When it comes to heating smaller spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms, propane and other combustion heaters are out of the picture. Electric heaters, such as oil-filled “radiator” style heaters, avoid the safety concerns of using fuel-burning heaters indoors, and provide a comfortable, gradual heat where it’s needed most.
Oil heaters are typically built with a number of vertical metal columns filled with oil. The heater’s heating element warms the oil inside the columns, which warms the air surrounding the heater. Therefore, most oil heaters are considered convection heaters. Unlike radiant heaters which must have “line-of-sight” to warm you, convection heaters warm the air in the entire room gradually. This makes oil heaters a perfect choice if your room is filled with furniture or other obstacles that would block the heat from a radiant heater.
However, one of oil heaters’ greatest strengths is also one of their weaknesses. Because the heat they produce must circulate throughout the room via air currents, it can take awhile to feel warmth from them. If you’re in a particularly drafty or large room, waiting on an oil heater on a chilly morning may seem like an eternity. Take advantage of their distinct benefits and use them in the proper locations instead.
Because of their heating method, oil heaters aren’t one of the most efficient heaters on the market. Compared to propane heaters, the cost per therm (a measure of heat) is higher. However, they are still a relatively inexpensive choice where more efficient heaters aren’t an option. Their small size and design also make them a very portable heater.
Nearly all modern oil heaters feature a thermostat which can regulate the heat output of the heater to match a desired room temperature. This helps prevent wasted energy from heating an already warm room, and allows you to operate the heater a higher efficiencies.
Oil heaters are generally a very safe heater.Like most modern electric and ceramic heaters, they typically feature a tip sensor that will shut down the unit if it’s been knocked or bumped over. They’re also less likely to start a fire, as the heating element is encased within the unit and can’t be directly contacted by flammable items such as drapes or curtains. However, please be sure to follow all manufacturer’s recommendations and safety precautions, as misuse can still lead to a safety hazard.
One other nuance of oil heaters is their cool-down time. Because the oil contained within retains heat well, it also tends to take a longer time to cool off. The heater can potentially be still hot enough to accidentally burn for a period of time after it has been turned off. However, a number of newer oil heaters utilize a fan to help cool the unit faster (as well as distribute heat throughout the room faster when in operation).
If you’ve got a space to fill but are low on cash and on space, check out an electric oil heater. They can provide a steady, comfortable heat for a relatively cheap price.