Oil-filled Electric Radiators can be a useful source of warmth in any area of the home where temporary or supplementary heat is required. They are ideal for bedrooms, where open-flame heaters (gas or paraffin) would be dangerous because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and are more efficient than old-fashioned ‘electric fires’ with coiled heating elements. Modern radiators have built-in thermostats and timers to control both room temperature and energy use.
The oil (often silicone-based) in an electric radiator is contained in a series of vertical columns and serves as a heat reservoir. The columns are usually designed with fins to provide a large surface area in contact with the air in the room. One or more electric heating elements in the base of the radiator warm the oil and heat is conducted out through the column’s metal walls.
Operating costs are directly related to a radiator’s duration-of-use and its wattage, and there is a big range of power-options available, between 300 and 2,500 watts. In turn, the overall size of a radiator and the number of fins is generally proportional to its power rating: Higher wattage needs more columns and fins, providing greater heating capacity.
Looking for a new electric radiator? Several manufacturers offer a similar model in different sizes. Where appropriate, we have reviewed a mid-sized model and noted the availability of other wattages.
Best Electric Oil-filled Radiators
Igenix IG 1650 Oil-Filled Radiator 1.6 KW
Igenix’s ‘IG’-range features radiators with power-ratings from 500 watts up to 2500 watts, with some of the larger radiators being offered with timers and digital controls. The basic design (as in the 1.6 KW and 2.0 KW models) includes two round switches that control the heating elements (which can be powered separately or together) and a large round thermostat control. A small, red light indicates when the power is on. The castors allow the radiator to be moved easily and are set wide of the unit for stability. Additional safety is provided by an overheat cut-out switch and a tilt sensor. Radiators in the Igenix range are all 25 inches tall and 11 inches deep (to the outside of the castors), with their width varying according to the number of fins. The ‘1650’ has 7 fins and is 13 inches wide (Igenix’ 2 KW units have 9 fins; 2.5 KW have 11 fins). Igenix offers a 2-year warranty that can be registered online. This is a good radiator at a competitive price.
Daewoo Oil-Filled Radiator 2000 W
This Daewoo radiator, measuring 22 inches high and 16 inches wide, is a simple design with nine fins and basic controls. Two on/off switches control low, medium and high heating, and a round thermostat is used to set the desired room temperature. The radiator is fitted with a safety cut-out to prevent overheating. The power cord, which is approximately five feet in length can be wrapped around a holder at the bottom of the control-column when not in use. Available in a black or white finish and delivered with a one year warranty, this is a well-priced, basic unit from a brand-name manufacturer.
Silentnight-Benross 7-fin Radiator with Timer 1500 W
The Silentnight-Benross 1500 watt radiator has a single, round, three-step power switch; a matching thermostat dial; and a large, circular 24-hour timer. It stands 25 inches high and 13 inches wide, with seven fins. The fins are 5 inches wide and the castors are set 9 inches apart. A small, red power-indicator light is included at the top of the control panel and there is an overheat cut-out sensor. This design is also available in a 9-fin 2000 watt version. The Silentnight-Benross radiator comes with a three-year warranty and is a good choice at a sensible price for buyers seeking the added utility of a timer.
Dimplex 2 KW Oil-Filled Radiator with Timer
The control panel of this Dimplex radiator features a round thermostat; power indicator light; and two semicircular heating switches, set ‘ying-yang’-style in a circular mounting. A digital 24-hour timer is positioned in the center of the end-panel, with a small LED display. With nine-fins, the overall width is 18 inches; the height is 25 inches, and the castors are wide-set 11 inches apart. Other features include an overheating cut-out switch; an integral cable tidy, and a Frost setting: If the thermostat is set to its minimum (Frost), the heater will cycle on and off to maintain a 41 ºF temperature; this setting is useful in areas such as garages, to prevent frost damage. The 2.0 KW model with timer is also available in 1.5 and 2.0 KW versions without a timer. Dimplex is a highly-regarded brand in this field; the radiators are well-designed; enjoy positive reviews, and come with a three-year guarantee. This is a safe, good-quality radiator at a fair price.
De’Longhi TRD4 ‘Dragon’ Oil-Filled Radiator with Timer, 1.5 KW
De’Longhi has tweaked the usual ‘columns-and-fins design’ to create columns and vertical vents, or ‘chimneys’, that promote the flow of warmed air and convection within the room. The smooth-sided design also increases the surface area available for radiant heating and supports the speedy dispersion of heat. The slim profile is 6 inches deep and the radiator is 25 inches tall; the width is 14 inches. The dark grey control panel is mounted vertically on one end and includes a digital time and temperature display; a round thermostat control; a circular three-position heating switch; and a 24-hour mechanical timer. Functions include a ‘frost setting’ and an overheat cut-out. Design points include pre-assembled ‘easy wheels’; carrying handles; and a cable-tidy. The 1.5 KW Dragon is recommended for rooms up to 150ft³ but is also available in more powerful 2.0 and 2.5 KW versions. This is an excellent, modern-looking appliance that comes with a 10-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
Dimplex 1.5 KW Oil Free Radiator with Thermostat
Dimplex has created an oil-free radiator that mimics the appearance of an oil-filled model. The columns are vented at top and bottom. Air is heated directly at the base of the column and flows up and out at the top. The principal advantage of the oil-free design is its lighter weight and speedier heating time but its reliance on convection rather than radiation is a drawback.
Additionally, without a heat reservoir, the machine cools more quickly than an oil-filled model when the heating elements are turned off. Since all wattage in both oil-filled and oil-free appliances is dispersed as heat (and there is no fan) there will be no energy savings in one design versus the other.
Controls and features are identical to the 2 KW oil-filled Dimplex reviewed above; the height and depth are about 0.5 inches less. This design is also available in a 2 KW version. The oil-free design (like Dimplex’ oil-filled radiators) comes with a three-year manufacturer’s guarantee and is included for the sake of comparison: Reviews are favorable but there is no price advantage and we prefer the ‘softer’ radiant warmth of an oil-filled radiator.