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Space heaters are a great solution when you need a little bit of extra heat. A space heater can help you save money on your heating bill by providing a boost of heat where you want it. You can also use one in the office if your building managers like to keep the temperature somewhere around freezing. If you want heat where you can direct it, then a space heater may be just what the doctor ordered.
The best space heater for your needs can be difficult to find because every heater is different. Some are convection and work by warming the air around you, while others rely on radiant heat. Which one is right for you depends on what you need it for and what type of place you’ll be using it in. So how do you know?
That’s where we can help. Next, you’ll find a series of reviews of some of the best space heaters for varied uses. The reviews will highlight what each heater is best at, with a short list of bullet points that tells you the highlights. There is also a buying guide that covers how space heaters work, alert you to safety procedures you need to be aware of, and your options for selecting the best space heater for your lifestyle.
- 1 Space Heaters Reviews
- 1.1 Mr. Heater Vent Free Natural Gas Heater
- 1.2 DoubleFly Ceramic Personal Space Heater
- 1.3 Lasko Oscillating Ceramic Space Heater
- 1.4 Mulandd Small Ceramic Space Heater
- 1.5 Comfort Zone Oscillating Space Heater
- 1.6 Air Choice Infrared Space Heater
- 1.7 Givebest Ceramic Space Heater
- 1.8 Dr Infrared DR-968 Portable Space Heater
- 1.9 Lasko Model 100 Personal Space Heater
- 1.10 Lasko 6462 Full-Circle Ceramic Space Heater
- 2 Space Heaters Comparison Chart
- 3 Space Heaters Buying Guide
- 3.1 1. Conduction
- 3.2 2. Convection
- 3.3 3. Radiation
- 3.4 Conduction Space Heaters Pros and Cons
- 3.5 Convection Heater Pros and Cons
- 3.6 What is Relative Humidity?
- 3.7 How Does This Affect You?
- 3.8 Radiant Heaters Pros and Cons
- 3.9 How Far Away Does Radiant Heat Work?
- 3.10 Talking About Conservation of Heat
- 3.11 Thermal Mass is What?
- 3.12 Is Radiant Hat Safe?
- 3.13 Can a Radiant Heater Cause Cancer?
- 3.14 What About Hybrid Heaters?
- 3.15 Maximizing the Effect of your Heater
- 3.16 Let’s Talk Safety With Space Heaters
- 3.17 Propane, Natural Gas, and Kerosene Space Heaters Safety Tips
- 3.18 Modern Gas Fueled Space Heater Safety
- 3.19 What Options Should You Be Looking For?
- 4 Conclusion
Space Heaters Reviews
- Mr. Heater MHVFB30NGT
- BTU: 30,000
- Watts: N/A
- Dimensions: 23.8 x 11.2 x 27 inches
- Color: White
- Weight: 26.8 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- DoubleFly Mini Electric
- BTU: N/A
- Watts: 1500-750
- Dimensions: 12.1 x 6.4 x 5.3 inches
- Color: Black
- Weight: 2.3 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Lasko Designer Series
- BTU: N/A
- Watts: 1500
- Dimensions: 8.2 x 8.2 x 16.1 inches
- Color: Beige
- Weight: 8.1 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Mulandd Ceramic
- BTU: N/A
- Watts: 750W/1500W
- Dimensions: 10.1 x 5.9 x 5.7 inches
- Color: Black
- Weight: 2.45 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Comfort Zone Oscillating
- BTU: N/A
- Watts: 800/1500
- Dimensions: 25 x 9.5 x 9 inches
- Color: Black
- Weight: 7.35 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Air Choice Portable Infrared
- BTU: N/A
- Watts: 1500
- Dimensions: 12 x 10.8 x 14.3 inches
- Color: Brown
- Weight: 16 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
Mr. Heater Vent Free Natural Gas Heater
The first of these space heater reviews covers a heater that uses natural gas as its fuel supply, meaning that it isn’t portable or able to be moved once installed. However, that tradeoff comes with an extremely high heat output. You can install this heater in any room with an adequate air supply. Make sure to follow our safety tips when dealing with a space heater that uses combustion.
This heater comes with an automatic low oxygen shutoff system (ODS) that will turn off the system. It should be noted that local building codes may not allow this type of heater to be installed, so it is always best to check before purchasing. But if it is allowed, then you will get an amazing amount of heat output for a very low cost. It uses a pilot light and electronic ignition and has a variable control allowing you to adjust the heat output and fuel use.
Read Full Review: Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU Natural Gas Space Heater
• This heater provides 30,000 BTU
• Uses natural gas as its fuel supply
• Fuel Consumption Rate of 0.030 Mcf/hour
• Only for use below 4500 feet above sea level
• Includes thermostat, legs, and hardware for wall mounting
DoubleFly Ceramic Personal Space Heater
This small space heater uses a ceramic heating element as a long-lasting heat source. It has three comfort settings. The lowest just activates the fan without turning on the heat. The two heat settings provide 750 watts and 1500 watts of heating power, allowing you to heat a room or provide a source of personal heat as needed. It also incorporates a tip sensor at the bottom of the unit. If the sensor is out of contact with a surface or there is a 30-degree tip, the unit will automatically shut off.
The body of the heater is made out of ABS heat-resistant plastics, meaning that the shell will remain safe to touch even after hours of use. The unit has a handle and only weighs in at 2.2 pounds, making it extremely easy to carry or move to wherever you need it. The power cord is 50.4-inches in length, so you have plenty of options in where you can place it. This is a great option for the home or the office.
