Space heaters are essential during cold winter times and they are available in numerous sizes and shapes. If you’re looking to buy one then it’s important to know how to choose a good space heater for your home or work.
Many people opt to buy a space heater instead of installing a complex HVAC system simply because space heaters are less expensive, some of them are portable and require little to no maintenance.
This guide will cover different types of space heaters like electric or gas used for small, large, industrial or commercial areas as well as a couple of aspects you need to keep in mind before buying. Keep reading and you’ll be able to make a more informed decision and pick the best space heater that best suits your needs.
Type of Space Heater
Just as mentioned earlier, certain heaters are suitable for certain indoor areas such as a residential, commercial or industrial property. If your house is relatively small, you don’t need to buy an industrial heater because it would be a waste of resources. Space heaters can generally be categorized as electric heaters and gas heaters.
Electric heaters: Electric heaters transform electric current into heat and they are some of the most popular and efficient ones. They can be used to heat living rooms, garages, warehouses, commercial kitchens and conference rooms.
Gas heaters: Gas heaters don’t use electricity (with a couple of small exceptions). They burn a certain type of fuel such as kerosene, diesel, oil or even jet fuels. These are ideal for emergency situations (during power blackouts), but they can also be used on a regular basis, provided that you refill the fuel tank when it gets depleted.
Here’s a video explaining things:
Type of Heat
Space heaters can also be categorized depending on the type of heat they release. For example, certain heaters are called high-temperature rise and they tend to heat up a large space quickly, but they are not efficient to be used for long periods of time.
Low-temperature rise heaters tend to heat up space slowly, but they maintain the same temperature level for longer periods of time.
Infrared heaters are more efficient at heating up objects or people, without influencing the temperature of the air. You can select from these heater types depending on your own preferences and needs.
Another important aspect you should keep in mind when considering space heaters is obviously, their power output. This is usually stated using two measuring units such as BTUs (British Thermal Units) or Watts. There is a correlation between these two units. For example, 10 BTUs/h are equal to approximately 3 watts.
If you want to heat up a small room, you shouldn’t go for a very powerful heater because its running costs will be enormous.
For example, if the area you want to heat up amounts to approximately 250 square feet, a space heater with a power output of 1,500 watts would be sufficient in most cases. If you want to heat up an entire commercial floor of 500 square feet, you can go for a 3,000-watt heater, etc.
On the other hand, if you are thinking about heating up your large garage, commercial kitchen, warehouse or large industrial area of around 1,500-2,000 square feet, you need to go for very powerful space heaters which, fortunately, are widely available on the market.
Some of these units are larger in size and they can provide a power output of 5,000-6,000 watts or even more, depending on their specifications. If the areas which need to be heated are really large, you can confidently think of getting a space heater with a power output between 200,000 BTUs up to 1,000,000 BTUs.
Many of today’s space heaters can also be portable and this is a convenient feature if you move a lot or you need to heat up spaces in different locations.
For example, most 1,500 watt heaters are relatively small in size and can easily be transported in the trunk of your car. They don’t have a large weigh because they are also made from lightweight materials.
Larger heaters tend to occupy more space and become heavier because they also offer larger power outputs. For example, some industrial heaters are equipped with wheels and handles, so you can safely load them in a truck to be transported to a commercial or industrial property. Certain commercial heaters come up with big handles and they can be mounted high up on walls, away from kids and pets’ reach.
If we’re talking about extremely powerful industrial heaters which can release several hundred thousand BTUs per hour, these units are not that portable and they might not even feature wheels. It is wise to plan ahead and consider this aspect when buying your space heater.
Very powerful heaters can only be transported by trucks and moved/installed by a team of specialists, but you have the assurance that your large industrial or commercial space will be heated quickly when necessary.
Safety is also an important aspect when considering space heaters. Think about the fact that a unit with a power output of 1,500 watts can become dangerous if not properly installed or operated.
That’s why manufacturers have incorporated various safety features into the design of their heaters, to avoid unpleasant and potentially costly accidents.
For example, one of the most important safety features is the automatic shut-off feature which basically turns off the heater after a certain amount of time (one or more hours, depending on your needs). This prevents the unit from overheating and gives you more peace of mind if you let the appliance run overnight.
Another important safety feature is the automatic tip-over shut-off feature which does exactly what it says – it turns off the heater if it is accidentally tipped over. All space heaters also come with plastic housings which basically create a cool-touch environment for people who operate the heater on a regular basis.
Some of these features are incorporated in large industrial and commercial space heaters too. Fuel-based heaters include shut-off procedures which cut off the fuel supply if a problem is detected by its built-in sensors.
As a piece of advice, if you want to be absolutely sure that your industrial appliance will not pose problems in the future, always let a professional install it because this will make it 100% safe.
Many industrial heaters also have an anti-freeze function which is convenient when traveling or not using your heater on a daily basis. This function prevents the delicate internal electronic components from freezing up and getting damaged while not using your heater.
Many space heaters are designed to be economical and consume a relatively small amount of energy if you know how to set them correctly.
For example, electrical heaters can be set on the “eco saving” mode which basically allows the thermostat to permanently adjust the heat setting, depending on the surrounding temperature conditions.
Use this tool to calculate your energy consumption for an electric heater and remember that you can always adjust the heat settings to decrease the energy bill if you’re thinking you’re paying too much.
If you go for a fuel-based heater, these are usually equipped with fuel tanks of 1 or more gallons and they can run for around 12 hours on high heat settings.
Remember that these are just average numbers, the actual energy consumption depends on multiple factors. If you go for an industrial heater, its fuel tank will definitely be much larger or it can be connected directly to a gas pipe which is more convenient for most people.
Space heaters might look like complicated devices, but they are really easy to operate in most cases and they might also come with remote controls, allowing you to set the heat setting from a distance.
Most heaters have LCD displays with physical buttons which let you adjust the temperature, heat setting, timer and even the clock (if any).
Industrial heaters come with thermostat controls, on/off button and physical buttons to adjust the heat setting and temperature level.
You might be happy to find out that most electrical heaters are fairly quiet, even when they run on a high heat setting.
In most cases, the larger the room, the less perceptible the sound coming from the heater is, so if you want to heat up a large garage, your space heater will not bother you too much.
It is important to mention here that if you go for a forced air heater (featuring a fan which pushes out warm air), it might produce more noise than a regular space heater simply because of the constant spinning of the fan. However, the noise level will definitely not be deafening, so you shouldn’t be worried.
Choose the Right Space Heater!
Now you know more about space heaters, how they operate and how powerful they can actually be. The next thing to do is to find out the actual size of the area you want to heat up (in square feet) and decide whether you should go for an electrical heater or a fuel-based/gas one.Both of these options have their own pros and cons.
Lastly, decide upon the actual power output of the heater (if in doubt, always go for a slightly more powerful unit than required, just in case) and familiarize yourself with its specifications and operation method. Good luck!