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Heating with electric rads and no gas boiler for now

  • 17-11-2022 5:12pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭

    Hey, adding this here in case it helps others. It’s how we’re using electric rads in the house at the moment so the gas boiler doesn’t need to come on (or we can use it less). I’m only 4 month into my solar journey and still delighted to be learning. Part of the reason for solar was to reduce our homes emissions, plus save a few quid.

    Mostly these electric rads run from solar during the day (as they are using low wattage on the setting I use). Granted it’s been mild up to now (mid-Nov). It’s only the last few days we’ve seen it drop below 10 degrees. So this week is the 1st real test!

    I don’t have a battery. So I’m trying to use as much of the solar when available. Otherwise I have to buy it back again at a higher cost. It’s not so much penny pinching as seeing how much I can wring out of the solar install. I like seeing can I make stuff run better! Or OCD my other half might call it 😊



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    Kit that works for me:

    • 1) Thermostat: KETOTEK Digital Thermostat Plug Socket with Day Night Timer, Day and Night Temperature Controller Thermostatic Plug 220V for Reptile Terrarium Greenhouse Freezer Heating Cooling : AmazonSmile: DIY & Tools. This one can have temps for 2 different times of the day. So can set to X degrees to 10am, then Y degrees for rest of day. It just works
    • Once the room gets to that temp, the rad turns off. When the temp goes below the temp you set, the rad comes on again. Simples! Means the rad isn’t running when it doesn’t need to
    • Need 1 thermostat per rad (which is one per room for us)
    • I’ve the thermostat itself maybe 4 foot up hanging from something so it measures the temp at that height (heat rises). So that’s around head height when we sit down
    • Then the electric rad gets plugged into that. The thermostats on electric rads are usually crap (as in not very sensitive to temp changes). So turn the rad to the highest heat setting so the rad’s own thermostat won’t kick-in
    • 2) Any electric rad works. I prefer the oil filled ones than the ones that are open (like a blow heater), less risk of something getting caught in it
    • I’ve a few older electric rads and set them to the lowest power setting so it runs ‘low and slow’. Low watts means it’s more chance to use the available solar excess. But it takes longer to heat a room (which is grand as I leave it on all the time during the day)
    • Screwfix do this 500w one cheap as chips: CYPA-5 Freestanding Oil-Filled Radiator 500W | Oil Filled Radiators | Bear in mind that 500w needs to run for a long time – won’t heat up a room quickly
    • Check how much power in watts they consume on the setting you want. Some can use 2-3kWhs so that’s 2-3 units of juice per hour per rad. A 500w can only use a max of 1kWh in 2 hours – so less chance of a bill surprise
    • 3) Nice to have: Smart plug to track electricity usage. I’ve these connected on a smart plug that monitors energy usage (which is optional but means I can see how much power they use in realtime and per day, week, month). It will show the power used for whatever is plugged into it. Use an app on phone to see if. Can set timers to turn on, off (once-off and recurring).
    • TP-Link Tapo Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring, Works with Amazon Alexa (Echo and Echo Dot) and Google Home, Wi-Fi Smart Socket, Remote Control, Device Sharing, No Hub Required(Tapo P110) : Computers & Accessories – get at least one with ‘energy monitoring’. And can get the non ‘energy monitoring’ ones to control when other devices come on and off (like dishwashers…). I use the non energy monitoring ones as smart plugs for dishwasher, washing machine.. 

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    Yeah but, I hear you say…it’s not a silver bullet to turn the gas boiler off forever. I’ll deffo turn the gas heating on (or there will be house riots) but will likely keep 2 downstairs on plug-in rads and just heat the rest on gas as needed

    What’s above is what I had and what works for me. But anything likely works (so the links are just what I have)

    • In the WFH room, it needs maybe 250w constant to stop the room getting cold (now we’ve in Nov. It’s a small room but north facing and badly insulated so gets cold). I’ve a dehumidifier that uses 140w that throws out 25 degree heat (but granted it’s only a trickle of air)

    o  Also got one of these 80w heaters to try (Dimplex ECOT2FT Wall-Mounted Tubular Heater 80W 713 x 81mm | Heaters | Won’t heat the room really but stops it dropping in temp to get badly cold. Draws 73w in reality, so can’t expect miracles of course!

