Conservatory Heating

Which method of heating a conservatory is best?

Conservatory heating is a necessary expense if you wish to use your conservatory in the winter months or Autumn/Spring on overcast days or in the evenings. The are many different ways to heat your conservatory and we will look at some of them here, investigating the relative pro's and con's of each method including purchase prices, installation costs and running costs where possible. Below is a table summarizing some of the methods of heating your conservatory along with approximate costingson the assumption of a 10m2 area.

 Conservatory Heating Method
Approximate Purchase Cost
 Approximate Running Cost per Hour
Assumes 2kW heating requirement and average electricity tariff of 12p. Running cost is when on and not annual average.
 Fan heater
 £10 24p
 Oil Filled Radiator
 £30 24p
 Electric panel heater
 £150 24p
 Night storage heater - economy 7
 £175 9p
Connect to existing home central heating system  £250 9p
 Split unit air conditioning system as heater
 £500+ 24p
 Air source heat pump + under tile heating
 £2150 6p

Reasons to heat your conservatory?

Types of heater fall in to 2 main categories

Electric conservatory heating

Pro's

Con's

Gas conservatory heating

Pro's

Con's

Below are some specific ways of heating your conservatory

Domestic central heating system

You could simply connect a new radiator to an existing central heating system. Check with your conservatory supplier or local building officers to make sure this is allowed. If you have an efficient boiler already then this method will have a very low running cost. It is a requirement that the radiator you place in the conservatory has its own thermostatic control and can be turned off. For optimum heat circulation it is suggested to install the radiator near the dwarf wall though this is not always possible nor indeed convenient.

Pro's

Con's

Fan heater

Go out to Argos or whoever and buy a fan heater

Pro's

Con's

Electric panel heater

Buy and install a simple low profile electric panel heater.

Pro's

Con's

Oil filled radiator

These are also available from ‘most good retailers'

Pro's

Cons

Night storage heater

Although not as vogue as they once were they are still available widely and now they are much more slim line than the huge brick filled blocks they used to be.

Pro's

Con's

Tubular Heating

This is commonly used in outside rooms, sheds and greenhouses where the desire is to prevent the room from going below zero which could damage plants, pipes and other items.

Pro's

Con's

Free standing gas fire

A calor gas heater is an example but an be either butane or propane depending on design.

Pro's

Con's

Heat Pump

Heat pumps come in two varieties air source and ground source. This defines where they extract the heat from. Heat pumps are commonly used as the source for a under floor heating system due to the low temperature water they produce. Air source heat pumps also use systems with a fan on the interior heat exchanger to blow warm air in. They operate using the refrigeration cycle. The inside of a fridge is cold and the back heat exchanger is warm. In a heat pump the outside world is cooled down and the heat is pumped into the inside. The advantage is that typically for every 1 unit of electricity 4 units of heat can be brought inside.

Pro's

Con's

Ground source heat pump

Pro's

Con's

Air source heat pump

Pro's

Con's

Conservatory under floor heating

Pipes are run either underneath the tiles or within the floor screed. These pipes carry a working fluid that can be heated thus heating the floor surface.

Pro's

Con's

Air conditioning

Either a portable unit with vent to outside world or a split system professionally installed and wall mounted. Air conditioning units are usually selected on their cooling capacity rather than their heating capabilities. Therefore running costs are tricky to calculate.

Pro's

Con's

How much heating do I need?

The amount of heating required depends on

To complicate matters the shape of the conservatory and weather conditions such a wind speed will effect the heat loss but they are not considered here.

Heat loss is modelled using the following equation

Heating required (watts) equals U value * Area * temperature difference

Area is the glass area of the conservatory plus 1/3rd of the area of the connecting wall. It gets more complicated if the conservatory is constructed using different glazing options (e.g. roof) or is angled. So for a conservatory with a 10m2 floor area and 2.4m high walls and slightly sloping roof one would have an area of 37.3m2.

Single glazing has a U value of around 5 or more. Old style double glazing is about 3. Newer low-e coatings are closer to 2 with triple glazed argon filled (read expensive) units as low as 0.4!

Assuming you wish to have a minimum temperature of  18C in the daytime (with say an outside temperature of zero) we can then calculate the required best case heating requirement at about 2kW. With low-e glass it would be about 1.3kW.

Note: A dealer of conservatories or heating unit will be able to input more realistic figures but this is just ballpark. It allows us to compare different methods of heating the conservatory for price on a very typical size conservatory.

It's clear that a good way of heating your conservatory is to stop any heat within the structure escaping in the first place. However, extremely high performance glass (such as tripled glazed argon filled low-e variety) can be very expensive and depending on your conservatory usage you may never recover the investment in reduced heating bills.

Conservatory Heating Conclusions

There are a few different ways of heating your conservatory. Typically the lower upfront cost the higher the running cost. Ultimately its a hard call as to how much to spend on well insulated glass and how much to spend on efficient heating systems. Hopefully this breakdown of methods and costings has given you the information to make a better informed decision.



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"Site was very useful,helped me to decide that electric underfloor heating will be the best option.Thanks "

Margaret

"Extremely useful"

Angie

"Very comprehensive information superb"

Eddie C

"very useful."

karunahran

"a great help thank you"

s meacham

"Well-balanced, honest and informative. The best information we've read on this subject - thank you."

Jo

"helpful reading, can a false ceiling on tracks help to retain heat in conservatory?tried heating(storage) on + halogen but still glass running with condensation"

cmmcr

"I Have used your pages a few times over the last few days. while not always getting the answer to my questions I have a better understanding of what Iam looking for. Thank you very much and keep up the good work."

Mrs L Frantz

"very useful. but am still perplexed! have missed the boat for underfloor water heating and now wondering what type of electric radiator to get. some on the internet seem more advanced than others? at least they are more expensive. don\'t want too much skin drying either already turning enough of a prune in harsh British weather! (am from South of France). thanks for informative website"

caroline

"A well balanced survey of available options. Thank you."

M Ahmad

"This page was very helpful. Thank you"

M. Tranter

"We find that our conservatory heats up well with candles, cooked food and people. Quite costly per hour as the people tend to demand a lot of wine."

Ali








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