What Are the Safest Electric Space Heaters?

Over the years, manufacturers have taken great leaps to mitigate the risks of using an electric space heaters. Consumers find safety of utmost concern when choosing a space heater, as accidental fires can be the costly and even deadly result of poorly made units with few safety features. An overturned or covered heater that goes unnoticed can be a hazard. Weigh certain considerations when selecting and operating space heaters to give you the warmth you need while maintaining your peace of mind, all winter long.

Types

Ceramic heaters produce heat more safely than a standard coil heater, which functions by running an electrical current through a series of metal coils. This causes extreme temperatures that can burn nearby fabric, cloth or even the coils themselves. Ceramic heaters, on the other hand, radiate heat through ceramic plates that will not reach temperatures that will ignite surrounding materials. Ceramic heaters also disperse heat quickly, so they can be put in storage shortly after use.

Features

Look for tilt switches--a built-in mechanism, essential for homes with children or animals, that senses if the heater has been tipped over and will shut it down immediately. Wooden floors can be damaged from an overturned heater. Rugs and carpets can easily catch fire if they come in direct contact with heating coils.

Many manufacturers offer a thermostat or another means to control temperature. Thermostats cause the unit to cycle down when the air reaches a certain temperature. This not only offers you a comfortable atmosphere but it will also shut down the heater if it begins to overheat. Poor ventilation and obstructions can cause the heater to exceed a safe operating temperature, and a thermostat will prevent this from becoming an electrical fire.

Considerations

Have a good idea of how much heat is truly needed. It will not take much power to heat a bedroom or small family room. Therefore, a heater with between 750 and 1500 watts will be sufficient for most in home heating needs. Higher wattage heaters may require more ventilation and can cause damage to walls, ceilings and floors if not used properly. Heaters with greater than 1500 watts are generally intended for outdoor or industrial purposes and not meant for use inside the home.

Warning

Use space heaters in well-ventilated areas. Poor air circulation can cause a unit to overheat. Operate space heaters away from curtains or drapes and be at least a foot away from walls and furniture. Keep pets and small children away from a heating unit whenever possible.

Time Frame

Allow a space heater to cool for up 30 minutes before placing it in a box or closet.