How Do Space Heaters Work and What’s the Best Type?

Change of weather requires adjustments so that you can cope well, especially when the warm weather disappears, welcoming the cold weather. The icy conditions may require you to get creative in how to beat the cold and keep yourself and your family warm. That’s where space heaters come in.

If you have considered getting yourself a space heater for a large room in your home, but don’t know how the heaters work and if you can save money, then you are reading the right article. A lack of information on how these room heaters work, the best type, their in-built safety features, design suitability, and how safe are you when using them – are some of the challenges you may face.

This article gives you facts and information you need to know before you buy a space heater for your home. I will highlight the different types of space heaters, their design features, frequently asked questions and answers, and safety tips to ensure you are safe. Check out the list of the best space heaters and keep reading for a better understanding of how space heaters work and get to know your space heaters.

Last update on 2024-07-09  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What is a Space Heater & How do Space Heaters Work?

The crudest way to describe a space heater will be to call it a device that is used to heat a small area in your home. Most are powered by electricity but others rely on combustible fuels such as fuel oil or natural gas. Those powered by electricity are usually portable, lightweight and less risky to use.

Types of Space Heaters

Most space heaters come as portable heaters, electric space heaters, and often use anything up to 1,500W power. The design and features are what makes them different as it affects how heat is distributed in a room to add warmth and how you operate them.
Below are five types of space heaters, explaining how they distribute heat raising room temperature without overheating.

Oiled-filled Space Heaters

Also sometimes referred to as oil filled radiators. They are filled with oil and electricity is used to heat the oil, causing the oil to emit warmth creating a warm surrounding. They heat the air in your room, making it easier to live-in by minimising the cold. However, they lack a fan that helps circulate air for fast effects.

Infrared Space Heaters

For infrared heaters, heat distribution is through conduction. Electricity current passes through a conductive wire causing it to warm the area surrounding it.

They produce infrared waves which transfer heat to solid elements such, beddings clothes, and your skin for warmth. They do not heat the air like in other heaters. Although expensive than other space heaters, they are conducive for the skin as they do not dry up the atmosphere and skin during air circulation.

Convection Space Heaters

Commonly known as a forced-air system. It is one of the most frequently used space heaters. There are two categories: heaters with fans and those without a fan. They require elements such as an electric coil or a ceramic plate to distribute the convection current.

The element heats, causing the air surrounding it to warm up.

The warm air keeps circulating in the room in an even way, raising the temperature. Heaters equipped with a fan helps to circulate air fast and is appropriate for rooms with multiple people, or if you keep moving around the room and require it warm.

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Micathermic Space Heaters

With the Micathermic heaters, they emit both radiant and convection heat. The heater warms the solid elements surrounding it while the convection heat warms the surrounding air, and as the air circulates, the room becomes warm.

The heating element is covered by thin sheets of mica that allow the distribution of heat.


space heater



Design Features to Consider When Buying a Space Heater

The design of a product creates an appearance that attracts the consumer. Different people prefer different models of space heaters based on their appeal, how much space the heaters take up and how efficient they are. Space heaters have features that differ from one to the other. The features control how the heater work and space it occupies.

Such aspects are critical as they determine if the space heater you choose will suit your needs. So, before you buy a space heater, what design features should you consider? Below we highlight them.

Thermostat – It is wise to buy a heater that has a thermostat. It helps regulate the amount of heat produced, saving energy and preventing overheating the room. When the temperature reaches the desired level, the heater will shut off and turn back on when room temperature drops. Such a feature makes it easier to operate the heater and serve you well in keeping warm surroundings for you and your family without overheating.

A Timer – If you are wondering if a space heater will make your electric bill go up, then you need to buy one with a timer. The timer ensures that the heater is not left on for an extended period to save energy, saving you money. Also, it is a safety feature as it reduces the risk of fire as it switches the heater off if it is left on for too long.

