The Different Types of Indoor Space Heaters

Walk into a big box or DIY store or type “space heaters” into a search engine. It seems as though the possibilities are endless. Many different types of space heaters are on the market today with safety features older models never had. A “tip over” or “overheating” shut off is standard on many space heaters.

Thermostats allow the user to regulate temperature in the room. Some models have dials that must be set by the comfort level in the room or by using a thermometer, others have a digital thermometer, and others are simply “on” or “off.” The last kind needs a plug- in thermostat to help regulate the temperature in the room. Once such thermostat is available at this link.

This article will discuss briefly each type of space heater available. No one heater will be recommended over another. It is up to the consumer to research his or her own needs, and choose accordingly. One or more of the heaters discussed may not be acceptable for indoor use in your state.

The best way to choose the size of space heater is to first measure the room to be heated. You will need the square footage for the following calculation:

1. Multiply the square footage by 10. It will take 10 watts of power to heat each square foot of space. A 10 x 12 room equals 120 sq. ft., or 1,200 watts.

2. Convert the watts to BTU’s. Each watt is 3.41 BTU’s. 1,200 x 3.41 equals 4,092. It will take 4,092 BTU’s to heat the room.

Consider other factors in the room, such as insulation, doors and windows. A standard 1,500-watt heater generates 5,100 BTU’s more than adequate for this room. A ceiling fan set to winter setting will help circulate heat so the heater does not have to work as hard.

This information will allow you to shop for the type of heater you need.

Oil Filled Radiator

These wonderful units come with synthetic oil sealed inside. There is no need to replace it, refill it or worry about leaks. Most have an odor when first turned on, but this dissipates. Since they have no fans, they are completely silent.

A heating element heats the oil to the desired temperature, and then turns off. The heated oil continues to generate heat to the room. By cycling on and off, they are energy efficient.

They are best used in living rooms and bedrooms.

Fan – Forced Air Space Heaters

These powerhouses are among the most commonly used. A fan blows air over heated coils, which heats the room. Great care must be taken to keep children and pets away, and to keep paper or other objects from coming in contact with them.

The fans can be noisy, but most people learn to ignore the sound.

These are best for workshops, offices and other noisy places.

Quartz or Carbon Space Heater

These ingenious heaters do not heat space; they heat objects in the room such as people. They use electromagnetic energy to accomplish this task. You feel warm, and other solid objects in the room become warm too. Their heat dissipates to the room, which becomes warm.

Units that use halogen bulbs use less power than other units.

These are best for garages and workshops.

Infrared Heaters

Infrared light rays are invisible to the naked eye. Your body absorbs the heat because it absorbs the light. They are more environmentally friendly because they use less power to generate the infrared rays.

They can be powered by propane, electric or by natural gas. Some have heat exchangers that heat metal such as copper, and a fan that blows the created heat into the room. Some of these have metal embedded ceramic.

They do run on the pricey side, but are silent for use in any room.

Ceramic Space Heaters

Electric heating elements heat metal particles embedded in a ceramic base. A fan blows the heat into the room. These heaters are available in different sizes, but most are small for small spaces. The advantage is that they stay cool to the touch, making them less of a hazard to children or pets.

These are best for small rooms, such as offices.

Baseboard Space Heater

Electric heating elements heat air flowing over copper tubes, which flows to the room. These units often have integrated thermostats and operate with near silence. Their low profile makes them appear to be part of the room’s décor.

These are best used in living rooms or basements. Use them in bedrooms as well.

Propane Heaters

There are heaters rated for indoor use, such as the “Big Buddy” range of portable propane heaters. They operate by using standard 1lb. bottles of propane, or the user can purchase a regulator, adaptor, and fuel filter for use with 5lb. bottles commonly used with barbeques. Most have automatic shut off switches if the unit is tipped over and oxygen sensors that shut off if low levels are detected in the room.

These are commonly used in tents, RV’s, boats, workshops and garages.

By carefully selecting the space heater that best suits your needs, you can shop by price next, saving even more money. Look for sales and discounts as winter turns to spring.

Source: Charlie Ranier Gaston, “How To Size A Space Heater,” Overstock website, no date given

Source: Natalie Rodriguez, “The Best Space Heaters,” This Old House website, no date given

Source: Rosalind Jackson, “How Infared Heaters Work,” How Stuff Works website, no date given

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

three × 6 =