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Before I purchased my last Delonghi convector heater in the form of the "Retro" convector and the Glen G2S a few years ago, the first ever convector heater I saved up for when I was a student started the ball rolling with the Delonghi name. The HCA-530FTS was the first convector heater I purchased in 2005 when I moved into a tenement flat that had to be the coldest yet in all of the rentals I've ever experienced. When I woke up in the mornings I could see my own breath and come winter time, ice formed on the windows INSIDE the flat rather than out! Throughout the two years I endured in that old, cold and dusty flat I had put up with numerous types of heaters that just didn't seem to last such as ceramic heaters, halogen heaters and fan heaters - which in the case of the fan heater, did last but it was too noisy to put up with. I didn't do anything wrong with them; I treated them as I would do any appliance, and especially when handling a machine that heats up, I didn't go about allowing the machines to fall over, or mishandle them inappropriately such as half installation on a low weight bearing wall only to find that it falls off, or try to take it apart thus invalidating the guarantee of the appliance. Some heaters as it turned out, just don't get on with cold properties and would rather burn a hole in your pocket sitting in "freeze" mode rather than heat up a room!
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
3kW heat maximum output convector heater Electronic Climate Control (ECC) 3 heat settings plus switchable fan boost Cool air fan setting 24 hour timer Sicura safety alarm Overheat safety cut-out Integral carry handles & 1kg weight. Wall mountable (brackets included) or Freestanding Dimensions: H47 x W 73 x D 17cm Price in 2005 £59-99 from Argos. Price in 2012 £10 to £35 refurbished.
General Design & Quality
Over the years I have always preferred convection heaters; they don't dry my throat out like fan heaters do; they don't warm up briefly and overheat like some halogen products have done for me in the past. Additionally, most convector heaters I find are more stable in use, and seldom fall over. If they do fall over, the chances are that it will break the element inside and could quite easily start a fire. But not all convector heaters are the same - some are very different - which is one of the reasons which attracted me to the Delonghi HCA 530FTS - there's a bit more to this heater than meets the eye. It is reasonably well made and well protected with minimal assembly required such as screwing each foot onto the bottom of the heater and it also came with a wall mountable pair of fixings giving me the option to put it on a wall if I wanted to.
The Delonghi HCA 530FTS also came with a handy 3 year guarantee, which comes with the product and a further year's guarantee with Argos. "Convection" means briefly, metal bar elements which heat up and produce heat from the metal element, just like a convection oven in a cooker.
Secondly, this Delonghi is able to offer a choice of not just 1 or 2kw, but 1, 2 and 3kw of heat available, or 1000, 2000 and 3000 watts! In the past I have had to spend up to £100 to get 3kw of "power" but thanks to fashion dictating public consumption these days, standard convector heaters have fallen down in price thanks to coal effect fires which use convection but have been jazzed up to look like a traditional hearth or traditional fire without the burning off and running up electricity costs.
Whilst putting the legs on the machine is very easy to do, the first indication of how well designed this heater is compared to others I have had before, is just how light it is to carry or transport to another room - just below 1kg - and it has two integral handles already fitted by the sides of the heater.
The general look and off white/beige colour of the heater blends in well with most rooms, the height of the product being average for a convection heater but also blends into the room well instead of looking out of place. Partly due to its up turned size of the main heat grills and its controls, it could well pass for a storage heater.
The main parts of the heater are metal aside from
Pictures of Delonghi HCA-530FTS
A fantastic top of the range convector that I miss! I wish Delonghi made this one again.
the feet and integral carry handles which are plastic and heat insulated - however the heater in my mind should only be moved slightly to clean out dust. Other heaters on the market which have castors are better thought out and more geared towards actual movement from room to room. The heater can be wiped with a slightly damp cloth but thanks to the transfers of the main company logo and SICURA system which briefly refreshes the user's mind as to what it means, you can't use benzene or alcohol based cleaners to clean the body of the heater - common sense dictates if you use flammable substances, you could well start a fire quite literally.
I must stress that I have used additional timer plugs with heaters before and if the heater comes with a 13 amp plug, like this Delonghi does, additional plug timers tend to burn out from the heat that the appliance has, not just the adaptor moulding - so its handy to have a timer function located on the heater itself, rather than the additional worry an additional timer add on adaptor plug has proved.
Control Panel & Easy Functions
Whereas other models may have two switches for powering up the heat levels available, there are two main controls located on the left hand side of this heater and a switch on the main fascia of the heater on the bottom left hand side on a plastic permanently fitted grille. The Delonghi must be placed at least 50cm away from soft furnishings and general furniture. Here's where the technology takes over to give the owner a little more than just convection heat!
