Diy-Choose the Right Heating.

Diy-Choose the Right Heating.

A common DIY enquiry which arises is what heating system to install. One of the options is electric storage heating but the pros and cons of the system are sometimes misunderstood particularly by DIY planners. A domestic Storage Heater uses cheap electricity during the night and, with some tariffs for a short time, during the day and stores the heat for use at other times. If you already have a Gas or Oil system it’s never a good idea to change to Storage Heating, but if you’re installing heating from scratch, perhaps as a DIY conversion of a property into smaller units, Storage Heating may well be the best DIY option.

diy- heating Storage Heaters are typically made of ceramic or clay bricks but sometimes even concrete walls or water containers can perform the same function . So in that respect you can theoretically build your own type of DIY Electric Storage Heater. A DIY Version for example could work in tandem with a Trombe Wall. Electric Heating elements are embedded in heat retaining material to deliver the heat. Sometimes mechanical fans can be incorporated to assist in convection to deliver heat quicker when needed. The electricity meter records consumption at two different prices depending on the time of day or night and the Storage Heater charges itself up with heat when the electricity is cheap. The heater usually has two controls, one (Input), to control the amount of electricity going in and therefore the amount of heat stored, and one (Output) which controls the amount of heat leaving the heater. But this apparently simple process leaves DIY property conversion planners with difficult judgments to make in terms of which systems are more cost effective .


  • Although DIY designers need to understand that Storage Heaters, are still more expensive than equivalent oil or gas fueled heating systems they are nevertheless much cheaper than electric heating run at standard tariffs
  • The heaters charge up at night so there’s no issue about a cold house in the morning.
  • Storage Heating allows dwellings to be sited where mains gas is not available and some of these areas are favorites for DIY conversions
  • An appealing characteristic of Storage Heating for DIY conversions is that the capital cost is low and installation is much easier and cheaper than for a system involving a gas or oil boiler and pipes. DIY installation of a gas or electrical systems is virtually impossible but although installing Storage Heating circuits requires a qualified electrician a DIY enthusiast can still do a lot of the work himself associated with buying and transporting the components and deciding where he wants them positioned
  • In comparison with Gas and Oil, Storage Heaters require little or no maintenance
  • Operation is silent. Even quiet modern Gas boilers and central heating pumps can disturb occupants of small flats, for example where the boiler and pump is unavoidably located within earshot the bedroom. And a large proportion of DIY conversions involves such small units. Not many people build their own four bedroom house
Modern storage heater

Modern storage heater



  • Heat is lost from the heater while it charges overnight, heating the property when no heat is required. So DIY heating system planners will need to consider the lifestyles of the likely occupants.
  • Heat is also released during parts of the day when the property is unoccupied.
  • Users may also have to become DIY weather forecasters and attend to the controls on a daily basis. To obtain maximum efficiency users will need to remember the night before to plan for the next day’s likely requirements
  • Careful consideration has to be given to the size of heater in each room. DIY heating strategists will inevitably have to arrive at a compromise between the right amount and installing too much wasteful storage capacity
  • Storage Heaters are more bulky than radiators and can be very heavy
  • Complications can arise when switching electricity suppliers because multiple tariff meters can vary between different suppliers
  • Some allergy sufferers can be affected when the fans are in operation because they circulate dust particles in the room

Storage Heaters usually run on two power circuits, off-peak and on-peak, and have two power switches. During the months in which heating is required the off-peak switch can be left on with the on-peak switch being used only when required. The on-peak switch will have a fuse and the off-peak one being part of a its own dedicated circuit will just be a switch

Hot water by Electric

Hot water by Electric

Controlling Efficiency

Some Storage Heaters have thermostatic controls but even these still require regular DIY heat control attention and continuous planning as they can’t cope with rapidly changing personal circumstances. Heaters with fans are more versatile and efficient because owing to the fan being able to deliver the heat as required the heaters can be better insulated. Storage Heaters have traditionally been regarded as environmentally unfriendly and in the UK they are rated as ‘poor’ in environmental efficiency rankings. This assessment however can be unfair and attitudes are changing. The environmental impact of Storage Heaters is wholly linked to the method by which the electricity is generated. Nuclear generated electricity for example is carbon free and the fact that Storage Heaters use their electricity during the night when demand is lowest means that they use only base load electricity. And base load is generated from a lower carbon generating mix than peak load electricity which is almost entirely generated from Gas. And it is unclear how burning oil or gas in a domestic boiler can be more environmentally friendly than using even peak load electricity generated from the same base fuel in a more efficient power station. It appears that some of the prejudice against Storage Heaters dates back to the time when most electricity was generated by coal, which by any standard is environmentally unfriendly. And the ability of Storage Hearers to use electricity at a time of the night when for example wind generated electricity would not be used at all must be an environmental plus. Another contributory factor to overall environmental sustainability is the very same advantage that attracts most DIY property conversion planners to Storage in the first place, that being their relative simplicity and low installation costs. There’s no piping involved, no boiler which will need replacing, and the main bulk of the units themselves are the heat storage bricks which last indefinitely

Running alongside the Storage Heating DIY property converters will need to provide for hot water. A Hot Water tank always required. Modern Hot Water tanks however are so well insulated that the issue of heat loss during the period the water is stored isn’t an issue. The tank itself will normally retain nearly all the heat until the water is required leaving a lagging jacket unnecessary.  However the difficulty arises if the tank isn’t big enough to contain enough hot water to meet the needs the property until the next period of cheap electricity arrives. Heating the hot water at full cost electricity is prohibitively expensive