So what kind of space heater is best?
That’s a question often asked, and the short and truthful answer is that no single space heater—type or brand—is the best.
However, if you’re wondering what kind of space heater is best for your specific circumstances, that’s a different matter.
Because there’s a good chance, there might be or will be a type of space heater that’s perfect for you and your needs.
This article will take you through the different space heaters, listing their pros and cons.
Then, since you’re the one who knows your needs and circumstances, it will be up to you to decide which one suits your needs best.
What Kind of Space Heater is the Best… For You?
The following is a list of the different types of space heaters, plus their benefits, pros, and cons.
If you go through each of them and match them to your specific requirements, you’ll be able to determine what kind of space heater is the best for you and your home.
There are several types of space heaters.
Some are portable, some not.
And there is some crossover in the following categories.
- Baseboard heaters
- Gas / Kerosine
- Gas stoves
- Infrared / Radiant
- Oil filled
- Wall-mounted space heater
- Wood-burning stoves
Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the more popular options.
There are three main types of baseboard heaters.
As the name suggests, baseboard heaters are situated horizontally along baseboards.
They are sized to heat the area of the room they are in.
Electric Baseboard Heaters
Of the three types, electric baseboard heaters are the most simplistic.
However, they should be installed by an electrician since they are typically hard-wired into your home—meaning you don’t manually plug them in.
They’re attached directly to your electrical panel.
These heaters operate using convection, which is a form of heat transfer.
Convection heaters work much like a convection oven—surrounding air is heated by circulating convection currents.
Cool air is pulled into the heater through a vent and passes over a heating element.
Once warm, it’s released and rises into the room.
Since they have so few moving parts, electric baseboard heaters have fewer things to break down. This means they can last for decades, and maintenance costs are low.
- They have few moving parts so there are fewer things to break down
- Can last for decades
- Low maintenance costs
- Due to electricity costs, they can be very expensive to run, especially if you live somewhere with long cold winters and you’re hoping to heat your whole home or large room
Will This Space Heater be the Best Choice for You?
Electric baseboard heaters aren’t a good idea if you need to heat a huge area.
Unless energy costs are incredibly low where you live.
Hydronic Baseboard Heaters
These are a bit more complex than an electric baseboard heater since they require a boiler to heat the water that runs through the unit.
Hydronic systems are typically more energy efficient despite the energy required to keep the water hot.
This is because the water running through them holds onto its heat even after it shuts off.
- Since water retains heat, hydronic heaters are more energy efficient and cheaper to run
- More complex, meaning more difficult to install and more parts that could potentially break down
- If you don’t have a boiler already, you will need to purchase and install one
- It will be necessary to install piping as well
Will Baseboard Space Heaters be the Best Choice for You?
If you’re not building new or doing a significant renovation, hydronic baseboard heating likely won’t be the best space heater for you.
As the name suggests, these heaters have a ceramic element—not the type of ceramic you might have sitting around your home.
This is PTC or positive temperature coefficient ceramic that heats the air that passes over it.
There are two types of ceramic heaters:
Convective heaters are the most popular.
They use a fan to circulate heat, unlike the radiant type, which has no fan.
Convective heaters heat the surrounding air and, ultimately you.
Radiant heaters heat close objects—including you—not the air.
Ceramic heaters have several safety measures—most importantly, a sensor that monitors the temperature of the ceramic plate.
If heat rises above a safe zone, the unit is automatically shut off.
- They’re easy to relocate to wherever you need heat
- They don’t take up a lot of room
- Most models have adjustable fan speeds
- The ceramic plate retains heat for a while after shutting down
- Pricier models often include a thermostat
- Convective models heat a room quickly
- You can only heat small to medium-sized areas
- They use a lot of electricity while on high settings
- Radiant units won’t heat up an area as quickly as convective models. However, the heat lasts as long as objects in the room retain heat.
Will a Ceramic Space Heater be the Best Choice for You?
Ceramic space heaters are an excellent choice for small areas.
However, they use a lot of electricity and are not suitable for larger areas.
Fan Space Heaters
It’s tough to tell the difference between a ceramic heater and a fan space heater by simply looking at them.
The difference between the two is hidden beneath the fan—they have different heating elements.
Fan space heaters use a metal coil instead of a ceramic plate to create and transfer heat.
As the metal coil and electricity generate heat, the fan blows warm air into your room.
- They’re inexpensive
- Lightweight and easy to move around
- They provide instant heat
- Most models have cool-to-touch housing
- You’ll lose heat as soon as you turn them off
- The fan needs to run constantly
- They’re only appropriate in small areas or rooms
- Many models don’t have a thermostat for precise temperature settings
Is a Fan Space Heater the Best Choice for You?
Like ceramic heaters, portable fan heaters are best for smaller applications—small rooms or areas.
And since the fan needs to run consistently, they’re not energy efficient.
However, a fan heater is an excellent choice if you want to heat a small room or your desk area for short bursts of time.
Fueled Space Heaters
This would include gas, kerosene, propane, or oil space heaters.
Gas heaters will warm your room faster since they don’t need additional time to power up and warm the heating element.
And while you can find many non-vented gas appliances on the market, it’s recommended that you only use vented models.
Combustible fuels release toxins and carbon monoxide.
Gas-powered heaters typically cost you more upfront but are cheaper to run.
- Better efficiency
- They warm up quicker
- You can use them in larger areas
- Potential health hazards
- You should only use vented models
- Higher upfront costs
Are Fueled Space Heaters the Best Choice for you?
If you’re concerned about maintaining a healthy environment, any non-vented heater that produces pollutants is not your choice.
Fuel is combustible and produces carbon monoxide and a variety of other airborne pollutants.
Infrared / Radiant Space Heaters
Infrared space heaters, also known as radiant space heaters, may be more energy efficient, primarily when used for shorter periods— like a few hours.
This type of heat, similar to the sun’s heat, does not heat up the air. Instead, it heats objects—your body, furniture, and other items in your home.
As long as you’re in the direct path of the heater, you begin to feel warmer immediately.
The difference is like the difference between standing in direct sunlight or standing in a shady spot.
Infrared heaters can be powered in various ways, including electric, natural gas, or propane.
And like every other type of heater, they have pros and cons.
- Since they don’t have a fan, they operate silently
- They immediately begin to heat anyone in their direct path
- They have no carbon combustion, so they do not release any pollutants into the air
- They’re not an excellent option to run for long periods, for example, overnight
- You must always be close to them to benefit from the heat
Is a Radiant Space Heater the Best Choice for You?
If you like to cozy up to your space heater and looking for immediate warmth, this might be your best choice.
So, have you concluded what kind of space heater is best for you? Clearly, there are a lot of things to consider.
Before buying something based on reviews, understand all the pros and cons and what features best suit your lifestyle.