What Is a Space Heater (And How Does It Work)

Regardless of whether you live in a predominantly chilly area or are susceptible to remaining in a chilly space, place heaters are superb property fixtures that can support you heat up a chilly space. These gadgets supply localized and centered warmth when the central heating system is insufficient.

Typically, room heaters provide successful heating solutions if you want to warmth a particular area alternatively of cranking up the thermostat of the total house, specially during wintertime. They are also best for rooms occupied by the ill and aged or people with minimal mobility. Even so, due to the fact of the heating aspect, place heaters are unsafe house fixtures. According to the Consumer Merchandise Security Fee,  space heaters are the resource of 1000's of property fires every calendar year¹.

For that reason, it is of vital relevance that you understand as much as achievable about place heaters to keep away from burning down your house. Given that these devices are pricey, knowing them will also aid you make the greatest buy decision that satisfies your requirements.

In this article, we will examine what space heaters are and how they work. We will also spotlight the various kinds of space heaters in the industry and the place they are best used. Let’s get began!

user guide divider

How Do Space Heaters Work?

Place heaters could retail with different names, but they are generally tiny moveable gadgets whose primary purpose is to warm up specific rooms in the house. They are usually put in when central heating is high-priced, when there is inadequate warmth output, or when one can not management ambient temperatures in a localized place.

There are various groups and varieties of area heaters in the marketplace. They occur in diverse styles, capacities, and designs and can be put practically wherever in a residence, presented there are no flammable supplies nearby. Sure, the doing work ideas might perform on most regular heaters, but each and every product has special versions. These products can run on normal gasoline, propane, kerosene, or electric power. Even so, most transportable heaters depend on electricity whose fundamental ingredient is the electrical resistor.

As soon as you switch the heater on, the electrical recent developed heats the wire factors (produced up of nichrome) in the device. Also known as heating coils, they flip electrical strength into warmth as the present flows by way of the resistor. This is maybe why electrical house heaters are often referred to as resistance heating units in some circles.

Space heater in a living room
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

What Are the Different Types of Space Heaters?

As you could have gathered, there are different sorts of space heaters accessible on the industry. If you are unfamiliar with place heater technologies, phrases these kinds of as vented, infrared, ceramic, and convection heaters can make selecting the correct product for your needs extremely overwhelming.

When space heaters complement your home’s central heating, every type can significantly lessen the general heating bill in your residence. However, this does not indicate that your electrical bill will not increase at any time so slightly, but the all round financial savings in electric powered bills and the versatility in putting in place heaters make them worthwhile residence fixtures.

When choosing a heater, make certain that it is the correct dimensions for the area you intend to place it in. Getting an oversized heater can be a fire hazard and it may not even heat the space appropriately. It can raise the area temperature to awkward levels, and as this kind of must be prevented at all costs.

Usually, area heaters are categorized into both combustion or electrical heaters.

Combustion Heaters

Combustion heaters are additional classified into vented and unvented combustion heaters¹

1. Vented Combustion Heaters

These varieties of combustion heaters are appropriate for indoor house use. Nevertheless, the design indicates that the heaters want to be forever set to the outdoors wall. This allows the system to suck air from the exterior, warmth it, and unfold it throughout a room.

Also recognized as sealed heaters, these heaters are safer to operate compared to other kinds in the market. They are also far more productive simply because they use outside the house air.

combustion heater
Image Credit: Noordbizz, Pixabay

2. Unvented Combustion Heaters

These varieties of heaters are not best for indoor use since they can introduce noxious combustion by-items into your home. Some of the harmful by-merchandise contain nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. These heaters are also capable of depleting air inside of an enclosed area.

Electric Space Heaters

Whilst combustion heaters can heat up a cold area, electrical place heaters are safer and are specifically best for enclosed spaces. They may possibly be high-priced, but they do not develop indoor air top quality concerns. The most fundamental types of electric heaters are radiant and convection room heaters.

1. Convection Heaters

Convection place heaters function a distinctive layout that enables them to heat ambient air in a place and not the men and women or animals inside. It performs by sucking air from a room by way of a heated floor to heat it up, then pushing it back to produce air circulation in the room.

Convection heaters repeat the air circulation procedure till the inbuilt thermostat detects that it has attained the necessary area temperature. This place heater will also flip back on when ambient temperatures fall underneath a certain preset temperature stage.

2. Radiant Heaters

Also recognized as infrared heaters, these units perform by heating the folks and objects directly in their route alternatively of the ambient air. This is an excellent decision if you want to speedily get warm although sitting down in specific rooms in your property, like the garage or business office, in which it would be impractical to warmth the total area.

Be that as it might, infrared room heaters elevate obvious security issues that you need to be informed of. First, these units can melt away animals and men and women if touched. Also, they can be a fire hazard if positioned in a room near flamable supplies. This device ought to usually be put at the very least 3 toes away from something flammable at all occasions.

infrared heater
Image Credit: Piqsels

3. Micathermic Heaters

Also recognized as blend heaters, micathermic heaters supply the very best of both possibilities. They combine radiant and convection heating to speedily boost warmth stages in a area while saving up on area. These kinds of space heaters will also permit you to keep humidity in your indoor environment, as opposed to standard heaters which dry up the air in the area they run. They are a very good choice for nearly any room in your house. Regrettably, there is a downside to utilizing micathermic heaters: these devices are quite costly in comparison to regular housewarming products.


user guide divider

Where to Use Space Heaters

Before you determine which sort of area heater you need to have for what kind of room, you need to have to question your self what variety of heat you require. Do you want to warmth the surrounding air so that the place you occupy is heat? Or do you want to heat your feet and palms right after trekking in the chilly? These concerns will support you choose exactly where to use your area heater.

