by Staff Writer
Space heaters, also called portable heaters, room heaters and auxiliary heaters, are an effective and energy-efficient way to generate heat in enclosed spaces. Space heaters fall under three main categories: convection, radiant and conductive. Each category has its own function, benefits and disadvantages. When choosing a space heater, keep safety issues and considerations in mind before you buy.
Convection: Convection heaters generate heat by heating air that comes in contact with one or two elements. Convection space heaters generate heat slowly, and the heat generated lasts for a long time. Convection heaters are quieter and heavier than radiant space heaters. They generally do not make noise while functioning, and some have fans to circulate the heat through a room.
Radiant: Radiant heaters use liquid, usually diathermic oil, circulated through a series of connected pipes, to generate heat. Radiant heaters cannot radiate heat through an obstacle; for that reason, they make good spot-heating devices, like foot warmers, rather than heating devices for large spaces. Radiant heaters generate heat quickly. Fuel-oil heaters use a fuel such as propane gas to generate heat. They become useful during electricity breakdowns as alternative-fuel heaters.
Conductive: Micathermic and electric space heaters, which generate heat with the help of heating elements, are examples of conductive heaters. Their heating elements can be made of mica or, in most cases, a combination of nickel and chromium that converts electricity into heat. Conductive heaters are portable.
Identifying features: Radiant heaters include quartz and infrared heaters. Radiant heaters transfer heat using electromagnetic induction. Some types of radiant heaters use a quartz filament to generate heat. Quartz heaters have glassy quartz heating elements set behind a wire safety mesh. Infrared heaters are housed in a box, and the heat is generated through a slit in the upper portion of the box, which is covered with a wire mesh for safety. Fuel heaters use propane gas to generate heat and do not require electricity. They are made of metal and have a hose for the movement of fuel and a heat regulator.
Energy efficiency: Space heaters are energy efficient and budget friendly. They radiate the right amount of heat when necessary. They generate heat for time periods between 15 minutes and 24 hours. Because they do not need to run constantly, they reduce electricity costs for a household.
Safety: Safety is the most important consideration in a space heater. Look for space heaters that have guards in front of the heating coils, automatic thermostats and sensors that shut down the heater if it tips. A cold-touch surface on a space heater can prevent accidental burns, and internal sensors in a space heater can prevent overheating. Safe space heaters will have the Underwriters Laboratories seal of approval in the form of a UL logo.