Electric Portable Heaters that are Perfect for Small Spaces

Electric Portable Heaters that are Perfect for Small Spaces

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Topics: Electric Heaters

When trying to take the chill out of the air in a smaller space, such as a bathroom or small bedroom, it’s tough to go wrong with a safe, efficient, portable heater. While gas, kerosene, and propane heaters are out because of the potential for carbon monoxide exhaust, electric heaters provide quick, efficient heating a low cost. 

However, not all electric portable heaters are created equal — You’ll want to find the heater that best matches the room you want to heat. Here’s a bit of advice to get you started. 

BTUs and Square Footage

First off, you’ll want to determine how powerful of a heater to get to adequately heat your room. While there’s some more complex calculations involved, the basic rule of thumb is you’ll need about 10-15 BTUs to heat one square foot of room. Any heater will have a BTU rating, which is a measure of how much heat they can put out per hour. 

So, if you’d like to heat a small bathroom that is approximately 90 square feet, you’d need a heater with a rating of 900-1350 BTUs. Most smaller portable heaters would work nicely. However, as the room size increases, your energy requirements can go up substantially. A little bit of quick math can help you buy the heater that’s right for your space. 


Ceramic heater from Lasko

One of the top concerns when buying a portable heater is safety. However, most heaters come with a handful of crucial safety features that can help put your mind at ease. If you have pets or children, it’s a good idea to opt for a heater with a ‘cool touch’ grill that won’t burn or scorch clothing if touched. 

To prevent fires, many heaters have a ‘tip over’ sensor that shuts off the heating element if the unit is knocked over. This, along with proper use and placement of the heater, can be a very important step in preventing fires. 

Some folks opt for the increasingly popular ceramic heaters, as these heaters cool off quickly and disperse heat rapidly. Since we’re dealing with fairly small indoor spaces, this can be  a helpful feature to reduce the risk of accidental burns. 

Radiant versus Convection Heating

There are two primary styles of electric heaters — Radiant and Convection. Radiant heaters heat objects in the room rather than the air around them. Energy is directed out from the heater element, and any objects in its path get warmed. Convection heaters warm the air around them, which in turn circulates throughout the room and raises the overall temperature. Typically a built-in fan is used to help circulate the air. 

Knowing which style to buy depends on the use of the room. For instance, radiant heaters must have a “line of sight” to warm you — If there is something between you and the heater, you won’t feel any heat. However, because they aren’t warming the entire room, they tend to be more efficient. They focus the heat where it is needed most. Radiant heaters would be great for heating a home office (where you’ll remain fairly stationary throughout the day). 

If a room has an unusual layout or if there are objects blocking off the room, convection heaters may be the way to go. They heat the whole room, and don’t need “line of sight” to keep you warm. These may be best for living rooms or kitchens, as those rooms often have more obstructions that would block the energy from a radiant heater. 

If you have a truly small space that needs a little extra heat, you can also look into built-in wall heaters. Since they’re installed into the wall itself, they don’t take up any space in the room, and provide focused and efficient heat. 

So if you’ve got a space where propane heaters just won’t do, check out a portable electric heater!

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