Studies by the U.S. Department of Energy show that you can save over 10% on your monthly home heating bills by lowering the thermostat on your central heating bills and using space heat to warm only the rooms you are using. Why heat the whole house when you are in the bedroom, or the den, or the kitchen with portable space heaters
The term "space heater" usually refers to a small, self-contained heating unit, usually portable but sometimes wall-mounted. A room heater keeps the air and surroundings at a comfortable temperature when the main heating system is inadequate, or when central heating is too expensive to operate or install.
Unlike central heating systems which warm many connected spaces at once, a portable space heater just warms a single, small area, anywhere from 50 to 150 square feet. An electric room heater is also great for boosting the temperature of frequently occupied rooms without overheating the rest of a home or office. With space heaters electric heating costs are reduced, because you're heating less square footage.
And since space heater electric usage is far more efficient today than it used to be, too, you'll still save money when you reduce your household thermostat.
Although some space heaters use natural gas or propane, electric space heating units are usually the most common for household use because there are safer and and there is no danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. But even among electric portable space heaters, you have many choices:
Fan Forced vs. Convection vs. Radiant
Fan-forced heaters use a fan to distribute a blast of hot air into the room. When you need space heat fast, thse quickly do the job, but can be noisy due to the fan. Plus, with fan-forced space heaters electric use is a little bit higher, because of the energy usecd to operate the fan.
Convection heaters circulate warm air through the natural process of convection. Because hot air always riess, a natural air circulation pattern developes wherein hot air from the heater rises and pushes down the cooler air to be warmed in its turn. Convection space heaters are quieter and create a long-lasting, stable temperature in a room, but reach ideal temperatures a little more slowly than fan-forced heaters
Radiant heaters - also called infrared heaters - send out electromagnetic rays that warm what they touch just like rays of the sun. Unlike fan-forced or convection heaters, radiant electric heaters don't warm the air, only the objects directly in their path. This makes them ideal for outdoors or poorly-insulated indoor areas, where warm air dissipates quickly.
Coil vs Ceramic vs Oil-Filled
The traditional heating element is a coil of metal radiates heat when charged with electricity. Sometimes the coils are encased in bulbs, other times they are exposed behind the grill and case of the heater.
A recent improvement of the traditional coil space heater is the ceramic heater. In a ceramic heater, the heating element is encased in a ceramic material that is designed to retain heat. Not only does this make the space heater safer, since the hot metal is covered up, but the ceramic material holds heat for a long time, so it uses less energy to maintain room temperature.
Oil-filled heaters resemble old-fashioned radiators, but they are filled with a heat conserving oil that never needs to be replenished. An enclosed heating element warms the oil, which circulates through the fins of the space heating unit to radiate heat into the room.
A micathermic heater is very similar to a ceramic heater, except the heating element is embedded in very thin sheets of mica, a heat conducting stone. These electric space heaters are very thin, and make ideal panel heaters that can be hung on the wall.
Shopping for a safe space heater is easier than ever. Modern portable space heaters are designed to be as risk free as possible. Models like oil-filled heaters and ceramic heaters greatly reduce the risk of burns and fires from exposed heating elements. You'll also want to be sure to look for safety features including:
Need more help with your space heating needs? Take a look at our list of recommended electric space heaters.
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