While portable heaters, wall heaters and reverse cycle units may be the first thing a consumer thinks of for heating their home, retailers have a range of other unique products that they can show to consumers to provide them comfort during winter.

IXL has gained serious mind share for its range of Tastic bathroom heating products, made in Australia and marketed by Sampford IXL. In fact, these products are so well known that IXL brand manager Libby Strong said they’ve been the subject of some unwelcome imitation.

“There still continues to be an influx of cheap copies of the genuine IXL Tastic from China. However even with this influx, IXL remains the market leader for bathroom heat, light and fan units,” she said.

“There are different models to suit a variety of applications. The classic range of Tastics are suitable for retrofitting into your updated bathroom, while the Eco and Easy Duct models are designed to fit into new homes with 5-star energy ratings or for energy conscious home owners.”

IXL has also produced the modern-looking Tastic Neo which expels steam from the bathroom to reduce mould and mildew, and features a tungsten halogen halo heat lamp with reflectors that disperse heat across the body (rather than just beaming down onto the head).

There are two Neo options available, both available in silver or white. The Tastic Neo Single (Hardwired: RRP $649, Remote installation: RRP $799) features a single 800-watt heat lamp and is ideal for small to mid-sized bathrooms, while the Tastic Neo Dual (Hardwired: RRP $849) features two heat lamps and is ideal for colder climates and larger bathrooms with higher ceilings.

Sampford IXL Tastic Neo Dual
IXL’s Tastic Neo is available in Single (Hardwired, RRP $649; Remote, RRP $799) or Dual installation (Hardwired only, RRP $849) with one or two 800-watt heat lamps for small and large bathrooms.

Sampford IXL also distributes another alternative heating option for consumers with the Cannon range of gas log heaters. According to Strong, the brand’s heaters are very efficient and economical to run.

“Cannon Gas Log Heaters has manufactured quality gas fires for almost 100 years,” said Strong. “For the last 15 years Sampford IXL has designed and manufactured Cannon Gas Log Heaters in Australia principally for Australian homes and climate conditions.”

Designed and hand-built in Geelong, Victoria, the range includes freestanding and in-built units with either a standard flue or “Powerflue” design, marketed under the appropriately Victorian names of Canterbury and Fitzroy.

According to Strong, the Powerflue models stand-out in the range thanks to their 5.5-star energy ratings. For example, the Fitzroy Powerflue — available in both metallic black and platinum finishes (FITZIB-PMEXB, FITZIB-PMEXP; RRP $4,399) — heats an area as large as 80 square metres, on average, and is suitable for 5-star energy rated homes. Like the Canterbury Powerflue models, it also features electronic ignition and controls, three heat and fan speed settings and realistic eucalypt-looking logs with an enhanced flame effect.

Cannon Fitzroy Powerflue heater
The Cannon Fitzroy Powerflue is available in metallic black and platinum (FITZIB-PMEXB, FITZIB-PMEXP; RRP $4,399) and features realistic eucalypt-look logs.

One brand that plays across a broad range of segments in the heating category is Glen Dimplex, which offers panel heaters, oil column heaters and the unique Electraflame and Optimyst range of electric fires, introduced to market in 2013.

“Panel heaters have been an area of growth over the past few seasons,” said Glen Dimplex marketing manager, Douglas Yapp. “Although the segment slowed in 2013 due to relatively average seasonal conditions, we anticipate this to be an area of continued focus in seasons to come.”

Glen Dimplex has also recently introduced a range of Eco Column Heaters — including an eye-catching red model — that “heat up to 8 times faster and are 30 per cent more effective” according to Yapp.

The brand’s electric fire line-up also offers the benefits of heating in winter with the added bonus of a captivating faux-flame effect.

The new 2-kilowatt Silverton Optimyst 3D Electric Fire (SILVERTON, RRP $799) features Dimplex’s patented Optimyst 3D flame and smoke effect, a glowing ash bed, low-energy LED special effect lighting and individual logs to give the appearance of a real open log fire, while the 2-kilowatt Alameda Optimyst 3D Electric Fire (ALAMEDA, RRP $1,999), replicates the look of a real built-in fireplace.

Glen Dimplex Alameda Optimyst 3D Electric Suite
The 2-kilowatt Alameda Optimyst 3D Electric Suite from Glen Dimplex (ALAMEDA, RRP $1,999) replicates the look of a real fire.

Also offering consumers the warmth and comfort of real flames, Black and Stone has a distinctive range of indoor and outdoor Vioflame ethanol-fuelled heaters.

The range includes a number of stylish products, including a Wide-View Fireplace (VFC4000W, RRP $1,249) with white gloss or black gloss finish and a high capacity stainless steel burner that can heat up to 60 square metres for 16 hours. For those wanting to entertain outdoors, there is the Table Top Decorative Fire (EZDF 230B, RRP $179) in black, white and stainless steel, and the new Indoor/Outdoor Firepit (EZFP400, RRP $399) with black satin body finish.

While a customer might not come into a store looking for an ethanol heater, these products have their advantages — all the consumer needs is a little guidance from their retailer, as Black and Stone marketing manager explained:

“Although still a small and niche segment of the overall heating market, ethanol fireplaces continue to be popular with consumers,” said Florac. “Unlike traditional forms of fireplaces, ethanol offers some great features such as being a cash-and-carry product —the customer can purchase a fireplace on Saturday morning and have a real fire running in the lounge room the same evening.

“Live flame products must be demonstrated in store, otherwise people won’t get it.

“An interesting observation of the past year is the number of fireplaces we are selling in the warmer months, during what retailers traditionally call the ‘off season’. We think this should encourage retailers to try new things, change their mindset and look at things from a different perspective rather than be fixated on the way things have always been done in the past.”

Black and Stone EZDF210
Black and Stone produces an extensive range of outdoor fire tables and table-top decorative fires (pictured EZDF210, RRP $129), ideal for entertaining.