How Do Storage Heaters Work – The Most Efficient Ways to Heat Your Home

There are many ways to heat your home. Sometimes, you’re stuck with what you have because it’s either too expensive or too much of a hassle to install a new boiler or tank. But if your home is wired for electricity, it’s a safe bet that you can add a storage heater to your home.

Storage heaters have come a long way in recent years. While they used to be a big eyesore that was only moderately effective, today’s storage heaters are small, convenient, efficient, and environmentally friendly. If you haven’t considered a storage heater in a while, it’s time to take a look.

You might already know that a storage heater is an important alternative to gas heat, but do you know how they work? Let’s take a closer look at storage heaters to see how they work and understand why they’re such a great heating alternative.


The Basics

There are different types of storage heaters, but they are all generally made the same way. Each consists of an electrical heating element, clay or ceramic brick, and insulation placed inside of a durable metal casing. They’re usually wall-mounted and vary in dimensions, depending on the size of the room they’re meant to heat. The bigger the room you’re trying to heat, the larger the storage heater you need.

A storage heater’s control panel has two dials, one that controls the output and one that controls the input. When the input dial is on, the heating element warms up, generating heat that is stored by the clay or ceramic bricks as thermal energy. When the output dial is engaged, the device releases this stored heat into the room. Some models have controls that are a little more complicated than this, but we’ll get to that later.

One of the reasons that people like storage heaters is because they are so efficient. Since they produce heat and store it until it’s needed, most people save money on their utility bills. This type of heater has a lot of insulation, so it can hold onto heat for a long time. Plus, since storage heaters charge up at night rather than during the day, they’re putting less stress on the power grid when it’s at peak usage.

The Benefits of Storage Heaters

A modern storage heater generates and stores heat at night, when there is less demand on the power grid. This usually means that the power an electric night storage heater pulls is less expensive off peak electricity – but there are many other ways storage heating is efficient and, in some ways, preferable to radiator or central heating. Here are a few of them:

They have built-in extras to make them even more efficient.


Traditional storage heaters were bulky, unattractive, and had basic functions. Thankfully, they have received significant improvements, we recommend taking another look.

Modern electric storage heater models have many extras that make them more convenient and efficient, including:

  • Boost functions for extra warmth when you need it
  • Fans to circulate heat efficiently
  • Programmable schedules to customize heating patterns for different times of the day or days of the week
  • Smartphone integration to adjust settings with your favorite devices

They come in multiple sizes.

The fact that storage heating systems come in such a wide range of sizes is something that we really love. It means that anyone can take advantage of a storage heater. Whether you have a large, multi-story home or a small cottage, you’ll find a storage heater that’s just right for your space.

They're quiet.

Some small heaters make quite a bit of noise, but this is something you won’t have to deal with when using a storage heater.

Are Storage Heaters Really More Efficient?

Admittedly, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about storage heaters and whether or not they’re truly energy-efficient. To figure this out, you have to look at how electric heating and storage heaters work.

Generally, electric heating isn’t as cost-efficient as gas. While you can choose LED light bulbs to create more efficient lighting in your home, there’s no way to really alter electric heating directly. You pay whatever the energy supplier charges, and it’s not always the cheapest way to heat your home. That’s where storage heaters come in.


Night storage heaters use cheaper, off peak electricity. If you can figure out how to make the most of it, you can save on your energy bill. If you choose a storage heater with features like smartphone integration, programmable schedules, and superior insulation, a storage heater can be extremely efficient. If you ensure that your home is properly insulated, your heater will be even more effective.

Storage heaters aren’t a perfect heating solution. They use electricity, which is currently more expensive than gas. That said, there is one sure-fire way to get some of the cheapest heating possible from a storage heater: use solar panels. Of course, this is only an option if you already have solar panels, but it’s a great way to save money on both electricity and heating.

Is an electric storage heater the right choice for everyone? It depends. Homes that have a functioning gas boiler may be better off just sticking with it. But if your home already depends on electricity for heat or if you’re not on the gas grid, using storage heaters is more efficient than an electric radiator or heat pump. It’s an effective way to get the most out of your electrical heating system.


Types of Storage Heaters

As of January 2018, newly manufactured storage heaters are required to have certain features to meet the European Eco-design Directive. So, while there are many brands out there, all storage heaters basically work the same way.

Manual Storage Heaters

Manual storage heaters are the basic type. They have simple controls consisting of only an input and output to control how much heat the heater stores and how fast the heat is released. Because they don’t have a thermostat, you have to physically turn the heat off if the room gets too warm. 

Automatic Storage Heaters

With most traditional storage heaters, you had to manually choose how much heat to store, which could get a little tricky. Automatic storage heater models detect the ambient temperature and set to the optimal level of heat storage. This makes the newer models much more efficient and useful.

Combination Storage Heaters

Combination storage heaters work just like an automatic storage heater, but they are a little more flexible. Combination models can add extra heat during daytime peak hours if needed. The controls are a little more advanced, too, so you have more control over everything. 

High-Heat Retention Storage Heaters

These models use some of the newest technology to deliver heat anytime you need it. One of the primary features of this type of storage heater is insulation. They are highly-insulated to store heat energy for longer.

Are There Any Downsides to Storage Heaters?


There are two downsides to using a storage heater, and you should consider both of them before deciding if this is the right type of heater for you. 

The first downside is that storage heaters run on electricity, which may be more expensive than gas. Although there are some things you can do to mitigate this, like ensuring that your home is properly insulated and investing in a model with automatic settings, ultimately, you can’t ignore the fact that electricity is often more expensive than gas.

The other thing to consider is that sometimes, these heaters get too hot during the day and not have enough heat left to keep you warm overnight. It takes a bit of finesse to get the balance just right when setting the output to ensure that the heat it collects overnight lasts evenly throughout the day.



Installation isn’t terribly complicated, but we still recommend hiring a professional electrician. The biggest thing to remember about installing a storage heater is that they have to be installed in special off-peak circuits and not the standard socket. Since this involves wiring, it’s always best to hire a professional to ensure that everything is done safely and within regulations. 

One thing to remember about installation is that the positioning of the heater is very important. It should be placed below a window to ensure proper heating. You also need to be sure that it is anchored to wall safety, which is another reason why it’s a good idea to call a professional.

Final Word: Storage Heaters

Storage heaters are a great way to make electrical heating more efficient and, in some cases, more affordable. If you’re looking for ways to make them as efficient as possible, make sure they’re installed in the right area of the room and invest in one that has advanced features, like programmable schedules, smartphone integration, and an interior thermostat.

Although this is not an option for everyone, using solar power to run an electric storage heater is one way to get the most efficient heat possible. If you currently have gas heat and it’s working for you, you might be better off sticking with it. But if you’re relying on electric heat and want to make it as efficient as possible, storage heaters are a good way to go.

Appliance Reviewer