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Electric Heater vs Air Conditioner—Which Is Best?

Electric heater vs air conditioner—it’s a decision we’re often asked to weigh in on by customers looking for the perfect heating solution. While an electric heater might seem like the obvious choice for the cooler months, reverse cycle air conditioners come with a range of benefits that often make them a more efficient and effective option. And in Brisbane where AC is a must in summer, what’s not to love about having your heating and cooling all in one?

Electric heater vs air conditioner — what’s the difference?

To provide some insight into the electric heater vs air conditioner debate, let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

An electric heater works by converting electric energy (i.e. electricity) into heat energy. Electric heaters pass electricity through a resistor to transform the electric current into heat energy. Radiant, oil and space heaters are all common types of electric heaters.

By comparison, a reverse cycle air conditioner is a heat pump that takes free heat from the air outside and releases it into the room. It works by using a reverse refrigeration cycle, whereby it passes a cold liquid called a refrigerant through an external coil to absorb heat from the air outside. The refrigerant is pumped by a compressor, down through chambers into a condenser, which warms the air up as it compresses it to create hot air. This hot air is then circulated around the room by a fan. Once this process is complete, the refrigerant cools to a liquid and the cycle starts again.

Reverse cycle air conditioners are available in wall-mounted, floor console, and ducted air conditioning systems.

Reverse cycle air conditioner — pros and cons

Versatile, energy efficient and cheap to run, it’s no wonder reverse cycle air conditioners are a popular option for heating in Brisbane. Here are just a few of the many advantages of reverse cycle air conditioners.



While not major, there are some downsides to reverse cycle air conditioning it’s important to keep in mind. Specifically:

Electric heater — pros and cons

Unlike reverse cycle air conditioning, electric heaters only do one thing and tend to require more energy to do it. If you plan on using your heater most days in winter, the cons probably outweigh the benefits.



Heater vs air conditioner cost — which one wins?

With electricity prices continuing to be a significant cost for most households, you’re probably wondering which option wins in the heater vs air conditioner cost challenge. Thanks to their superior energy efficiency, reverse cycle air conditioners are significantly cheaper than their electric heater counterparts.

To prove the point, let us run some numbers in terms of dollars. On today’s energy costs (winter 2013) of 25 cents per kWh the 2 kW electric heater will cost 50 cents per hour to run. The reverse cycle air conditioner will cost 15 cents per hour.

In a Brisbane winter assume that the heating is run for 10 hours per day for 8 weeks, or around 560 hours. The running cost for the electric heater will be $280, while the air conditioner will only cost $84! That’s nearly a $200 saving.

The reverse cycle air conditioner is the clear winner in the AC vs heater debate

Energy-efficient. Cheap to run. Guaranteed performance. These are all benefits that make reverse cycle air conditioning the clear winner in the AC vs heater debate.

To summarise, the main benefits of reverse cycle air conditioners are:

While we strongly recommend our customers choose a reverse cycle air conditioner, in some cases an electric heater may be the better option. If you do decide that an electric heater is the best option for you, and you live in an older house, it is recommended that the switchboard and wiring be checked by a local electrician.

To find out more about how a reverse cycle air conditioner can make next winter more bearable, get in touch with Crown Power today, your experts in air conditioning and electrical services.