Read Full Review: DoubleFly Personal Mini Space Heater
• This heater provides 750 or 1500 watts of output depending on the setting
• Uses a ceramic heating element for long-lasting heat
• This heater also has a function for no heat, which allows for air circulation
• Compact unit measures 5.9 inches wide, 11.8 inches tall, and 4.7 inches deep
Lasko Oscillating Ceramic Space Heater
This versatile ceramic space heater has an attractive form factor that will fit in with most décor. The heater has a generous 1500 watt output which is controlled by the built-in thermostat. The thermostat allows you to set the heat at any temperature from 60 degrees Fahrenheit up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a timer that can be set anywhere from one to seven hours. Oscillation is controlled by a simple press button, allowing heat to be evenly distributed throughout the space.
The package comes with a remote control that allows full control of the unit, from the timer to oscillation and everything in between. The unit comes fully assembled out of the box, allowing you to use it without any complicated setup. Designed, built, and assembled in America, this heater is an excellent choice for any discerning user who wants on-demand heat.
Read Full Review: Lasko Designer Series Ceramic Space Heater
• This heater provides 1500 watts of thermal output
• The built-in thermostat allows adjustment from 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in five degree increments
• This unit also has a built-in timer with ranges from 1 to 7 hours
• Unit measures 16 inches tall
Mulandd Small Ceramic Space Heater
This small portable space heater has two settings. A low heat setting gives you 750 watts of power, while the high setting gives you a full 1500 watts of thermal output. You can also operate the heater without any heat, allowing or direct air circulation. The heater has built-in tip protection, so if the unit ever falls over, it will turn off automatically. It also has overheat protection, so if you leave the heater running too long, it will turn off then as well.
This compact heater measures 5.9 inches wide by 10.1 inches tall by 5.7 inches deep. It weighs only 2.45 pounds, making it easy to move and to place wherever you need it. The ceramic heat element means that you get heat quickly when you need it. The housing is heat-resistant, so even while in operation, the unit remains cool to the touch, preventing accidental burns.
Read Full Review: Mulandd Ceramic Space Heater
• This heater provides two levels of thermal output: Low gives 750 watts, and High produces 1500 watts of output
• The unit has an adjustable thermostat, allowing you to select from a range of comfort options
• Ceramic radiant heat provides a wide angle of coverage for maximum heat output
• Compact and powerful with a built-in handle for ease of moving and relocation
Comfort Zone Oscillating Space Heater
This Comfort Zone heater offers even heating and a wide range of options in this oscillating heater. It has three heat settings. Low offers 800 watts, medium produces 1000 watts, and the high setting generates a full 1500 watts of thermal output. There is also an ECO mode available that automatically adjusts the heater’s settings as it gets closer to the thermostat setting. That is, when you just turn on the heater, it will turn on high to get close to the set temperature. As it gets closer, it will step down until it turns to low heat for maintaining the temperature.
This heater is 23-inches tall with an 8-inch square base, so it fits nearly everywhere. With full oscillation, you can put this in the corner of a bedroom or living room and enjoy a full room’s worth of heat. The housing is heat-resistant, so stays cool to the touch, preventing accidental injuries. There is a safety tip-over switch that automatically turns the heater off if it falls over. This versatile heater also comes with an 8-hour timer with automatic shutoff.
Read Full Review: Comfort Zone Oscillating Ceramic Space Heater
• This heater has three heat settings with three different heat outputs. Low produces 800 watts, medium will generate 1000 watts, and high offers 1500 watts.
• The unit also has an Eco setting which automatically regulates settings based on temperature and settings
• The unit has oscillation to spread the heat around the room where it is most needed
• Small 8-inch square footprint means it will fit easily wherever you need heat
Air Choice Infrared Space Heater
This infrared space heater offers a very attractive exterior to go with a 1500 watt maximum output. There are three settings for this infrared space heater: low, which produces 750 watts, high, which puts out the full 1500 watts and an Eco mode. The Eco mode cycles the heater on and off when it reaches the desired temperature to prevent it from running constantly. This heater has a touch screen with a programmable thermostat that has a solid-state non-volatile memory. The heater will remember what temperature you set the thermostat for even after it is turned off and turned back on.
The heater has a remote that offers all the functions available at the base unit so you don’t have to get up off the couch to keep things warm and toasty. With a bright LED screen, you can clearly see what your heater is up to from anywhere in sight. And when you do have to control the heater from the unit, there’s a touch screen to make everything easy to operate. As for safety features, this electric infrared space heater has both overheat and tip-over protection so you can rest easy knowing that your heater won’t keep running if it gets knocked over.
Read Full Review: Air Choice Wood Cabinet Electric Space Heater
• This heater has two primary heat settings with different heat outputs. Low offers 750 watts and High emits 1500 watts of thermal output.
• This heater also has an Eco setting that cycles the heat on and off to maintain a preset temperature.
• Offers full overheat protection as well as tip-over protection to automatically shut off in case of an incident
• This unit is compact and stylish, measuring 11.96 inches wide, 14.3 inches tall, and 10.77 inches deep
Givebest Ceramic Space Heater
This is a very quiet and efficient space heater that offers three modes for operation. The low setting emits 750 watts of heat, the high setting puts out 1500 watts of heat, and a fan only setting allows just air to be circulated. The fan is whisper quiet, emitting under 50 decibels during normal operation. There is a simple dial adjusted thermostat, so you can keep the heater running at the temperature you want it at without worry.
