Guide written by:
John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton
If your bathroom radiator has trouble heating up, why not combine it with a additional heater? Choosing the right secondary heating system based on the size of your room and how fast you want your heater to warm up will allow you to warm up your bathroom by a few degrees and improve your day-to-day comfort.
- Operating mode
- Safety guidelines
- Size of bathroom
- Type of heater
- Heating options
Why use an additional heater?
As the name suggests, backup heating devices are made to complement an existing heating system, either because it's lacking in power or it only works intermittently. You might need to rely on one if your central heating ever gives up the ghost. If you live in a flat and the communal heating system is off, you'll need to sort something out so baby doesn't get cold coming out of the bath!
An electric radiator is always an option, but can be a bit lacking in power ‐ especially in the depths of winter. Inertia heaters produce a lovely gentle heat, but to warm you after a 5-minute morning shower it won't heat up in time! A bathroom heater should heat up quickly and powerfully to give you a sensation of warmth in a short period of time.
It should also be easy to move about, so you can put it away when not in use or use in another room if necessary. Finally, it should be easy to install and require minimal maintenance. Just set up, plug in and away you go!
What important safety guidelines are there?
Just like any electrical appliance, a space heater mustn't be placed on or near a water source such as a sink, shower or bathtub. Splashes of water interfering with the circuitry can have disastrous consequences.
Standard electric radiators should be placed at least 1.2m from a sink and 3m from a bathtub. These are big distances to stick to if you're looking at a tight bathroom space. However, heaters designed specifically for bathrooms will have some form of splash protection and can therefore be placed as near as 60cm from a bath or shower and right next to a sink.
Bathroom heating devices may be subject to specific design standards. (In France, standard IP21 indicates that water will run off the appliance, and objects larger than 12mm can't get in and disrupt its workings.) Basically, you're safe if you choose a specifically designed bathroom space heater and place it as far as practically possible from water sources to further minimize risk.
What type of space heater to choose for your bathroom?
Several types of heaters are available, varying in terms of tech level, purchase cost and mode of use as well as the level of heating comfort they provide.
First sold in the 1960s, this type of appliance heats the air via radiation, through the same principle of liquid intertia as a fixed liquid intertia radiator. Mounted on casters, oil heaters are easily recongized by their sheet steel ridges 5 to 10cm apart in which the oil circulates. These heaters are powerful and relatively economic (since the inertia principle allows them to keep returing heat once switched off), but also heavier and bulkier.
They can be used in any room of the house and are available at power ratings of up to 3000W – or enough to heat a room 30m² with normal insulation and ceiling height. One downside is that they take a while to heat up because the oil needs to rise in temperature.
Mobile radiating panel
The radiating panel emits a significant portion of the energy consumed as infrared radiation. This spreads around the space in inverse proportion to the distance from the heater. Essentially, anything near the heater heats up – including your legs if you happen to be standing in front of it. They can produce a feeling of warmth even in fairly cold ambient air. These heaters also have a weaker convective effect, achieving greater overall heating comfort than a traditional convector for less energy. They're quite quick to heat up, and should be set up a good distance from the user and from furniture (can discolour surfaces).
An electrical resistor, either in contact with the air or contained within a ceramic block, heats the air put in motion by a fan. This forced convection can heat a large volume of air in a very short time and limits the stratification effect produced by a traditional convector. It does inevitably make a noise, however, so if you like absolute peace in the bath, or listening to your favourite radio programme, make sure you choose a quieter model or one with adjustable fan speeds.
Guide written by:
John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton, 70 guides
Since I was a child, I was always interested in manual and technical works. Always fascinated by woodworking, I took advantage of my first flat as a playground. On the cards: electricity (of course, safety first!) and some partition walls; but also decorating with the help of the missus, made-to-measure furniture and little tricks to optimise the space, all the while remaining as original as possible. When the little one arrived, I started building bits and pieces for him! Lacking space, I have not got a permanent workshop and certain tools I dream about but are not part of my collection. Not to worry, I already know a lot about DIY and I have a high-tech profile that I hope will guide you in your decisions!