How efficient are electric oil radiators compared to forced-air central heating If we specifically talk about ‘efficiency’ in terms of the ratio of power consumed to power utilized, then I’d say oil radiators are better than forced-air central heaters. However, electrical efficiency isn’t always the right way to compare two radiators (unless you’re using them for electrical experimentation, of course). First, let me try to explain how the two types of radiators work, and where they are specifically better suited to be used. Oil Filled Radiators First things first… No, there’s no burning of oil involved in order to generate heat. The oil in the oil-filled radiators is just a medium of transferring the heat, or more precisely, a heat reservoir. The actual heating is done as a result of the conversion of electrical energy into heat energy, when the heating element at the base of the heater turns red hot as electricity is allowed to pass through it. The oil acquires all of the heat from the heating element and flows around the cavities of the heater through a convection heat transfer process. Now, coming back to your question regarding the efficiency of oil filled radiators. They’re definitely more suitable than the forced-air central heaters (we’ll get back to why later), but in comparison, they’re more expensive as well. They are also generally more safe than most radiators, although its best to avoid keeping anything within a range of 3 feet. Oil-filled radiators are widely used for heating small to medium sized enclosed areas, such as bedrooms.
Forced-Air Central Heaters Within these radiators, air, instead of oil, works as the medium of heat transfer. Now, as you probably already know, forced-air central heaters need a proper duct system in order to distribute the hot air throughout the entire space. In order to carry the air back to the heating element, a forced-air heater has a return that goes straight to the central air handler for reheating. This allows for a more channeled process of heating by directing the air from the central unit to the specific rooms that require heat. And that is exactly why forced-air central heaters are more commonly used in office spaces or places with multiple rooms that require on-demand or specific heating. In terms of efficiency, however, they are less efficient because air has less convectional efficiency than a heating oil radiator. Also, you would probably have to invest more when installing all of the ducts around the place before you could use forced-air central heaters. To sum it up, it depends on what kind of radiator would be an ideal choice for your space. If you’re looking for a heater to keep your room warm, then you should go with the oil-filled radiators. However, if you have a large space with multiple rooms, then installing ducts and a forced-air central heater would be a far better choice than buying oil-filled radiator for each room individually.