Size – The size of a space heaters matters a lot. The size of the room the space heater is needed to heat, determine the correct size. Buy a space heater that will fit your room perfectly. Most heaters have a chart that guides you in selecting the proper size that will suit your needs. Choose small heaters for a small area and larger ones for large areas.

Heat Adjuster – Having a heater that allows you to adjust the amount released by the heater is essential. The adjustment enables you to manipulate the warmth of the room. You can either increase or reduce, depending on how you feel.

Handle – Most space heaters are portable, and as such, you need to consider the handles. During the cold season, you may need to move your heater around the house for warmth. The grip should be steady to prevent easy breakage causing the heater to fall, resulting in damage.

Remote – A remote adds comfort to how you operate the heater. You don’t have to stand to adjust when needed, as you will be able to make changes from your position.

Power cord – Buy a space heater that has a longer power cord as it will allow you to move the heater around. It’s easier to place it away from furniture preventing accidents such as fire and ensures you don’t trip while walking around the room.

Automatic shut-off – The features enable the heater to shut off when it’s hot or in case of a default. This not only helps maintain conducive room temperature but also serves as a safety tool. Most space heaters have it, and it’s advisable to ensure you buy one that has it.

Noise – Consider the amount of noise the space heater of your choice produces. You want a heater that is quiet as it reduces disturbance to people around you and yourself as you may require concentration if you are working or even reading.

Overall appearance – Appearance gives the first impression. Choose a heater that has a design, colour, and size that appeals to you. It allows you to enjoy the sight of it sitting in your home.

Last update on 2024-07-09  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Frequently Asked Questions Asked about Space Heaters and Answers

A lot of questions are asked about space heaters. Some focus on their design, how cheap they are to use in a home, how they operate, the recommended types, and how safe it is for home use. Below are some of the frequent questions listed and the best answer available. So, if you have a question, you are sorted because I’ve got you covered. Keep reading.

Should I leave the heater on at night?

Leaving a heater on at night while sleeping means they are unattended. Avoid leaving heaters unattended as this can result in accidents, especially if knocked by pets, or if there is an electricity default.

While asleep, you are unconscious, and this means should the worst happen chances of you being able to control the damage is minimised. When dealing with electrical appliances, it is wise to be awake and alert as you will be able to act first in case of accidents.

Always warm your bedroom before going to bed so that you can switch it off when sleeping. If you not around the room or you are sleeping, switch the heater off.

Also, you should minimise how much you alter the night patterns. Your brain and body rest best at night when the temperature is more relaxed. At night the temperature drops, signalling our minds; it is time to sleep.

This means that if you keep your heater on throughout the night, you send the wrong message to the brain. The brains perceive cooler temperature as a time to sleep and heat as a time for alertness and energy. Don’t overheat your bedroom as it affects your sleep, which may cause exhaustion to your brain and body.

Are space heaters expensive than central heating?

It depends on the space area being heated. If you want to warm the whole house using a space heater, it will be expensive as you will need heaters for each room as it can only heat a small area. In such cases, central heating would be less expensive.

However, if you only need to warm a specific room, a space heater would be appropriate, saving more energy than when using central heating. Decide on the area you need to keep warm, and then you will be able to choose a method that suits your needs without the needless expense.

Are space heaters safe?

Are space heaters recommended?

Space heaters are recommended as they keep your home warm and also are energy saving compared to a central heating system. This is because, with space heaters, you can choose the room you want to heat up and move it there as opposed to the central heating system that heats the whole house.

More importantly, choose what is best and check out some of the safety tips highlighted in this article. Check out some of the heaters featured here that are certified and from trusted brands that meet safety standards.

Are space heaters safe?

Most electrical devices pose shock risks. The use of heaters for a long duration in high settings can cause burning resulting in a fire. Also, overloading a circuit can cause electricity default increasing dangers of fire at home.

To avoid such instances from happening, you are best advised to buy a heater that has a timer that can shut off in case of electricity default and when the heater is left on for too long. Avoid overloading your circuit to reduce the risks of accidents.