Think of the convection oven principle and how it heats up faster if you have the option of using fan assistance. This is exactly what the Turbo fan does; only that it has two uses:
The first use is that the fan can be used as an independently functioning cool air ventilation fan, but the thermostat must be set at the minimum or Off to allow the cold air to pump out. You can increase the speed of the fan but you must not activate the top control at the side of the heater- more about that later. The noise is very quiet and if you have sensitive ears all you will hear is a slight whirr from the fan.
The second function makes more sense. If for example, like me you live in a home that has no central heating or at the least, a radiator, the Turbo fan can be activated to boost the convention convector heater. In effect it means that the room can be heated up faster whilst the convector elements heat up. It is a very clever idea but you need to be careful you don't leave the fan on whilst the convector heater heats up incase the fan burns out! The Turbo fan function is actually a good idea, but Delonghi could improve on the formula by adding an auto stop function if the owner "forgets" that they have left the actual fan on. Also the Turbo fan will heat up if the Thermostat has been turned all the way up to MAX, or to any desired temperature via the second and only real rotary dial located at the top side of the heater.
Gone are the days on controls that feature similar graphics to heater controls in cars. Instead, written words "Max" & "Min" on the Thermostat rotary control have been written in a clear dark grey writing, and since the whole machine is mixture of light beige and cream, it isn't hard to spot what temperature the heater is in. Additionally at the lowest selection which shows a star, there are also numerals marked 10, 20 and 30 to describe and show the 1, 2 or 3kw heat options and lastly MAX indicates the highest level of heat available. Use this to function the general heat and the fan.
If you're a Volvo or Saab car owner, you may have come across this term before! I know I have! ECC means Electronic Climate Control. Briefly this is how it works;
You can already set the temperature as discussed with the Turbo fan and thermostat, but here there is an additional circular control which is lit up with several LEDs and words at the side to show the user what can be selected. In the middle of the control, which is white plastic compared to the dark brown acrylic which acts as a window for the LEDs, you will find two symbols. The first symbol looks like a half circular element and below a 3 tri circle symbol - this is the symbol which shows the ECC function. By pressing this, you will activate the ECC function.
ECC means that the heater will monitor the room temperature and adjust the heat accordingly even though you can additionally select your chosen temperature. Not only does this lessen the chance of allowing the heater to over heat but it also maintains a precise and level band of heat emerging from the heater in the room. And the heater changes from time to time on its own, mostly because when I have it on setting 2, I can hear the heater click off and on - but there are no cold spots between the clicks and the heat remains stable above the 5° centigrade & 35° centigrade temperatures. ECC may sound very swanky - but it also acts as a very economical way of controlling the heat that the Delonghi puts out.
The top control looks like a rotary control but this doesn't turn - it's a touch control which can be activated by lightly pressing on the inner beige centre.
Now the LEDs are very simple to operate because markings in flame symbols indicate the 1, 2 or 3KW power. All the LED's light up in a light orange colour. Tap the control once for example and you will have set the machine to come on at maximum power. As a result all 4 lights on the control will light up. Tap twice and the medium level comes on which is the singular top level of LED's (2) and finally tap three times and the bottom level of 2 LEDs come on to indicate the lowest power has been activated.
All in all I really like the controls that Delonghi have put here. It makes the owner well aware of how economical a convector heater can be given the infinite possibilities of the heat you can afford, rather than just putting up with heat that will cost a fortune to run.
24 Hour Timer
Unfortunately the 24 hour timer is not a digital display but of the style that was made in the 1980's with push up push down flick pins that cannot be taken out. Measured in the 24 hour clock, you can activate the heater to come on when the delays are set, or without the timer activated. Two small flick up switches are located to the right hand side of the dial - you have to look very carefully at this and refer to the manual because the dial is a bit small to simply glimpse at - I have used the 24 hour timer and although I am impressed with its function, Delonghi could have made this easier to locate as well as activate - but still its a good measure to have if you like to come home and find that your room warm when you open the door. Just don't turn the dial anti-clockwise - as the manual suggests, it's really a 24 hour electronic clock so it has to be turned clockwise to function properly.
