The space heating market in the United States has seen a surge in interest over the last several years with over 113.5 million households employing at least one unit in their home regularly. Their popularity is largely due to their effectiveness in quickly heating small-to-medium size rooms, but many people don’t realize they pose a significant fire risk, associated with 1,700 house fires and 80 deaths annually according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
If you’re considering alternative ways to stay warm and comfortable during the winter, a space heater might be a worthy choice. But before you make your purchase, here are some details on the two most popular types of space heaters currently on the market: ceramic and infrared space heaters.
Broadly speaking, there are two main types of residential heating. Most homes, especially houses and apartment buildings, have some form of a central heating system such as a furnace or a boiler. Home furnaces are by far the most energy-efficient form of heating and because of this, they are also the most environmentally and economically efficient option as well. However, for homes without access to a home furnace or those with a home furnace that is old and ineffective, space heating can be an extremely helpful alternative until you can budget to have a new furnace installed. The same goes for homes with cold spots where the insulation is thin - space heaters are an effective way to keep specific areas warm.
There are several different types of space heaters on the market, made by a wide variety of manufacturers and using all types of energy sources. The most common types of space heaters include ceramic heaters, infrared heaters, oil-filled radiator heaters, quartz heaters, and propane space heaters. Government safety organizations have gathered lists of recommendations in order to safely operate a space heater, but regarding which one you use, it’s recommended to only shop for space heaters that have been tested to the latest safety standards. A certified heater will have a safety certification mark from testing organizations such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL).
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the two most common types of space heaters, ceramic and infrared heaters, and see how they compare.
Ceramic heaters provide clean, fan-assisted heat that you can feel directly. They are energy-efficient, cost-effective, safe, portable & versatile space heaters, making them ideal for extra or temporary heating in homes, offices, workshops & other small spaces.
Ceramic heaters work using the principle of resistive heating. In simple terms, this is a process that passes an electric current through a conductor to produce heat. In this case, the conductor is a ceramic plate. Ceramic offers excellent thermal conductivity as it offers more resistance to the current. As the current struggles to pass through the ceramic, it produces more heat in doing so. A built-in fan will then blow hot air in the direction the heater is facing.
Infrared heaters provide instant, radiant heat without any airflow. They are safe to use indoors and in enclosed spaces as they do not need to consume any oxygen to work. They also do not produce any harmful fumes, unpleasant odors, or uncomfortable humidity.
Infrared heaters work by converting electricity into radiant heat. Infrared is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and it is the same feeling of warmth as the sun on your face and the heat from a coal fire. Infrared heating works by directly transferring heat from the heater to the object (you and the room around you) without heating the air in between.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a space heater, upgrading your current furnace might be a better option. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, space heaters can pose a significant fire risk, but the reasons to stick with a home furnace extend beyond safety alone. On one hand, space heaters only work in heating small spaces such as an individual room and perhaps not even the entirety of that single room. If you’re having heating issues in more than one room, a space heater will be like bailing water out of a boat with a leak - the relief is temporary at best. On the other hand, space heaters consume an extensive amount of energy and will run up your utility bills significantly over time.
By upgrading to a new furnace, you’ll be able to get rid of your space heater and enjoy the comfort of efficient and effective whole-home heating. Sure, the upfront cost will be higher, but it will pay itself off in the long run and provide peace of mind to your much-needed indoor comfort.
We understand that every situation is unique and that on a cold winter’s night, there are few things more important than keeping warm. If you’re still not sure what to do or have any more questions, contact WM Buffington. We provide furnace maintenance and repairs as well as new furnace installation in Harrisburg. Our team is experienced in all types of home heating systems so if you live in the central Pennsylvania area we are ready to provide the high-quality help you need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week! Call today to schedule your service.