The heater is small and has an integrated handle. Measuring in at only 6.2 inches by 7 inches by 9.2 inches, this heater is easily moved around and placed wherever you need the heat you want. The heater has two key safety features. One is the overheat protection, which will automatically shut the heater off when it gets too warm. The second is the tip-over protection, which shuts off the heater if it is knocked over. If the heater does automatically shut off, you do have to unplug it and plug it back in to reset the heater.
Read Full Review: Givebest Personal Ceramic Space Heater
• This heater has two primary heat settings with different heat outputs. Low offers 750 watts and High emits 1500 watts of thermal output
• This heater offers a fan only setting that offers air circulation
• The compact unit has whisper-quiet operation measuring under 50 decibels during normal operation
• Unit measures 6.2 inches by 7 inches by 9.2 inches
Dr Infrared DR-968 Portable Space Heater
This Dr Infrared space heater is able to heat a large room with its 12.5 amps of power, putting out 1500 watts of heat. This unit is very quiet, emitting only 39 decibels during normal operation. When operating at full capacity, this heater is able to warm a large 1000 square foot room. The heating system is a hybrid with an infrared quartz element for radiant heat with a 7-inch high-pressure blower coupled with a ceramic PTC element.
There is a full-featured remote that offers the full operation of all of this infrared space heater’s functions. The cabinet is cool to the touch no matter how long it has been operating, so no worrying about accidental injuries. Additionally, with built-in casters, despite this unit’s 24-pound weight, moving it is easy, allowing you to get heat where you want it.
Read Full Review: Dr Infrared Portable Space Heater
• This heater offers 1500 watts of heat coupled with a high-pressure blower to deliver more heat faster
• The blower moves at 3.5 meters per second to get heat where you need it faster
• The unit weighs 24 pounds but is easily movable thanks to built-in caster rollers.
• 72-inch cord allows maximum versatility of placement.
Lasko Model 100 Personal Space Heater
This small space heater is extremely compact, measuring just 6-inches in height, but offers a lot of thermal power in that tiny package. It uses a ceramic core to generate 200 watts of heat, but this heater isn’t designed to heat your entire room. It is meant to keep you warm when you are at the office or when you are at home and need a bit of extra heat.
According to user reviews, the heater is about 95 degrees when you are close to it, with the heat dropping off to 84 degrees at a one-foot distance, 71 degrees at two feet, and 68 degrees at 3 feet. Much as with other portable space heaters with this form and function, the Lasko portable space heater has overheat protection and an exterior that remains cool to the touch during normal operation.
Read Full Review: Lasko MyHeat Personal Space Heater
• Small form factor, measuring just 6.1 inches tall
• This heater offers 200 watts of heat for close and personal heating power
• Ceramic heater core with overheat auto-shutoff protection
• Heater begins generating heat almost immediately after power-up
Lasko 6462 Full-Circle Ceramic Space Heater
This Lasko ceramic space heater allows you to focus 1500 watts of heating power where you need it when you need it. A unique oscillating design allows three different sweeping angles for your heat. You can have the heat focused on a 90-degree angle, a 170-degree half-circle, or set the heater in the middle of the room and have a full 360 degrees of heat coverage. As with any unit that has a fan that works this hard, there is a lifetime filter that is easy to clean with a vacuum brush and keeps your unit running.
The heater measures 25 inches tall with just an 11-inch diameter footprint, so you can put it where you need it without worry. With two levels of heat plus an automatic setting to keep you comfortable, you can relax and bask in the warmth this heater gives you. It has a fully digital programmable thermostat so you can set your comfort level and know that this unit will remember it even if you unplug it to move it to a different room.
Read Full Review: Lasko Full-Circle Ceramic Space Heater
• This heater offers two heat settings with different heat outputs. Low heat produces 750 watts and high heat generates 1500 watts of heat.
• Full circle emitters allow for three heat sweep settings at 90 degrees, 170 degrees, and a full 360 degrees of heat
• Unit is 25 inches high, allowing heat to be broadcast and distributed at a comfortable height
• The full-featured remote control offers remote operation
Space Heaters Comparison Chart
|Mr. Heater MHVFB30NGT||Up to 750 square feet||120||23.8 x 11.2 x 27 in||26.8 pounds|
|DoubleFly Mini Electric||N/A||1500||12.1 x 6.4 x 5.3 in||2.3 pounds|
|Lasko Designer Series||N/A||1500||8.2 x 8.2 x 16.1 in||8.1 pounds|
|Mulandd Ceramic||N/A||750W/1500||10.1 x 5.9 x 5.7 in||2.45 pounds|
|Comfort Zone Oscillating||300 square feet||800/1500||25 x 9.5 x 9 in||7.35 pounds|
|Air Choice Portable Infrared||N/A||1500||12 x 10.8 x 14.3 in||16 pounds|
|Givebest Space Heater||N/A||1500/750||11.1 x 8.6 x 6.8 in||3.55 pounds|
|Dr Infrared Heater||1000 Sq. ft||1500||13 x 11 x 16 in||19 pounds|
Space Heaters Buying Guide
When you plug in a space heater, you expect to get warm. There’s no need to ask, “what is a space heater,” because you know what they are. But sometimes they don’t seem to work very well. Why does that happen, and how can you avoid wasting your money? What is the best space heater for a garage?
