Fix-It Chick: How to choose the best space heater for your needs

Electric space heaters come in lots of shapes and sizes, but they all use the same amount of power to produce a similar amount of heat. What differentiates one heater from another is how it delivers the heat. Follow these steps to choose the best heater for the job at hand.

Step 1: Choose a convection heater to quickly heat up a room for a limited amount of time. Heat coils in the convection heater warm up rapidly and the built-in fan distributes heat quickly. Convection heaters will usually shut off if tipped over, but they are typically hot to the touch and should be kept away from small children and pets.


What differentiates one heater from another is how it delivers the heat.

Step 2: Choose a ceramic heater to heat smaller rooms. The ceramic plate heats up slowly, but provides a consistent heat. Heat continues to radiate into the room even after the heater is turned off, making ceramic heaters more energy efficient than convection heaters. The small size of ceramic heaters make them perfect for tight spaces and creates less of a hazard for small children or pets.

Step 3: Choose an oil-filled radiator to heat larger areas for a longer period of time. Oil is warmed inside the heater and then circulated through its fins. Heat radiates gradually to heat the entire room over time. The oil radiates heat long after the heater is shut off, making these heaters very energy efficient. With a thermostat control, oil-filled heaters can be left unattended safely for a reasonable amount of time. These heaters stay almost cool to the touch and are safe to use around small children.

Step 4: Baseboard heaters work best in drafty rooms. These heaters warm the air directly above them and should be placed beneath a window or near an exterior door. Hot air rises from the heater and meets the cold draft entering the room. The air is warmed as it circulates into the room. 240-volt hard-wired electric baseboard heaters are often used in place of furnaces for zone heating.

Step 5: Choose an infrared heater to provide warmth to a targeted area. Infrared heaters do not heat the air; instead, much like the sun’s rays, they transfer heat to an object. Sitting with an infrared heater pointed directly at you can keep you toasty warm even when the rest of the room is ice cold.

— Have a home improvement question for the Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at


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