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Our boiler broke down last week at the height of the cold weather snap and we found that we had little is any alternative ways to heat any part of the house. Thankfully an engineer came out within 24 hours and we only had to endure one night without heating. But this got me thinking that it would be a good idea to have an alternative emergency source of heating that would also be mobile so that it could be used in whatever room it was needed without much hassle. Having done some research it seemed like the oil filled portable mini radiators were a good option and relatively economical to run. Of these I plumped for the Dimplex OFC1500 for the following reasons; it was a reasonable price around £50, Dimplex are a known reliable make, the product had some good user write ups online and also looked aesthetically quite pleasing.
The Dimplex OFC1500 is a 5 bladed oil filled radiator type heater. It stands on castors so it can be moved around easily and it has two setting one with a maximum output of 800w and the other with a maximum of 1500W (1.5kw) with a variable range thermostatic control on each setting and a frost setting if the radiator is being left in an especially cold environment like an outhouse or garage.
The principle behind the use is the same as an ordinary radiator; the blades are filled with a hot liquid which then radiates heat out to its surroundings. The difference is that in a central heating radiator the liquid would be water heated up by your gas fired boiler while in this mini radiator the liquid is oil heated up by an electric current. The heating element is completely sealed unlike many fan or bar heaters so that it is completely safe and reliable. In addition compared with fan heater it is also completely silent!
The radiator stands at 635mm in height including the feet, with a width again including feet of 280mm and is 398mm deep. The unit weighs about 10 kg and is supplied with a built in handle at the front for easy lifting although the castors make it possible to roll it along most surfaces. Also at the front is an integral cable tidy making it easier to store away when not in use. In fact the dimension are reasonable enough for it to be tucked away quite happily in a corner when not used and bright white finish and slightly retro styling make it not unattractive to look at. The controls are on the front of the unit and are self explanatory, on/off, two heat settings and a thermostat dial. A red light on the front panel also tells you when the unit is plugged in to the mains even when it is switched off.
I bought mine from the local Robert Dyas store purely for price and it came packed in a large cardboard box, which would easily fit in the boot of an average to small car. Note that once you have unpacked it you will have to fix the feet with castors to it yourself and this I found a little fiddly thanks to the fact that the instructions were not all that clear.
Once up and running the unit will not need any maintenance and comes with BEAB Intertek safety approval and a 3 year manufacturer's guarantee. The build quality looks and is good, they can stand up to a few hard knocks.
EASE OF USE AND OPERATION
Oil radiators are not the cheapest form of temporary heating you can use and they are relatively slow to get warm and will not give you the instant heat that say a fan heater will do but they are safer than most type of heaters in that there do not have exposed elements and you don't have to worry about air flow and toxic gases as in gas heaters. I would image that they are also more expensive to run but if you have one with a thermostat control it will be more efficient than a fan heater without a control. Having done a bit of research I think a 1.5kw oil radiator on full power would cost around 20p/hour in electricity although if it is used off peak or during the night this can drop as much as to 7p/hour.
Because of the oil in them they also tend to be quite heavy and it is a very good idea to have them on wheels. I found that the castor wheels on this model were a bit flimsy and care should be taken when moving the unit. I also found that the cable supplied with it was rather short limiting the positioning or movement of the unit around a room.
Although the unit does take a few minutes to heat up once it is going it will heat up a reasonable space quite quickly and maintain the temperature efficiently. One word of warning when used on the full heat setting the radiator get very hot and care should be taken if you have small children running around.
The Dimplex OFC1500 is a well made, good looking heater that will do the job it's designed to do safely and efficiently. It can be expensive to run over long period since any heating system that use as secondary fuel like electricity i.e. one fuel to heat up another to produce heat will inevitably be less efficient that say a gas or real fire. However if used just when needed and not always at the highest setting which in most situation will not be necessary then it compares quite well with fan heaters and the like. I think this is a good option as an emergency of temporary secondary form of heating.
For the price this was a good buy although a couple of niggles would be the length of the electric cable and the wheels, a longer chord and slightly more robust castor wheels would have made it even better.
© Mauri 2012