Remember that old saying that trying to get a specific piece of information from the internet could be like trying to get a glass of water from a waterfall? I remembered that today when I was trying to find out how to replace my electric radiators.
I use a mix of electric radiators and a wood-burning stove to heat the house. Last spring three of the radiators stopped working but I forgot about them as the warm weather arrived.
Although it’s still hot here in southern France – it was 28° today – it’s now October and the weather will be cold in November, December and January at least. So I need to replace the radiators.
Having no idea whatsoever how to choose new ones, I went online. The first thing I found out was that they’re called electric panel heaters not electric radiators. Electric radiators are apparently portable. Not what I need.
It didn’t seem like it would be terribly hard to google a few terms, check quality and price and decide what to buy.
Far from it.
I can’t believe how complicated it is to replace a few radiators. I don’t want to buy the same type (with oil in them) or the same brand, because they broke down. But every article I read, and every consumer or company website I went to, raised more and more questions.
What wattage do I need? (No idea.) How large are the rooms I want to heat? How high are the ceilings? Is the house well-insulated? Do I want ultra-slim radiators? Or radiators I can paint if I decide to change the colour? What about the length of the guarantees – 2 years, 3? Have I thought about electricity consumption? What kind of mechanism will they have? How much am I willing to pay? Who will install them?
The corporate websites selling radiators often gave a long list of features for each product but not the price. Yes, yes, I’d think – it’s got dual-mode super-chip extra-heat nuclear-thermal capacity and all the rest of it but what’s the price? How much is it? No answer.
After an hour my head was spinning. Could I, I wondered, just get by with the wood burning stove this winter? No. I need to replace the radiators. Which raised another question: Do I replace them all, now, with the best quality heaters I can afford? Or do I just replace those which don’t work, temporarily and cheaply, and then replace them all with really good heaters at a later date?
The only conclusion I came to at the end of my online searching was that I want to buy the best but simplest heaters I can find. So many of the products I looked at had lists of features as long as my arm. But I don’t want wildly complex, over-engineered radiators with super-sensitive thermostats that respond to the heat of someone walking into the room. I don’t want radiators that can be programmed to dry my clothes and heat my soup. Most of all, I don’t want radiators with 357 different, fragile electronic parts – any one of which can break down at any moment necessitating new purchases.
One of the dismaying thing about products today is that they can almost invariably not be repaired. Not only is that expensive for individual consumers, it’s entirely wasteful in terms of materials and sustainability. The radiators which have stopped working are large, very solid objects. They’d last a hundred years if their insides weren’t broken but there’s some small electronic component which, evidently far more fragile than the sturdy radiators themselves, has conked out. I asked the electrician if it could be repaired and he said no way. Chuck the radiators out and buy new ones.
The enforced waste is outrageous.
Anyway, here I am still at square one. More confused and none the wiser. I’d like to have my radiators repaired. Since that’s not possible, I’d like to buy simple, sturdy, fuel-efficient replacements. I went online looking for answers but all I found were more questions.