Generally, area heaters can be employed as seen underneath:

Supplemental Heat

As before talked about, space heaters had been created to perform as a supplemental heat resource in case the central heating method does not perform or is insufficient. So, as a warmth dietary supplement, all kinds of room heaters, whether or not working on gas, electrical energy, or kerosene will produce the needed final results.

If your room heater is unvented, make certain it is in a properly-ventilated region. If vented, put in it driving the outside wall. If you require to health supplement heat in your spot of organization, smaller sized and compact electrical heaters like the infrared heater make a excellent alternative.

space heater
Image Credit: RoberioJr, Shutterstock

Single-Room Heating

Place heaters are also perfect for only heating up a solitary place exactly where you are occupying. They are also appropriate if you want to restrict the overall electric powered monthly bill value by maintaining the thermostat turned down. Also, if you dwell in a home exactly where some of the occupants prefer a chilly atmosphere, the space heaters will reduce the probabilities of confrontations in excess of the temperatures in the home.

Picking the proper dimension heater for your place will also help minimize the overall cost of heating your house. For little rooms, portable electrical heaters will be a secure bet. However, if you want to warmth an total constructing or a well-ventilated area like a garage or purchasing region, kerosene space heaters will suffice.

Advantages of Space Heaters over Central Heating Systems

There are several reasons why you should choose to update to place heaters as an alternative of relying on the a lot more pricey central heating program.

  • They Are Cost Effective; With space heaters, you need only consume as much energy as is needed to heat specific areas of your home. During the day when no one is around, you can shut down the main heating system and place portable heaters in living areas. Then let the heat spread out around the house. Portable heaters do not incur installation costs. They can easily be moved around the house to colder sections when need be. Also, maintenance of these devices is easy. You simply need to follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual to keep the unit clean and functional.
  • They Are Environmentally Friendly: Since most electric space heaters allow you to only heat the areas you need to keep warm, you end up using less energy. Additionally, since converting electricity to heat barely uses any energy, you get to fully utilize the energy that you pay for. They also reduce the need to use polluting petroleum products like natural gas and oil. Infrared space heaters are a popular choice for environmentally conscious individuals looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • They Are Versatile: If a central heating system is not a viable option for warming up your home, especially in garages or unfinished buildings, portable space heaters provide the best solution. They are also ideal if you want to keep some rooms hot and others chilly.

Disadvantages of Space Heaters

There are just as many negatives to place heaters as there are benefits. They are as follows:

  • Space heaters have a shorter lifespan because they are not designed for long time use.
  • Owning a space heater requires you to regularly carry out maintenance services. Since these devices can be fire hazards, they cannot be left unattended for a long time.
  • These heating devices are only ideal for small spaces and cannot work efficiently outdoors or in large structures like shopping areas or malls.
  • When space heaters are continuously activated, they can put a strain on your wallet. This is especially common if you use electric space heating models with high power costs. In the long run, the cost of your electrical bills will skyrocket.
  • Space heaters cannot function as a complete heat source. They are only ideal for supplementing heat in your home. Whether electrical or combustion, you must at least have a complementary heat source to fully heat up your home.

Safety Precautions When Using Space Heaters

  • Whether you have used a space heater in the past or not, always read the guidelines provided in the owner’s manual. Also, Keep the manual safe for troubleshooting in the future.
  • Always keep the space heater away from flammable materials and objects. This also includes ensuring that the power cord doesn’t pass beneath carpets made from combustible materials. Also, ensure you understand the voltage requirements for your heater to plug it into the appropriate socket.
  • Avoid placing your heater in areas prone to high humidity or leaks and splashes. Also, do not attempt to operate the heater with wet hands.
  • It is not wise to place a portable heater in a poorly ventilated area or tight spot. The air must flow through the intake valve and when it is obstructed or blocked, your unit will spend more energy, thus increasing electricity bills and decreasing the lifespan.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended for a considerable amount of time. If you plan to leave the room being heated, consider turning it off. Also, ensure it is on a stable and level surface that is high enough not to be knocked over by pets and kids.
Modern electric heater on floor
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do You Need a Surge Protector to Plug in a Space Heater?

No, you do not want a single. Always plug in your space heater immediately to the wall with out extension cables and surge protectors. They can overheat the electrical part, increasing the risks of burning down your residence.

Are Space Heaters Sources of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in a Home?

Totally, of course. These heating devices are the number one particular lead to of CO poisoning, particularly the kinds that depend on kerosene or organic gas as gasoline. As a result, consider investing in a heater equipped with an computerized shut-off characteristic that measures oxygen and carbon monoxide amounts in your home.

Is It Cheaper to Use a Central Heating System or Space Heater?

When you calculate the total expenses, it is way more affordable to use the primary heating method in contrast to making use of space heaters by itself. Area heaters are only meant to serve as supplementary heating systems, not as the main heat resource in our house. So, if you flip down the thermostat and put in a space heater your electric powered expenses will lessen.

user guide divider


Room heaters are wonderful house items that can assist insert heat and convenience to your property in chilly weather conditions. When correctly utilized, room heaters can be vitality successful and reduce the expense of your month to month electrical energy monthly bill. And just like many merchandise, these gadgets have some pros and downsides. They are usually light-weight and portable ample to assist you supplement heat in a specific area of your home. They are also excellent at regulating temperature to accommodate various room temperature tastes.

If improperly used, area heaters can be a fireplace hazard. For that reason, they are best used as a supplementary heat source alternatively of the main resource of warmth in a house. You need to also hold in brain the dimensions of the room you want to place them in to make certain that space is heated to the needed temperature.

If you comply with the protection tips highlighted previously mentioned, you can remain warm and cozy no make a difference how low temperatures fall.


Highlighted Picture Credit rating: New Africa, Shutterstock