The Great Heater Hunt Part 2

The Great Heater Hunt is one man’s struggle to try to buy an electrical appliance that lasts 10 years or more… if such things are even possible these days at a reasonable price.
(I have one of these old clunker F&P 380/400 washing machines, you know, the ones with a concrete block inside them… they last forever if you can put up with how they don’t have all the bells and whistles)

I must be too picky over heaters, but these days it’s hard to know what will last. Ceramic and mica-thermic are two newish technologies that I haven’t been able to find out much about, and these days a lot of heaters like everything else are not made to last; there are stories even of oil columns that leak their oil. So I am just trying to find something that is made to last and will give me at least 10 years of use, of course it has to be safe and reliable. There is a surprising range of pricing, starting from $16 for a cheap fan heater at the Warehouse and going up to $450 for a panel heater at Harvey Norman. Why would anyone be prepared to pay that much?

The particular need is more efficient winter heating. On cold mornings it is adding to cost to have an oil column on timer coming on before getting up, to warm up the room. Therefore I am looking to save power by eliminating that warm-up time, choosing a heater that warms up instantly, because in a morning I’m not here for long enough to justify the fact that the oil column works most efficiently for longer periods of heating operation.
Therefore the choices narrowed down:

  • Mica-thermic is pretty new and so far Consumer NZ has not reported on it. The longevity of some of these heaters is questionable, as is their ruggedness. There have been reports overseas that the mica sheets break relatively easily. Low to midrange pricing.
  • Ceramic is also relatively new. All ceramic heaters I have seen are fan heaters. Do they have the other disadvantages of fan heaters? Low to midrange pricing.
  • Lower end convector heaters have elements similar to fan heaters and often have a fan as well. How rugged or long-lived are the cheaper models? Low to midrange pricing.
  • Oil columns main disadvantage is the slow heatup time. Low to high range pricing. Some more expensive models have fan or other technologies to heat up faster. However the DL2401TF from De Longhi is not available any more. Like other fanless convectors, basic oil columns are poor at distributing heat evenly.
  • Oil less columns are available from Dimplex. It is basically a conventional convector heater in a column form factor. How rugged is it? Low to midrange pricing.
  • Panel heaters, although made in a range of models, tend to be sold in the more expensive models with electronic controls in the examples I have found. Mid to high range pricing. (Goldair make models with manual controls but I have yet to find anyone selling them)
  • Standard fan heater only if you can get a good quality one. Goldair have gone back to making higher quality ones, Delonghi always have but both are hard to find. Briscoes have the Goldair fans. The main issue with fan heaters is they dry the air out too much.
Here is my narrowed down list:
  • Dimplex ECO oil less column. Prices vary $109.95 to $199.95 at Smiths City depending on model.
  • Dimplex ceramic fan heater. May buy one of these for the 2nd bedroom, prices start at $79.95 from Smiths City.
  • Kent aluminium panel heater $149.95 at the Warehouse, or any reasonable panel heater under $200.
  • Delonghi convector heater HCS2030 $149.95 at Harvey Normans, or any reasonably good convector heater under $200. Try to find one with a fan as they are better at distributing airflow. (Briscoes have one on special at the moment, $79.95)
It’s possible I might buy two new heaters over two months, for the two bedrooms. The better quality heater for the main bedroom which I spend a lot of time in, and a ceramic fan for the 2nd bedroom which is used less. Goldair have a ceramic fan going for $50 at Briscoes at the moment.
Also looking at draught proofing the lounge and keeping an oil column there as I would not be in there for short periods much, a lot of the time I don’t use it at all.
UPDATE: Ended up buying the Delonghi convector and a Goldair ceramic fan from Briscoes for a total of $117. But I think any notion these days that you can buy something that will last – forget it unless you are prepared to pay much, much more. ‘Cause it’s obvious the idea of that has gone out the window to the point that manufacturers are dispensing with repair centres and parts supplies in countries like NZ. Your heater returned under warranty will get swapped out, and the old one may be shipped back to China for repair at the factory – and then put into the swap-out pool for other warranty claims. That doesn’t mean I have a gut feeling that I have bought a heater that will last 1 winter only – it just means that we have very little power to change what is becoming a throwaway marketplace even for major appliances, and few manufacturers can be bothered with making something to last that long or be repairable near point of sale.
It looks like as far as the living room goes I should consider another option, a radiant heater as these are better in draughty conditions since they directly heat you rather than the air. However I will go ahead with draughtproofing as much as possible but this might be tricky to do. Move flat and buy all new heaters, LOL … Sad smile