A Complete Guide for Buying a Space Heater

by Purvin Arshad

Does your T.V. lounge feel a bit drafty? Instead of turning up the thermostat and heating rooms that are not being used, use a space heater. A space heater is a practical home appliance during the cold winter months. This mobile apparatus is a cost-effective way to warm up any room. Do you enjoy entertaining outdoors, but it has become a bit chilly? Not a problem; it is easy to cosy up the patio with a space heater.

Many factors go into determining which space heater is the best. They use different heat sources and heating technologies.  Therefore, deciding which one will serve your purpose the best will depend on where you intend to use it.

space heater

Factors Worth Considering

One of the biggest mistakes people make when shopping for a portable space heater is to purchase one that is too big. The bigger the size, the more the cost. Large-sized units will also cost more to run, so why pay for something you do not need?

Energy Efficient Space Heaters

Energy conservation and keeping heating costs low are the main reasons people purchase space heaters. Unfortunately, energy efficiency ratings are not commonly available in portable heaters, but there are ways you can control them. Select a heater that is right for the size of space you need to heat. Ensure that it is equipped with features that allow you to control various factors to minimize the power consumed.

Features for Safety

One significant drawback of space heaters is that they are a potential fire hazard if not cared for properly. Features like cool-to-touch surface, auto power-off, and overheating protection are essential when considering the purchase of an electric space heater.

Heating Capacity

To estimate the size of the heater needed to heat a given space, use a simple rule of thumb. Typically an electric heater uses 10 watts per square foot. Hence a 1500 watt heater will be sufficient to heat a 150 square foot of space. Obviously, if other technologies are employed for heating, then rules will change.

Noise Level

Operating a household space heater comes with a degree of noise. Oil-filled radiators tend to operate noiselessly. Hence these are ideal for a quiet environment like an office or bedroom. Fan heaters tend to be a bit noisier and work fine in the family room or bathroom.

Types of Portable Heaters for Home

To pick out the best portable heater for home use, you have to first learn about the types of heat generated. Two kinds of heat are produced by space heaters: radiant and convection.

Radiant heat warms you and the objects in the room directly, but not the air in the room. Convection heat warms the air in the space around the heater. Hot air is lighter than cold air, it rises up, and cold air moves into the space vacated. Once this air is heated, it rises, and cooler air replaces it. In this way, a cycle is created. Think of how the heater will be used before you settle which one to opt for.

Electric Space Heaters

Electric space heaters are excellent at transforming electrical energy to heat. They are inexpensive, require no additional installations, just plug and heat. Unfortunately, at the source, electricity may be produced using fossil fuels, like coal or oil.

Since burning fossil fuels leave a negative impact on the environment. This makes electrical heaters the least energy-efficient unless you know your electricity does not come from fossil fuels. Space heaters using electricity as their source of energy heat employ different technologies.

portable electric space heater

Infrared Space Heaters

Infrared space heaters use a curved metallic bowl behind a heating element that focuses the radiant heat. The heat travels rather far in the direction the bowl is pointed. The benefit of infra-red space heaters is that you feel the warmth immediately. There is no need to wait for the space to warm up. Furthermore, they are energy-efficient and safe to use. These are best if you are going to be sitting in one spot for an extended amount of time. They produce a bright orange glow which may be distracting for some people.

infrared space heater

Convection Space Heaters

Convection heaters are considered to be very energy-efficient and safe to leave running overnight. Unlike combustion heaters which burn gas or oil, these do not emit any toxic fumes. This makes them safer to use indoors. The oil used in convection heaters lasts for the life of the heater without requiring replacing. Their slim design of oil-based convection heaters makes them great for areas with space restrictions.

Some convection heaters using ceramic elements are equipped with fans. This helps to better circulate the warm air. Most of these heaters are cool to touch, making them the ideal choice for families with small children and pets. Also, they can raise the temperature of the whole room and can maintain it consistently. The only drawback, they take time to heat the space.

Panel Space Heaters

These space heaters give off both types of heat, thus combining the best of both worlds. Enclosed inside can be either a ceramic plate or an oil-based heating element. The heating element reaches the preset temperature, which is then transferred to the room using a fan. The element provides convection heating while the panels give off infrared heating. They offer fast warm-up and the ability to disperse heat throughout the room.

Gas Heaters are combustion type heaters that use natural gas, kerosene or propane as their source of energy. They are available in unvented and vented varieties.

outdoor gas heater

The unvented variety is only recommended for outdoor use. Burning these fossil fuels releases several toxic gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide. If these gases are not removed from closed rooms, they can be lethal to people breathing them in.

In outdoor use, the harmful gases disperse, without any ill effect. The vented gas heaters require to be fitted with a proper chimney-like vent for gases to escape. The initial fitting cost of a natural gas heater is more so they seem to be expensive. However, since gas is cheaper than electricity these heaters cost less to operate over time.

Some Important Features

Auto Shut

this feature is important in natural gas heaters. Dangerous unburned gas does not leak into the room when the supply is restored after an interruption. In electric heaters, this prevents overheating, which can cause fires.

Cord Length

The length of the cord becomes an important consideration in some scenarios. Suppose you want to use it in a room without any outlets, like the garage or basement. Perhaps your room is large, and you want to keep your small space heater near your favourite seat. A decent-sized cord comes in handy.

Thermostat

This allows you to set the desired temperature. Once that temperature is reached, the unit then turns off automatically. Your room space heater does not work unnecessarily, and your energy bills don’t go through the roof.

Timer

This is a great feature, allowing you to preset the amount of time you want the heater to run. Perfect when you crawl into bed with the heater running and don’t want to leave to turn it off.

Remote

Like with any remote, you can control your heater without having to walk up to it. No need to leave the cosy bed or comfy seat to adjust temperature or swing.

Room Space Heater & Safety

Home fires caused by space heaters are a common occurrence. A majority of the accidents are the result of negligence. Combustible materials are placed too close to the heater, and they catch fire. Safety precautions can keep everyone safe.

  • Keep flammable liquids like alcohol, pain, papers, curtains and blankets away from heaters.
  • Only run a space heater when someone is present in the room. Never leave a running heater unattended for any length of time.
  • Place your heater away from foot traffic and establish a three-foot safety zone. Meaning nobody comes within three feet of the heater.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords to connect heaters.
  • Service your room heater according to instructions.

Space heaters are a great option if you need extra warmth during the winter months. They save money because you are not paying to heat up spaces not being used. Proper use can lower your monthly energy cost while keeping you and the family comfortable. Keep in mind that portable space heaters are not a replacement for your primary heating source. They merely supplement the existing heating system during exceptionally cold days.

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