Heating with electricity: Options and tips

Heating with electricity offers versatile solutions and is becoming increasingly relevant. It represents a useful and promising alternative to familiar heating systems, especially if the electricity comes from renewable sources. But as with all heating solutions, good planning is the key to operating an electric heating system economically. Here are a few tips on how and what to expect when heating with electricity.

Heating with electricity – how does that work?

Unlike the conventional heating system, in which heated water circulates to transport heat from room to room, heating with electricity is much simpler. Often just a power connection and, depending on the type of heating, a normal socket are all that's needed.

In every type of electric heater there is an electrical conductor which is energized through connection to the power source. The heating resistor plays a key role in how electric heating works. A resistance is formed and the heating conductor heats up.

Important: electricity is required for every heating system. This is because pumps and control units also need to be supplied with electricity for the heating system to work.  

Two ways of emitting heat

The type of electric heaters differ in the method of emitting heat to the room. Heat is emitted in the form of radiation or convection. Area heating systems such as Viessmann wall mounted or underfloor heating systems usually work according to the principle of radiation. They emit heat in the same way as the sun, meaning that the thermal energy moves through the room without using a transfer medium predominantly heating all objects in that room. This is also how human skin heats up. Most people find radiant heat particularly pleasant. In contrast, convection, as with a rapid heater, requires a transfer medium - the air. Integral fans are then needed to distribute the heated air quickly throughout the room.  

What are the different types of electric heater?

There are two main differences when heating with electricity; direct and time-delayed. Direct heaters are switched on and generate heat immediately, working via convection or radiation.  

Electric storage heaters, on the other hand, heat the room with a time delay, even when they are no longer connected to the power source. They are equipped with a storage medium such as natural stone. They generally also have a fan for heating by convection. The best-known version is probably night storage heating.

Heating economically with electricity

Is it possible to heat your home economically with electricity? There's no general answer to this question. Because ultimately it depends greatly on how and where the electric heating is used. If, for example, it is used as interim heating in a rarely used room, it is definitely cheaper than using the existing heating system to heat the same room. It can also be used economically in a very well-insulated house with a low heat demand.

Nevertheless, the question arises as to whether heating with electricity costs too much. Both operating and acquisition costs need to be taken into account here. The investment threshold is low, especially for small electric heaters. A crucial factor in the question of costs is the operation and associated power consumption. *If you generate the electricity yourself via a  solar or power-generating heating system, your costs are significantly reduced.

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