In areas of the United States where the outside temperature literally sends shivers down your spine, adding heat to your home is very important for your health and well-being and will keep you warm during the winter months. There are a ton of different space heaters available, which all have different features, controls, and outputs. That’s why my website rates space heaters in five categories. Here’s what I base each review on:
- Warming Space
How much space can you heat to a comfortable temperature with this space heater? The heaters that can raise a large room’s temperature consistently get the top scores in this category.
- Hot Surface
How hot does the surface of the space heater become? The cooler that the surface stays, the least likely you’ll burn yourself on the device, and the more points that it gets in my reviews.
Better control options mean that you can tell exactly how the heater is set and quickly discover how to increase or decrease the heat without complicated buttons. The easier you’re able to change the settings of the heater, the more points that a space heater earns in this category.
Safety is a major concern with space heaters. Not all space heaters have the same safety features, but anything with a perfect rating in this category is equipped with some sort of automatic shut-off, overheating protection, or an oxygen depletion sensor.
If you’re going to purchase a space heater, then you expect it to last. If for any reason your space heater doesn’t last as long as you hoped for, then you should be able to return it for a replacement or refund. Space heaters should have at least a one year warranty, and I rate a heater’s warranty to make sure you’re protected from any defects.
What is a space heater?
Heating your home might seem like a gargantuan task when the weather outside is below zero and can freeze a cup of water in mere seconds! Unlike induct heaters, which distribute the heat through a system of ducts and pipes to different areas of your home, the space heater warms the space directly around it.
What are the different types of space heaters?
Space heaters come in different shapes and sizes. Convection heaters are the best type of space heaters for most people, since they provide safe heat that warms the air quickly. Convection heaters are available in two types, as ceramic plate space heaters and oil-filled radiators. The one you should choose depends on your specific needs. There are also radiant space heaters available on the market, with the most common types being wire element space heaters and quartz element space heaters.
Radiant space heaters, also known as infrared space heaters use a number of methods to produce heat. Some generate heat with a infrared lamp, electrical wires, electrical elements, or a flame heating source. The most popular type of radiant space heater is the wire element space heater, which is what most people recognize as the standard space heater. High resistance wires on the front of the heater gets very hot to the touch, reaches dangerous levels up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and directs the heat using a fan or reflective backing to warm up a small portion of space.
The second major type of radiant space heater is a quartz element space heater. Instead of heating wires, a quartz element space heater uses electricity to warm quartz tubes. Coiled wire sheathed in unsealed quartz tubes heat up quicker and with less energy output than metal-coil heaters. It’s therefore more efficient in radiating energy compared to the heaters with the metal wires. The heat that is produced from a quartz element space heater is circulated through the room with either natural or fan-induced convection currents, heating surfaces in the room instead of the air directly.
Quartz heaters emit infrared energy which upon making contact with a solid object absorbs the energy and converts it into heat energy. These short wave infrared emissions heat up space in a short time after turning on the heater. This makes quartz heaters ideal for situations where warmth is needed quickly. Radiant infrared space heaters can even be used in homes that are not properly insulated or outdoors where the infrared waves can be directed at a group of people, thereby warming skin and other surfaces directly. This is the same way the Sun heats up the Earth, and why the air around you can be chilly but yet the Sun’s heat warms up your skin.
The best space heaters available for most people are convection heaters. Convection heaters warm up the air through a heating element. This warm air then circulates around the room to warm up the entire area as well as the people within it. In well insulated rooms, these kinds of heaters diffuse heat by spreading out warmth evenly throughout the space. Convection heaters are the best option for most people because of their superior indoor heating ability and construction that is focused on safety.
The two main types of convection space heaters are ceramic plate heaters and oil-filled radiators. Ceramic plate space heaters have heating elements encased in ceramic plates, which provides a fast, warm heat. Since ceramic plates are used within the space heater, the surface temperature of a ceramic plate space heater is a lot less hot than a wire element space heater, reducing the risk of injury or fire. A fan pushes out the heat that is produced and warms a small space very quickly. Ceramic plate space heaters unfortunately don’t retain heat long after the power has been turned off, and the fans that push heat throughout the room can be noisy, so you might opt to use this type of space heater in a living room rather than a bedroom.
The second type of convection space heater is the oil-filled radiator. If you want to heat a space quietly, then this is going to be the best space heater type for you. The oil heater electrically heats a reservoir that is filled with oil. Cool air enters through the bottom of heated fins and flows upward to the top of the room, creating a heating loop. The oil reservoir retains heat even after the oil-filled heater has been turned off and works for larger rooms. You don’t have to ever refill the oil, since it’s just producing the heat and not actually burning.
