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Radiator Heaters: The benefits of Old-Fashioned

The heater we’d like to talk today is the radiator heater, an old-fashioned way to keep your family warm.

It was invented in the mid-1800s, so the concept of radiator heaters has a long history of keeping people warm. For years, such type of heater has slowly evolved into the low-maintenance, energy-efficient heaters that we know nowadays.

Despite the fact that it’s not so popular for today, it still works great at keeping you and your family warm. Let’s take a look at how a radiator heater works, the pros and cons of owning one, and whether it’s the right fit for you.

The Mechanism of Working

There are two main types of radiator heaters that you should know about — Electric & Steam:

  • Steam Radiators

Steam radiators work by boiling water to create steam. That steam then travels up a set of pipes into the radiator, which in turn, heats up the room via radiation and convection. As the steam travels through the unit, it slowly cools down and turns into condensation. This condensation then goes through the unit, ending it’s travels back in the boiler, where it is ultimately turned back into steam.

This is the old-fashioned radiator heating method. It would be unlikely for you to find this type of system in newly built homes. However, this type of radiator heater is still in use around the world today, but it is no longer the preferred method of warming up your home.

There are a couple versions of steam radiators that you could choose from, if you’ve decided that this is your preferred heating method. These options would include: Cast-Iron free standing systems, Baseboard Steam Systems, Ceramic Systems.

  • Electric Radiators

This type of radiator is typically built in similar fashion as a steam radiator; however they utilize a different method of creating heat. At a radiator heater’s core is a metal reservoir filled with a special mineral oil.

This mineral oil, more aptly referred to as “thermal oil” or “heat transfer oil,” is not burned in the process of heating, so it does not need refilling or replacement. It has an uncannily high boiling point and specific heat capacity, which allows small volumes of the oil to emit remarkably high quantities of thermal energy without evaporating. Evaporation causes unsafe levels of pressure to build up in enclosed spaces, so its absence from this process makes radiator heaters much safer.

At the bottom of the heater is a heating element similar to what is found within an electric stove. It is electrically powered and is used to heat up the oil. Once the oil is heated, the warmth is convected throughout the body of the heater, warming its walls. The heat is then conducted through the metal walls and radiated into the surrounding space, filling the room with wonderfully cozy warmth.

The Benefits of Radiator Heaters

There are many benefits to having a radiator heater. Meanwhile, you can also find many of these same benefits in other types of heaters:

  • They Are Safe
  • Less Maintenance
  • Reliable

The Disadvantages

Unfortunately, having advantages, the radiator heater may cause discomfort. To some, these may not be a big deal, but they’re worth noting so that you can avoid a surprise down the road:

  • May Become Loud & Noisy
  • Needs Air Flow
  • Hot to the touch

Why are they better than other heaters?

It’s all depends on your situation. The majority of people would choose different type of heater and it would probably suit them better (according to the fact that the heat being able to travel further).

Nowadays heating methods become better because the technology inside them evolves. One hundred years ago, there was nothing better than a radiator heater. However, today you may be better off with a different kind of heater that produces similar amount of heat and disperses it around the room more effectively.

But, take into account your living situation. If you live in the Northeast where it snows most of the year, then a permanently installed radiator heater or wall-mounted heater may be the best fit for you. If you live in the south where it’s only cold for a few days out of the year, then you would be better off with a portable space heater that disperses the right amount of heat, but is easy to store when you don’t need it.

Why you should choose it

Generally, radiator heaters are an incredibly versatile and affordable source of supplemental heat. They are reliable, durable, low-maintenance and energy-efficient. While it may not be the best, it’s still a great unit to help you follow a supplemental heating strategy.

Whether you use a radiator, wall heater or baseboard heater, having a smaller source of heat that doesn’t require you to warm up the entire home will save you money in the long run.

Just make sure that you read about the pros and cons of a radiator, as it may not be the type of heater for you.