Guide to Storage Heaters
Storage heaters are insulated boxes containing bricks with electric elements running through them. When the elements are switched on the bricks heat up. This is called “charging” the heater. Storage heaters charge up on off-peak electricity. The insulation keeps most of the heat in the box. They store thermal energy in the off peak electricity period (usually the night time) when the cost to generate the heat is less. This heat is then released when it is required in the peak electricity periods, saving electricity costs.
Storage heaters work by holding the heat in 'heat banks' which are composed of clay bricks or some other ceramic material. These heat banks envelop the actual heating element in the heater and are highly insulated to minimise heat loss through the side panel. There is then a device on the top of the storage heater that allows the desired release of heat.
How storage heaters work
Advantages of Storage Heaters
·Storage heaters make electrical heating obtainable from a cost perspective where it may not be otherwise viable. An example of this is where there is no gas link.
·The heaters are virtually maintenance free.
·Storage heaters still emit radiant heat even when in heat conservation mode.
·Capital outlay of a storage heater system is low compared to installation of boilers, pipes and other ancillaries associated with an alternative system.
Disadvantages of Storage Heaters
·Some heat from the unit will inevitably be released from the unit after the night heating period. If this heat is not needed then it will be wasted.
·Storage heaters are incredibly heavy and bulky and require specialist installation.
·Correct sizing and analysis is essential before purchasing a storage heater. A storage heater with the incorrect BTU rating will negate any cost saving that would have resulted from fitting the correct unit.
The Input controls how much heat is stored in the heater, and consequently how much electricity it uses. A thermostat inside the heater measures the temperature of the bricks and turns off the electricity supply when the selected temperature is reached.
Temperature might be shown as cool, warm, hot or as degrees Celsius (oC) or Fahrenheit (oF) depending on the model. With the input on its lowest setting a small amount of heat is stored in the heater. This setting is usually used when the weather is mild. With the input control on its highest setting the maximum amount of heat possible is stored. To stop the heater from storing any heat it must be switched off at the wall.
This controls room temperature. It opens and closes the flap at the top of the heater. On its lowest setting heat leaves the heater slowly. On its highest setting heat leaves the heater quickly and so the stored heat is used up faster. For maximum energy efficiency the output should be turned up during the day only when heat is required and turned down at night before retiring to bed. Generally the setting should be increased as the weather gets cooler and reduced when the weather gets warmer. Some heaters have an automatic output control - a thermostat controls the opening and closing of the flap which makes heat leave the heater more quickly.
Manual or Automatic?
Manual heaters - The input should generally be increased as the weather gets colder. Start at around 2-4 during autumn and spring and increase the setting to maximum in
colder weather. For the most efficient use you will be required to monitor the weather forecast for the following day and adjust the input accordingly the night before.
Automatic storage heaters - Once you have determined the most comfortable setting (based on a moderate day, around 15%) an automatic heater will change the charge according to the ambient temperature of the room (less charge on a warm day, more on a cold day). Remember that using top-up heat from an alternative heat source, such as a fire, late into the night will affect the input to an automatic storage heater.
Ultimately an automatic storage heater will save the user from having to manually adjust the settings depending on the weather forecast and are around 15% more energy efficient, resulting in significant savings.
· Turn down the output to stop heat being given out when you don’t want it.
· If your room is too cold turn up the output control until the room warns up.
· As the weather gets warmer you need less heat. Turn down the input control to store less in the heater (manual heaters only).
· If your home is warm enough in the summer turn your heaters off at the wall.
· Dont block the heater with furniture
· Fit shelves above them to reflect heat back into a room.
· Leave the on/off switch on for the heating season (normally October – April)