What You Need To Know Before Purchasing a Space Heater

Posted by Julia Gilmore on 7/15/2019
What You Need To Know Before Purchasing a Space Heater
An innovative and economical way to stay warm in your home is through electric room heating technology. Placing a space heater in your most commonly used rooms will allow you to keep your thermostat at a low temperature while still feeling warm and comfortable. With electric heating solutions, you can now heat spaces that central heating cannot warm, such as garages or patios (patio heaters).

There are various ways that room heaters keep rooms cozy.  It is essential to understand how these products work to find the one that best satisfies your needs. Let’s learn about the technology behind electric space heating and the varying types of heater units.

Technology and Different Types of Electric Heaters

An electrical heater converts electric currents into heat energy. An electrical resistor, a heating element located inside every electrical heating unit, is utilized in the process of Joule heating. Joule heating occurs when an electrical current passes through a resistor and then that electrical energy is converted into heat energy. Warmth is then transferred through the air, or convection heating. Convection heating occurs when heat energy travels via air and space.

Convection heaters are well known for their ability to warm whole rooms effectively over a long period. To create a holistically warm space, convection heaters circulate convection currents across a type of metal coil (usually nichrome). Many convection heaters have fans incorporated into their design to distribute heat across spaces more efficiently.

Electric heaters can also heat space through radiant heating. Radiant heating provides direct heat and delivers warmth to spaces directly by the heater. Radiant heaters are popular in small areas such as offices due to their ability to sustain warmth in small and specific places.

A common type of an electric heating unit is an infrared warmer. Infrared heaters warm the area directly in front of them, similar to radiant heating devices. Infrared technology employs electromagnetic energy of infrared radiation.  Infrared quartz bulbs are then utilized as heating agents to emit warmth to a particular area. Radiant and infrared heating systems are both great options for centralized locations in need of steady and soft warmth.

Micathermic warming combines both convection and radiant heating. Micathermic products radiate heat off a panel, and then natural convection circulates the warm air throughout the space. Micathermic units do not have fans incorporated into their design. Due to the absence of a fan, micathermic systems provide even warmth and do not re-circulate allergens or room dust. Also, micathermic heaters are much quieter than other types of electric warmers because of the implementation of fanless technology. Micathermic heaters are perfect for those who suffer from asthma and allergies or for those who are looking to add more heat but less noise to their household.

As shown, there are numerous types of warming systems that operate in diverse methods. Now that you are familiar with some of the different varieties of electric heating products and how they work, it is necessary to discuss how to find the best space heater for your own unique space.

Importance of Wattage Output

When shopping for an electric heating device, make sure to compare efficiencies between models.  To avoid high electric bills, it is critical to select the correct energy efficient warmer for your space environment and size.

To find the most suitable space heater for your quarters, be sure to measure the approximate square footage or dimensions of the area. Purchasing a unit that is too small will not efficiently warm the area and increases the chance of overheating. On the other hand, buying an appliance that is too large will run up your electric bill and consume more energy than needed.

Wattage output is how one can determine how large of an area a heater can adequately warm.  Approximately ten watts of power is needed for every square foot of area in the space. For example, a 3,000-watt unit can efficiently heat an area that is at most 300 square feet.  Find the wattage output by calculating total square footage or total wattage:

Total Wattage/10=Total Square Footage   OR   Total Square Footage x 10 = Total Wattage

Knowing the dimensions of the area where you plan to keep your heating product is the first big step in deciding which space heater is right for you. Being familiar with the square footage or dimensions of the room in which you will place your unit will help you discover the wattage output. The wattage output is critical to understand to pick the most energy-efficient heater for your area. Read along further to grasp what else you should look for while shopping for electric heating machines to conserve the most energy possible.

Energy Efficient Space Heating 

Selecting the most effective product for your space by measuring the approximate square footage will indeed lower electric costs and energy conservation.  Besides, to conserve more energy and money, look for warmers with the following vital energy-saving features:

Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat is a handy feature that allows you to choose your unit temperature. The thermostat will sustain the desired room temperature to keep your space feeling pleasant. Once the thermostat reaches the chosen degree, the system will switch on and off to preserve a cozy environment. 

