Using a space heater is a convenient way to quickly raise your room temperature and add warmth to any space. Available in a variety of sizes and styles, room heaters can help offset utility costs during cold winter months. Many electric space heaters also boast special features such as automatic oscillation and digital controls for more convenience during operation.
When it comes to buying a space heater, fundamental questions — like will this heater adequately heat my space? And how much will it cost to operate? — take precedence over the amount of bonus features included with the unit. To get to the bottom of these questions and more, let's examine the top 5 things to consider when shopping for a portable space heater.
The first factor to determine before selecting a space heater is what type of heater is best suited for your space. While there are numerous heater styles, there are essentially three heating technologies under which every electric heater falls: radiant, convective, and micathermic. Convection heaters typically provide even, whole-room heating; radiant heaters deliver quick, spot heating in small spaces; and micathermic heaters offer fast, widespread heat while saving space. Selecting the appropriate type of heater for your application is the best way to ensure effective performance.
When looking for a personal space heater, one of the most important things to consider is the size of space the heater will cover. This is determined by the heater wattage rating. Generally, a room heater uses 10 watts of heating power to heat each square foot of your space. So a typical 1,500-watt heater will cover average-sized rooms as large as 150 square feet when used as a primary source of heat. This guideline, however, is a general rule of thumb that does not apply to every model. Depending on the heating technology, your indoor environment, and the application, some portable heaters may cover more space.
If you are concerned about conserving energy and want to maintain low heating costs, it is a good idea to compare efficiency before choosing a space heater. Although portable electric heaters currently lack a standard level of efficiency like the EER ratings found on portable AC systems, heater operating costs are easy to calculate using a simple formula. To keep your electric bills from skyrocketing, it is necessary to choose the right heater for your environment and the size of your space. Additionally, special features such as energy saving modes, adjustable thermostats, and programmable timers help minimize power usage and contribute to economic operation.
Read our article Save on Heating Costs with a Portable Heater to learn more energy-saving tips for using a space heater.
If not monitored properly, portable heaters can easily become fire hazards. Therefore, it is very essential to consider safety. To significantly reduce the risk of fires, many manufacturers equip their electric heaters with cool-to-the-touch surfaces and other advanced safety features for secure operation. Some space heaters feature an internal switch that automatically shuts off the power if the heater is accidentally tipped over or knocked down. Overheat protection, another invaluable safety function, is also included with most space heater units. This switch serves as a sensor that automatically turns the heater off if the internal components reach an unsafe temperature.
Please read our Portable Heater Safety Tips article for more information on heater safety features.
Like most electrical appliances, many portable heaters emit some noise during operation. Some models, however, produce more sound than others. Consider non-fan-forced units such as a baseboard heater or an oil-filled radiator for silent operation in quiet environments like your bedroom or office. Honeywell baseboard heaters, for example, excel at whole-room heating with little noise interruption.
For more information on heaters, read our detailed Heater Buying Guide. For specific questions on a particular model or help choosing the best space heater for your needs, contact one of our product experts at 1-800-934-9194.