Choosing the Right Portable Heater for Your Space

Choosing the Right Portable Heater for Your Space

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Topics: Buying Guides, Portable Heaters

Portable heaters are a fantastic option for heating a wide variety of spaces, and help you to save loads of cash on your energy bill by allowing you to keep the rest of the home or workspace cooler. But with hundreds of options available, it can be tricky to figure out the right heater for your needs.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the main portable heater styles to help you make the right call.

Whether it’s gas heaters, electric heaters, or propane heaters, simply asking yourself a handful of questions can help you to pick the right heater for your needs.

  1. Which fuel or power sources are best for your area?
  2. How many square feet are you trying to heat?
  3. Would you prefer convection or radiant heat?
  4. What special features would provide the most benefit for you?

Choosing the Right Fuel

The first big decision to make is whether you’ll purchase an electric heater or one fueled by a gas such as propane, kerosene, or natural gas. For small, indoor rooms (or heating a smaller portion of a larger room), electric heaters are almost always the best choice. You’ll obviously need an available electric outlet, but you won’t need to be concerned about the potentially dangerous exhaust of gas heaters.

If you’re heating an outdoor area or a well-ventilated room such as a porch or workshop, gas heaters can be a great choice. Generally they are more efficient than electric heaters, and can give off significantly more heat. To heat a larger room or outdoor area, gas heaters are really the best choice.

Heating for Your Square Footage

While most electric heaters are great for smaller rooms such as offices, bathrooms, and bedrooms, larger rooms will almost always require more powerful gas-fueled heaters. A basic rule of thumb to determine the necessary heat output of your heater (as measured in BTUs) is to multiply the square footage of your space by 5. This resulting number is the minimum BTU rating you should look for in your heater.

Radiant vs. Convection Heat

Generally, space heaters can be divided into two styles of heat transfer — radiant and convection. Radiant heat is similar to how the sun heats. Rather than heating the surround air, radiant heat warms objects in the line of sight of the heater. Convection heaters instead warm the air, usually circulating the air around the room with a fan or blower.

While radiant heaters are quicker to provide heat (as you won’t be waiting for the air in the room to warm), they need direct line of sight to warm you. If you’re in a room with many divisions or lots of furniture that may block the heat from a radiant heater, you may want to purchase a convection heater instead. For outdoor applications, radiant is the best choice.

Safety Features and Other Concerns

One of the biggest concerns with portable heaters is safety. When purchasing a heater, be sure to find a model that has an automatic tip sensor that shuts down the unit if it’s knocked over. If you’re purchasing a gas heater, some models have the ability to detect levels of carbon monoxide in the air, and will automatically shut off if levels get to high.

Regardless of the model you purchase, be sure to read and follow all safety instructions provided. It may also be a good idea to double-check your home insurance policy. Some policies have exemptions for space heaters, so it’s best to do your research first!

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