source heat pumps extract heat from the ground, thanks to a piping system. About two metres underground, the soil has a constant temperature of 10-15C, all year round. These pumps extract this heat and use it for central heating.
The heating occurs thanks to a refrigerant fluid that runs through the pipes, absorbing underground heat as it passes through. Then, a heat exchanger does the final part of the job, amplifying the heat to use it for central heating.
What Is The Renewable Heat Incentive?
The government offers a Renewable Heat Incentive to some of the homeowners who install an air source or a ground source-heating pump.
As the government seeks to encourage more households to switch to renewable heating systems, the RHI allows homeowners to benefit from quarterly payments spread over a 7 year period. This should entice more families into installing a ground source or an air source heat pump.
What is the average price of electric heating systems?
Infrared panels and storage heaters are among the least expensive systems, with prices starting from £100-£150 apiece. Consider that you are going to need one in each room, should you want to use them to heat your entire house.
Air source and ground source pumps are the most expensive ones. Furthermore, they also come with relatively high installation costs.
Even though the running costs are significantly higher than conventional fuel home heating systems, there are also some great advantages:
- You can invest in solar panels to generate free renewable solar energy for your electric heating systems
- Electricity doesn’t require any storage solution as oil and gas do
- It offers an alternative to homes that can’t use the gas network
- Such systems rarely malfunction, hence enabling you to save on repair costs
- Electric heating systems have a faster response than conventional ones
- There’s no waste, all energy being converted to heat