Home Heating for Winter

With some colder weather coming I have had the heaters on in my flat – almost unheard of for early March. At the moment all my heaters are De Longhi traditional type oil columns. The oldest, a Series 29 2000-watt 9-finner, has served me very well with a life of more than ten years – the reason I was prepared to fork out probably $200 for it at the time. The two new DL series are just as good although made in China rather than Italy. One thing you have to get used to when buying an oil column is the smell – it takes a while to go away but the wait is worth it. With the heaters fairly slow to warm up it is not very efficient to have to turn it on with a timer an hour before in winter so this year I am perhaps looking for something a bit faster.
Here I was surprised to find fan heaters seem to be falling out of the marketplace in NZ as there is quite a limited range produced, let alone on sale, in NZ. Last winter Dimplex had an industrial fan heater on the market, a bit dearer but likely to be longer lived, than the cheap plastic heaters the Warehouse sell, which seldom last more than one winter. Unfortunately the manufacturer does not have any such heaters in their NZ range now. Goldair have a range in their products site but these are hard to actually find in shops.
However, a few different brands including them have ceramic fan heaters which are a bit more sophisticated and dearer than the traditional fannie. They tend to be more expensive but this apparently translates into a longer life, which sounds good to me. You can also find a few oil columns and simple convection towers that have fans in them these days, to make them warm up faster.
Dimplex also have a thing called an Eco heater which looks just like an oil column but it is basically a hollow chassis with a more conventional tube element in it, so it heats up a lot faster than an oil column. Another new technology is the micathermic heater, which has a big surface area with an element covered in mica sheet, it will get to its full heat within a minute or two. There are some claims they are more efficient than an oil column
Therefore all the research I can find suggests there is a place for something that can heat a room up faster – perhaps a ceramic fan unit. Whereas your oil column is good where you are going to have it on all day, this isn’t so valuable just for the morning when you need heat for a short time.
UPDATE: Found Briscoes website and they have three trad Goldair fan heaters. The main issue is they don’t list any other types of heater in their website. In general this is the biggest problem with online shopping – retailers which have websites that don’t show their full range of products. Mitre10 is one of the worst in this respect with many products not shown on their sites.
UPDATE (14/3/12): At the moment the Kent panel heater is looking like the most attractive option. There seems to be a very mixed body of opinion on the merits or detractions of micathermic heaters with some reviewers suggesting they have a short life and/or are fragile, even the De Longhi ones get mixed reviews. Bunnings have this Kent model in their range and I will have to shoot over to one of their branches shortly in order to have a look at one. Looking at all the options over and over, the key thing is something that is safe to use and lasts a long time. Plastic fan heaters are very cheap these days but often have a fairly short life due to the motor seizing up, and are unstable on carpet. I’m not much of a fan of the old style bar heaters. Really that leaves you with one type or another of convection heater made of metal – oil (or oil-less) column or panel are my pick. Since I already have oil columns their slow heat up is an issue for the bedroom on a cold winter morning. So either the Dimplex oil free column or a panel type will be the preferred options I am going to look into now.