As the months get colder, many Australian household look for solutions to take a bit of chill out of the air. Portable heaters can be a great way to heat up a small space, and can also offer a great alternative to central heating, but they can also be big electricity users.
Technology is changing rapidly, and what applied 5 years ago may not hold true today. In this article we provide an up to date view on the most efficient portable heaters on the market in Australia.
Utilising natural convection heating, this slim-line panel heater is reliable and effective. Given there is no fan, it is also completely silent, as well as being safe for allergy sufferers.
Designed specifically for large living spaces, this heater circulates heat gently and efficiently throughout the room, making it one of the best large-room options, even for those with high ceilings. A precision thermostat maintains temperatures within 0.1 degree celsius, preventing overheating and energy wastage.
It has all the safety features and childproof settings you would expect from a high-end heater. It also comes with an impressive lifetime warranty.
- Efficient for large spaces
- Precision thermostat
- Slim design
- Lifetime warranty
Offering very similar benefits to the convection panel heater, this electric oil column space heater is efficient and silent.
Traditionally, the key difference between an oil and the panel heater is that the oil heater would take longer to heat up and cool down, which may be inefficient in some circumstances. However, in their Dragon range, Delonghi have utilised a large radiant heat surface, meaning these heaters get up to temperature very quickly.
Importantly, these heaters come with a new feature called “Eco-Plus”, which ensures the correct level of comfort by regulating power flow and temperature levels. By optimising energy use, this in turn reduces energy consumption and results in smaller electricity bills.
This heater comes with a 7 year manufacturers warranty.
- Oil and radiant heat
- Fast heat up
- Eco-Plus feature
- 7 year warranty
- Larger than a panel heater
The Dyson AM09 is the innovative company’s latest offering and likely the most efficient fan heater on the market. This is a great option for if you want to quickly and efficiently heat up the space you are using. It’s also great looking and has a very small footprint, making it great for smaller rooms – this is well and truly a space heater!
The most notable upgrade to previous models is the integration of something known as the Coandă effect. This bends airflow around the edge of the loop and out at an angle, meaning that the AM09 is much more effective at heating up larger spaces than its predecessors.
Users can utilise this technology by selecting “diffused mode” for wide airflow projection to heat a room quickly and evenly, or alternatively “personal mode” for directed long-range powerful airflow.
Another big plus is that this device also has cool modes, so you can use it as a portable cooling device in the summer months. It also comes with a thermostat, a timer, and a 2 years manufacturers warranty.
- Hot and cool
- Safe – no visible heat or blades
- Diffused and personal modes
- 2 year warranty
This panel heater from Delonghi incorporates fan power to heat up large spaces faster. The manufacturer states it is suitable for spaces up to 60m squared.
It is a great looking heater with a model design and has the option of being wall mounted.
It also comes with safety features such as automatic shut-down if tipped, as well as a thermostat, 6 power levels, fan speed settings, and 24 hour timer.
- Good for large spaces
- Double fan system means fast to heat up
- Fans can use more electricity
A more traditional convection heater, this is a great value option from Delonghi, suitable for heating up small to medium sized spaces.
Free standing or wall mountable, the HCM2030 has an adjustable thermostat as well as a tip over switch safety system.
- Heats up fast
- No timer
- Exterior gets quite hot
Energy Efficient Portable Heater Buyers Guide
Understanding The Different Types Of Portable Heaters
First things first, let’s make sure we understand the different types of portable heaters available and the pros and cons of each.
We can broadly split home heaters up into electric and gas. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on electric heaters, given the restrictions gas heaters have on portability, and recent changes in legislation in Victoria due to health and safety concerns.
Electric heaters usually require a fairly small initial investment, but depending on the model they can cost you a lot in electricity down the line.
Electric heaters are all considered to be 100% efficient, as they convert all energy consumed into heat. However, some varieties use more energy than others meaning they will cost you more per hour of use.
The main varieties of electric heaters are as follows:
Panel and Convection Heaters
Pros: Efficient for large spaces, good control
Cons: Slower to heat up
Oil Column Heaters
Pros: Efficient for large spaces
Cons: Heavy, slow to heat up
Pros: Generally cheap, Heat small areas quickly
Cons: Can be noisy
Pros: Fast to heat up e.g. Halogen
Cons: Heat one area only, can be a fire risk
|Panel and Convection Heaters||Efficient for large spaces, good control||Slower to heat up|
|Oil Column Heaters||Efficient for large spaces||Heavy, slow to heat up|
|Fan Heaters||Generally cheap, Heat small areas quickly||Can be noisy|
|Radiant Heaters||Fast to heat up e.g. Halogen||Heat one area only, can be a fire risk|
The most efficient heater for your home will depend on your space and intended use. The below explanation from CSE sums it up nicely:
Heating a whole room for a few hours or more:
For this, you should use a convector heater. These work by warming the air immediately next to them which then naturally circulates relatively evenly around the room. Convector heaters are a good choice if you need a supplementary heating source to warm up a room for a few hours at a time. They take a little longer to work, but this type of heater can be easily controlled with a timer and thermostat, so you don’t overheat the room and you save money. You can get both electric and gas convector heaters, and oil filled radiators are also a type of convector heater.
Heating a room for a short period of time:
For a quick blast of warmth, or for more directional heating, you should use radiant or fan heaters. These work quickly and are useful if you want to warm up only part of a room for a short period. Unlike convector heaters, they don’t achieve an even level of heat throughout the room, so don’t bring the same level of comfort. They rarely have thermostats or timers which is likely to make them a more expensive option over time.
How Much Does It Cost To Run An Electric Heater?
The cost to run any type of electric heater can be calculated using the specifications of your heater, along with your local electricity cost per kilowatt hour.
The current average in most of Australia is around 30 cents per kWh.
If we use our top pick, the Noirot 2000W Spot Plus Panel Heater as an example, we can see from its specifications that it runs at 2,000 watts. We can divide by 1,000 to convert watts to kilowatts: 2,000/1,000 = 2.
We can then multiply this by our electricity cost per kWh to determine the hourly running cost of the heater:
2 x $0.30 = $0.60 per hour
Portable Gas Heaters
Gas heaters come in both flued and unflued varieties.
Flued varieties need to be connected to a chimney/flue making them more of a fixed option.
Unflued heaters, however, offer one of the most efficient and cost effective portable heating solutions available. They can include both heaters that utilise a LPG tank, as well as those that connect to a natural gas outlet in the home.
The downsides relate to the fact that these heaters release combustion gases and water vapour into the home, because without a flue they cannot discard these externally. The water vapour can result in condensation, while the gases can irritate allergies, even at safe levels.
Unflued gas heaters are permitted only for use in large rooms with adequate ventilation. In fact they are illegal to use in small or badly ventilated rooms, as well as bedrooms and bathrooms.
Be sure to check with your local state regulator before using gas in your home:
If you are interested in purchasing a portable gas heater, Rinnai are considered the best in the business so we recommend you check them out.