    o  Remember anything that uses electricity is a mini heater in the ‘Winter of Discontent of 2022’. A slow-cooker will give a trickle of heat. I’ve our dishwasher set to finish when we get up to it’s the heater for the kitchen (it’s on every day anyway so why not heat the room!). Use a smart plug to have it come on at the same time each day

    o  You can get other smart plugs that integrate into the like of ‘Home Assistant’ for home automation. That’s above where I am now ability wise 😊

    o  There’s loads of expensive electric rads, but I wanted to use what I had for now. Then I’ll buy what works when I’ve tested what I need

    o  Other people are looking at the auld skool electric storage heaters. Charge them up on cheap night rate and they dump heat during the day. Can pick them up on Donedeal from €10 up

    o  Others are using infrared electric heaters which heat the person / object in front of them (I will get one to try, don’t have one yet). So the room can remain colder but if you’re in front of it, you’re heated like you’re in sunlight. Something like this type: COLD FIGHTING Far infrared Electric Panel Heater, Wall mounted/ceiling mounted/ free standing, Eco Energy Efficient, White Standard Electric radiators frost, Safety overheating protection (DIC-450W) : AmazonSmile: Home & Kitchen

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    How much juice are we using? ~3kWh a day per room up to now (mid Nov). And it’s been as low as 1kWh a day at times. Granted we don’t like hot rooms so have it set to 18 or 18.5 maybe – low for some people of course. Sitting room / kitchen is about 5x5m and gets sunlight so warms during the morning and kitchen helps heat it too. But with single glaze wooden windows (I know I’ve to replace those but need to find the money tree first!!). The WFT room is smaller (3x3) but uses the same amount of heat. North facing and badly insulated.

    So why bother? I know some won’t believe that it can use only a few kWh per day. But…electric rads are close to 100% efficient at converting electricity to heat. Our 15-year-old boiler isn’t. Plus it then gets the water to travel in uninsulated pipes around the house. And even the water pump for it likely uses a few hundred watts constantly – that’s not heating itself.

    Electric rads are great in (at least) a WFH room. Keep the room at a much more stable temp, so much more comfortable. My room used to go from sauna to igloo with gas heating. Plus means you can use more of the solar produced. It’s cleaner too, not spitting out CO2 from the boiler. And they are noise free. Our pipes click when the gas boiler is on. Tis silence at the mo!

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,538 ✭✭✭con747

    Using a couple of Infrared panel heaters, a small oil filled electric rad and a couple of low set fan heaters on smart plugs for the time being. Using up some units the old meter wound back before spring or ESBN try to take it out. I will have covid the days they call if they do.

    Don't expect anything from life, just be grateful to be alive.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    Forgot to say that the rads won't turn off (will run all day) if we don't close the doors in the rooms they are in. As in the halls and upstairs is cold (which we don't mind)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    What infrared panels did you get? I've confused myself on Amazon with choices so I'll grab ones I know work grand :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,538 ✭✭✭con747

    I got 1 of each 600w and 720w I think unkel bought the same brand as well before me. They work, but do they work as well as the branded ones I don't know!

    Post edited by con747 on

    Don't expect anything from life, just be grateful to be alive.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,300 ✭✭✭randombar

    So Panel Heater vs IR Heater. On the fence at the moment.

    Decisions decisions.

  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 7,916 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jonathan

    Get a second hand oil radiator of the likes of adverts and see how you go. If it works out, splash the big bucks on an IR panel.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,538 ✭✭✭con747

    I know! I am happy enough with the IR but don't really feel the cold so it's the O/H is saying it heats her up on the couch. I fitted one to this and mounted it on the wall in front of the couch so it can be pulled out and adjusted to different positions.

    I used some 2 x 1 to attach the bracket to the heater and it pushes back in fairly tight to the wall. The other one I mounted over the kitchen table where we sit when in there. As I said earlier I don't know how the cheaper ones fair out against the more expensive branded ones. I use smart plugs on them because there's no on/off switch, just plug in and it's on.

    Don't expect anything from life, just be grateful to be alive.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 DukesDad

    I am looking to use IR heaters in a garden office that we re building at the moment. I am reading a lot of differing opinions.

    I'd love to know how are the IR heaters working for you in this cold spell that we are in now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 63,565 ✭✭✭✭unkel

    Working very well if I allowed myself to use it here in the garden office 😂

    I have a 600W panel under my desk, pointing at my legs. The shed is very well insulated in the walls and ceiling (80mm and 100mm Kingspan respectively), but no insulation in the floor, just the thickest underlay and laminate finish. The shed is very large at about 25m2 internal space

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    Working brill for me. I’ll always have one in the WFH room now. I’ve one for the home office and it’s a cold room. I’m a fan of it and only have it a few weeks. It’s only a 360w panel and it’s too warm at times – which is class. I don’t have it facing me as was too hot. I’ve it angled to the wall so it bounces off the wall (and heats the wall which stores some heat), and then it bounces off the wall and heats me. It’s only 2-3 foot away from me.

