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Space Heater Safety Tips

by VitalStorm Content on January 26, 2018

Space heaters, sometimes called personal heaters, are plagued by the reputation of being hazardous, and while there are some additional safety guidelines to follow when using them, these small, mobile units can be an efficient heat source.

When considering a space heater, many people will ask: Are space heaters safe to use? The answer: Yes, if used properly, space heaters are perfectly safe. Often, they provide the most energy-efficient solution. In other situations, they’re not only inefficient, but dangerous. The professionals at Blue Flame Heating & Air Conditioning are here to explain the pros and cons.

Not for Every Space

While space heaters can provide a safe and efficient option for heating, they’re best applied for specific jobs. When these small heating devices are used improperly, they pose fire and safety risks.

Space heaters account for about a third of all home heating-related fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. To stay safe, the Association recommends users purchase space heaters with testing from an independent laboratory. Stick with models that have thermostat-controlled heating and automatic overheat shutoff.

In most situations, space heaters aren’t the best choice for a standalone heat source. These small, portable devices operate between 10,000 and 40,000 BTU per hour – enough energy to heat a small or medium-size room—making them a good choice as a supplemental heat source.

Choose the Right Space Heater

Space heaters can operate on electricity, butane, gas and other combustible fuels. Picking the right type and size heater for your home is important to both safety and energy efficiency.

Space heaters generally operate in one of two ways. They either produce radiant heat from a static source, or convect heat by warming air. In other words, they either emit hot air (convection), or just get hot (radiant).

The most common example of radiant energy is the sun. In the same way that a tree blocks the sun’s rays to make a shadow, radiant heat can be blocked by objects in the room. For this reason, these devices are usually best for personal spaces for a few hours.

Let’s say you’re watching TV, and although the furnace is on, you feel chilly. What are your options? You can crank up the thermostat and warm the entire house, or you can heat your personal space while you watch TV, saving the expense of heating unused parts of the house.

Convection heaters, on the other hand, are best used to apply a small amount of heat to an entire space. They don’t have a lot of power, but the hot air emitted circulates through the room quickly, mixing with cooler air to increase the overall air temperature. Since this heat is quickly diffused into the air, rather than heating objects by line-of-sight only, these space heaters work well to supplement an inadequate primary heating unit.

Safety Tips

If you’ve determined that a space heater fits your needs, make sure to follow these safety tips when purchasing or using the unit.

  • Plug the space heater directly into a dedicated wall plug. Avoid extension cords or power strips that can heat up and pose fire risks.
  • If purchasing a space heater, buy a new, rather than a used, model. Look for a sticker or stamp from an independent laboratory, such as the Underwriter’s Lab (UL) label.
  • Purchase the right size. Getting a unit that is too small doesn’t get the job done. On the other hand, getting a space heater that’s too big not only wastes electricity, but also increases your safety risk considerably.
  • Set it up on a level surface where there is no foot traffic. Space heaters should always be inaccessible to children and pets.

Call the experts at Blue Flame Heating & Air Conditioning  at 206-388-5667 to schedule an appointment for service or repairs today!