Is it true that space heaters produce carbon monoxide?

Fuel-fired space heaters produce carbon monoxide, which can be poisonous. If the heaters are left on for long, the carbon monoxide can build-up resulting in fire and poisoning.

Do space heaters support smart technology?

Most electrical appliances now support new smart technology, like Alexa. Such technology allows you to operate your products using your voice. If you use a smart speaker then you should consider getting a space heater that supports it for convenience.

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For example, if you want to moderate the temperature, all you need is to use your voice to instruct Alexa on what you need.

Some phrases are programmed to allow you to use Alexa’s voice control. Learn how such technology work so you have a pleasant experience operating your heater conveniently without having to move around to change the settings.

What is the best place to place my space heater?

Where you place, your heater is vital to how it warms your room and also for safety. Place your heater on a flat and stable floor, away from window curtains and furniture to avoid causing a fire. Ensure you buy a heater that has a longer power cord so you can place it away from you to avoid direct exposure.

Do space heaters cause a fire?

UK Fire Service Resources (1) says that space heaters cause 40% of home fire accidents. This is because they can overheat if left on for long and if the circuit is overloaded. However, there are cautions that you can put in place to prevent such cases.

  • Buy a space heater that comes with an automatic shutoff.
  • Inspect the heater’s electrical cord regularly.
  • Keep away from kids and pets.
  • Don’t place stuff on the heater.
  • Avoid an electrical shock by keeping it away from water.

Which size is best?

The size of the space heater is a factor to consider when buying a space heater. Choose a small one if the room you need to warm is small and with few people, and a larger one for large areas with multiple people. Also, most space heaters have a chart that will guide you when choosing the size.

Space heaters are designed to give you a warm home with less expense. Buy a space heater that suits your home needs and offer you quality services. They should be energy-efficient and of excellent standards.

Are space heaters safe?


  • Temperature Control – Most space heaters are equipped with a thermostat that helps regulate room temperature, unlike central heating, which is challenging to moderate heat. With space heaters, you have a preference.
  • Portable – Most heaters are portable, which makes it easy to move them around the house to preferred rooms. They are small, with convenient design to take around the house. If you need a specific area warmed, all you need is to move the heater there, and you are sorted.
  • Energy-saving and efficient – Space heaters are energy-saving, and they consume energy efficiently. This is because you don’t need to heat the whole house as you can warm only the area that you have occupied in contrast to central heating, which consumes lots of energy heating the entire house. It saves money since it consumes less electricity.
  • Produce heat fast – Space heaters heat quickly, warming the room fast, especially if it has a fan that helps circulate warm air around the house swiftly.


  • Lack of air filters – If a heater lacks air filters, it affects how air is filtered, which may result in dust particles being blown around, and this may affect people who have allergies.

Safety tips and precautions

  • Avoid direct contact with the heater.
  • Make sure you set the heater timer to allow it to shut off when kept on for too long, and also in case of electricity default.
  • Pay attention if children and pets are around.
  • Keep everything that is flammable away from the heater to reduce risks of fire.
  • Use electrical cords that are wattage appropriate. Ensure it has an approval stamp from an independent testing organisation.
  • Keep it away from foot traffic. Don’t place where people pass as someone may trip, causing accidents.

Final thoughts

Winter season can be challenging for most people as it can get freezing. There are many ways to keep warm. However, space heaters are a great choice as they can warm an entire room, keeping you and your family warm.

There are factors that you should consider when buying a heater as they affect the experience you get. As discussed above, make sure to factor the design, the safety tips, the pros, and cons of using a space heater.

Space heaters are energy-efficient, and they consume less electricity compared to central heating, which requires you to warm the whole house. They save you money and are convenient as you can move them around the house. Take caution when using them to avoid risks of fire and always purchase from a certified brand to ensure quality is not compromised.

So if you need to keep warm when it’s too cold, space heater should be in your to-buy list.



  1. UK Fire – Link