Electric heating systems:
The technology gives us more and more opportunities to apply electric heating systems in the houses. Such devices can be reliable, maintenance-free, cheap in operation and in assembling. And most importantly: owing to balanced energy generated from photovoltaics, we can build energy-sufficient houses. How to choose the best solution for you? A heat pump, an accumulation stove or a common electric heater? Or infrared heating? If so, shall we use an infrared heater or heating films? In this paper, I will try to present briefly the pros and cons of various solutions.
Heat storing stoves:
Their idea is to “charge” radiators with cheaper energy at night and give off heat in the day when electricity is more expensive. Operating and project costs are quite high for this solution.
PROS: a little cheaper energy for heating.
MINUS: between 16:00 and 22:00 electricity is more expensive, and at that time most people return from work and turn on household appliances, electronics, RTV and lighting. In consequence, they pay a little less for heating and a lot more for the remaining consumption of electricity. Furthermore, such radiators are large, heavy, take up a lot of space and use convection for heating, which generates large energy losses.
Electric convectors (electric heaters of “farelka” type, “oil heaters”):
These are local heating devices whose task is to heat the air in the accommodation where they are located. They often look like traditional water heaters. They can be equipped with a fan to accelerate the distribution of warm air. Used most frequently to supplement heating of individual rooms, less often as a full-year home heating.
PROS: electric heaters are cheap to assemble, they heat up very quickly and are often portable.
CONS: high energy consumption, resulting from convection and high failure rate.
Their “heart” is a compressor, which ensures the chance to use for heating purposes the renewable energy stored in the air or in the ground.
PROS: obviously low operating costs and the ability to cool.
CONS: project costs – it is cheaper to use any other electric heating system and connect it with photovoltaics. The short lifetime of heat pumps is another shortcoming.
PROS: in old buildings, it can easily and non-invasively replace an existing solid fuel stove. It makes sense to be installed in new buildings if we use floor heating. Otherwise, ordinary electric convectors will come out cheaper.
CONS: water installation needs to be mounted which increases the cost of project.
Heating mats of resistance wires:
These are floor heating systems, ideal for use under terracotta.
PROS: low project costs and the use of infrared effect guarantee low operating costs.
CONS: in case of breakdown of the heating circuit, it is necessary to rework the whole flooring.
They are most frequently produced as thin, aesthetical infrared panels which may be mounted on ceilings and walls.
PROS: low cost of mounting, wide range of patterns (white coloured, with pictures or as mirrors) and heated by infrared.
CONS: concentrating a large amount of energy at one point can cause an uneven feeling of heat.
Carbon fibre heating films:
PROS: they offer almost unlimited assembling possibilities: for floors under terracotta, panels, floor coverings, concrete topping or for walls and ceilings under gypsum boards, mineral plaster, wainscot etc. Assembling method generally leaves them invisible to the human eye. The use of the unique technology of carbon nanofibres laminated in plastics ensures trouble-free operation for dozens of years. Infrared heating guarantees low energy consumption. Project costs like in case of heating mats, smaller than for radiators.
CONS: in old buildings, to mount them, additional outlays may be necessary on replacement of flooring or wall sheathing.
Examples of solutions from around the world clearly indicate that the future of domestic heating belongs to electricity. Solutions’ simplicity, long life, maintenance-free operation, safety and, above all, the possibility to connect themto photovoltaic technology makes it that electric heating = cheap heating!