The reason why space heaters don’t work for your needs is often that you have chosen the wrong style of space heater. That’s because despite what you might think, not all space heaters are created equal. Some are excellent for one thing, and others excel at another. It all depends on the type of room you’re trying to heat and how it is constructed. To fully explain, we have to talk about how heat gets from one place to another.
Physics professors and scientists have devoted their lives to studying how heat moves. This area of study is called thermodynamics. Put in layman’s terms, heat behaves in two ways. One, in most cases, it moves from areas of greatest concentration to areas of lower concentrations. And two, heat has three ways of getting to where it’s going. Those three methods are:
The first method of heat transfer is conduction. This is when the heat is transferred through a solid. An example of this is when you make your morning mug of coffee or tea. When you put your spoon in to stir in the cream and sugar, if you leave it there, the handle will eventually get hot. The heat from the tea has traveled into the cold spoon until it’s the same temperature as the liquid. That is heat conduction.
For space heaters, this isn’t really important, because you don’t lay on your space heater (or at least you shouldn’t be). But for something like a car seat warmer, where you sit on the cushion, that does require conduction. That device is warming your backside through the magic of conduction as the heat travels from the resistance wires, through the solid insulation to your cold legs and back. These seat warmers are battery powered space heaters because they run off your car.
The next method of heat transfer is called convection, and it is how most people think of heat. Convection is when the heat is transferred by a fluid of some sort. It is important to remember that to physics, air is considered a fluid. So when your Dyson space heater is blowing on you, that is convection.
For a real-world example of convection, think about a hot tub. The heating coils warm the water, and that water swirls around until the entire tub is just the right temperature. You get into the warm water and the heat from the coils is transferred to you via the water.
Another example is with a kerosene, natural gas, or propane space heater. The combustion of the fuel creates heat, which warms the air. As it warms the air, the hot air rises, which forces the cold air to the bottom of the room where it is warmed by the space heater. This continuous movement of hot air to the ceiling continues as the cooler air is warmed and rises. This is why most convection space heaters have a fan paired with it, to force the warm air out and draw in cool air.
The last method of heat transfer is radiation. Radiation is when the heat is transferred through a vacuum. The heat travels as electromagnetic radiation, like light, until it hits a solid surface and transfers its energy to that material. That transfer of energy warms the solid up. Certain solids are better at absorbing heat and some things are better at reflecting it. Things made of dark colors, because they absorb light, are great at absorbing and holding heat. Likewise, light-colored objects and shiny surfaces reflect light and so tend to be cooler.
A real-world example of radiant heat is the sun. Think of a cool spring day when the sun is shining down on you. The air is crisp and the thermometer says it is only 58 degrees. But as you stand in the sun, you get warm enough to take off your jacket. That solar powered space heater is soaking into you from 93 million miles away. The reason the thermometer doesn’t register that heat is that it is measuring the temperature of the fluid it is in, which is the air.
So now that you know how space heaters warm up the world around them, let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of each type of space heater, and some of the things you’ll want to think about when it comes to selecting one type of heater over another.
Conduction Space Heaters Pros and Cons
Even though there aren’t any conduction space heaters, it is still worth talking about them, That is because even though seat warmers and chemical packs that you put in your pockets aren’t technically space heaters, people still use them when they are cold at home or in the office.
- They often use very little power –Conduction heaters can generate enormous amounts of heat from that small amount of power. Because of this efficiency, they can be battery operated space heaters. The way they generate heat is by sending electricity through a wire that will conduct the electricity but also has a bit of resistance. That resistance generates heat.
Think of when you rub your hands back and forth together. That friction generates heat. In that same way, when electricity encounters resistance, it generates heat too. That heat radiates outward and diffuses through whatever insulation is in the seat warmer.
- They are extremely efficient – The close proximity of your body to the heat means that there’s very little loss of heat because it’s only going in one direction: toward you. Most seat warmers also put a layer of reflective material underneath the heating wires so that all of the heat travels toward you.
- They Require More Care and Attention –Conduction heaters can sometimes get too hot. It does not take much heat to burn your skin, particularly the sensitive parts on the backs of your legs and lower back. It only takes about 10 minutes at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to get a third-degree burn, so it’s important to be careful with exposure when using conduction type heaters. Never fall asleep while using one, or use one with a timer that will turn itself off if you happen to doze off while underneath it.
Convection Heater Pros and Cons
Convection heaters are great when you want to warm large groups of people. That’s because, with conduction heat, you would need everyone to have their own personal heating wrap. The issue with large groups and radiant heat is that someone would likely always be blocking someone else’s heat. The solution is to warm the air around them, which is what convection heaters do best.
- Good at Warming Groups – Most convection heaters use an open flame as a heat source, as this allows the air to warm. If you look at a traditional patio heater that uses propane or natural gas as a heat source, you’ll get an idea of how it works. As the air moves naturally around the burner pan or the central flame column, it is warmed. As more air moves past, it is warmed as well and swirls around. Most patio space heaters are good for warming about a 20-foot radius, but some can warm even more.
- Extremely Efficient – For interior space heaters that use convection, those are usually fueled by liquid propane or natural gas. This means that most pure convection heaters aren’t able to be moved because the fuel lines must be stationary and fixed in place. But as a supplement to an existing HVAC system, they are a great option.
- Work Well in Tandem – In a lot of cases, a natural gas space heater will be paired with high voltage baseboard heat. Pure baseboard heat can be a very expensive heating option, so the space heaters allow homeowners and tenants to only heat the rooms they are actually occupying. As long as a fan or some sort of air circulator is used in tandem, the convection-based space heater can provide a great sense of warmth and comfort.
