Oil Heater vs. Convection Heater: Which One Is Better?3 min read

Staying warm in the fall and winter can be expensive. Luckily, you can use portable heaters to add extra warmth to your home. But which option should you go for? Oil-filled or convection based?

Oil-filled radiators retain heat for longer and can be safer. They’re more expensive, heavier, and take longer to heat. Electric models are more affordable and readily available. They’re easy to find but lose heat quickly, are louder, and comparatively less safe (while being a bit more convenient).

The right choice comes down to budget and preference. Let’s look at everything you need to know about oil-filled radiators and convection heaters to make the best decision for which product is right for you.

The Difference Between Oil-Filled Radiators & Convection Heaters

Electric oil heater on floor in room

Portable heaters can be a must-have for staying warm in the colder months. These tiny devices won’t only keep you warm but can also help you save money on your heating bill at the end of the month.

The two primary options to choose from include oil-filled and convection-based models.

Oil-Filled Radiators

Oil-filled radiators can be an effective heating solution, as oil is excellent at retaining heat. You’ll find a coil inside the radiator that heats nearby oil, transferring the heat to the rest of the device.

These radiators can have issues, which we’ve explored in another article, but on the whole they’re extremely reliable and are a great way to manage heat in a space.

The heat is released into the air and circulates throughout the environment to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere.

Convection Heaters

Convection heaters can heat a room quicker due to the current convection design. An internal element heats the air inside the device, causing it to rise into the atmosphere.

This design creates a current of warm air while simultaneously forcing cooler air out of the heater. In addition, some models have built-in fans to help circulate the air even faster.

Pros and Cons of Oil-Filled Radiators

So, what are the advantages, disadvantages, and best-use cases for oil-filled radiators?

Pro #1 – Energy Efficient

Oil-filled radiators have excellent heat retention and energy efficiency. Many models can turn off or use a low-power setting once they reach desired temperatures while maintaining warmth.

Pro #2 – Quiet Design

These options have no sound, as all the warmth comes from heating the internal oil. This design makes them excellent if you find loud sounds from fans distracting or unpleasant.

Pro #3 – Safer Construction

Electric heaters with built-in fans can cause fires if they’re blocked. Oil heaters have much safer designs and don’t have fire risks if something is accidentally left on top of them.

Pro #4 – Long-Lasting Warmth

Oil-filled heaters can stay hot for hours after you turn them off due to the high heat retention. This is fantastic for saving energy at night when you turn it off.

Con #1 – Heavier Design

Oil-filled heaters have heavy liquids and a larger design, causing them to be heavier. Most oil heaters can weigh over 20 pounds.

Con #2 – Slow to Heat

These options rely on heating oil to create warmth which can take quite some time. For example, it can take around 30 minutes before oil-filled radiators heat a room entirely.

Con #3 – More Expensive

Many oil-filled heaters are more expensive than standard electric fan radiators. However, they can save you money over time if you use them well.

Pros and Cons of Convection Heaters

Modern electric convection heater on floor at home

So, what are the pros, cons, and best-use cases for convection heaters?

Pro #1 – More Affordable

Electric heaters are much more affordable than oil-based options. You can easily find mass-manufactured options and high-quality designs at nearly any price point.

Pro #2 – Faster

Convection heaters can warm up a room in a few minutes thanks to the built-in fan.

Pro #3 – More Variety

You can find a wide variety of electric heaters in stores or online. The variety can be excellent if you like to hand-pick your products and design your space.

Pro #4 – Safer for Children

Most electric heaters aren’t hot to the touch, which can make them safer around children. The audible fan is a nice touch, as it can also be a deterrent for curious children.

Con #1 – Faster Heat Loss

Electric heaters quickly lose heat as they spread warmth through the air with a fan. Lousy insulation, open windows, or turning off the device will make you lose any heat.

Con #2 – Higher Expenses

Because of the quick heat loss, electric options must provide higher temperatures for extended periods—costing more energy in the long run.

Con #3 – Noisy

Electric heaters can be louder than oil-based options. The noise is especially noticeable in models with built-in fans.

Con #4 – Bad for Allergies

The air movement from convection heaters can irritate specific allergies by blowing dust and particles throughout the air.

Con #5 – Fickle Temperatures

Most traditional electric heaters aren’t that great at holding constant temperatures. Although high-end options can differ, you’ll probably have to mess around with the temperature settings while using an electric heater.

How to Choose the Best Heater for You

Now you know how each option works and their advantages and disadvantages. So, which design is right for you? The right choice will come down to your budget, preferences, and needs.

If you’re willing to spend more, oil-filled radiators can be excellent and practical choices. They retain heat better, and you can leave things on top of them without too much worry. However, they take much longer to heat up.

Convection heaters can be ideal if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option and a quick fix. These options heat a room quickly, but you may have to fickle with the settings to find the perfect temperature.

Either way, you’re sure to find an option that helps keep you warm and saves you money in the colder months.

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Hi, I'm Ed, and I run BuildFanatic! I enjoy providing the best possible information on a range of home improvement topics.

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