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Panel Heater vs Electric Radiators: Which is More Efficient?

Key Takeaways

  • Panel heaters are known to provide a more comfortable and energy-efficient heating experience compared to electric radiators.
  • While electric radiators may have a lower upfront cost, panel heaters offer superior warmth and efficiency in the long run.
  • Electric radiators are often preferred as a primary heating source in larger spaces, where their higher heat output can be advantageous.
  • On the other hand, panel heaters excel in supplemental heating or smaller areas, providing targeted warmth and ensuring optimal comfort.
  • In terms of energy savings and lower heating costs over time, panel heaters have the potential to outperform electric radiators.

Understanding Panel Heaters and Electric Radiators

panel heater

There are two types of panel heaters, conventional panel heaters and radiant panel heaters.

Heater TypeUpfront CostsOperating Costs (Hourly)Benefits
Conventional Panel Heaters$50 – $100$0.10 – $0.15Lightweight design, affordable price point, quick temperature increase, suitable for smaller spaces
Radiant Panel Heaters$400 – $600$0.08 – $0.12Energy efficient, focused heating, better for health, prevents dampness and mold
Electric Radiators$200 – $500$0.10 – $0.20Even heat distribution, efficient and consistent warmth

Conventional Panel Heaters

Conventional panel heaters are a cost-effective heating option that primarily rely on convection to generate warmth.

Equipped with hot elements and fans, conventional panel heaters blow hot air into the room, quickly raising the temperature. 

They are known for their lightweight design, affordable price point, and simplicity in operation. 

Conventional panel heaters are suitable for smaller spaces, such as bedrooms or offices, where quick and localized heating is required.

A standard 1500-watt conventional panel heater can range in price from $50 to $100, making it an economical choice for cost-conscious consumers.

The hourly operating cost is approximately $0.10-$0.15 (based on an average electricity cost of $0.12/kWh and the energy efficiency of convection heaters).

Radiant Panel Heaters

Radiant panel heaters use far infrared radiation to heat objects and people in a room directly. 

Because of this they are more energy efficient than both conventional panel heaters, and electric radiators because no heat is lost by heating the air in the room. 

Radiant Panel heaters are also considered better for health because they do not spread harmful particles or substances throughout the home and they also help prevent the build up of dampness and mould. 

As for the cost you can expect to spend $400-$600 (including purchase and installation) for the Initial investment: $400-$600 (including purchase and installation).

The hourly operating cost is approximately $0.08-$0.12 (based on an average electricity cost of $0.12/kWh and the energy efficiency of radiant panel heaters) making it a highly efficient heating system.

Electric Radiators

Electric radiators, on the other hand, use a combination of radiant and convective heat to provide warmth. 

Unlike panel heaters, electric radiators distribute heat evenly across their entire surface, including the elements themselves. 

Electric radiators can be filled with a thermal fluid, such as oil, or feature a dry element, like a ceramic core, to store and release heat. 

These radiators are typically more expensive than panel heaters but offer efficient and consistent warmth throughout the room.

On average, you can expect to spend $200-$500 per electric radiator. This price range includes both the purchase and installation costs.

On average, the hourly operating cost for electric radiators can range from $0.10 to $0.20, based on an average electricity cost of $0.12/kWh.

Radiant Heat vs. Radiator Heat

Radiant Heat vs. Radiator Heat

Is Radiant Heat the Same as Radiator Heat?

No, radiant heat and radiator heat are distinct from each other. 

Radiator heat operates through convection, where the warm air rises, cools down, and then sinks, creating a continuous cycle. Radiators heat the surrounding air, resulting in hot and cold spots within a room. 

On the other hand, radiant heat directly transfers warmth to people and objects through infrared radiation. 

Radiant floor heating is a popular form of radiant heat, utilizing the floor as a large heating surface to provide even and comfortable warmth, and radiant panel heaters operate in exactly the same way.

If you’re interested in underfloor radiant heating read our Pros and Cons of Radiant Floor Heating.

Is Radiant Heating More Efficient than Radiators?

ℹ️ According to “radiant heating is “…usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses”

Radiant heat offers several advantages in terms of efficiency. 

These systems operate at lower temperatures compared to traditional radiators, resulting in energy savings. 

Electric underfloor heating, for example, can be up to 40% more efficient when running from a heat pump. 

Radiant heating systems distribute heat evenly throughout the room, eliminating cold spots and reducing the risk of overheating. 

They also maintain the natural humidity of the room, providing a comfortable environment.

Pros and Cons of Electric Radiators

Pros of Electric Radiators


Electric radiators are highly efficient, converting almost 100% of the energy into heat, resulting in reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills.

