We recently visited Dimplex at their offices, where they talked us through some of their newest heating products. We started by hearing about why storage heaters were invented, why that need still exists, and what has changed with new technology.
In the 1960s, the UK needed to generate enough electricity overnight to power its huge number of factories. Coal and nuclear plants produced energy 24/7. When the industrial downturn came, there was a surplus of electricity being produced overnight, as not many appliances were run overnight. A way had to be found to use the electricity still being produced overnight and take the pressure off the grid in the daytime – hence storage heaters were invented.
Storage heaters are generally considered an outdated form of heating these days. Dimplex are very keen to change the perception of storage heaters as inefficient. They think their bad reputation is unfair, and it all comes down to them being wrongly installed/controlled/located – or, surprisingly regularly, used on the wrong tariff. They have designed their Quantum storage heater to be more efficient, better looking and easier to use.
So, what’s our take on the Dimplex Quantum storage heater?
Dimplex storage heater
Traditionally, one of the big problems with storage heaters is that, they tend to leak heat before you want to turn them on in the evening. This means that, at the coldest point in the day, there’s hardly any heat when you want it – despite the fact you charged them the night before. The guys at Dimplex think they have solved this, after lots of research. They have refined the insulation around the core, which now includes aerogel (an unrivalled insulator) and redesigned the heat brick (changing its materials, size and shape).
Another key development with this new generation of storage heater is that it is capable of monitoring weather forecasts (although there’s no real-time weather sensor). In theory this means that if a colder than normal day is expected, the heaters prepare for it in some way… It also monitors user patterns to promote comfort and efficiency. This means that the smart technology learns over time the different temperatures you like at various times of the day.
Dimplex have also redesigned the fan that dissipates heat from the brick into the room. Instead of the inefficient (and often noisy) fans in older models, this one is deliberately larger than needed, so it can run at half the speed and do the same job.
Dimplex realises that its key customer base for storage heaters is the elderly. It has been careful to develop special controls that are easy to use and tactile, with no fiddly knobs or tiny buttons. The digital control panel is clear and easy to use, which is a big leap from old-fashioned models.
There’s another definite advantage to Quantum heaters is that they look better! It would be hard to argue that bulky old storage heaters aren’t ugly – and they take up quite a bit of space too. Quantum heaters are slimline, and look pretty similar to normal radiators. Definitely an improvement!
BUT will there always be issues with storage heaters?
Dimplex say their tests have shown savings of 47% against electric radiators. However, the key here is that they are way more efficient than other storage heaters, or electric convection heaters – but the cost of electricity (per unit) is still far more higher than gas. You should only ever rely on storage heaters if you cannot get a gas supply fitted in your property. As well as being expensive to run, they are expensive to buy in the first place.
Although Dimplex have solved a lot of the problems historically associated with storage heaters, the Quantum will still only give out the amount of heating it has stored – or import it at 4 times the price of gas. Once you have used all the heating stored inside the brick, you have no option other than to use electricity straight from the grid at the more expensive daytime rate. This is why people with storage heaters find their bills much higher than expected. Quantum still only promises to provide 90% of the space heating in a room through overnight charging.
We have been wondering recently whether the end of coal power plants will signal the demise of the Economy 7 tariff. This would mean storage heaters would no longer be a economical heating option. We asked Dimplex about this, and whether their Quantum heaters could theoretically work with new time of use tariffs instead. They said the technology could be adapted to be smart enough to only charge at times in the day when electricity is at its cheapest. We weren’t entirely convinced the thought had crossed their mind before.
Although these storage heaters are easier to use than others, the technology could still be considered less than straightforward for some people. Any storage heaters will require a bit of planning to use efficiently. If you want fit and forget heating, storage heaters are not for you!
Should you buy Dimplex Quantum storage heaters?
Storage heaters have got a bad rep – and it’s true that the older ones had some serious downsides. But if you’re sure you want to stick with them, Quantum is without doubt the model to go to. It offers a higher level of control than alternatives, and is designed with ease of use at its centre. If you are off the gas-grid, an efficient modern storage heater such as the Dimplex Quantum is a good option – at least while Economy 7 is still going!
It’s worth mentioning, though, that storage heaters no longer have a monopoly on electrical heating. While fan-assisted electric convection heaters are pretty much the most expensive way to heat your home, there is a new alternative: infrared heating. Check it out!
Installing storage heaters
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