All About Space Heaters

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Adding up a space heater in your home is a good way to combat the cold of the winter season. Portable space heaters will allow you to easily warm up a specific room or targeted area without having to turn up the thermostat for the whole house. A space heater is also a great way to boost the temperature of rooms when there are family members who are sensitive to cold without overheating the entire house. This supplemental heat source is easy to use, convenient, and will allow you to save up as compared with using the thermostat. The savings part is one good reason to get one, as cold months generally equals higher utility bills

Read here to know more about ways to save energy.

You might hesitate on purchasing one, as you have most likely heard the bad rap of space heaters in connection with safety. Though it is considered as one of the leading causes of electric fires in the US, this will only happen if improperly used like with other appliances. It does come with risks just like with any other appliances and devices, but following safety, practices will surely eliminate the safety threats. In addition, modern space heaters are designed to not only have a sleeker appearance but also have more safety features.

Things to consider when purchasing a space heater:

1. Utility costs – Be aware of the cost of using a portable space heater. To compute the cost of running a space heater, use this formula Watts x hours of operation ÷ 1,000 x kilowatt-hour (kWh) electric rate.

2. Space – this is one of the most important considerations when choosing a space heater. Determine the size of the room that you will use it with and make sure that it will match the capacity of your space heater. It also follows that the larger the wattage of your space heater, the more heat it will produce.

3. Essential features (especially for security) – choose a space heater that has a built-in thermostat, a stable design to prevent tipping, has an auto shut off when overheating internally is detected, and if there is an accidental tip over. Also, make sure that it has a reliable return policy.

4. Type of space heater – there are many types of space heaters and the best type of space heater will depend on your space, budget, and features that you prefer. Here are the types of space heaters for your consideration:

  • Ceramic space heater – this runs on electricity with ceramic plates attached to a metal coil. This type of space heater warms up almost instantly, making it one of the most efficient types. You can choose with a ceramic space heater with a fan feature (faster heating process) or without one. Note that this is best for smaller areas.
  • Infrared space heater- this type of space heater is suitable for open living spaces, family rooms, and insulated garages. Infrared space heaters do not warm up the air but use infrared radiation. The electromagnetic waves it uses will heat the physical objects and of course human bodies present. Note that this type of heater is more expensive compared with ceramic and fan types.
  • Fan space heater – this is almost the same as a ceramic space heater with a fan blowing air on the metal coil, which then pushes the heat to the space. This is also best for smaller areas.
  • Radiator heater – this is the oil-filled space heater that runs with electricity. It has diathermic oil inside the body. The heat from a radiator type is long-lasting and can last even if the heater is already turned off. Though it is heavy, it usually has wheels, so it is fairly easy to move around. Note that this can’t be used for large rooms.
  • Panel space heater – this type of space uses electrical current to produce warm air. This can also be mounted on the wall (a great option when you have kids). This is a fairly new technology and is a good option as supplemental heat.

According to US Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters caused more than 25,000 house fires every year, not including injuries and death associated with it. We, however, stress that space heaters are not inherently hazardous, as long as you follow safety practices. With this, here are some safety tips when using a space heater:

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1. Always read the manual before first using your space heater – as with any appliances or devices, don’t take for granted reading the manual. Though most likely, you will easily figure out how to use the space heater or the sales personnel have already demonstrated how to use it, the manual will still contain all necessary information about your space heaters, including warnings, directions to use, and many important details.

2. Never leave your heater in an unattended room – the statistics of electrical fires caused by space heaters are mostly rooted in leaving heaters in an unattended room. This is also especially true when you have children and pets at home. You’ll never know if they would accidentally knock over the device. Always unplug your space heater when not in use or you can also purchase space heaters with timers.

3. A three-foot perimeter around the unit is a must – make sure to keep any flammable or combustible materials (like curtains, beddings, pillows, paper, furniture) at least 3 feet away from your heater.

4. Plug your space heater into a wall outlet – the keywords here are “wall outlet”, meaning, space heaters are not meant to be plugged in power strips, surge protectors, and the like, and should be plugged into wall outlets, as it can overheat electrical components. Do not worry because space heaters nowadays have enough cord slack, so you won’t need an extension cord. Also note that when plugging into wall outlets, make sure that there is a few feet of space in between the wall and the space heater to avoid overheating the wall itself.

If you do not have enough wall outlets for space heaters, have a licensed electrician install one for you. Find an electrician near you here.

5. Space Heaters should be kept away from water – as with most appliances, refrain from placing heater near water unless your heater features GFCI that makes it safe to use in bathrooms or damp basements. Also don’t operate your heater if you have wet hands, as it increases the chances of electrical shock.

6. Make sure that your space heaters are certified – make sure that the heater that you will purchase is certified by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), as this is an assurance that it met the specific safety standards.

7. Inspect your space heater regularly – space heaters are not used regularly and will only be taken out during the cold season. Before using, it is a good practice to check if the cord or the body of the space heater is not damaged.


Hopefully, after reading this, we will be able to help you choose the right space heater or if you have one, you will be able to apply the best practices.

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