Q:

How does an electric heater work?

A:

Quick Answer

The United States Department of Energy explains that electric heaters convert electrical energy into heat by passing the current through a resistor. The principal applications of these clean, quiet electric heaters include cooking, space heating and swimming pool heating. Common types of electric heaters include radiative heaters, fan heaters and convection heaters.

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Full Answer

Radiative heaters use an elongated heating bulb and a series of reflectors to generate, concentrate and direct heat in a given direction. Many space heaters are radiative heaters. Fan heaters use fans to quickly emit streams of hot air. The fan reduces stress on the electrical resistor by dispersing the heat over large areas.

Another popular style of electric heater is the convection heater. Convection ovens feature this type of heater. About Expert Kris Jensen-Van Heste reveals that hot air rises above cold air, and convection heaters take advantage of this. As air contacts the heating element, it rises and heats the surrounding area. The rising column of hot air draws additional cool air closer to the heating element, and the cycle repeats.

Electric heaters have several advantages over oil and gas heaters. They do not produce pollution or noxious fumes. They do not run on fossil fuels directly, and they do not require fuel refills. The United States Department of Energy states that electric heaters also offer precision temperature control and are cost efficient because they convert nearly all of their electricity into heat.

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