Buying Guide: 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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…
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
Check out the 11 Best Space Heaters on the market right now:
#1. ProCom Vent-Free Dual Fuel Stove – 25,000 BTU, Model QD250T
- With this ProCom Vent-Free Dual Fuel Stove, you can enjoy traditional styling and modern convenience
- No wood or electricity is required
- This classic stove operates on propane or natural gas for clean-burning performance even in power outages
- Handpainted logs add the finishing touch of realism with no messy ashes left behind
- Not for sale in California and Canada
- Check your local regulations on installation restrictions and requirements
- Dimensions L x W x H (in.): 13 x 33 x 26
- Product Style: Stove, Heating Capability (sq. ft.): 1,000
- Thermostat Included: Yes, Blower Included: No
- Includes: Hand painted logs, Oxygen Depletion Sensor: Yes
- BTU Output: 25,000
Pros: fast & easy to install, a great stove especially for the price, the burner and heating work nicely, functional and attractive, no smell, it is a clean safe way to heat the basement, nice way to heat your home, doesn’t take up much space, works perfect for 800 sq. ft place, heats up the entire area very quickly, the thermostat is also a great feature so it cycles on and off as needed, cuts winter oil bills by half including price of natural gas to operate stove, this stove is great saving on electric bill …
Cons: no glass in the front of the stove, could of made the fake logs a little better quality, the instructions are less than ideal …
#2. Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater
- The Camco Olympian RV Wave-3 LP Gas Catalytic Safety Heater is an ideal secondary heating source
- It produces enough heat to warm 130 square feet of space
- The heater operates on low pressure gas and can be wall mounted or used as a portable unit
- It is equipped with a 100% safety shut-off valve to prevent accidental non-ignitions fuel discharge
- The built-in automatic Piezo electric sparker will last for 20,000 starts
- There is no electrical drain or battery connection
- The Wave 3 is adjustable from 1600 to 3000 BTU/hr
- Catalytic heating is 99.98% efficient (flame type heaters waste up to 45% of all heat produced), resulting in a more efficient and low-cost heat
Pros: great little heater for a small room, perfect size for 12-15′ the camper, great customer service, one of those must have for your SHTF home kit, easy permanent install, well built, no fumes, no burnt propane smells whatsoever, clean, does not use hardly any fuel, efficient, operates without electricity, starts easy, controls easy to regulate, without a noisy fan, it’s quiet and puts out a lot of heat …
Cons: it’s expensive, should have bought the Wave-6–one size larger …
#3. Lifesmart Large Room Infrared Quartz Fireplace in Burnished Oak Finish w/Remote
- The Lifesmart Life Pro Infrared Fireplace can be installed anywhere since no venting is required
- Imagine the warmth and beauty of a fireplace anywhere in your home with no costly installation
- A beautiful Oak mantle surrounds every fireplace to match your décor
- Unlike most electric fireplaces this is truly an Infrared Heater made to heat a large room
- The Fireplace uses 3 commercial grade quartz infrared elements to produce a soft, cozy heat
- All electrical components are warrantied for 1 year
- This fireplace is ideal for zone heating only uses up to 1500 watts which is no more than a common hair dryer!
