As winter approaches and fuel costs rise, many homeowners are beginning to think about how to control heating costs. One popular option is to supplement a home's central heating system with space heaters. The advantage to using space heaters in partnership with centralized heating is that heat can be focused on highly used areas of a home or office, keeping its inhabitants comfortable, while maintaining unused spaces at lower temperatures.
Electric space heaters are more commonly used than those that require other fuels such as kerosene, propane, or natural gas. Electric space heaters generally employ two fundamental heating designs: convection and radiant. Convection heat, by design, warms a space by blowing or pulling air over a heat source and distributing the heated air throughout a room. Radiant heat is directed at a specific target.
How Convection Space Heaters Work
Traditional convection heaters use a metal coil element warmed by electricity as the heat source. There are fan-assisted or fan-less models; heaters with fans tend to heat rooms faster than those without. One style, called a heater fan, is a popular choice for isolated spaces, and often contains a switch to disable the heating mechanism for year-round use as both a heating and cooling product.
New innovations in convection heating have recently brought ceramic heaters to the market. Ceramic convection heaters use ceramic plates and aluminum baffles. The plates heat and then pass the heat to the aluminum, which is a heat-absorbent material. Air then blows the heat into the air. Some designs submerge the heating element in oil or water. These designs offer increased efficiency, as the heating element will stay warmer longer. Ceramic heaters are typically smaller, more efficient, and safer than their predecessors.
One advantage of convection space heaters is their low cost. Typically, convection heaters can be easily found ranging from $15 to $100. Ceramic heaters run slightly more expensive than conventional convection heaters and carry a price point of $30 to $60. Heater fans offer the lowest priced option of all, and are available in a variety of designs and colors. The price range on these fans runs between $15 and $65 dollars.
Consumers looking to purchase a convection space heater have many reputable brands to choose from. Of these brands, Delonghi is known for its ceramic heater, Windchaser for its ceramic fan heater, and Lakewood for its forced fan heater. Consumer Reports recommends the Vornado Vortex Touchstone as its pick for a luxury-heating element that will effectively heat an entire room.
Safety and Use Guidelines
In general, space heaters are known to cause fires if not used safely and carefully, as instructed by the manufacturers. Make sure to read and carefully follow the instructions that come with the heater to prevent injury and accidents.