Why Oil Heaters are the Best Space Heater


Many people choose an oil heater as an alternative or supplement to their central heating.You probably have a portable oil heating unit at your home or office, enjoying its simple warmth each cold season, but how much do you really know about it and its lineage?

Below is a short history of the traditional radiator and benefits of today's portable oil heater (also known as an oil-filled radiator).

The Oil Heater of Yesterday

We see how this heating system is a safe, reliable, and convenient space heater today, but where did it come from and how did it become so popular? Although this model is grouped with today's space heaters, it actually utilizes a very old and traditional style of thermal distribution.

Ancient Roman Heating


The ancient Roman Empire, covering a span of some 1,000 years, is credited for a number of inventions and advances that made living in luxury today an afterthought.

Advances such as modern roads and tunnels, arches, aqueducts, water-proof cement, and yes, home heating can all be traced back to Rome.

They heated their bathhouses using a heating system called hydronics, where hot steam or water was forced through clay pipes, heated by fires. 

Much like  portable oil-filled units, the piped hot liquid created a relaxing warmth that would last for many hours after implementation (just like the water in your bathtub stays warm after you run it).

Victorian Central Heat

Many centuries passed before home heating became efficient and widely popular again. Sometime during 1855-1858, the first  central heating system was re-introduced and produced by Franz Friedrich Wilhelm San Galli - the man you can thank for the modern oil-filled radiator.

Just like before, these new radiators used water and hot steam to distribute hot air in the home. The water heater pumps the hot water into the radiator system, where it rises to the top.

In the form of steam, heat emanates from the water and then to the air. Then water cools and sinks to the bottom. The cool water exits the system and is routed back to the water heater, where it can be re-heated in a convenient cycle that isn't wasteful.

Franz San Galli

Franz Friedrich Wilhelm San Galli was a German-born, Russian businessman who invented the modern radiator as we know it. He spent most of his years in Russia's old capitol city, St. Petersburg, where he tirelessly developed his invention and grew his business.

Born in 1824, a native of Germany, he did not arrive in Russia until 1843 when he was a young man of 19.

Another decade would pass before the young San Galli founded a large plant specializing in equipment for heating and water supply. As his inventions took hold he grew to become a very prominent public figure until his death in 1908.

The heat exchanger he invented transferred thermal energy from one medium (the radiator) to another (the house) much the ancient systems. The difference was in size and efficiency.

Using metal pipes and an easily contained flame, Franz San Galli was able to make the unit economical and mass produced. His is the first historical application of a modern radiator.

Moving Forward

Ever since Franz San Galli first revolutionized home heating systems for the world the radiator heating system has steadily become smaller in size.

Today, your oil-filled radiator is portable while Franz San Galli's first hot water radiator would have been permanently placed in the basement because of its size. 

In addition, it's ideal for a single room while the traditional radiator system was a whole-house feature. Of course, by heating a single room at a time you conserve energy and limit waste, two very important features that weren't as significant back then.

Today's Model


Today's oil heating units are most often considered a member of the electrical space heater family.  These are a group of efficient and convenient heating machines that are popular for several reasons. Still, the oil-filled unit is a better choice in each of the following categories:


They are very small and lightweight. Despite their diminutive size, they are ideal for heating up to medium-sized rooms, or larger depending on brand and model. Many options weigh under 12 pounds for hassle-free mobility.

Energy Efficiency

It's the most energy efficient type on the market today. As you might have guessed, its contains special heat-trapping oil that is never burned. As a result, it never needs to be replaced, saving on extra costs and replacements. The unique liquid conserves heat so that the unit continues to heat the area after you official turn the unit off.

Quiet Operation

Unlike fan-distributed model (like your central heating system), an oil-filled radiator has no fan built into its design. Instead, the oil heater transfers heat primarily by convection whereby a liquid (i.e. the oil) is circulated through exposed pipes. Contrary to this description, it's a type of space heater where the source of the heat is not exposed.

Safety and Reliability

Since the heat source is not exposed, this means that the external temperature is low while the radiant heat flow is maximized.  In layman's terms, you won't get burned by touching the surface since it stays pleasantly warm, but never hot.  This unit is great for homes with pets or children.

Consistent Heat

As noted above, this unit's thermal-trapping oil retains heat long after you switch the unit off to sleep. Not only does this conserve energy, but it also ensures that you enjoy consistent heat like no other type. There are no fluctuations in temperature, meaning you remain toasty and warm without incident.

Freedom from Hassle

This heating method is extremely user-friendly. Most units are backed by a generous manufacturer's warranty because the product is so reliable. In addition, they come with digital controls and integrated thermostats so you never have to manually keep track of temperatures. Just set and forget your desired room temperature and it will do the rest!

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