"Amish heater" does a good job, but don't expect any miracles


February 21, 2009 "Amish heater" does a good job, but don't expect any miracles
When is an electric space heater more than just an appliance? When it's an "Amish heater."
At least that's what those spread newspaper and magazine ads and television commercials for the "miracle" Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow Electric Fireplace would have you believe. The marketing for this appliance says it will help reduce your heating bills and even touts that the heater is free. There is the small matter of the wood surround you have to buy for about $350 to $400—which is where the Amish apparently come in, since the heater itself is made in China. Heat Surge itself is based in Canton, Ohio. (Check out the TV spots by searching for "Amish heater" on YouTube.)
"Miracle heater" is certainly an attention-grabbing way to describe what is essentially a space heater with a lightbulb-powered display of faux burning logs. Some checking in our labs confirmed that the Roll-n- Glow and its built-in light show are no more miraculous than other space heaters we've tested. Some specifics:
The Roll-n-Glow functions primarily as a fan-forced convection heater like those we've tested. Heat Surge says its heater produces "an amazing 5,110 BTUs," but that's just another way of saying it's a 1,500-watt electric heater (it has a 750-watt setting, too), like most we tested. And while the oak surround on the model we bought appears well-built, some pieces are actually veneers, and we saw some nail holes in the trim. So much for that "superior craftsmanship."
The surround also comes in cherry and black and white. The list price on the Web site for the oak surround and heater is about $550 and for the cherry version it's around $590. A current promotion cuts $200 off the price, and some newspaper ads list a price that's $50 lower still. A bookcase and a hearth and mirror are optional add-ons.
How about those lower heating bills and Heat Surge's statement that the heater "can handle a 325 sq. ft. room for about 16 cents an hour"? Any similarly sized electric heater will do that, provided you use it in one room and keep others chillier—that's just basic zone heating. Note, however, that electricity costs roughly two and a half times more than natural gas, which is what most homes use. So any electric heater will cost you more to provide comparable heat unless you cut down significantly on heating elsewhere in your home.
As for performance, we found using this heater reasonably convenient, quiet, and safe. A remote control lets you turn the heater and its display on and off, switch the heat between low and high, and choose from more than a dozen brightness settings for the fake flames. But the heater lacks a thermostat, a key feature that allows you to regulate room temperature. The metal heater cabinet and its glass front panel did make our version somewhat front heavy. That and wheels recessed about an inch inward from the front increase its potential to tip forward, though a built-in tipover protection switch, found on many heaters these days, shut it off quickly when we intentionally tipped it in our tests. After two hours of continuous heating on high, most of its surfaces weren't hot to the touch, and even the center air- discharge grille above the front glass panel wasn't extremely hot. The Heat Surge complies with nationally recognized standards for safety and construction.
You'll find many less expensive but high-performing convection and radiant space heaters that will do a good job in a small space. In fact, David Baker, Heat Surge vice president, recently told The New York Times, "If someone would come to me and say, 'I need a heater and I want to spend as little as possible,' I would say go to a local big- box store and buy one for $29.99. Our heater represents a fireplace rather than just some space heater."
The Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow is not terribly overpriced compared with other faux fireplaces on the market, which start at about $250.
Just don't look for any money-saving miracles.—Jim Nanni, Manager, Technical Department
Essential information: As we reported in “Better Business Bureau Complaints and ‘Amish Heaters,’” the BBB has looked into some issues with the Roll-n-Glow. Use our advice to lower your heating bills this winter.
http://blogs.consumerreports.org/home/2009/02/amish-heater-heat-surge-roll-n-glow-electric-fireplace-consumer-reports-review.html
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I wish this product could be stopped. All of the products made by Suarez Corporation Industries (Canton, OH) use half-truth and innuendo to sell their grossly over-priced products from heaters to air-purifiers. Two suggestions are patently false: (1) That their heaters are "miracles" that somehow are better than a $15 heater you can buy at a hardware store. You can't get more than 5120 BTU's (at 1500 watts) out of a standard wall outlet whether the product costs $15 or $400. (2) That you can easily save money on your energy bill by using this (or any other) electric heater, since electric heat is by far the most expensive form. *You might* if you use "zone" heating which means the concept of heating one room and letting the others go cool, so you move the heater from room to room as necessary. But most people won't want to do that, or won't know how to do it effectively. There is an optimum "cool" temperature for the unused rooms, because if you let them go too cold then need to use them again, the energy needed to get them back to a comfortable level becomes huge. Add to this the factors of room size, number of windows, degree of insulation and it all becomes a pig in a poke. Techies probably won't fall for this, but what really worries me is old folks who are technically unsophisticated, on fixed incomes, and are looking for affordable ways to stay warm. Why the FTC hasn't gone after this company is beyond me, but I must admit the ads are very cleverly worded to avoid out-and-out glaring lies- they merely leave completely false impressions! It all goes to show that the days of snake oil are not dead, and that this country lacks an effective system to protect its citizens from scams and fraud.
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On Tue, 24 Nov 2009 12:18:26 -0500, frank1492 wrote:

Not to mention possible damage from failing to heat the area, such as condensation damage. Same goes with AC. We really didn't need AC that much, but it kept the humidity down and kept mold and mildew from starting.
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Oh no, here we go again. Anytime you let a room or a whole house go to a lower temperature you are saving energy. The rate of heat loss is proportional to the temp difference. And no, there isn't some magical point below which it takes more energy to recover. You always come out ahead, unless there is a difference in the cost of recovery energy rates or fuels. An example where you could lose would be if you had a heat pump system and in recovery mode electric resistance heat kicks in. But if you have an oil or gas system for example, you will save as soon as the temp drops below it's original kick in. And the lower, the more you save.
>Add to this the factors

Yes, I would agree the ads are VERY misleading. IMO, More misleading than other ads the FTC has gone after.

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