Electric Storage Heating
A Note on Fischer Heating
We have had interruptible-energy electric storage heaters for forty years and are very happy with them. When in 2017 we were planning to replace one of our older storage heaters we looked at Quantum heaters and also several other makes and types of storage heaters, and this included so-called storage heaters made by a German company called Fischer Heating. They advertise regularly in the United Kingdom, and are actively and aggressively targetting people with older storage heaters. Over the past years I had received lots of their literature and seen lots of their advertising and had visited their web site, but these left many of my questions unanswered - I have a degree in engineering and at one time (before I became a science teacher) I had been designing aircraft heating and cooling systems. So at this point I rang their information line. The woman who I spoke to was unable to answer the very specific technical questions I was asking, so we arranged for an engineer to call.
He duly came. He was very helpful and very knowledgeable and answered all my questions carefully and honestly. But he was unable to convince me that a Fischer heater connected to an ordinary 13 A power point was a realistic alternative to a Quantum storage heater using only cheap interruptible rate electricity.
- Fischer heaters work off a standard 13 A power point, so they cannot take advantage of the special rates for conventional storage heaters.
- Fischer heaters store heat in a ceramic block, as do Quantum heaters, but they control the amount of heat they give out by controlling the temperature of the block not by changing the way in which the heat is given out, and this means they cannot use only cheap-rate electricity.
- Fischer make much of the fact that there is no fan so they are totally silent when compared with noisy (their words my emphasis) fan-assisted storage heaters. But the fan in a Quantum heater is almost inaudible even in the quietest rooms. Without a fan it is not possible to give a rapid response to changes in room temperature using only stored heat.
- In their literature they are repeating all the old arguments about how difficult it is to control older storage heaters, which simply do not apply to Quantum heaters.
- They make much of the fact that their heaters are designed to keep the room at a constant 21°C: they claim that if you allow a room to cool at night or when it is not used during the day you have to use heat to warm it up again. But there is a bigger heat loss associated with keeping a room warmer than is needed.
- Fischer claim that because of their design and the way in which their heaters release the stored heat they are cheaper to run than conventional storage heaters, but if they both give out the same amount of heat over a twenty four hour period they must also both take in the same amount of heat over a twenty four hour period, and I remain unconvinced that a heater which buys some of its energy at the day and evening rates can be cheaper to run than one which takes in all its heat only at the interruptible rate.
- The Fischer engineer produced lots of test results comparing his heaters with other, older, storage heaters under specified test conditions, but I am not certain that these particular tests carried out in a carefully controlled environment are relevant to a house with several rooms all needing heating and lived in by a married couple, three children and an elderly parent.
Fischer heaters have the advantage that they use a standard 13 A power point and are easy to install, and if you move you can take them with you. But we were given a quotation for a Fischer heater which was more than £200 more expensive than the equivalent Quantum heater.
I have not actually met anyone who has purchased a Fischer heater - but the man who reads my electricity meter most certainly has, and has shared their comments to him with me...and not one of them is a Happy Bunny...