For those of you worried about staying warm this winter at an affordable price, you should try investing in a portable heater, also popularly known as a space heater. Not only will you increase your energy efficiency, but you’ll also provide your home with supplemental warmth for your entire home. Check out our guide to help you find your next portable heater!
Gas vs. Electric
On the market, you’ll primarily find two basic kinds of portable heaters—gas and electric heaters, with the former burning gas or propane as fuel and the latter converting electrical energy into heat. As with most purchases, each heater comes with their own pros and cons.
For gas heaters, they heat up quickly, offer greater portability, work during power outages, and could even cost half as much to operate compared to electric. However, buyers have to consider the fact gas heaters often require a greater initial investment, need adequate ventilation and an opened area, and they may create noise whenever fuel is flowing and igniting.
For electric heaters, buyers can expect a higher energy efficiency compared to their gas counterparts as well as no venting or opened spaces being necessary. On the other hand, electric heaters usually cost more for their operation, require electrical outlets and more time to heat up, and they don’t function in power outages.
When you need to heat large, well-ventilated areas like garages, your best option would be gas heaters, which come in vented or unvented models. Vented heaters require being next to a wall with ventilation installed into the wall or the ceiling above to direct exhaust gas outside—units labeled “100 percent outdoor air” are your safest choice. Unvented units are only for outdoor use, as they could introduce harmful gases into the air, such as carbon monoxide, thereby reducing oxygen in the surrounding area. Some states have even banned unvented gas heaters from being used indoors.
Gas heaters can also vary by the type of fuel they use, some of which can be found below:
- Propane: Available in various sizes, some propane heaters need electricity to start while others require matches. They can provide heat for many hours using 20, 40, or 100 pounds of propane.
- Natural gas: With some units not requiring ventilation, natural gas heaters require gas hookups, but they can be disconnected while not being used. Some models even have sensors that shut the heater off automatically when air quality is poor.
- Kerosene: Ideal for larger outdoor areas and construction use, kerosene gas heaters use wicks that soak up kerosene and burn it. Forced-air heaters call for electricity to operate, with some units running for as many as 12 hours on one full tank.
When you’re considering an electric portable heater, it’s important to note that they come in both 120-volt and 240-volt models. The 240-volt heaters provide considerably more heat, but they also require a unique circuit and receptacle. A few electric heaters you can expect to find include the following:
- Oil-filled radiant: Ideal for dens, bedrooms, or living rooms, oil-filled radiant heaters transmit warmth safely, effectively, and inexpensively using heat-conserving oil you won’t need to refill.
- Fan-forced: Providing quick, even heat, fan-forced heaters warm air over coil elements before fanning it into the room. This heater’s plastic housing stays cool to the touch, and it’s ideal for workshops or offices.
- Reflective/infrared: Ideal for living rooms or bedrooms, reflective or infrared heaters direct heat toward specific people or locations.
- Wall/panel: Reaching full power in minutes, wall or panel heaters combine radiant heat and convection processes, releasing 20 percent infrared heat and 80 percent convection without fans.
- Ceramic: Ideal for sunrooms, small offices, bedrooms, or kitchens, ceramic heaters provide powerful, quick heat while their fan housing remains cool. They warm air over aluminum and coil elements.
The portable heater unit you buy must meet safety standards established by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, as is often required of many home insurance companies. To ensure you meet all safety considerations and regulations, make sure you look for these additional safety features in your portable heater:
- Tip-over switches that will shut the unit off automatically if knocked over
- Thermally protected motors and flame-resistant cases to provide increased fire protection
- Overheat protection that shuts the heater off when sensors detect pre-determined temperatures
For further safety, remember to turn your heater off whenever you’re not home or out of the room. Also, keep your unit three feet (at least) from flammable surfaces and away from moist areas or bathrooms. Finally, make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly before you start using portable heaters.
Our online store offers a wide variety of portable heaters, so if you are ready to buy, visit Hipps!