- Simply plug into a standard 15 amp 110 volt outlet and enjoy
- The fireplace produces a beautiful & realistic dancing flames just like a real fire
- The Fireplace may be operated with or without heat so you can enjoy the ambiance year round
- A quiet scroll fan helps circulates the heat
- A new larger remote control is also included to operate your fireplace from across the room
- This Lifesmart Life Pro Fireplace comes with E-Z glide casters and will make a welcome addition to your family room, living room, basement or bedroom
Pros: fast shipping, no assembly is required, great deal for the money, great addition to living room, the heater just the right size and heats wonderful, it’s safe for homes, heats up the whole room, looks cool, the flames look beautiful and realistic that you feel warm just looking at it, has two fan speeds, it is cool to the touch, moves around easily, saved your money on heating …
Cons: it is so loud, short cord, no timer, the wood frame looks cheap …
#4. Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 1500-Watt
- Can heat up a large room with Auto Energy Saving Model With High and Low Feature
- Tip-over protection and Overheat protection
- Dual Heating Systems featuring infrared quartz tube + PTC with 12hr automatic shut-off timer
- IR Remote Control, High Pressure Low Noise Blower with Noise level 39 dB super quiet
- Electronic Thermostat: range 50 to 86 degrees. Caster Wheels and lifetme filter
- Weights 24 lbs and uses 12.5 Amps of Power. 1500 Watts
Pros: great customer service experience, was delivered on time, great price, work great in a smaller room such as a bedroom, little heater puts out terrific heat without breaking the bank, it is extremely quiet, compact, efficient and easy to operate, you’ll love that it has a remote control and a temperature setting, very nice looking, the wheels are awesome, safe for pets, very rapid heat-up, recommend this heater for anyone needing a small space heater for their basement, it will save you some money on the purchase price and electricity …
Cons: is does not have a timer for more than 3 hours, the set temp is always displayed instead of the room temp …
#5. Dura Heat, DH2304, Convection Kerosene Heater, Portable, Indoor
- This Dura Heat convection style heater is a popular choice
- It projects 23,000 BTU’s of heat in a 360 degree radius, heats up to 1,000 sq ft
- Also great for those winter power outages and emergency situations as it provides both heat and light when the power is out
- As with any fuel burning heater, annual maintenance is required
- Tilt-type shut off
- Installed drip tray
Pros: delivery was excellent, easy to assemble, nonelectrical heater, absolutely nice heater for winter, came with a small hand-pump that made fueling the heater very easy, works great with no fumes, performs excellent, low to no odor, saves money on home heating bills, recommend this heater to anyone needing a heating alterative or to use as a primary heater …
Cons: you will get a little smell when you put it out …
#6. DeLonghi HMP1500 Mica Panel Heater
- Mica heating element for fast, efficient heating
- Adjustable thermostat with two heat settings
- Thermal cutoff and internal tip-over switch for safety
- Slender and stylish design ideal for small spaces
- Wall mountable with included kit
- A carry handle and casters make it easy to move the heater from room to room
Pros: perfect space heat, slim design takes up little space, quiet operations and nice to have the wall mount option, multiple settings, heats quickly, heats up a living room with 12′ ceilings in no time, very efficient, throws a lot of heat but will not burn your hand off if you touch it, very safe for toddlers room, it rolls easily on wheels, highly recommend this heater to anyone looking for a space heater …
Cons: only downfall is that it’s a little big …
#7. Bionaire BH3950-U Silent Micathermic Console Heater
- The Bionaire Micathermic console heater offers a slender design
- This heater does not take up a lot of space and is virtually silent during operation
- It heats through the process of convection
- The micathermic heating panels are made of the mineral mica, which resists breakdown and has excellent stability
- The adjustable thermostat control and heat mode settings let you set the heat just right for you
- This heater also includes wheels and a carry handle for easy portability
Pros: safe room heater, nice alternative to the oil filled heater, lightweight and portable, rolls smoothly, enjoying the whole room heater, heats up a room about 20′ x 40′ comfortably, working pretty well, no odor, heats up quickly, quiet but strong, energy efficient to boot A+, no fire hazard, worry free, love it cause it has a thermostat, definitely worth the buy, best of the mica space heaters …