- Burning Fuel Generates Waste Products – One of the primary drawbacks to a convection heater that uses combustion as its source of heat is that burning fuel produces noxious waste. This waste is in the form of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. In sufficient quantities, the two are extremely dangerous and can be fatal.
- Carbon Monoxide Is Dangerous –That’s because carbon monoxide is about the same weight as oxygen, so it does not displace it, it just mixes in so that people breathe it in with normal oxygen. As you breathe it in, it takes the place of oxygen in the blood because it is so similar to regular oxygen. But your body can’t use carbon monoxide like it does regular oxygen. So essentially, you start to suffocate even though you think you’re breathing just fine. At higher levels of carbon monoxide, you can be overwhelmed in just minutes. If you are overwhelmed, you can lose consciousness and suffocate.
- Immovable – Another drawback to convection heaters is that they are fixed in place. That means to get full coverage of your home you would need to install multiple heaters, which can increase the base cost. And when you’re using space heaters to save money, that is not something you want to hear.
- Comfort Can Suffer – One last drawback to convection heaters has to do with comfort and how heat affects humidity. When the air gets warmer, it can hold more moisture. That’s why summers are often laden with hot and humid days. The air can simply hold more moisture, so it does. And in winter, when the air gets colder, the air also feels drier and can often dry out your skin so you need extra chapstick and skin lotion. But when it comes to how comfortable you are, that’s where relative humidity comes in.
What is Relative Humidity?
The relative humidity is the ratio of how much water moisture is in the air compared to how much water moisture the air can possibly hold. Remember that as the air gets colder, it can hold less water, and as the air warms up, it can hold more water. So if you have the same amount of moisture in the air, as the air gets colder, the higher the relative humidity. So why is this important with space heaters that warm the air?
Well, as you warm the air, given that you aren’t adding any more water to the air, the relative humidity goes down. And that is going to make you more uncomfortable. For example, if the relative humidity drops to below 25 percent, you start to feel dry and uncomfortable. On the other side, if the relative humidity goes above 60 percent, it begins to feel like a swamp. For any given home or business, the recommended relative humidity level is 30 percent to 60 percent. Learn more about how to control your home climate humidity and temperature levels in our guide.
How Does This Affect You?
So let’s say that it is snowing outside. The relative humidity outdoors is high, because of precipitation, but when you move indoors where the air is warmer, it feels dry. That’s because the air can hold more moisture, there’s just not any more for it to hold. Some physical discomfort that can result from low relative humidity includes cracked and dry skin as well as drying out of the nasal passages. This drying and cracking can make the cold virus easier to catch. Low relative humidity also causes nosebleeds in many people as well. It can also make allergies worse and make it harder for some people to even breathe.
Radiant Heaters Pros and Cons
Radiant heaters are great heaters for when you need heat in an enclosed space. Because they don’t burn anything, they don’t emit carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide. Radiant heaters work by producing infrared radiation from some source. Various types include:
- quartz crystal heaters
- ceramic element heaters
- oil filled space heaters
- Immediate Direct Heat – Remember that radiant heaters don’t warm the air much at all. (The infrared radiation does interact with the oxygen molecules a little bit, but mostly, they just zoom by). This heat radiation travels until it strikes something solid and is absorbed. That’s why infrared heaters are the best space heater for a large drafty room. If you’re going to be sitting in your office chair and not moving around much, this is an amazing way to get warm. You point the radiant heater your way and bask in the heat.
How Far Away Does Radiant Heat Work?
Keep in mind that radiant heaters do suffer from a good bit of drop off as you get farther away from them. The farther you get from them, the more surface area that the same amount of radiation has to hit. So say, while you’re up close, you get hit by 50,000 infrared rays in a one square foot section of your body (these are totally made up numbers, by the way).
That’s going to make you feel really warm. But as you back away, because the infrared radiation disperses, that same amount of radiation has to hit a larger area, so it can’t warm you as much. Radiant heaters are still the best space heater for basements.
In general, the rule of thumb for a radiant heater is it loses power directly in relation to the square of the distance. What this means is that you’re getting one-fourth of the power from a radiant heater at 20 feet as you are getting from ten feet.
Talking About Conservation of Heat
One good thing about radiant heaters is that they can turn your home into a thermal battery. All that heat still has to go somewhere. So it reaches out and hits your walls and your ceiling. And then:
- the heat warms up the walls and ceiling.
- provided that your insulation is good enough to prevent the heat from leaking to the outside, then as that heat builds up, it will start radiating back at you
- you get hit on all sides by that radiating heat
. And that can make you feel pretty toasty warm. There’s even a specific building term for how well your home is able to store heat. It’s called thermal mass.
Thermal Mass is What?
Thermal mass is defined as the ability of any material to absorb and store heat. The more energy it takes to change something’s temperature, the higher its thermal mass. Examples of good thermal mass are:
- Cement Blocks
Things with bad thermal mass:
- Free-standing wood panels
- Windows or other glass
During the winter, when you run your space heaters when you’re awake, that thermal radiation can be absorbed by the thermal mass and released as you sleep.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t consider thermal mass to be a substitute for insulation. Storing and releasing heat is a far cry from stopping heat from flowing in and out of a building. Learning to use a radiant heater with your home’s thermal mass effectively can double or triple the effectiveness of your space heater.
- Fast Heat Now! – One of the primary benefits of a radiant space heater is that you get heat fast. Usually within minutes of turning on the heater, you’re going to feel something coming from it.
