1500 Watt Deluxe Radiant Heater
First, the heaters seem to work fine...essentially the same as the 35-year-old ones they replaced. And that is why I bought them - because I was familiar with the form factor and had a good idea what to expect in terms of performance. For me, these are back-up heaters. I don't use them every day or even every year. They spend most of their time stored in my attic, and they are compact enough to fit in a bit less space that then ones they replace. I bring them down when I need axillary heat. For example, the time my central heater stopped working. There was another time when the power failed on one phase, so the central unit wouldn't run, but half of the outlets in the house were still working. Anyway, the point is, my usage may not be typical because I don't use space heaters unless I have to.
With that said, these heaters produce their maximum heat output within a few seconds, which is good. And there is more radiant heat than convective heat, so they do a nice job of warming nearby people and objects, even though they may lack the raw power to heat a large area. This is a good thing because 1500 watts is only 5,118 BTUs, so obviously a few heaters like this cannot do the same job as my 80,000 central furnace. But with the radiant heat, they do create comfort zones, so it's nice, as long as one has reasonable expectations.
As for the operation, I have the impression that the manufacturer is pushing it a bit with the 1500 watt rating. Don't get me wrong – it may pull 1500 watts, but only by running the nichrome elements very hot. I have never seen the elements glowing so brightly (almost white hot) in this type of heater. On the low setting, it's about what I would consider to be "normal". Driving the elements so hard produces wonderful radiant heat, which I really appreciate, but it also makes me wonder how long it can last. Maybe materials are better than they used to be, so they can get away with this. I suppose that only time will tell. So far I’ve only run them for about six hours on high, so it might take me a while for me to find out.
Mechanically, the heater housings are made of painted sheet steel, not much different than the ones they replaced, although the stand, (or feet) are made of plastic, which seems more fragile than the steel stands on the old ones. And I don’t think the heaters would be usable without the stands, so again, wondering if these will last as long as their predecessors.
Noise-wise, these heaters have fans that run much faster than the old ones. The old ones had slow open-frame motors that produced a very light rumbly rattling kind of sound that never bothered me. These smaller fans produce more air-rushing noise at a frequency that is almost high enough to qualify as a whine. In some ways, the character of the noise is smoother and less irritating, but at another level, it seems more intrusive to me. I am having some trouble describing a sound in words, but there is more air rushing and less motor noise. The motors themselves seem to be very smooth and quiet, so all that I hear is air. Whether this more refined and smooth air-rushing sound is worse than the slow, low-frequency, quieter but rattling noise of the older heaters would be a matter of personal preference and it’s not really an issue for my application, but if one plans to spend a lot of time near these heaters, it might be a factor. And honestly, radiant heaters like this work best when they are used close to people, to heat the people, as opposed to trying to heat all of the air in the same space. They do heat air, but it is more of a side effect of the radiant heating.
So I knocked off a star for the arguably louder fans, the potentially breakable plastic stands, and my skepticism that the elements can survive at such high temperatures. If it turns out that the plastic is more durable than it looks and the elements prove over time to be up to the higher operating temperatures, I think they would be deserve five stars because the fan noise is subjective.
February 6, 2014