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Unlocking the Mystery: How Do Storage Heaters Work?

Storage heaters are a type of electrical heating system designed to capitalize on off-peak electricity rates. They have been used in various settings over the years, offering a cost-effective solution to heating needs. In this article, we will delve into the mechanisms behind how do storage heaters work and their function to provide warmth.

How do storage heaters work?
How Do Storage Heaters Work?

What Is A Storage Heater?

A storage heater is an electrical heating device that accumulates heat during low-demand periods, typically at night and disperses it during high-demand periods, usually during the day.

The mechanism involves using electricity to warm ceramic blocks within the heater. These blocks then radiate the retained heat into the space, allowing the heater to function during the day without consuming additional electricity.

How Do Storage Heaters Work?

Storage heaters have two distinct elements: one that warms the ceramic bricks and another that manages heat dispersion into the space.

These heaters are often paired with a timer and thermostat, allowing users to set both the activation times and the intensity of the heat released.

In the off-peak periods, the heater sources electricity from the grid to warm the ceramic bricks contained within. These bricks retain this heat for later use.

When it's time during peak hours, the heater gradually emits the stored warmth into the space, either through a fan mechanism or via natural convection. This process enables the heater to operate all day without drawing extra electricity.

Benefits Of Storage Heaters

Usually, storage heaters are suggested for individuals without a main gas connection in their residences. Nonetheless, some consider storage heaters as an alternative to their central heating system.

Here are a few benefits of installing storage heaters:

  • Cost-Effective: Makes use of off-peak electricity rates, potentially lowering heating bills.

  • Efficient Heat Storage: Ceramic bricks inside the heater store heat effectively and release it slowly, ensuring prolonged warmth.

  • Flexible Timing: Paired with timers and thermostats, users can control when and how much heat is released.

  • Environmentally Friendly: Reduces demand on the electricity grid during peak hours, promoting better energy management.

  • Consistent Warmth: Provides a steady heat source throughout the day without continuous electricity consumption.

  • Low Maintenance: Typically has fewer moving parts than other heating systems, leading to reduced maintenance needs.

  • Safe Operation: With built-in safety features, they are designed to operate without causing overheating or fire risks.

  • Space-Saving: Many models are wall-mounted, saving valuable floor space in a room.

  • Long Lifespan: Properly maintained storage heaters can last for many years, making them a durable choice for heating.

Setting The Storage Heater Controls

Storage heaters have a wall-mounted on/off switch that resembles a typical light switch. It's advisable to leave this switch on during the chillier months. While older units often come with manual controls, many newer models operate automatically.

Let's compare the older models with the recent ones:

Modern Storage Heaters

  • Automated Functionality: Modern heaters adjust the heat input and output independently once the desired room temperature is set using a thermostat.

  • 2018 Regulations: Influenced design changes that include casings for enhanced heat retention or fans for even heat distribution.

  • Eco-Friendly & Energy Efficient: Adhering to modern standards, newer models prioritize both environmental concerns and energy efficiency.

  • Intelligent Charging: Advanced models determine the ideal amount of heat to store, optimizing energy use.

  • WiFi Connectivity: Some heaters can be integrated into your home network, allowing for remote operation and control.

  • Adaptive Heating: Certain advanced models can detect temperature changes in the room and modify the heating level automatically.

Older Storage Heater Models

  • Control Location: The controls are typically found on the top right of the heater, often concealed under a flap.

  • Input Control: Regulates the amount of heat stored overnight. The control must be modified based on external temperatures. For example, adjust to outdoor warmth in spring, summer, and autumn. Turn off the wall switch if heating isn't required. Setting the input to the maximum in winter, especially in primary living areas, is advisable.

  • Output Control: This control determines the rate at which stored heat is released. If you turn it up, it will increase to warm the room faster. However, you can keep it at a minimum when away from home or during the night.

But The Output Sometimes Seems Confusing

Output control often leads to misunderstandings among users. It regulates just 10% to 15% of the overall stored heat, releasing it as the bricks cool down. Some users mistakenly believe setting the Output to its lowest will prevent heat release. However, most heat (85% to 90%) comes from the heated casing, which is influenced by the Input control.

Are Storage Heaters Expensive To Operate?

Storage heaters are energy efficient since they transform all the consumed electricity into heat. Yet, since electricity generally costs more than gas, electric heating can be pricier. Opting for a tariff that offers reduced rates during off-peak hours can make it more economical.

What is an off-peak electricity tariff, like Economy 7?

Economy 7 tariffs offer discounted electricity rates during off-peak hours, specifically during a 7-hour nighttime window when energy demand typically lowers its demand. Tariffs also provide reduced rates over a 10-hour night span due to decreased demand; these are known as Economy 10.

Economy 7 operates as a 'time of use' rate and necessitates an Economy 7 meter to monitor energy consumption during specific times.

Considering British Gas's Economy 7 Tariffs: Enrolling in an Economy 7 tariff is advisable for those using electric storage heaters since it offers cost-effective, off-peak electricity that can be accumulated and accessed when needed.

Tips For Using Storage Heaters

For those new to storage heaters, here are some valuable tips to effectively manage your heating system:

  • For households with young kids or pets, consider installing a protective guard around your storage heaters due to their high heat output.

  • Ensure that no curtains are not positioned close to the heaters.

  • Always keep the storage heater's surface clear and keep the air vents unblocked.

Read more: Condensing Boiler vs. Combi Boiler: What's the Difference?

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