Easy Installation

Electric radiators are standalone units that do not require complex pipe networks, making them easy to install and replace. This flexibility allows for individual room temperature control.

Zone Heating

Electric radiators with built-in thermostats allow for precise temperature regulation in different rooms, reducing energy waste and costs.

Minimal Maintenance

Electric radiators require minimal maintenance compared to other heating systems, saving time and effort.

Cons of Electric Radiators

Higher Initial Cost

Electric radiators can have a higher upfront cost compared to other heating options. However, their long-term energy efficiency and cost savings can offset this initial investment.

Limited Heat Output

Some electric radiators may have lower heat outputs, which may not be suitable for larger spaces or homes in colder climates.

Heat-Up Time

Electric radiators may take longer to heat up compared to other heating methods, requiring some patience when initially warming a room.

Pros and Cons of Radiant Heat Panels

We believe that radiant and infrared heating panels have benefits that far outweigh the cons. Let’s explore them below.

Pros of Radiant Heat Panels

Even Heat Distribution

Radiant heat panels provide consistent temperatures throughout the room, eliminating hot and cold spots. The heat radiates evenly, creating a comfortable environment.

Comfort and Air Quality

Radiant heat panels do not rely on forced air circulation, preventing the circulation of dust and allergens. They maintain a comfortable level of humidity and reduce the risk of overheating.

Space-saving Design

Radiant heat panels are installed in walls or ceilings, allowing for optimal use of floor space and providing design flexibility.

Quiet Operation

Radiant heat panels operate silently, making them suitable for bedrooms or areas where noise is a concern.

Cons of Radiant Heat Panels

Higher Initial Cost

The installation of radiant heat panels can be more expensive than traditional heating methods. 

However, the long-term energy efficiency and comfort they provide can offset the initial investment.

Limited Applicability

Radiant heat panels are best suited for spaces with high ceilings or open areas. 

They may not be as effective in rooms with low ceilings or in situations where the layout restricts proper heat distribution.

Professional Installation Required

Proper installation of radiant heat panels is crucial to ensure optimal performance and heat distribution. 

Professional installation is recommended to avoid any potential issues or uneven heating.

Stand alone heat panels aren’t an issue in this regard, but if you’re installing radiant heat panels on walls or ceilings it’s often worth seeking out professional advice.

Which is More Efficient: Panel Heaters or Electric Radiators?

To determine which heating option is more efficient, several factors need to be considered, including energy consumption, heat distribution, and cost-effectiveness. 

Let’s compare panel heaters and electric radiators based on these criteria:

CriteriaConventional Panel HeatersElectric RadiatorsPanel Heaters
Energy ConsumptionEnergy-efficient for localized heating needsEfficient heat distribution and individual controlEnergy-efficient for localized heating needs
Heat DistributionUneven heat distribution throughout the roomEven and consistent warmth throughoutUneven heat distribution throughout the room
Cost-effectivenessAffordable upfront cost, suitable for quick heatingLong-term cost savings and precise temperature controlAffordable upfront cost, suitable for quick heating

Energy Consumption

Conventional Panel Heaters

Panel heaters primarily rely on convection to heat the air. They are designed to quickly warm up smaller spaces, making them energy-efficient for localized heating needs.

Electric Radiators

Electric radiators utilize a combination of radiant and convective heat, providing consistent warmth throughout the room. 

They offer efficient heat distribution and can be controlled individually for optimal energy usage.

Heat Distribution

Panel Heaters

Panel heaters rely on blowing hot air into the room, creating convection currents. While they can quickly raise the temperature in a localized area, they may result in uneven heat distribution throughout the room.

Electric Radiators

Electric radiators distribute heat evenly across their surface, ensuring consistent warmth throughout the room. They eliminate hot and cold spots, providing a comfortable environment.


Panel Heaters

Panel heaters are generally more affordable upfront compared to electric radiators. They are a cost-effective solution for smaller spaces and offer quick heating when needed.

Electric Radiators

Electric radiators may have a higher initial cost, but they provide long-term cost savings through energy efficiency and precise temperature control. 

They offer robust and consistent warmth, making them suitable for larger spaces or as a primary heating source.


When it comes to choosing between panel heaters and electric radiators, the decision ultimately depends on your specific heating requirements, budget, and preferences. 

Panel heaters are suitable for quick and localized heating, making them ideal for smaller spaces. 

Electric radiators, on the other hand, offer efficient and consistent warmth throughout the room, making them a viable option for larger areas or as a primary heating source. 

Consider factors such as room size, energy consumption, heat distribution, and long-term cost-effectiveness when selecting the heating solution that best fits your needs.If you think that radiant heat panels would be a good solution for heating your home, you can check out our full range of radiant heat panels here.