- Good For the Environment – Electric radiant heaters are also more environmentally friendly than other types of heaters because they don’t create any sort of waste.
- Works Anywhere –Another benefit is that you can use a radiant heater to warm you up even if you’re outside in the freezing cold. That’s because it’s the radiation that warms you and nothing else.
- Watch Your Distance – When it comes to the shortcomings of radiant heating, by far, the largest is that they can quickly burn someone if they are too close to the coils. That’s because again, all that radiant energy is concentrated up close. An oil space heater can be very hot to the touch as well.
- A Narrow Focus –radiant heat only affects what’s in front of it. So if you’re moving around a lot, doing chores, you are not going to feel a lot of that heat. And just like you don’t feel the heat when you’re not in front of it.
- Not Good for Large Gatherings – it’s not ideal for keeping large groups of people warm. And it should be mentioned that just like radiant heaters turn on and emit heat very quickly when you turn them off, they stop emitting heat just as quickly.
Is Radiant Hat Safe?
Of course, there’s one topic that we should tell you because we’ve seen it written and seen people worry about it. Radiant heaters emit radiation, and that worries some people, because thanks to incidents like Three Mile Island and Fukushima and Chernobyl, people think that radiation is bad and will turn your insides to goo and make your hair fall out and give you cancer. And when you equate thermal radiation with the sun, people worry about skin cancers, because that’s what overexposure to the sun does.
Can a Radiant Heater Cause Cancer?
But not all radiation is created equally. Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation, and light is relatively harmless, provided you don’t look into a flashlight. And infrared radiation, the kind that warms you up, has less energy in it than blue light.
See, the more energy that radiation has, the more dangerous it can be to you. Ultraviolet light (UV) is the type of radiation that causes skin cancer and it is on the completely opposite end of the visible light spectrum from heat radiation. Gamma rays, like those emitted from nuclear disasters, are also a long way from regular thermal radiation.
So you don’t have to worry about your son’s new infrared heater making you grow a third arm, even as handy as that might sound every now and again.
What About Hybrid Heaters?
The best types of space heaters are often a hybrid. You get radiant space heaters that also have a fan that blows cool air over the hot emitters. Because the emitters are so hot, they can transfer heat to the air via direct contact. That means that not only are you getting the benefit of the direct radiant heat, you’re also getting a little boost from the warm air that’s blowing around. Together, they can make sure you stay warm long after you turn off the heater.
Maximizing the Effect of your Heater
No matter what type of space heater you get, you should always strive to have a ceiling fan or some other sort of circulating aid in the same room. You want the air to keep moving because even with a set of radiant heaters, you can still improve your overall comfort level by getting the air moving even more. And with a convection heater, you don’t want the hot air to sit at the top of your room. You want that warm air circulating and flowing down around you where it can do the work instead of keeping the ceiling hot.
Keeping the air moving also helps your thermostat record an accurate internal temperature, so you can be sure that you’re saving money by not turning on your main HVAC system. And if your space heater has a thermostat, keeping the air moving will ensure that it has an accurate read as well.
Now that you know how the various type of space heaters work, let’s talk about how you can be safe with your space heaters.
Let’s Talk Safety With Space Heaters
When it comes to space heaters, you need to be safe with them. According to Nationwide Insurance, there were over 19,000 home fires in the United States due to accidents with space heaters that caused nearly $560 million in property damage. So how do you make sure that this doesn’t happen to you? Let us tell you how to be safe when you’re running your space heater.
General safety tips
- Watch the Power – You may wonder how much electricity does a space heater use. The answer is a lot. You need to ensure that the outlet you plug them into can handle the load. Sure, 1500 watts may not seem like a lot, but you’re running your space heater for a long time, often hours at a time. Make sure that your heater isn’t plugged into a circuit that has other high drain appliances on it, like a refrigerator or a freezer.
- No Extension Cords -Additionally, never use a normal residential extension cord with a space heater. The amount of power being drawn will cause an extension cord to melt and deform, running the risk of a fire. It’s always best to plug your space heater directly into the wall. If you’re using it as an outdoor space heater, use an industrial outdoor-rated extension cord. These will be thicker and more brightly colored and sold as an outdoor extension cord.
- Know Their Place – When it comes to positioning a space heater, you need to be aware of where you are placing it. If the unit has a fan, then it has somewhere that it’s drawing cool air in. Make sure that the inlet is free and clear and unobstructed. For safety’s sake, you want at least a one-foot clearance on all sides of the heater, with at least three feet of clearance between the front and the nearest flammable object for most heaters. Watch the cord as well. They haven’t made a cordless space heater yet.
- Be Wary of Flammables – Watch drapes and loose sheets and clothing when you position your heater. Additionally, never use your space heater as a clothes rack or someplace to hang things on. When you place your heater, keep it on a hard and level inflammable surface.
If you place a heater directly on the carpet, make sure that it has clearance around the air inlets. And when you place a space heater, keep it out of high traffic areas to prevent the risk of accidental injury. The casing may be cool to the touch, but if you touch the front of the heater, that is still going to be exceptionally hot.
- Inspections are Your Friend – When you use your space heater for the first time for the season, give it a good once over.
- Check out the power cord and the prongs.
- Look for any excessive wear and tear or rodent damage.
- Look at the place the cord attaches to the space heater.
- Make sure that the casing isn’t cracked or damaged.
- If there is any damage, don’t use the heater and get a new one.
