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Which Heating and Lighting System?

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 24 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Which Heating And Lighting System?

Whether you use your garden building as a place to relax, a home office, as a play area for the children, if you plan on using it throughout the year, then you will probably want to install a heating and lighting system. Bare brick walls and especially self-build timber-framed garden buildings that don’t come with insulation can prove to be extremely chilly in the autumn and winter months.

So by adding a lighting system, obviously you will increase the number of hours in a day that the building can be effectively used. Likewise installing a heating system will make it a more comfortable and homey environment to relax or work in.

But there are a few considerations that need to be made when choosing which heating and lighting system you want. It may be a case of choosing appropriately to suit your needs, whereas in other cases you may want to put style ahead of functionality. This article helps you to work out which heating and lighting systems will work best for you.

Heat Systems

The heating system you need for your garden building will depend on a few factors:

How Often you Intend to use the Building

This will have quite an effect on what sort of heating system you choose for your garden building. For instance, if you intend to use the building on a daily basis, then using a portable electric or gas heater will probably be too costly to run. But if the room was only going to be used on a short term basis a few times a week, then running a portable electric heater wouldn’t add too much onto your electricity bill, and your gas heater would last long enough to make it an economical option.

For daily use, you could consider leaving a small installed electricity or gas heater unit on a low temperature to sustain an ambient temperature whilst in use. However, you should also consider whether it is really economical or environmentally friendly to heat a space that isn’t being used. There is also the concern of whether an unattended gas or electric heater could be a fire hazard.

How Well the Garden Building is Insulated

The more you insulate your garden building, the less energy will have to be used to heat it. A well-insulated roof and flooring will make a huge amount of difference, especially in larger buildings.

How Large the Building is

If your garden building isn’t too large in size, you could consider installing one or two tube heaters to maintain a background temperature. The tube heaters are only really practical and efficient in low-ceiling buildings, as they tend to be fixed at a ground level.

Whether the Building has an Electricity Supply

Of course this will have a huge bearing on which heat sources you’ll be able to use! Without an electricity supply your options are limited to gas or solar-powered heating. There is, of course, always the option to install a wood-burning stove that uses natural wood as fuel. If you intend to do this, check with your local council as there may be restrictions in place that prohibit this type of heat source.

Whether Style and Design will be an Important Aspect

There are many gas heaters that can be installed into garden buildings, with many designs to suit the look and feel of the building. Installing a boiler or gas unit should be done by a qualified professional, as an ill-fitted unit could lead to fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. You should also contact your local council building regulations department to check that this is allowed.

If you want to hide your heat source, then perhaps underfloor heating is a solution. This works by heating small water-filled tubes that lay under the flooring material. underfloor heating can be retrofitted, and whilst most are electrically powered, some systems can be solar powered during the spring, summer and early autumn.

How Much Money you are Prepared to Invest in a Heating System

Obviously, the larger the space that needs to be heated, the more money you may have to invest. Again, a well-insulated space will cost less to heat. For casual use and a heating system on a budget, a small portable heater is a good option, even a ‘frost heater’ for small spaces.

Also, if your building is going to be used daily, then you may want to look into investing in installing a boiler, creating a small scale central heating system. Obviously this will entail extra labour costs, and will require hiring professionals to do the job.

Lighting for Your Garden Building

Of course there are a multitude of lighting designs to choose from, and again many of the questions raised above will relate to your lighting system. The main point is that most lighting, apart from solar powered, will require an electricity supply. If shared from the main dwelling, this electricity supply should be installed by a professional, as per the Buildings Regulations Part P.

If energy efficiency is your preliminary concern, then solar power is definitely one avenue that you’ll want to explore. However, of course if you intend to use the building on a daily basis, this may not be the most practical solution for indoor lighting. A compromise would be selecting energy saving lightbulbs – in recent years they have evolved to create a more natural light output, and although initially cost a little more to buy, they are definitely much more economical than your average lightbulb.

Halogen lights are very stylish and are great for lighting up dull corners. They’re a good choice if your garden building is used for work or a hobby. However, halogen lights can be quite energy-intensive lighting choice. This choice can therefore be a toss up between your needs versus how much you plan to add onto your energy bills each month.

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