    If left on all day while I’m working, the brick wall it faces directly gets to 40C so it will actually store the heat. That wall backs onto the sitting room so there’s no wasted heat that way.

    I had the window open last week (was cold but pre the really cold snap) and got lovely fresh air and had the infrared rad on and wasn’t cold. Still takes me a while to get my head around that even though I know it’s line of sight and not impacted by breeze. Just a lifetime of using traditional radiators to ‘unlearn’

    You don’t need the room as warm, so they are perfect when it’s this cold. I’ve an oil filled rad in another room it can’t heat the room when it’s this cold. Rad is going full tilt but room temp won’t climb.

    So compared to an electric rad that is heating the room, all the heat is all lost once it escapes the room (windows, wall and roof).

    I got a heated gilet too and it’s brill. So between the infrared rad and that you ‘warm the person, not the room!!’ Wrei Heated Vest Electric Heated Jacket for Women and Men, Heated Clothes USB Charging Gilet with 3 Levels Adjustable Temp for Skiing,Motorcycle, Outdoor, Camping : AmazonSmile: Fashion – looks ugly but works perfect. Doesn’t come with a power bank. Need your own. 

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,538 ✭✭✭con747

    As the lads above said, I'm happy enough with mine as well.

    Don't expect anything from life, just be grateful to be alive.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 DukesDad

    I don’t have much space to fit these in the new shed. I’m planning to fit 2 of them on the ceiling and am trying to figure out what wattage I would need.

    What makes/brands are you using? Thanks

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    Using this brand. Only gripe is it won't auto come on when powered off and on again. You need to push a button on it, or power button on the app. So I can't put on a smart plug on a timer. But it does allow you set a temp and schedule from an app - that works grand. Klarstein Wonderwall Smart Infrared Heater, Infrared Heater with App Control, Infrared Heater with Thermostat, Electric Heater for Wall Mounting, CO2-Free Electric Heater, Heating 360 Watt : Home & Kitchen

    I did read that putting directly overhead can cause headaches like a hot day under the sun. That was from some manufacturers site. I had it pointing at my face for a few hours and didn't feel great. So you could offset it a little on the roof as is supposed to angle outwards. I'd suggest mess around to see where works, then make it permanent.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,538 ✭✭✭con747

    I have a 600w and a 720w of these and I adapted this with some 2x1 to mount it on a wall in the sitting room and it goes back in tight to the wall when not in use and one over the kitchen table on the ceiling. I have both connected to smart plugs. Get the ones you want and worst case scenario if you don't like them you have at least a month to return them.

    Don't expect anything from life, just be grateful to be alive.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,995 ✭✭✭dinneenp


    Not to hijack this thread, hope it's okay asking here.

    I have a garden office, 4m by 3m, 80mm insulation in walls & ceiling, ground insulated as well. Will have entire room slabbed & plastered soon.

    I'm looking at best way to heat it please, know nothing about IR panels, what wattage would be best, would 1 be enough etc.

    Thanks in advance, Pa.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,347 ✭✭✭✭loyatemu

    a combination of smart thermometers and smart plugs plus something like IFTTT could provide a more controllable system and possibly cheaper than the terrarium plugs you're using.

    4 smart plugs for £29 here

    3 wifi thermostats for £23 here

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  • Registered Users Posts: 63,565 ✭✭✭✭unkel

    @dinneenp - depends on what you are using the shed for. I also have a well insulated shed, about twice the size of yours. I use half of it as my office / workshop WFH. I have a 600W infrared panel under my desk. More than enough to heat me sitting there and keeps the rest of the shed from getting too cold. I've another 600W infrared panel in the other half of the shed, but that's only used when others use it as an extra "living room"

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    +1 for infrared heater for using as a WFH space. Bear in mind they warms what is in front of them, not the air. Meaning the overall room temp can be lower. So if you move around the room away from them, you'll feel colder.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,995 ✭✭✭dinneenp

    Cheers for the quick reply. I should have mentioned that it'll be for WFH. I'll have a large desk probably facing the french doors and will be seated in that. I could put a infrared panel behind me. Are they all fairly similar or are there any specific infrared panels that people would recommend?