- Test It – Test the tip over mechanism as well. Turn the heater on and let it warm up. Then tip it over onto its back gently. Don’t just kick it over. You want to ensure that as soon as it goes off of its feet, it turns off. If the space heater doesn’t turn off, discard it. Do these inspections about once a month so that you can be sure that your space heater is as safe as it can be.
- Be Safe With Storage – When you store your space heater, it’s a good idea to vacuum seal it in one of those big storage bags. If that’s a bit much for you, then coil the cord and put that in a Ziploc baggie and tape it to the shell of the space heater. That will keep it off the floor and out of reach of hungry mice or other vermin.
Other General Tips – When it comes to the everyday operation of your space heater, you want to ensure that you never run it when you’re not at home. Additionally, if you are running it near bedtime, either use the timer or turn it off when you start to feel drowsy. It’s a bad idea to keep your space heater running when you can’t watch it.
- Make sure that you have functioning fire alarms on all floors in your home and outside of any sleeping areas. Check them at least once per month to ensure they are operating properly. If you have an indoor propane space heater, it’s also a good idea to get a carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide monitor. It’s much better to have them and not need them than to need them and wish you had them.
- There is no such thing as a good electric bathroom space heater. While you may not like to be cold before and after your bath, the extra moisture in the air can damage and corrode the circuitry of your space heater. And if you happen to touch an electrical device with wet feet, you may very well wish you hadn’t.
- If you use your space heater at the office, make sure that you plug it in where people aren’t going to trip over or walk on the cord. And don’t plug the heater into a plug that has other things already plugged in. Plugs for space heaters can get exceptionally warm and may damage the cords and plugs of other things. When you leave the office or your desk for any amount of time, make sure you unplug the heater. When you position your heater in the office, be aware of its proximity to the wall and to other flammable objects. And you should always notify your direct supervisor that you have a space heater so that you don’t run afoul of any office or business regulations.
Propane, Natural Gas, and Kerosene Space Heaters Safety Tips
There is no doubt that burning fuel can be an extremely efficient way to get a lot of heat quickly. But if you aren’t safe and aware of the dangers, they can also be lethal. Burning fuel releases carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. We discussed earlier how carbon monoxide is so dangerous.
Carbon Monoxide Safety – As a short recap, basically, when you breathe it in, your body tries to use it like it would regular oxygen. But your cells can’t use it, so oxygen dependent organs, like your brain, will rapidly start to suffer.
What is important is knowing the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning so you can react quickly. Because if you are suffering, you only have minutes (maybe less) before it can be too late. Some things to watch out for include:
- tightness across the chest
- sudden headaches and fatigue
- nausea, dizziness, or sudden drowsiness
- some people may experience chest pains
For exceptionally high exposures, you may begin to vomit or to feel exceptionally confused or feel very weak. You may feel like you are suddenly drunk or like you’ve been running for a long time. At near critical points, carbon monoxide poisoning causes people to collapse and lose consciousness.
Not everyone will suffer all of these symptoms at the same time depending on their age and relative health. The most vulnerable are children, the elderly, smokers, and people who live at high altitudes (which is why some natural gas space heaters are prohibited above certain elevations).
Additionally, if you are pregnant, carbon monoxide poisoning can be especially dangerous to fetuses and unborn children.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be reversed if you catch it in time. However, prolonged exposure and acute poisoning can have long-lasting effects, especially in parts of your body that require a significant amount of oxygen.
Your brain and your heart can be permanently damaged from carbon monoxide exposure. You can also suffer reproductive risk as well.
If you think you have been exposed or are being exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, the most important step is to get to fresh air as quickly as possible. Once you are there, call 911 immediately. If there are other people still in the affected area, it is important that you not try to rescue them or allow anyone else to attempt a rescue.
It’s entirely likely that they can succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning while attempting a rescue. Firefighters have equipment that allows them to enter areas that have carbon monoxide safely.
Carbon Dioxide – While carbon dioxide isn’t nearly as dangerous as carbon monoxide, you still need to be aware of it. Carbon dioxide can start affecting you at about 10,000 parts per million (ppm), where carbon monoxide only needs to be one-one thousandth of that at 100 ppm to begin affecting you.
But the real danger for carbon dioxide, apart from being an oxygen displacer, is that propane and natural gas heaters will start to convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide over time. So you should definitely be aware of carbon dioxide levels as well.
Know Where to Put Them – When it comes to keeping safe with fuel-powered space heaters, you need to ensure adequate ventilation wherever you have them installed. Some heaters should never be installed in bedrooms, simply because if the pilot light goes out, the gas can quickly fill the space. As a rule of thumb, if the space heater generates more than 10,000 BTU/hour, it must not be put in a bathroom or a bedroom.
When installing a propane or natural gas heater, there are more exact rules for placements. There should be at least 36 inches of clearance above the heater with a foot on either side. Additionally, it must be at least 36 inches from any fabric or flammable objects.
When installing a natural gas or liquid propane space heater, you need to know about the construction of your home. Spaces where space heaters are installed fall under three different categories:
- Confined Spaces – a confined space is a room that measures less than 50 cubic feet per 1,000 BTU per hour of thermal output. So for a 10,000 BTU heater, a confined space would be anything smaller than 500 cubic feet.
- Unconfined Spaces – an unconfined space is a room that measures more than 50 cubic feet per 1,000 BTU per hour of thermal output. So from the previous 10,000 BTU heater, a 500 cubic foot or greater room would be unconfined.
