The Ultimate Guide to Space Heaters

Posted by Lindsey Slinger, Brittany McCann, & Cherese Monte on 5/6/2019
The Ultimate Guide to Space Heaters

Space heaters are a great option to quickly heat a room or compact space without racking up a high energy bill. Whether you need to warm up at the office or keep your dorm room warm, Space heaters are a cost-effective way to keep your room toasty without overheating. But how do you choose which space heater for your space? With the different variations of space heaters on the market, it is essential to research the differences and pick the best unit for your home. Many factors come into play when selecting a space heater. The two main options on the market are infrared heaters and ceramic heaters, which both function differently. The correct heater for your home will depend on the room size. Another factor to consider when purchasing a space heater is the safety hazards. While many brands have come up with built-in safety features, it is crucial to know the regulations for running a space heater in your home. Top selling brands have a variety of options and sizes that will help you choose the perfect space heater for your room. With the different variations, pricing can range between $20- $200 deepening on the style, design, and heating range.

Infrared vs Ceramic Heaters

Health and safety, noise and light pollution, and your living space are the three main things that need to be considered when choosing between a ceramic heater and an infrared. Infrared heaters and Ceramic heaters both work by converting electrical energy into heat.


Infrared heaters many times are more efficient when heating smaller spaces like a living room, office or bedroom. These heaters are usually hotter to touch than a ceramic heater which may safety concerns when you have a toddler or infant living in the house. Infrared heaters work by sending rays in a straight line to heat anything that is directly in its path. These heaters do not blow hot air out to heat the room which typically makes the unit completely quiet at all times. Infrared heaters are many times healthier since they do not reduce the humidity or oxygen in the room. Infrared heaters usually are the more efficient option when it comes to heating a small space quickly.


Ceramic heaters operate by using convection. This means that the unit uses electricity to heat the center of the unit then uses a fan to blow the warm air out into the room. Ceramic heaters are more efficient in larger rooms such as a house, large conference room, or a large basement. Many people use ceramic heaters in rooms that people will not be sitting in one space or will be circulating in and out of the room. Since these units use a fan, they can be louder to run in a room then an infrared would be. Depending on the brand, ceramic heaters are usually cheaper to purchase than Infrared. Ceramic heaters are typically not very hot to touch, making then safe to be in houses with small children.


Question: Can I leave my space heater unattended?

This is a common question posed consumers as to whether or not it is safe to have a space heater or portable heater running while unattended. The simple answer is no. It is recommended to keep a 3-foot perimeter around the unit away from any combustible objects. One fire station warns consumers that “space heaters need space.” This is important because the heat radiating from the heater can become hot and quickly begin to warm the surface of an object close by. It is important to be careful that there are no curtains or clothing items nearby. Never sit or drape anything on top of a portable heater. Each unit may have different parameters for where to position, so be sure to check the manual once purchased. 

Question: Are there any built-in safety features?

Unfortunately, if space heaters are not monitored carefully, these can quickly become fire hazards. Many space heater manufacturers have now adopted the cool-to-the-touch feature which will help to significantly reduce the surface temperature if a child or pet were to have contact with a running unit accidentally. Another helpful feature that newer units can have is an internal switch that will automatically turn a unit off if it were to fall over or be knocked down accidentally. 

Question: Where to Plug-in Your Unit

As a general rule, all space heaters are designed to be plugged into a direct outlet. It is never recommended to use an extension cord. Plugging a unit into an extension cord dramatically increases the risk of the heater overheating and also increases the chances of electrical shock. Most Space heaters are not designed to function in damp spaces such as a humid basement or bathroom. Using a unit close to water creates safety hazards. You do not want to come in contact with a heater directly if you are wet because this can create a dangerous situation in regards to electrical shock. For additional information, please contact the manufacturer before purchasing to make sure the unit is safe to use in humid spaces. 

Question: How much does a Space Heater Cost?

This will all depend on the features you want in your heater. Smaller heater units that will accommodate small spaces can start at $24.99 and up. These would be for personal use in your home or office space, dorm, etc., and will only heat a small area within your room. Personal ceramic heaters will be low in energy cost since they do not have the function of a full room unit.  Full room portable heaters will depend on the style and the square footage. Prices can start at $49.99 (A more basic model with a control knob) to 160 (LED display panels, slim design, timer, and eco settings). These are for larger spaces like a living room, bedroom, or dining room. These units will heat up faster and control the temperature in the room more efficiently than a desktop heater.