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You wake up in one of those big box stores, like Target or Bunnings, and you’re surrounded by heaters.
It’s the planet of the heaters! And you don’t know the foggiest thing about telling them apart.
Which is better? Which costs more now and which might cost more in the future?
How do I know what the best choice to make is?
To sum it up, generally, an electric heater will let you back a little bit less, whereas a gas heater might costs you less in the long term.
However, what you want to do is do your research first then make a decision. And that’s why we’re here! So let’s get started.
The Difference Between Electric Heaters & Gas Heaters
Before we get to how much it might cost, let’s take a quick look at what makes these heaters tick. It can be really easy for people to just let this slip by.
You turn them on, and they make the room warm, right?
It’s not as simple as that. The major difference is right in the name as it mostly had to do with the fuel they’re using to keep your home nice and toasty.
Electric heaters will draw on power from the grid and are generally divided into two major groups.
- Radiation heaters: Don’t worry, there won’t be a mini-Chernobyl in your home. Radiation heaters are like those ones you had in school, the metal ones where you’d occasionally lean back on your chair and burn yourself on. Or at least I did. Radiation heaters work by electricity passing through an element that’s surrounded by glass. The heat is then radiated out of the heater and into your home.
- Convection heaters: Warm air rises, we’ve all heard that phrase, and it’s at work in your heater as well. In a convection heater, the element is also heated up, but a gap next to the heater means the warm air rises and cooler air has to move to fill the space left behind. This creates a current of air flow that then spills out and warms your home up. A fan heater is a really good example of this.
That’s the electric heater, but what about the gas heaters?
What makes them different? Well there are two main kinds of gas heaters as well.
- Non-flued gas heaters: The big thing about these kinds of heaters is that they’re portable. A normal gas heater is fitted in place by its connection to the mains.
- Flued gas heaters: These are connected to the mains, to no-one’s surprise. Often bigger and bulkier. This is the heater I have in my home, and it’s wonderful at warming a room quickly.
That’s the physical difference, but what about the rest? Up next we’ll do a breakdown of the pros and cons of electric heaters versus gas heaters.
Electric Heaters Pros and Cons
The biggest thing that electric heaters have to brag about is that they can be so much cheaper.
You can probably score yourself small element heater for chump change down at your local target. It probably won’t be very good, or warm, but it won’t hurt your wallet too badly.
However, you're probably not in need of a $40 heater, you’re probably looking for something more substantial.
Electric Heaters Cost
There's two big things to consider about an electric heater, the start-up costs, and the running costs. Generally speaking electric heaters are going to come at a better price.
This is great if you’ve got a family and more important things to blow your cash on than heaters.
When put side by side with the start-up costs for a gas heater, you’ll find that the electric models generally will be cheaper. However, when you buy a heater you don’t just put in your living room as a conversation starter, you turn it on.
This is where they get a little more pricey. Electricity is generally more expensive than gas, especially in Australia. The usage costs will be a bit higher than with a gas heater.
Electric Heater Performance
Let’s move on to how electric heaters perform. Electric heaters come in quite a large variety so how well they perform is going to depend on what sort of heater you’ve got and what sort of room it’s in.
Because they aren’t burning fuel, electric heaters are best used in a smaller room, where ventilation isn’t an issue.
Broadly speaking it’s a good idea to avoid panel heaters, these heaters often don’t produce a whole lot of heat, so while they’re cheaper to run, the can tend to be like throwing money out the window.
If you’re going to get an electric heater, consider getting an oil or convection heater, which will warm up the air in the room you’re in. This is great for keeping your bedroom warm on a chilly night as they tend to be pretty safe to leave on.
This brings us to the other major positive about electric heaters and that’s the portability. Not being connected to a mains gas line means you can pick them up and set them down anywhere where there might be an outlet.
Gas Heaters Pros & Cons
I don’t know about you but when I think of gas and heat I think of an explosion in an action movie.
However apparently some brilliant engineers have managed to make gas heating a real possibility in the 21st Century.
When examining the price and performance there’s quite a lot to consider in your gas heater, that’s why this next section will break down just what you’re in for when you decide to start heating with gas. Let’s take a quick look.
Gas Heater Cost
We’re not gonna lie, a gas heater can be expensive. Quite expensive.
A heavy duty gas heater in Australia could set you back a $2000 depending on how big of a model you need and how big of a room you need to heat.
Even a smaller model of gas heater could sting you for $900. These sorts of prices can be prohibitive for low and middle-income families, so think long and hard about whether this is something you might want to dump a week’s salary into.
However there is another side to the gas heater cost coin. That’s the fact that gas heaters are actually cheaper to run.
Gas costs less than electricity, especially in Australia and especially if you’re living in a state like South Australia where the price of power is even more out of control.
If you’re willing to take the initial hit on the start-up price, long term you could see some savings with the cheap gas running costs.
However if you decide to fuel your gas heater using LPG bottles, this could work out more expensive, so if you’re thinking of going gas, go with the one that’s connected to your mains.
Gas Heater Performance
Okay so that’s the price squared away, how do they perform? Generally you’re going to have a couple of hurdles to overcome when getting a gas heater.
The main one being, you need gas. A typically flued gas heater will be connected to your mains gas supply.
If you don’t have gas at your house you can’t run a flued gas heater. However if you do the world is your oyster.
Gas heaters typically warm a room quicker and how warm you get the room to be is often a lot easier to control.
Based on my personal experience with gas heaters, I can easily say I love being able to come home and turn my gas heater on and have the room warm in minutes. Flued gas heaters are typically pretty safe, if a little nasty on the environment.
However if you go with an unflued gas heater be careful, do not put it in unventilated rooms or leave it on too long.
This is because these heaters can emit dangerous chemicals that can really harm you, and your home. No-one wants to sit around, warm, but sick and in a damp house.
Electric Heaters vs Gas Heaters - Which is Best?
Based on our analysis we’re going to have a few qualifications on which type of heater we recommend.
If you’re strapped for cash, get yourself an electric heater, especially if you live in an area like Queensland that doesn’t get that cold to begin with. An oil or convection heater will do a fine job.
However if you’re really looking for the best in home warming appliances we recommend you get yourself a flued gas heater.
These come with some high start-up costs but are a breeze to run, can warm a room in seconds and are super cheap over the long term.
Overall, the winner is definitely gas heaters, when compared to their electric cousins.
It’s easy to get a better deal you know what’s on the market.
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