Looking to beat the winter chills without spending big bucks? If you’re low on cash, but still want to keep things hot at home, an oil column heater may be just what you need.
This is one of the cheapest and most convenient options in the world of portable heaters. But, what exactly is an oil heater and should you get one? We answer your burning questions in this article.
What is an oil column heater?
An oil-filled column heater is a type of portable electric heater which uses electricity to warm up oil contained inside the columns (otherwise known as fins) to generate heat which is then transferred to the exterior metal column casings and then warms your home via air convection and thermal radiation.
Do oil column heaters use a lot of electricity?
Oil-filled column heaters have been praised for their energy efficiency compared with other types of heaters since they largely transform energy into heat and don’t require power for a fan motor. The small portion of electricity which isn’t converted is alternatively used to power other features, such as LED displays, timers or different heating modes.
Are oil heaters expensive to run?
Oil-filled column heaters are generally the cheapest type of electric portable heater to run. But they’re certainly not as affordable as using reverse cycle air conditioners, especially those designed for small to medium-sized areas, or radiant-convection gas heaters.
Electric heaters tend to have higher running costs because they take longer to warm up compared to gas heaters, for example, which can heat large areas much quicker. That’s why many brands such as Goldair recommend certain oil heaters for larger spaces, compared to less open or spacious rooms where a reverse cycle air conditioner might be more cost-effective in the long run.
6 good reasons to get an oil column heater
If you’re still on the fence about buying an oil column heater, here are some benefits to consider:
- Low upfront cost: Oil column heaters aren’t expensive to buy, with options starting from just $15 and reaching up to $400 for high-end models.
- No gas or fumes: The process of converting energy into heat doesn’t actually involve burning oil (and clearly not gas or other fumes in other types of units).
- Keeps you warm for longer: Oil is great at retaining heat longer than other types of fluids, which is why column heaters are better at ensuring you stay cozy.
- Less noise: If the sound of the washing machine and dryer already drives you crazy, don’t worry. Column heaters are known to be quiet performers.
- Portable: Oil column heaters come in various sizes and styles. Many are pre-assembled, or at least have a handle, cord storage and castor wheels to help you easily move around the house.
- Safer to touch: We’re not suggesting you should run to an oil heater and give it a big hug, but the surfaces you might accidentally bump into are unlikely to get as hot compared to other types of electric heaters. Plus, there’s less risk of anything catching on fire if it comes into contact with the unit since the heating element is sealed inside. All oil-filled column heaters also come with a safety tip-over switch and overheat protection.
Some disadvantages of oil column heaters
There are always two sides to every story. Here’s why it might not be the best idea to pour your money into an oil heater.
- Uneven heat distribution: Many column heaters don’t have a fan to make sure heat is spread evenly throughout the room, although brands are now starting to add this feature in their latest models.
- Bulky: While column heaters are technically portable, it’s not uncommon for them to weigh around the 7kg mark or be spread out with more than five fins.
- Slow to start: While oil heaters are great for long-term use, they need a fair amount of time to prepare. This is because the oil needs to be heated up before it’s transferred into the columns, which themselves also take time to warm up.
- High running costs: Oil-filled column heaters aren’t the most affordable to run, so whether this factor is a pro or a con depends on how you plan on using your unit. If you’re thinking of using a model with 11 fins in a small room for two or three hours a day, then it might not be worth it.
Cheapest oil column heaters in Australia
To help you warm up this winter without burning a hole in your wallet, we’ve listed a few budget-friendly options and where you can get them. Here are some brands you might want to check out:
|Kmart 5 Fin Oil Heater||Kmart||$35*|
|Goldair 1500W 7 Fin Oil Column Heater with Timer||Target||$59*|
|ALDI 9 Fin Oil Column Heater 2200W||ALDI||$59.99*|
|Kmart 11 Fin Digital Oil Heater||Kmart||$80*|
|Dimplex 15000W Oil Column Heater with Turbo Fan||Harvey Norman||$139*|
|Kogan Premium 2400W 11 Fin Oil Heater||Kogan||$159.99*|
|De’Longhi 2400W Oil Column Heater with Timer||The Good Guys||$199*|
*Prices are taken from respective retailers, Appliances Online, Harvey Norman and The Good Guys, correct as of May 2021.
