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What Is a Convection Heater?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A convection heater is an appliance that heats a space by creating a current of warm air that circulates throughout the area. The moving air is warmed when it passes over a heated surface. Some convection heaters use air currents that form naturally and others utilize a fan to help the process along and heat the space faster. The heating element is usually activated with electricity, but models are also available that use propane or natural gas. A convection heater can be an economical choice for quickly heating a space, but some models tend to be quite noisy, and caution must be used with children and pets.

Space heaters can help save money on energy costs by providing extra heat in the occupied areas of a house or building, thereby allowing the thermostat for the central heating system to be set at a lower temperature. One popular type is the convection heater which works by circulating warm air through the space. The unit generally heats a space more quickly than other types of heaters and provides even warmth over a larger area. Most models are also considered to be cost efficient and safe.

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The operating system of a convection heater is based on the principle that heat rises. The air around the heater is warmed by the heating element, so it rises close to the ceiling. As it cools, it then starts to fall; at the same time, newly heated air is traveling upwards. This cycle naturally creates a current of warmed air that is able to circulate through the space being heated. This process of circulating heated air is known as convection and is used in other appliances, such as ovens, in addition to heaters.

In many cases, a convection heater uses a fan to help the air currents move more rapidly. The fan moves the air across a heating element, warming it, and then pushes it out of the heater. This helps the unit heat the space in a short amount of time, but can make it noisier during operation. Fanless models are available, but they heat less quickly or evenly and are more suited to smaller spaces.

The two main types of heating elements that can be used in a convection heater are panels or coils. Panel heaters are often mounted on the wall, but coil models can rest on the floor and heat the space from the middle. Coils are often filled with a heat-conducting fluid such as oil, allowing them to remain warm for extended periods of time. The heating elements can be warmed with power from a variety of sources; electricity is the most popular, but natural gas and propane heaters are also available. Convection heaters can be money-saving devices, but caution should be used with children and pets since some models can be very hot to the touch.

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