Which type of convection space heater is right for you?
If you need help choosing a convection space heater, then let take a look at the pros and cons of each heater to match them with current heating needs, as well as your preferences for a heating device.
Ceramic plate space heaters work quickly to warm a small space. It uses a fan which makes noise, and it doesn’t retain heat for very long after the space heater has been turned off. Ceramic plate space heaters have the most safety features, and are cooler to the touch than any other type of space heater. Ceramic plate space heaters are small, and fit in just about any space.
Oil-filled radiator space heaters slowly warm a large amount of space. Although it takes a bit longer to heat a room, once your space is warm, you can shut off the oil heater and it will continue to produce enough heat through the night. Operation is practically silent, since no fan needs to distribute the heat through the space. Oil-filled radiator space heaters are larger and heavier than ceramic plate space heaters, which is a consideration you have to factor in if you are looking for a portable machine.
Are space heaters safe? Space heater safety tips!
Space heaters are devices that deal with two elements – heat and electricity – that are dangerous in a home when not handled appropriately. Electrical space heaters are fire hazards and electrocution risks. The fan heaters for example are not sealed and have live electric parts inside. In the event that they come into contact with water, they can create a short circuit that causes fire or electrocution. The best space heaters have safety features that will keep your home and your loved ones safe from harm.
What safety features should I look for in a space heater?
Safety is very important when it comes to purchasing and operating a space heater. Space heaters are responsible for many home heating fires and home heating fire deaths each year. Make sure that you don’t operate a damaged heater, that you keep it away from furniture, drapes, bedding, and clothing, and that you don’t leave the heater unattended. Taking these safety precautions while using a space heater will lower the risk of starting a dangerous fire.
Look for the following safety features during your space heater search:
Tip over safety switch: If a space heater is tipped over and covered with some type of combustible material, then it could start a fire. A tip over safety switch turns off the heater if it falls on its side. It’s important to put space heaters on solid surfaces, some carpets might not trigger the safety switch, making it so that the heater won’t operate. It’s important not to place anything underneath the safety switch, because if it’s still pressed in while on its side or back, then it won’t shut off and it becomes a safety risk.
Overheat protection: Room heaters with overheat protection functions in a similar way to the tip over switch. When a temperature sensor detects that internal components have become too hot then the overheat protection will shut off the heater to prevent it from overheating and possibly catching on fire.
Cool-touch cabinet and grille: You might need to move a space heater while it cools down in the event that it’s in an unsafe location or you want to heat a different area of your home. In that case, it’s good to have a electric space heater that is safe to touch. Space heaters with cool touch cabinets and grills allow you to move the heater even after it has been on for some time without burning your hands.
Auto shut-off: In the event that a heater fan is no longer functional, there is a fuse next to the heating element that cuts the circuit so that the wires don’t overheat. This reduces the fire risk in the event that you have a broken fan without being aware of it. Many heaters have a tip-over switch to shut it down once the outlet is blocked. Some heaters also come with tilt sensors installed, which also shuts off the heater if it falls or if it is placed on an unstable surface.
Due to the focused intensity of their infrared energy, radiant heaters are a fire hazard particularly to furnishings and draping that might be hanging near the heater. They also have no overheat protection.
Other space heater features you’ll enjoy…
Adjustable heat settings: The best electric space heaters have adjustable heat settings so that you can control the level of heat that in added to the air. A built-in thermostat makes this possible, so you want to find a space heater that gives out accurate temperature readings.
Heat timers: It’s nice being able to set a time that the heater will turn off, so that you can keep the space heater plugged in while you’re getting rest.
Low noise space heaters: Some heaters make little to no noise, while others sound as loud as a fan. Preferably you’ll want a space heater that’s quiet so that it doesn’t interrupt watching a movie or getting some rest.
Fan oscillation: The best fan-forced ceramic heaters have fans that oscillate from side to side, thus increasing the area that heat is able to access. This provides more heat for a space than a stationary fan can output.
Cord storage: Having a built in area to store the cord can prevent accidents and keep everything tidy and neat. Look for a space heater that has a built-in cord management system.
Easy portability: The easier a space heater is to move, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to heat different parts of your home. If a space heater is too large to pick up, then it should at least have built-in wheels so that it’s easy to move from room-to-room.