  • Registered Users Posts: 63,565 ✭✭✭✭unkel

    All different sizes. A 300W panel will probably do you. Mine is a bit overkill, but I got it cheap and it does heat the room a bit. I would be very comfortable with the panel on, under the desk, on a very cold day with the temp in the shed being just 15-16C. My 600W outputs 555W at the wall

    The main reason I have it under the desk is that the concrete floor of the shed (plus thick underlay plus laminate) isn't insulated where the rest of the shed is very well insulated (by myself)

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    I've a 350w (pulls 330w) and it's perfect in a 3x3m room. Dirt cheap to run. 1kwH every 3 hours. I point it to the wall and it 'bounces' back to me. Too warm if pointed directly at me. It's right beside me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 201 ✭✭JayBee66

    Now that it's spring, how did you get on with electric heating?

    We used no oil this winter, just wood heat, desiccant dehumidifiers and a small electric fan heater. During sub zero nights the bedrooms were down to 12C. Not a problem for me but she who must be obeyed has different views.

    We experimented with an 800W AENO FIR panel from Harvey Norman in the living room. Not great. Max 18C in the living room but the heat did dissipate more slowly compared to the fan heater.

    Now looking at A2A heat pumps due to microbore radiator pipes, maybe in concert with more capable FIR panels or some kind of thermal heat store with high temperature A2W to run the existing radiators.

    Post edited by JayBee66 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 63,565 ✭✭✭✭unkel

    12C in a bedroom is too cold for most people, but you can sort that easily enough by buying her an electric blanket. These are cheap enough to run. Or the old skool way of the hot water bottle!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭DC999

    Was a good experiment heating largely with 2 electric oil filled rads. I learned we could use a heatpump for house even though it's old and leaky and really bad BER. That was unexpected.

    The 2kW setting was needed in the 5x5m sitting room when it got Baltic in Dec. Was frozen temps for a while then. Real cold snap. I have a spring on sitting room door so heat stays in the room. Cost 40 quid maybe on Amazon. No need to keep asking family to close the door now.

    As low as a steady 1kW running many hours a day could get the sitting room room to 20C by about lunchtime. Had the sitting room on a 'set back' temp of 15.5 at night. Meant the walls retained some heat. Then set to 20C from breakfast to night. Sitting room is 5 x 5m including kitchen. 200kWh a month heated it but did get boosted by gas boiler for up to 3 hours a day (for cold 3 months).

    For a lot of the time that rad was on the 700w setting. That's not much heat so needs to run for a lot of the day.

    Only turned on gas boiler in mid Nov when temp got cold. But house was cold at thay pooint. And boiler has been off since start of March. Came on for max of 3 hours a day (morning, when kids got home, kids bedtime) in winter. On a Nest so moved the Nest to kids bedroom (instead of sitting room) and only came on when needed.

    In March I used 300kWh of heat between the 2 electric rads. No other heat used. 100 of that was the WFH office. It's a 350w infrared heater which is class. Only one we have so far.

    Our setup won't suit everyone. 1) Don't have a single control for the house like with a Nest. 2) Plus temp wise, we are grand with the house cooler than some might like. Throw a blanket over us on the sofa if it's a bit cool. Don't like heat upstairs. But the downstairs space we sat in was never cold. Some walls in house did get to 12C internally. Like in hall. I watched for damp and aired house each morning when kids went to school.

  • Registered Users Posts: 201 ✭✭JayBee66

    Thanks for that report. Very interesting.

    I visited a heat pump installer and showered them with questions. I'm still caught between heat pump or using ~100% efficiency electric heaters and running them on the saving from not getting HP, plus FIT credit. The rough quote is 10K for a high temperature 8KW HP drop in replacement for the oil boiler. We have someone coming to do an assessment and then I'll look at the figures. The three tonnes of wood I've been fishing out of the river, down below, is dwindling and I no longer have the energy to find and process more.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,183 ✭✭✭zg3409

    My thoughts.

    While typical electric heaters are 100% efficient, electricity prices compared to gas or heat pumps are very high. Ideally you would only trigger the heaters to operate when there is excess solar. My energy have an (expensive) product the eddi that can detect export and vary the power to the appliance from say 500 watts to 2000 watts to only use "free" energy. This is typically used for only heating hot water using an immersion element most houses have. Once water is hot it can trigger other appliances via an on off relay. It might be an idea to research this but may require rewiring heaters to special sockets and complicated diy. Your solar inverter may have similar messages or connect tions to trigger loads.

    Heat pumps can be 300% efficient as in create 3 times the heat of a standard electric heater and that's not a typo. If you are powering only using free solar that's amazing but you need massive panels for use on cold winter days and if you buy from the grid it may work out more expensive than (existing) gas boiler.

    Usually step 1, 2 and 3 are insulate, insulate, insulate and shop around for energy deals and big panels. If you can heat your house with big south facing windows through design that ships the solar - inverter - heater losses.