- Unusually Tight Construction – this type of construction is defined rather technically because it is designed to keep out moisture and air. It has weather stripping on all functioning doors and windows and it has a sealant applied to areas such as the joint around windows and door frames and at penetration points for plumbing, electrical, and other openings. Additionally, walls and ceilings have a continuous vapor barrier that has a rating of one perm or less with all openings gasketed and sealed.
If you want to install a fuel-powered space heater in a confined space or a space with unusually tight construction, you have to make special provisions to ensure adequate ventilation. It is important to note that when looking at a confined versus unconfined space that if there is no doorway, an adjacent room is considered part of that space.
When supplying additional ventilation, it can come from two places.
It can come from another room by adding ventilation grills, or it can come from the outside. If you’re going to add ventilation from another room, there have to be two grills. One must be within 12 inches of the ceiling and the other has to be within 12 inches of the floor. Both must be located on the wall between the enclosed space and the ventilating space. Another option is to remove the door.
If you’re adding ventilation from the outdoors, then you must use the same type of grills within 12 inches of the floor and ceiling, and they must be directly connected to either the outdoors or to crawl spaces directly connected to the outdoors. That can be an attic or an actual crawl space.
Modern Gas Fueled Space Heater Safety
Most modern natural gas space heaters do have ODS cutoff switches. This stands for Oxygen Depletion Sensor. When this sensor picks up that there’s not enough oxygen in the room because of a buildup of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, it will automatically shut off the unit.
But it’s still important that you follow the rules for installation as well as know the dangers of carbon monoxide. If the sensor ever fails or malfunctions, knowing these pieces of information can save your life.
What Options Should You Be Looking For?
When it comes to getting the space heater that is best for you, there are certain things that you should absolutely be looking for and some that are pretty optional depending on your needs. One of the first questions is what your heating requirements are.
Know the Room – Heating requirements for a space heater can come in many different guises. One thing for sure is that you want to know what size room you plan on heating and where it is. For one thing, if you plan on using a space heater to heat a basement that doesn’t have any direct ventilation, you cannot use a natural gas space heater or a propane space heater. That’s because of the dangers of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
Knowing what size room you’re going to be heating is also important. If the room is large, you may need two convection space heaters if you plan on heating the entire room. On the other hand, if you aren’t going to be heating the whole room, and just need to heat the area where you are going to watch television, you could get away with a single radiant or hybrid space heater.
Adjustable Thermostats – Another option you should be looking at is a thermostat. A thermostat means that you can set the temperature of your convection or hybrid heater, and when the cool air coming in is at or near that set temperature, your heater will turn itself off. And when your room gets colder, the heater will automatically turn back on.
In some cases, you will get a thermostat that has an actual number on it. In other cases, you’ll just get a dial that as you turn it up means a higher heat, but at a lower dial setting is a lower heat. It’s still a thermostat, just an inaccurate one.
If you are going to be using a thermostat at bedtime, you should definitely get one that has a timer. A timer means that you can turn on the heater and it will only run for a certain amount of time before shutting off completely. While you should never use a gas or propane-powered space heater deliberately when you’re sleeping if you think you might drowse off, set the timer so that you don’t succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Get a Remote Control – An option that is quite nice is a full featured remote. While some remotes just offer the ability to turn the heater on and off, that’s often not enough. It’s best when your remote offers the full range of controls that are offered on the unit itself.
The option to set the thermostat and change the temperature from the comfort of your bed is really nice. Whether it is setting the timer or adjusting the heat, or even turning your heater off, a remote is a nice accessory. Of course, you’ll want to affix a bit of Velcro onto it so you don’t lose it.
Move that Air Around – Oscillation is another option that you might not think about at first, but can be really great to have. That’s because with hybrid and convection heaters, the more air you move, the better. Not to mention the fact that having a blast of warm air wash over you while you are huddled on the couch is quite nice to have.
Along with oscillation, some space heaters offer movable louvers. These are like the vents in your car, where you adjust the fins to change the direction that the air is blowing. With a louver in your space heater, you can make the warm air blow downward or left or whatever direction you like.
Get it Rated – One key about space heaters is making sure that they’ve been certified by a national safety standards board. One of the most common is the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification. You may find space heaters that are UL listed, or you may find some that are ETL listed. Don’t worry, they’re both the same thing. See, ETL tests to ensure compliance with UL standards.
If that’s a little confusing, it’s because Underwriters Laboratories actually does two things. The first thing they do is establish and write the safety standards. Then they also provide testing and certification. But they can be a little expensive. So Intertek started the ETL listing. They also test to the UL standard. So as long as your space heater has either the ETL or the UL listing, you’re in good shape.
Don’t Forget the Aesthetics – Another feature of space heaters that you might not think about, but that can be equally important is the ability of the heater to match your décor. Some manufacturers offer space heaters that have a nice neutral walnut finish that can match nearly anything. Other machines are cast in black molded heat resistant packaging that might not match exactly, they don’t mismatch. But if décor and aesthetics are extremely important to you, then this is an option that you should definitely be considering.
Space heaters offer an economical solution to people who want heat applied in specific places. It is important to remember, however, that space heaters generate heat, and that in doing so, they offer significant safety hazards to go with their benefits. There are numerous manufacturers, like Honeywell space heaters and Duraflame space heaters that can suit your needs which we review.
The different types of space heaters work well in different situations. When you know the difference between heating your desk at the office and keeping your toes warm at home, you can identify the right space heater for your needs.