Conservatory Electrical Heaters - Is there an alternative?
Heating a conservatory is really against the rules of an exempt structure under the
Building Regulations although this is a clear loophole. Most homeowners who are contemplating adding electric
heaters to their conservatory are probably feeling a bit let down and now fearing the cost of adding expensive and
highly inefficient electrical energy simply to us the conservatory during the winter months.
There are some electrical heaters that have been specifically designed for conservatories trying to make them as
less obtrusive as possible and designed to fit under the dwarf perimeter walls. The range of electrical heaters
that can be used within a conservatory is vast with a range of outputs to suit.
Conservatory electrical heaters come in two basic forms. Those that warm the air by convection or by fan and
those that are based on infra-red technology. Those that tend to warm the air are usually of a higher energy rating
of between 1 and 2.5KW while the infra red conservatory electrical heaters are around 500W to 2KW.
The theory of the infra-red conservatory electrical heaters is that they tend to warm the person rather than the
air and they can often feel very pleasant - a bit like being in front of an open fire. However, they do require a
direct line of site and the focus heating area itself can be quite narrow. Therefore while you may be warm and
comfy, a family member sat on the other end of the sofa is feeling very cold.
Some of these infra-red conservatory heaters have a motorised swivel that is meant to address this design
limitation but has limited effect and like all compromised design solutions ends up pleasing no one.
The warm air electrical convection heaters do create a more pleasant environment within the conservatory but
they can take a while to heat the internal air and expensive to run. They can also dry the air to a very
uncomfortable level so a humidified often needs to be installed alongside the conservatory heater.
Other options for heating a conservatory could include mobile Calor Gas heaters for cheaper operating costs but
they output a lot of moisture into the air that will cause condensation onto the cooler glazed surfaces so they are
best avoided. They can also become very dangerous if external fresh combustion air is not introduced into the
conservatory as well - all a bit self defeating really.
My bet is that if your conservatory is too cold in the winter and requires heating, I will
bet that it is also overheating in the summer as well meaning that you are also considering another mechanical
device to control the internal temperature. Soon your conservatory will be so full of machines you wont have
anywhere to sit yourself or the garage will become an electric storage shop.
Therefore, why not consider installing a fixed air conditioning unit that is also reversible for providing hot
air in the winter as well. These devices are usually wall mounted at high level with the main external unit
strategically located out of site. This way you retain all your floor space within the conservatory and the whole
thing should be much cheaper to run.