What is the best conservatory heater? The sun is a joy in the summer but come those chilly nights and cold days of winter you need to warm up your conservatory to make it a space you want to enjoy. What you need will depend on your budget, how often you use your conservatory and its size.
To help keep heating costs down you can think about insulating a conservatory roof. The better your insulation in your conservatory the cosier, more comfortable and cost effective it will be. But, you need to choose the right heater to make this happen and we are here to help and answer your questions.
Best conservatory heater — types worth a look
Not sure what type of heat source is best for your conservatory? Do you want a portable or permanent solution? Here we look at pros and cons for the different types of heaters that will work well in a conservatory.
1. Convection heater
These are a popular choice when you need a quick burst of heat in a conservatory. Plug in and you have an instant source of heat. They are ideal for smaller conservatories that don’t need a constant source of heat.
You can get an electric convection heater like this DeLonghi 2.4KW Thermo convector heater relatively cheaply and they are reasonably cheap to run. These typically have a digital thermostat to help control the output. Plus, they are portable and can easily be transported from room to room and be put away in the warmer months when not needed.
The downside is that the heat dissipates quickly when the heater is turned off as the heater warms the air and doesn’t store any heat.
2. Infrared heater
Infrared heaters are a great choice if you want an instant hit of heat in a specific area, which makes them ideal for smaller conservatories for short periods of time. They provide direct heat so are not so good for larger conservatories that need the heat to move around the whole area.
An infrared heater like this Warmlite Carbon Infrared Heater from Amazon is cheap to buy, but doesn't have thermostatic controls so you have no control over their output and the heat disperses almost instantly the moment it is switched off. They are best used as a supplementary heat source.
3. Oil heater
Oil filled radiators like this PureMate Oil Filled Radiator from Amazon are another popular choice for small conservatories. They are portable, typically on wheels, heat up quickly – though not as quickly as some other heaters. But the oil in the radiator helps retain the heat for longer after the heater has been switched off.
This means that you will typically use less energy making them cost effective cheap to run. Check out our oil-filled radiator running costs guide to see how much you should expect to pay.
4. Electric radiator
Electric radiators are easier and cheaper to install than gas central heating radiators an no need for a boiler. All you need is an electrical outlet near where you want to install the radiator ready to wire it in.
Modern electric radiators come in a host of stylish and contemporary designs like this simple MYLEK Panel Heater Radiator from Amazon. Built-in thermostats give individual control over each radiator, are silent when in action and have less moving parts so less to go wrong.
They are relatively cheap to run, they can be less than 50p per day, but obviously it will depend on output of the radiator, price of electricity and how long they are on for.
5. Underfloor heating
Underfloor heating comes in two forms – electric and wet – with electric being the more economical option, but both will involve a large initial outlay – prices start at around £25m2 – but will give you a warm constant heat underfoot.
Electric underfloor heating mats are relatively easy to install – especially under carpet – but you typically need a pro if placing them under a tiled floor. Wet underfloor heating involves pumping water around pipes typically under a concrete floor, so will cost more and you will need a specialist to install.
Both are economical to run after the initial outlay with wet underfloor heating typically being cheaper to run than electric underfloor heating. Check out our underfloor heating costs guide to get more insight on what you can expect to pay.
6. Central heating
Most homes already have central heating installed and one option is to add another radiator or two to the system. But, you will need to know what boiler type you have and if it is a feasible option. For example, combi boilers typically allow a maximum of ten radiators.
The downside is that the initial outlay will be more than a portable solution. For example, you should expect to pay around £500 to have an extra radiator installed including parts and labour. But, on the plus side the running costs will be minimal and you can take control of the output with a TRV (Thermostatic Radiator Valve).
What is the most economical way to heat a conservatory?
How you heat a conservatory depends on the size of your conservatory and how often it’s used. If it is used regularly like other rooms in your home then you want to be considering a more permanent solution such as underfloor heating, extending your central heating or solar panels. This will have a larger initial outlay, but typically, will be more economical in the long run.
For example, you should expect to pay a minimum of £500 for underfloor heating. But the price can easily head into the thousands depending on what type and size of underfloor heating used.
Alternatively, if the conservatory is mainly used in the warmer months and you only need occasional heat, a free standing oil heater is a good choice. But, to keep heating costs down you need to think about insulating a conservatory. You can add insulation if you have hollow walls, introduce blinds or curtains to retain heat, insulate the ceiling if you are happy to block out the light and add underlay and carpet on the floor.
Where is the most heat loss in a conservatory?
The biggest heat loss factor in a conservatory is the roof. By their very nature, conservatories have glass or polycarbonate roofs which are not the greatest insulators. And as heat rises it is quickly lost through the roof.
To counteract this and stop losing heat you can invest in a lightweight internal insulation system that typically contains multifoil like this SuperFOIL Foil Insulation from Amazon and additional tools to complete the job. A more expensive option is to cover or install a conventional tile roof. Note that both options will block out the light that previously came through the roof.
What is the best conservatory heater?
In conclusion, the best conservatory heater will depend on how you want to heat the space as well the size of your conservatory and how well insulated your conservatory is.
Larger, colder conservatories that are only used briefly might benefit from an infrared heater, while small, well insulated conservatories that are used throughout the day might be better heated via underfloor heating or your central heating. That said, if this is the only room used in the house during the day, an oil-filled radiator might be a preferred option.
If you have a problem with heat loss in your conservatory, it's worth taking a look at our other article on keeping a conservatory warm in winter as well as our pieces on insulating a conservatory roof and heating a conservatory.
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Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.