Taking all of the features of the controls on board, the Delonghi HCA-530FTS becomes simplistic the more you rely on it for heat and the more you use the controls. Of course it makes a lot more sense if you read the user manual if you are economically minded and want heat at cheap rate times in the day or evenings. Although my Delonghi gave out in 2010, I've since considered buying another heater should it ever come up again for sale. Though, now largely replaced by simpler Delonghi heaters, I found that the HCA530FTS used every day would incur a charge of £7 to £9 per month which I considered back then, good value based on other heaters I had had and using a power card meter. If you know those kind of meters, you'll know that half of the card's value goes on the money for payment alone rather than the actual electricity use. When I changed my meter to billing, I found my bills to decrease in terms of what I had initially been paying out for and by that point still had the Delonghi HCA530FTS as the main heater in the flat for warming up rooms. The extra charges of £2 to £3 PER QUARTER really opened my eyes to bills as opposed to the awful power card system back in 2005!
One of the most unexpected delights in this heater was the first 1Kw "base" setting because heaters that sport this aren't normally very warm. Partly and possibly due to the large vents at the top, the Delonghi pumps out a fair level of heat on the first setting. The 2kw setting is similar but more full on and it is between 1 kilowatt and 2 kilowatt I have used this machine's levels of heat at the most. The 3 kilowatt setting is very hot and can heat up a room very quickly but I find that the room can feel as if there is too much heat after ten minutes. Roasting is a phrase that springs to mind here, infact but when the ECC is activated there is a much more rounded feeling of heat rather than setting the machine manually to do what you want it to do!
For the price I paid I certainly wasn't expecting anything else other than the normal, usual features like a thermal cut out or over heat cut out function. However, the Delonghi offered a bit more where safety is concerned. Whilst the Delonghi will cut out if the heater over heats - it switches off even if it is plugged on. If this happens you just pull out the plug and wait for the heater to cool down between 5 and 10 minutes. Thereafter plug the heater in and it can be reactivated. There is also a further frost function which basically means by setting the thermostat to the star marking (*) and pressing the ECC button; the Delonghi will switch on automatically only if the room temperature drops to 5° centigrade to prevent freezing. In terms of a power cut however the heater will not function independently.
Then there's the SICURA system. This is just a fantastic and reliable feature that Delonghi have sadly not gone onto produce in other heaters since. The feature was only ever apparent when one of my best friends had brought his dog with him and the dog was running around the room and knocked the heater over. SICURA is really a system electronic alarm which becomes active if the heater becomes unstable or falls over and it is quite a distinctive alarm similar to a telephone but with very quick and short beeps. The alarm function will actually switch the machine off to prevent accidents.
Now the sound of this emerges from a small singular circular grille located at the bottom left hand side of the machine just above the left foot. Ingenious not just in the inclusion of such a safety device, but when I moved the heater away from the wall to be vacuumed behind, the alarm moves in pitch faster if the heater angle moves towards the floor compared to when it falls over - now that is clever - annoying all the same too - but very clever!
Nothing is ever perfect with what looks like to be a genuinely helpful and powerful heater. The Delonghi HCA-520FTS has all the power on board to be solely reliant on heat in a home that lacks central heating and can offer itself well with other, smaller convectors used in other rooms - unless you leave all the doors open and just switch on the Delonghi for a longer period and expect the heat to waft through!
A downside to this heater though is that it does take time to get to know how it works. Reading the user manual is an important and necessary aspect however because of the over elaborate control panel and thermostat. Being a convector by design means however you can't ever place clothing on top of the grills or near the heater incase damp from damp clothing affects the element.
Another downside is the thermostat itself - if it set too low, the Delonghi records what you have selected into it's memory and the heater will not function unless you switch it off and wait for an hour before the memory resets itself. There is also another switch in the middle of the 24 hour timer that when selected to "0" doesn't just shut off the 24 hour timer, but can actually affect the 1Kw setting and as a result fails to come on, forcing the owner to select the higher 2kw setting first before the heater can be decreased in heat levels thereafter.
Lastly, although I purchased my heater in 2005, Delonghi stopped production of the heater in 2008 although it does seem to crop up rather a lot more recently on Gumtree or EBay with a refurbished 6 month guarantee. The upside to this rather elaborate convector heater is that now in 2012, prices can be dirt cheap.
For the £60 I paid and for the heater to last 5 years before giving it away when I had to move back home from the city, the Delonghi HCA-530FTS proved to be a good convector heater despite its rather elaborate control panel. The heat produced was cosy, very warm and a very reliable heater not just with its numerous and available heat levels but for the added safety features that were set on board. For the fact that its 24 hour timer could be relied upon for coming on and warming up my flat before I came home from university, it was almost like having central heating with similar timings. Now with a recession on and with electricity being costly to run anyway, convector heaters are no longer an economical way of producing heat in a home - however, they are good as a back up and can offer better reliability and overall warmth over more recent heaters. Thanks for reading. (c)Nar2 2012