How does a space heater work?

Heaters make life a whole lot easier for people who have to deal with separate seasons. Plenty of us has felt this dilemma when our whole house or office heat just isn’t enough to beat the cold. If by any chance you have found yourself shivering at home or in the office, you have probably considered getting a space heater for yourself.

For homes and offices, space heaters work well as an additional heat source. It doesn’t mean that a person should only rely on space heaters as a primary heat source; though, if you have a particularly freezing place, on that matter a space heater will work hard to keep that area warm.

Sometimes there are concerns about their efficiency, that many people worry about safety, especially in areas with high traffic or babies. There is nothing to get worried about as they offer many benefits, both in heating and saving money if they are used properly.

Table of contents

  1. Safety hacks for using space heaters
  2. Factors to consider before buying a space heater
  3. Types of space heaters and how do they work?
  4. Frequently asked question

Safety hacks for using space heaters

  1. You need to keep anything that can burn, including bedding, furniture, and curtains at least 3 feet away from a space heater.
  2. Always prepare a three-foot ‘kid-free’ place and don’t use a space heater in a child’s bedroom ever.
  3. You can run power cords on top of the carpet and step over them to avoid abrading the cord. And try not to use extension cords.
  4. Always turn off your space heaters before going to bed or leaving a room.
  5. You should never use a space heater in a damp or wet area unless it’s specifically made for that reason.
  6. Try not to put them on a countertop unless it’s designed for it specifically.
  7. You need to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and test monthly.
  8. Try to purchase only “UL Listed” heaters which display the UL mark on their label. This independent organization tests for safety.
  9. You shouldn’t use gas- or oil-burning space heaters indoors, that can be used only outdoors or in spaces open to the outdoors like tents or porches.
  10. Always read and follow all manufacturer’s directions for your heater.

Factors to consider before buying a space heater

Safety features

Many space heaters on the market incorporate top of the line safety features. ‘Automatic shutdown’ is one of the most necessary. If the machine is left unattended for quite a while then the mentioned feature will automatically shut it down. This factor we are talking about is combined with a thermostat which tells the heater when the room is getting too warm.


Another amazing feature found in space heaters is the ‘timer’. This detail will allow you to turn on your space heater automatically when needed. The purchased machine will naturally turn on at the specified time.


Before buying the temperature-controlling machine you should always look for space heaters that have a built-in thermostat. If your product has a thermostat built-in, then you will not have to monitor its temperature all the time. It will make your job easy as all you need to do is set the thermostat to a specific temperature. This feature is designed to monitor the heat or coldness and will turn off the heater once the ideal temperature is reached.

Secondary features

Even with all these above-mentioned specifications, there are some secondary features you should look for before buying the machine. If your product is noisy it can make a lot of nuisance, so try to buy one that will not make much noise.


There is another option which you should consider about and that is ‘adjustable louvers’. These will allow you to control the temperature and direct the warm air anywhere in your home.


Before you decide to buy a space heater for your house see that the machine’s design is compatible with your home-furniture or not. And you should try to get a matching or contrasting color if possible.

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Did you know?

Mattresses come in all kinds of sizes, from Twin through Queen to California King. These labels are practical but it is essential to know their exact metrics if you are about to buy one. In case you are interested, I recommend you check out this article of ours where you will find every information you might need about different mattress sizes, both US and EU metrics.

Types of space heaters and how do they work?


These kinds generate heat by heating air that comes in contact with one or two elements. These specific products tend to produce the warmness slowly, and the heat generated lasts for a long time. Know that these machines are quieter and heavier than radiant space heaters. They usually do not make noise while working, and some of them have fans to circulate the wind through a room.


These machines use liquid, usually diathermic oil, circulated through a series of connected pipes, to create more heat. These heaters cannot radiate the warmth through an obstacle. For that reason, they create good spot-heating devices, such as- foot warmers, rather than heating devices for large spaces. Know that these products generate heat quickly than most.


Micathermic and electric space heaters are examples of conductive ones, which cause heat with the help of the elements that are responsible for increased warmth. These mentioned factors can be made of mica or, in most cases, a mixture of nickel and chromium that converts electricity into heat. These products are portable.

Gas- and oil-burning space heaters

These types of heaters should only be used in well-ventilated areas open to the outdoors, due to the fact that they produce harmful combustion gases from burning fuel. Remember that this includes areas like tents, screened porches, or new construction homes before any of the windows and doors are installed.

It is always best to find a model with a low-oxygen shut-off or oxygen depletion sensor. This specific safety feature will automatically detect when oxygen levels are getting dangerously low in space, and then it will stop the fuel from flowing to the heater by shutting off the flame.

The type of space you need to heat will depend highly on which model you will end up choosing. If you are living in a busy area or you have children running around, then you should probably want a model that’s okay to the touch and has an automatic shut-off feature as we have discussed earlier.

And if you’re looking for a space heater for your office, a compact heater that fits under your desk is likely your best option. Don’t forget that a bit larger spaces or rooms need a larger machine to make a difference without adding too much extra onto your monthly bill.

Frequently asked question

Do space heaters need a lot of electricity?

The answer is yes unfortunately, these space heaters need a lot of electricity to run. The cost will depend on the state, and if you are overly depending on your machine to get you through the winter seasons, then you can expect to pay for it a bit extra.

If you want to stay warm without losing an arm and a leg for electricity, it’s better to use an electric model only when you need it. Keep in mind that total home supply only carries ‘gas space heaters’ and does not sell ‘electric space heaters’.

Is it cheaper to run the heat than a space heater?

Note that it is cheaper to run the main heating system in a home than to use a space heater. A warming-machine is meant to be used as a secondary, supplemental heat source, not as the sole source of warmth. However, you might be able to save some money by pairing your model with a primary heating system.

Are space heaters dangerous?

Safety should be the main concern of yours while using space heaters. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 25,000 residential house fires each year are somehow associated with space heaters, which result in about 300 deaths per year. These will also lead to more than 6,000 emergency room visits for burn injuries.


For you, a space heater can be a very effective and cost-efficient way to stay a little bit warmer in your home or business. They are generally designed with the intent to produce heat only the area you are currently inhabiting, and are great for room-to-room use in places with multiple inhabitants, as room temperature preferences depend highly from person to person.

If you keep in mind the size of the area or room you need to be heated, the type of heat you are looking for, and the fact that these products are mainly designed to only be a supplemental source of heat, you will be able to prevent high energy bills and keep your family or employees happy and safe.


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