Kmart 5 Fin Oil Heater – $35*
Kmart is constantly surprising Aussies with affordable alternatives to usually pricey appliances, such as coffee machines and microwave ovens. And let’s not forget about cult favourites like the pie maker and homemaker vacuum (otherwise known as the Dyson dupe). When it comes to oil heaters, the retailer currently has three options available ranging between $35 and $80. The cheapest model is the Kmart 5 Fin Oil Heater, which has three heat settings and a maximum power of 1000W. It includes a 12-month warranty and standard features such as:
- Adjustable thermostat
- Safety tip-over switch
- Overheat protection
Goldair 1500W 7 Fin Oil Column Heater with Timer – $59*
If you’ve been searching the web for a cheap oil heater, or any portable heater, there’s a good chance that Goldair has popped up. The brand offers a decent variety of affordable items, specifically designed for the Australasian lifestyle, including kettles, lighting appliances and even BBQs. The Goldair 1500W 7 Fin Oil Column Heater with Timer (GOC167T) is available from Target and claimed to be ideal for medium-sized spaces. You can expect to find these standard features:
- Three heat settings
- Adjustable thermostat
- Safety tilt switch
- Overheat protection
- Timer function
ALDI 9 Fin Oil Column Heater 2200W – $59.99*
Available for a limited time only, or until stocks last, the ALDI 9 Fin Oil Column 2200W features three heat settings that allow you to operate at 900W, 1300W or 2200W. Plus, there’s onboard storage and castor wheels to make this portable heater convenient to use and move around the home. Other features include:
- 24-hour on and off schedule
- Overheat production and a tip-over safety switch
Kmart 11 Fin Digital Oil Heater – $80*
The most expensive, but still relatively budget-friendly oil-filled column heater from Kmart, is the 11 Fin Digital Oil Heater. The most unique feature of this model is its three modes: fast-heating, energy-saving and anti-freeze. Other functions include:
- Temperature setting range between 5℃ and 35℃
- 24 hours automatic on/off timer
- Multi-function remote control
- LED display
- Overheating protection and safety tip-over switch
Dimplex 1500W Oil Column Heater with Turbo Fan – $139*
Dimplex is one of the most searched brands for column heaters. Its Dimplex 15000W Oil Column Heater with Turbo Fan (OCR15FA) comes with a fan to supposedly help circulate heat faster and keep the room warm for longer. This Dimplex heater contains five fins and features including:
- Two heat settings
- Portable design
- 84-months manufacturers express warranty
Kogan Premium 2400W 11 Fin Oil Heater – $159.99*
Kogan is one of the most popular online marketplaces for bargain hunters and you can typically find decent details throughout the year. At the time of writing, this Kogan oil column heater regularly retails for $159.99 but is currently on sale for $69.99. The Kogan SmarterHome 2400W Smart Oil Heater, which also comes with 11 fins, is similarly discounted from $299.99 to $89.99!
The Kogan Premium 2400W 11 Fin Oil Heater features many of the same functions you would get in other oil column heaters, such as:
- Three power settings: Low, Medium and High
- Four caster wheels
- Safety tip-over switch
- 1-year warranty
De’Longhi 2400W Oil Column Heater with Timer– $199*
When De’Longhi isn’t busy brewing up its hot range of coffee machines, it’s producing a variety of other appliances such as portable heaters. The De’Longhi 2400W Oil Column Heater with Timer (DL2401TF) is one of the brand’s lower-priced models and contains 11 fins. It also provides up to 2400W heating power and comes with pre-assembled folding castors, making it convenient and simple to move all around the house. The De’Longhi oil-filled column heater additionally includes a fan to apparently increase the release of heat and distribute warmth evenly through the room, plus other features like:
- Lower surface temperature for safety
- Thermal slots in fins to increase heat distribution
- 24-hour programmable timer
De’Longhi oil column heaters usually range between $109 and $439. If you’re thinking of purchasing through the website, the brand is currently offering free delivery for all orders.
Is it worth getting an oil-filled column heater?
The beauty of oil-filled column heaters is they’re available at all different price points, ranging between $15 and $400. As a general rule, a model priced at under $200 should still do the job, unless you live somewhere particularly cold. Most brands offer a two-year warranty on oil column heaters, with certain manufacturers, including De’Longhi, offering a seven-year warranty on some models.
But keep in mind scoring a good deal isn’t just about finding the cheapest heater on sale. Your budget needs to take into account how much you’re willing to spend upfront, plus in the long run. Do you prefer to leave your heater on overnight? Oil column heaters are likely to be more useful and cost-effective if you’re planning on leaving the appliance on for longer periods, instead of just a couple of hours while you’re watching TV. Otherwise, you might be in for a nasty bill shock! The other downside to oil column heaters is that you’ll probably be waiting a while for it to heat up too.
Picture credits: New Africa / Shutterstock.com, AlexLMX / Shutterstock.com, voffka23 / Shuttestock.com.