Power Consumption

Some electric heating units have multiple power levels added as a helpful add on. Various power levels are most commonly measured in watts, amps, or BTU. A British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating is the most practical when comparing the energy output because it measures heating capacity. Even though most space heaters come equipped with a specific BTU rating, it can easily be calculated using the following equation:

Heater Wattage Rating x 3.413 (the number of BTUs that equal 1 watt) = BTU Output


Auto/Eco-Mode is a feature that chooses the space’s most suitable heating level. The system continually changes between low and high fan speeds to maintain the set temperature. Some models will turn off once the desired temperature is reached to save energy further. 

Today, electric heaters come ready with an abundance of features that will help you save energy and money. It is crucial that you look out for these features when searching for an electric room heater to get the most out of your unit. Before setting up your new product in your home, review the following safety tips.

Electric Room Heater Safety

Electric heating units are worth the investment (if appropriate for your area).  There are safety concerns surrounding electric warmers, including overheating and an increased risk of fire. But don’t be alarmed. These devices come prepared with multiple safety features. Also, if you select the correct space heater for your space environment and use the product as instructed, you have much less to worry about.  

Safety Certifications

Look for heaters that are listed by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs). Units that are listed by NRTLs have been tested, proven, and certified to meet specific safety standards. The manufacturers of the warmers listed by NRTLs are also required to release relevant information about the safe usage of their products. 

Laboratory certifications to look for would include UL (Underwriters Laboratories), CSA (Canadian Standards Association), and ETL (Intertek Group). If your machine holds any one of these certifications, you can be assured that the product is safe to use at home while following the instructions.

Where Should I Put My Heater?

Make sure to give your heater space and clearances it needs. As a rule of thumb, electric warmers should be placed approximately three feet away from any furniture, rugs, décor, and other combustible objects. These items could cause a risk of fire if they were to come in contact with the unit. Also, never place anything on top of a heating system (including drapes and curtains). Also, be sure that the machine is located on a hard and level surface.  Unless your unit is specially designed for use in damp rooms, do not place it in any humid space such as a basement or bathroom.  If you are in the market for a bathroom heater, click here

Tip-over Protection Switch 

A space heater with a tip-over protection switch feature will turn off automatically if it is “tipped over” for any reason.  After the unit is tipped over, the exterior will turn cool, which will prevent any burn accidents. If you are searching for an electric heater for a space that is commonly utilized by children or pets, purchasing an electric heater with a tip-over protection switch will create a much safer space heating environment in your home.

Overheat Protection Switch

Tip-over protection switches and overheat protection switches operate in nearly the same way. Overheat protection uses a temperature sensor and detects when the internal parts of the unit become too hot. The switch automatically shuts off the machine when a temperature too hot is detected. If you are concerned about your unit overheating and it does not have an overheat protection switch, consider buying a ceramic electric heater. Ceramic heaters self-regulate temperature and provide an extra layer of overheat protection. 

Plug Into Outlet, Not An Extension Cord

When plugging in your electric heater, make sure to plug the power cord directly into an outlet with sufficient power.  Connecting the product to an extension cord increases safety risks such as overheating, fires, and electric shocks. 

Shut Off and Unplug After Usage 

When hesitantly leaving your toasty space, make sure to turn off the unit and unplug it from the outlet. If you do not turn off the heater and unplug it from the wall, the risk of overheating and fires increases.

Keep Away From Water

Unless your space heater is specifically designed for bathrooms or damp spaces, do not place your unit anywhere near water or humidity. Also, refrain from making contact with the heater with damp or wet hands.  I’m sure you have heard that electricity and water create a dangerous situation, so be sure to be cautious of liquids near your electric heater!

Using an electric warmer to keep your area snug and enjoyable is both cost effective and energy efficient. To reap the most benefits from electric room heating technology, you must know how to find the best space heater to meet your unique needs. By being familiar with electric heating technology, different types of electric heaters, wattage output, energy saving features, and electric heater safety, you are well on your way to discovering the perfect electric heater for you and your household. Resort to this comprehensive guide when shopping and utilizing your electric heating system.