What To Look For When Buying A Space Heater

When shopping for a space heater, product specifications and features may read like a foreign language. Like what the heck is a BTU and what does it mean for my cold fingers and toes?

If you’re looking to supplement with your main heat source with a space heater, here are some of the factors and specifications to consider and what they mean to you.

Keep these in mind while browsing reviews of the best space heaters for small spaces or best space heater for large room reviews, to select a heat source that will keep you toasty throughout the colder months.

Amount of Heat Generated

Are you trying to heat a cozy 200 square foot room or a generous 1,000 square foot space? The size of the room will determine how powerful of a space heater you need. This power is expressed as watts or BTUs in product descriptions.

A heater with 200-600 watts is generally sufficient for small rooms. For medium size rooms, look for space heater with closer to 1500 watts, and for extra large homes, look for space heaters with over 5,000 BTUs to heat large rooms sufficiently.

You can take the guess-work out of BTUs by using a calculator to estimate your needs based on room size and ceiling height.

And on a side note: here are some other ways to add warmth to large living spaces.

Type of Power Needed

When looking at different space heaters, you’ll notice them noted as being electric or gas powered.

Electric heaters, which plug into your regular household outlets, are common and ideal to use indoors.

Gas heaters powered by propane or butane are ideal for outdoor spaces like patios where more heat is needed and where access to electrical outlets may be limited.

Type Of Heat Generated

Along with having different sources of power, space heaters also have different ways of generating and distributing heat.

Convection space heaters contain an element that warms the air in the room. Radiant heaters, on the other hand, heat objects close to them (like your body) via electromagnetic waves.

When you see ‘oil-filled’, ‘ceramic’ and ‘fan heaters’ – these are all types of convection heaters. They work by heating the air in the room, but can take longer to warm you up compared to radiant heat. That said, when you read ‘ceramic heating element’ you can expect a unit that will generate heat for a small room relatively quickly, which means less time in socks and sweaters while waiting for the room to warm up.

If you have a room or home that is particularly drafty, a space heater that uses radiant heat will warm you (as opposed to the room) up faster since the waves travel directly to you without heat being lost in the process. Keep in mind though, that since the heat travels in a straight line, heaters that use radiant heat won’t work as well to keep you warm if you’re moving from spot around  the house, versus sitting or laying in the same spot for a longer period of time.

You can learn more about the differences between convection and radiant heat here.

Now that you’ve decoded space heater features and benefits, the rest is up to your personal preferences for design and price. With so many options available, toastier nights are just a purchase away.