Cons: it has no remote, smell for the first time use and need to at least x hours to get away …
#8. Lifesmart Corp Lifelux Series Ultimate 8 Element Extra Large Room Infrared Heater
- This Life Lux Infrared heater is our top of the line infrared Heater
- The revolutionary design offers you safe & healthy heat for an extra-large room
- This deluxe heater and features 8 of our quartz infrared elements that are wrapped in a metal heat exchanger coil
- No other unit on the market has this innovative technology
- There is also a removable and cleanable Lifetime Air Filter
- This Infrared Heater only uses up to 1500 watts
- There are 3 energy savings settings including an Eco Setting that will heat smaller areas to 68 degrees using a balance of energy usage for maximum efficiency
- The heater is surrounded by our stylish all wood Oak Stain Cabinet That is cool to the touch
- E Z Glide casters will easily move from the heater from room to room
- This amazing heater also includes a new larger remote control to operate the Digital Thermostat and Dual Timer settings that can be used to turn the unit on in up to 12 Hours so your room is warm when you come home or turn off in up to 12 hours
Pros: fast shipping, great heater for the money, superb little heater with remote, stylish, nice looking with the furniture look, fits in with your furniture, safe around animals and children, it’s quiet, could easily heat a larger room, heats up in a few seconds, work great and cut your electric bill, recommend this to anyone who needs to heat up a large bedroom …
Cons: temp when in low or high modes eco is preset at 68 only …
#9. Honeywell EnergySmart Electric Radiator Whole Room Heater
- Digital EasySet Controls w/ 1-12 Hour Timer, Adjustable Thermostat & 3 Heat Settings
- Silent Operation
- Large, easy-pull luggage style handle & easy glide wheels
- Exceeds industry Safety Standards: Tip Over Switch, overheat protection, 3-prong grounded plug & heavy duty power cord
Pros: electricity saver for sure, quality and finish is outstanding, nice safety features, rolls around from room to room, built-in thermostat works well for controlling the room temperature, heats up and stays warm, safe to the touch, no weird smells, keeps warm without the loud fans, you can set it to a temp 65-70-75-80 degrees, it’s one of the best small space heater you can find …
Cons: it doesn’t cool down super fast, a little heavy to move around…
#10. DeLonghi EW7707CM Safeheat 1500W ComforTemp Portable Oil-Filled Radiator
- The De’Longhi Safeheat ComforTemp is an oil-filled, 1,500-watt full-rom radiant heater that provides fast, silent heating in any room of your home or office
- The radiant heater has three heat settings and an energy-saving ComforTemp setting to automatically maintain the temperature at 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit
- The easy-to-use control panel features an adjustable thermostat with an automatic antifreeze setting
- Safety features include heat slots that maintain a low surface temperature, rust-resistant metal construction, a rounded design with no sharp corners, and a thermal cutoff function to prevent overheating
- Easy snap out wheels lend stability and portability while a wraparound cord makes for easy storage
Pros: it sold at a very reasonable cost, delivered quickly, best oil filled radiator heater, very safe, heat without any danger to kids or pets, go green – it helped lasting our earth longer, keeps the cost of electricity down significantly, absolute no noise, thermostat lets you regulate the heat output really nicely, heats the room surprisingly fast, recommend this product for anyone who need a quick, quiet, and efficiently heated room …
Cons: the wheels are not very good for moving on carpet, someone talked about smell …
#11. Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Portable Radiant Heater
- Mr. Heater offers the latest evolution in portable heating with the Portable Buddy Propane Heater
- Use it in garages, tents, workshops, cabins, porches, patios, or hunting blinds to heat up to 200 sq. ft.
- Equipped with a low-oxygen shut-off pilot system and accidental tip-over shutoff for indoor safety and features low/high heat settings of 4,000 and 9,000 BTU/hr. allowing you to control comfort level
- Accidental tip-over safety shutoff
- Lightweight, easy to carry
- Connects directly to a 20 lb. propane cylinder with optional hose
Pros: great for outdoor games or events, a life saver in a cold tent, perfect heater for small spaces and temporary heat, lightweight, compact and easy to transport, quite with no hissing when lit, the heat that radiates from this little monster is awesome, works exactly as advertised, great deal at bargain price, recommend this propane heater to anyone who needs or might need emergency heat …
Cons: 16 oz tanks only last 2 or 3 hours on low setting …