Types of heaters: how to choose a heater

You can beat the winter chill in any size space with one of the types of heaters available at Bunnings. Discover the best ways to heat your home, inside and out.

Convection heater or radiant heater

When it comes to heaters, there are two types of heat they can generate—it’s either warming you or warming the room.

Radiant heaters will warm you quickly, but they won’t warm the rest of the room as well. Convection heaters will warm the whole room slowly, so it’s important to have a well-insulated and draught free room.

We’ve summed up what you need to know about indoor and outdoor heaters to help you find the perfect way to keep warm this winter.


While rooms and heaters come in different sizes, it’s generally agreed that a 1kW or 1000W heater will comfortably heat about seven square meters. To ensure you get the right size heater for your room, measure the floor space in square metres, then divide it by seven to work out how many kW you need. Then check that number against the power rating when you’re choosing your heater.

Reverse cycle heater

Many air conditioners are available as reverse cycle heaters, which makes them more economical because you can use them all year round. They provide a lovely warming convection heat and are best for large spaces.

Air conditioners can provide 8kW of heating capacity. That should keep you pretty comfortable in a room up to 35 square meters in size.


Portable heater

For smaller rooms, or when you want to heat a specific location, a portable heater is a good choice. They’re available in both convection and radiant heat, so it’s a good idea to decide which type of heat you prefer, before you choose your heater.

Fan heaters can also be ideal for the bathroom as they’re small enough to be stored away in a cupboard when you’re not using them.

Convection heaters are popular in bedrooms and lounge rooms for their silent, embracing heat. You can set your preferred temperature with the thermostat and the timer will make sure you never forget to turn it off.

Heater safety tip: All portable heaters are fitted with a tilt switch which shuts them off immediately if they are knocked over. We recommend that you never leave a heater unattended, particularly when young children and pets are around.


Electric heaters

If you’re seeking concentrated heat in a designated area, electric models offer portability and cost-effectiveness. Jessica Hull, De’Longhi senior category manager, says, “There are three key types of electric heaters and the amount of warmth you’ll feel depends on the method of heating.

“Fan or ceramic heaters are generally used for spot heating and will heat a small room such as a study. Convector or panel heaters are generally used for short-term room heating, especially if they have a fan to help distribute heat. Oil column heaters are designed for long-term room heating, as the oil stores the heat and can continue to emit heat for around half an hour after it’s switched off.”

indoor electric heater
Get the look of a real fire at the flick of a switch with a gas version.

Wood-burning heaters

Beyond aesthetics, the key consideration for a wood-burning stove is whether to opt for radiant or convection. “Often it comes down to personal preference and the space you want to heat,” says Scandia chief operating officer Graham Wright. “Convection units heat air drawn from the room and rely on a fan to circulate warm air throughout, providing a gentler, more even heat. Radiant models direct heat to the area immediately surrounding the fireplace.” A wood burner must be fitted by a professional installer who will be able to advise on its location, safety clearances and the flue position.

Indoor wood heater
Choosing the right sized wood heater is key – insulation and the room and window sizes are all factors. It’s always a good idea to ask an expert.

Flued gas log fires

For the look of a fire without the hassle, consider a flued gas log fire. Gas fires have the edge over wood heaters on several counts, burning cleaner, more efficiently and – gas prices permitting – more cheaply than wood. These space heaters can be retrofitted to most homes with or without an existing masonry fireplace. However, installation of a flued gas fire must be left to the experts. Graham advises engaging a suitably qualified installer, whose work complies with the relevant New Zealand standards.


Electric heaters
There’s a plethora of outdoor electric heater models, which range in style, performance, colour and mounting options, says Greg Trezise, Heatstrip national sales manager. “There are lots of easy-installation options, the running costs are competitive and, unlike gas units, you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel,” he says. 

Space-saving solutions include sleek slimline units – mounted either on the ceiling or walls – which produce a gentle comfortable heat, while higher output infrared heaters work well in draughty spaces with higher ceilings. 

To determine the best fit for your space, Greg suggests assessing the ceiling height of your outdoor area. “Generally, you want the mounting height to be as low as possible, with an ideal range of between 2.2 and 2.5 metres above ground level,” he explains. Also keep in mind power requirements. “A standard power point can only take 2400 watts/10 amps, so if you’re looking to operate multiple units, you may need to get a licensed electrician to hardwire them to a dedicated circuit.”


outdoor electric heater
Slimline electric radiant heaters, such as this Heatstrip ‘Classic’ model, are great space-savers.

Gas heaters
A key consideration with gas models is whether to choose a portable unit, which can be moved to different outdoor zones when required, or a fixed wall-mounted unit, which saves space and is out the way of children. “Portable units use an LPG bottle, while mounted ones can run on either mains-connected natural gas or plumbed-in LPG,” explains Greg. 

Mini portable models can be used on outdoor tabletops, larger mushroom styles are popular in the centre of an outdoor lounge area, as they heat in a 360-degree pattern, while wall-mounted gas heaters have a range of between 15 and 20 square metres. Check what overhead clearances apply to ensure your preferred style suits your space.  

outdoor gas heater
A patio heater is the perfect choice for a frequently used outdoor dining space and can be moved about as required.

Wood-burning heaters
When it comes to outdoor wood-burning options, Graham at Scandia advises sticking to radiant appliances. “They also provide the option to cook, with some models combining the ambience of a wood heater with the cooking capability of a traditional wood stove,” he says. An ideal spot is within a comfortable distance from where you are sitting, under cover and protected from the elements.

Fire pits and chimeneas provide the romantic ambience of a wood heater, with the advantages of a cheaper cost and the ability to move them around (unlit!) to suit your requirements on the day. On the flip side, fire pits must be positioned on a level, non-combustible surface, away from the house, and require much greater vigilance to guard against sparks. 

Tip: Wood should be fully seasoned – or dried – to burn the most effectively. Hardwood is better than softwood, as it will burn for longer at a higher temperature.

Beat the chill

Discover the full household heating range available at your local Bunnings Warehouse.

Photo credit: Brigid Arnott, Gap Interiors/Robin Stubbert, Scandia, Heatstrip, Gap Interiors/Bieke Claessens, Gap Interiors/Bureaux


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