Tiny House Appliances: Envi Flat Panel Heater Review
We've reviewed our cute stainless steel mini range and our fantastic Panasonic exhaust fan, but what about our other tiny house appliances? Well, those will be reviewed too! Don't you worry! First let's discuss our simple but effective Envi convection heater.
Envi states that it's "the world's first and only 100% pure convection heater." While this may be true, it's not the only one of it's kind. There are other very slim panel-style heaters, like this one sold at Home Depot. However, Envi wrote their own comparison, showing how their product is better. Some ways in which the Envi is better are:
- The outside of the unit stays cool to the touch, so it's safe to leave on when not home - safe with kids and pets too!
- It has a thermostat
- 100% pure convection heater
- Made in the USA!
I can't verify all of Envi's claims, but I think they do have a better product. Here's what's we've learned after using the heater in our house for almost a year.
Super Easy! We had to screw a couple tiny mounting brackets to the wall and heater hangs on these perfectly. The packaging even includes a guide so it's simple and easy to make the holes in the right places. A+ for installation!
This unit creates a lot of heat for such a small, simple package. But to know if it will meet your needs, you need to understand its limitations. This is a convection heater with no moving parts. It has no fan. It does not move air around at all, and is not intended for that purpose. This is a huge selling point too -- no expensive parts to break, no noisy fan sounds, etc. But it does mean that this unit does not distribute heat evenly around the house. For that you need other methods of creating good air flow and getting the heat where you need it.
This heater pulls cold air in from the bottom and the hot air simply flows gently out of the top due to it's temperature (hot air rises -- basic physics). So naturally your loft (or near the roof of your house) will be warmer than the floor, and this is even more true with a heater like this.
We have a ceiling fan which we can use to help pull some of the hot air down and move it around the house, but even with that we do use a very small, supplemental ceramic heater in our bathroom to help warm our toes first thing in the morning during those colder winter days. Our bathroom is somewhat separated from the main living area, so it takes longer for the heat from the Envi to make it's way back there.
Because tiny houses (if well insulated) are generally easier to heat than cool, and because we live in a pretty nice Norther California climate, once the house has been warmed during the day, we don't need a heater on at all over night, even on the colder winter nights. We turn the Envi off, go to bed, and the residual heat and our body heat is enough to keep the loft warm at night. Because the heater stays off all night (so not to overheat the loft), the lower level of the house does tend to be a little chilly in the morning. Hence the need for the little ceramic heater in the bathroom. First thing in the morning, even if we turn up the Envi to it's highest thermostat setting, it takes a while to get the entire house warm after it's been cooling off all night.
Features & Benefits
- Efficient design uses just 3.95 Amps (120 volts).
- It has a thermostat: you can find your perfect temp, set the thermostat, and theoretically the Envi will turn on/off as needed to keep the room steady at that temp.
- Simple plugin model with very easy installation.
- Relatively cheap ($140), especially compared to the Dikenson "fireplace" propane heater ($1,000+) than many tiny houses have.
- Attractive, slim wall-mounted design fits almost anywhere (unlike other slim panel heaters that still take up floor space)
- Designed to heat approx 130-150 sq.ft of space.
- As stated above, it's cool to the touch and totally safe to leave on when away form the house, unlike a propane heater would be -- this was a big selling point for us!
The heater can make a series of funny light banging sounds each time the thermostat senses a drop in room temp and the unit "turns on" again. It sounds to me like a less obnoxious version of a cookie sheet warping as the oven heats up -- this sound is likely created by a similar phenomenon. My guess is as the panel inside the heater gets to a certain temp, some slight warping creates this pinging sound. It's usually a series for 3 or 4 light "knocks" each time. Not a deal-breaker by any means, but it's a tad bit annoying. I figure this might be a defect, and the unit could be returned, but it hasn't been bad enough for me to trouble myself with it.
Great little heater overall. Price, simplicity and safety trump any minor issues we have with it. Just be aware of it's limitations (no fan or moving parts) and you should be happy with your choice.