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Portable Heaters

Perfect for Heating Small Areas or Individual Rooms

Portable heaters are very useful for heating an unheated space or chilly area. Sometimes a portable heater might be necessary to supplement another heating system that just isn't adequate or when you cannot afford central heating. They're also good in the event of an emergency, such as failure of your existing heating system. You can take a portable heater to work and heat the area around your desk or to a cold basement to work on a project. A portable heater is an excellent option when you'd only like to heat one room or to provide extra heat for someone sensitive to cold without raising the temperature of your entire house. They're convenient, versatile, and come in many different varieties.

Different fuel types:

Electricity, propane, natural gas, and kerosene are common fuel sources for portable heaters. Electric heaters have an advantage in that they do not compromise the air quality in your home. No other unvented portable heater can promise that.

Portable electric heaters types:

The two types of portable electric heaters are convection and radiant. Radiant heaters heat people and objects, whereas convection heaters heat the air. If you're not going to be needing heat for a long period of time, a radiant heater is a better option as long as you can remain in its line of site. Because it doesn't waste energy heating the entire room, just you and the air directly around you, it's more efficient over short periods.

  • Convection Heaters - The types of convection heaters are electric element, liquid-filled, and ceramic.
    • Electric element heaters are usually inexpensive and very good at heating an area quickly if they are fan-forced. They can also use convection to move heated air around and will produce the same amount of heat as with a fan, just distribute it more slowly.
    • Liquid-filled heaters use heated liquid to radiate heat to a room through a radiator. Convection currents distribute the heat. Because liquid holds heat well, this type of heater would be more efficient except that it takes longer to heat up. The advantage is that there are not a lot of temperature fluctuations. It also won't dry out the air like a heater with a fan can do.
    • Ceramic heaters draw air over ceramic heating elements using a fan. Because the ceramic never gets hot enough to be a fire hazard, this type of heater has a definite safety advantage. Its downfall is that it doesn't compensate for changes in surrounding temperature so you could have wide temperature fluctuations. Ceramic heaters are usually lightweight and many come with washable air filters.
  • Radiant Heaters- Two types of radiant heaters are metal rod and quartz
    • Metal rod heaters use an electric element placed in front of a shiny reflector that radiates heat outward and heats people and objects in its line of sight. This type of heater can be dangerous because the heat can be too focused on one spot. Unfortunately, both metal rod and quartz heaters don't have thermostats, though they may run in cycles.
    • Quartz heaters use a heating element inside a glass tube to radiate heat out to people and objects. These heaters are not very safe because they also can focus too much heat onto one area, but they are very good at spot heating. Unfortunately, the glass tubes can easily break.

    Safety Features:

    • automatic shut-off if tipped over
    • sensor to shut off the heater if its inside temperature gets too high
    • a heater that doesn't tip over easily
    • a heater that has the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label attached to it

    Other Features:

    • a thermostat to regulate temperature
    • a digital display
    • multiple heat settings
    • a quiet fan

Safety measures: Portable heaters are common cause of residential fires. They can be used safely, but with the necessary precautions.

  • Don't get a heater too big for the space you want to heat
  • Look for safety features before you buy
  • Keep the heater away from flammable materials Put the heater in a place where it won't be in the way of pets, children, and general foot traffic
  • Plug the heater directly into a wall outlet. If you must use an extension cord, make it a heavy duty one of at least 14-gage wire.

Portable Heater Costs:

  • Portable electric heaters range in price from about $30- $275. Usually a less expensive model will function just as well as one of the more pricey ones.
  • If you run your portable electric heater about 10 hours a day it should cost between $18-$24 a month to operate, depending on your electricity rate and the number of watts your heater uses.

Combustion space heaters:

Combustion space heaters can be either vented or unvented. Unvented types cannot be used inside your home and are usually illegal because they bring in dangerous gases and deplete air from the space in which they are located. Vented types must be situated permanently near a wall so the vent can go out through a ceiling or wall. Units that are sealed or use 100% outside air bring in air from outside to use in the combustion chamber. They will have a glass front that keeps indoor air away from the fire. These types are safer than those which use air from inside the house. They also don't remove warm air from the room or reduce air quality and are therefore more efficient.

Safety precautions for combustion heaters:

  • Use only the specified fuel.
  • Don't fill the heater when it's hot.
  • Don't overfill since the liquid will expand when heated.
  • Have a vented heater inspected every year to make sure the vent is functioning properly.

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