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Guide to Buying a Space Heater

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If you’re in the market for a space heater, maybe you’re as confused with the options available as I was. All I wanted was to get some heat in rooms too far from my furnace – and that didn’t cost a lot of money to run (or buy).

First of all, there are two types of space heaters. Convection and radiant. Radiant are the kind with the glowing elements fired up by electricity or fossil fuels. Convection contain heated elements – usually metal coils or ceramic – that “move” hot air (with or without a fan) throughout the room.

Radiant heaters can look scary – and if poorly designed or cared for can be quite dangerous. But, they are the least costly to run – especially the fuel powered ones. However, electric versions aren’t worth the money unless you’re looking to sit next to it to stay warm. They only heat what’s nearby.

On the other hand, oil filled, propane or kerosene radiant heaters can heat an entire room. But they’re not always the most attractive unit. They’re best for work rooms, garages and, if designed for it, outdoor use.

Depending on their size, convection heaters can give off a lot of heat. Plus, they’re safer to use. Cool cases, tip over protection and more pleasing design means you can place them in most rooms without too much supervision. Get ceramic versions which are usually more energy efficient. One important tip. NEVER plug space heaters into power strips. You have to plug them directly into a wall outlet or risk the chance of damaging the unit or starting a fire.

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So now that we’ve narrowed it down to a ceramic convection heater, what should you look for? The most basic models have an on/off switch and temperature settings. Turn it on, set the temperature to high, low or medium and let the warm air fill the room. They stay on until you turn them off. For a few dollars more, you can find heaters with thermostats that turn the heater off once the desired temperature is reached. Timers, remotes and “fan only” are some other features you might want.

I’ve spent a few bucks on space heaters and here’s my list of best performers – and some duds. All have over-heat protection.

These inexpensive, basic heaters are both small but throw off a lot of heat. They’re best for rooms no larger than 14 x 14…but I have used these in bigger rooms to take the cold edge off. Both have two power settings and temperature levels and the square one (Lasko) can also be used as a fan. Though no ceramic heater is truly silent, the Lasko wins for being less noisy. The round one was banished to the laundry room since the noise bothered me in my den.

I had this space heater for several years. It’s reasonably quiet, has multiple temperature settings, a thermostat and a remote (which I’ve never used). I’d still have it if my husband hadn’t taken it to his office after the building’s furnace went on the fritz. Yeah, they fixed the furnace, but he liked it so much he’s not bringing it back.

I love Vornado fans so I figured I’d try their space heaters. Plus, they have tip over protection which automatically shuts the power off if the heater is knocked over. The best of the bunch is the one below. Don’t even bother with the “personal” version of it which is what I bought to replace the one my husband stole. At best, it can warm your feet under your desk. But this one can heat a 14 x 20 room plus it has a thermostat, power level controls and you can use it as a fan. While it is a tiny bit quieter than my Lasko tower heater, I’d have to say I’d rather have my Lasko tower heater back. Time to talk my husband into a trade.

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by on January 19th, 2017