How Do Space Heaters Work? (Everything You Should Know)

When it’s cold, you cannot but have to wear layers of clothing outside your home. But inside, you want to feel comfortable and cozy. You turn on your space heater. It’s the only thing that will keep you away from the layers. But have you ever thought about how do space heaters work?

Different space heaters work differently. Some work through radiation, some go by convention. These two methods are basic procedures on how space heaters work to warm up a space. Firstly, the conductors are heated up. Then the heat is transmitted through convection or radiation to warm up the surrounding air.

There are various types of space heaters that work in different ways. Be smart about your home appliances and learn how space heaters work. Knowing will let you choose the best one for your home.

How Do Space Heaters Work

What Is A Space Heater?

A space heater is a device that helps to keep your room warm and cozy during the winter season.

When the temperature is freezing outside, you will want a cozy environment in your home or office or any indoor place you are in. A space heater is a gateway to your cozy winter. The devices make the air around you warm using different mechanisms.

You will find various types of space heaters in the market. They have different mechanisms and will be suitable for a variety of environments.

Types Of Space Heater

Based on using energy, there are mainly two types of space heaters. They both have their distinct modes of functioning.

  1. Gas space heater
  2. Electric space heater

Gas Space Heater

In the gas heater, electricity is not used. Instead, they use flammable materials like propane, kerosene, or coal to heat the room.

Gas heaters mainly work following the principle of radiation. They are not always able to warm up the whole place.

For indoors, unvented heaters are recommended.  But they are not recommended for a long time or overnight use.  You also need to make sure that they are used in a well-ventilated space.  

 Electric Space Heater

Electric space heaters use electric energy to heat the space. There is a media which is heated with the help of electricity. Then that heat is passed to the surrounding air to warm it up.

Depending on the mechanism of heating space, there are two types of electric space heaters.

  1. Convection Heater
  2. Infrared Heated

Convection Heater

Convection heaters mechanize through pulling and pushing methods. With the help of a fan in the heater, it pulls in the air around it. After warming up, it pushes the air out. The mechanism in the convection heater works the same as the one in your hair drier.

A convection heater can be made of both ceramic plate and oil space. The device can warm up a significant amount of area. It is mainly preferable for closed spaces. The more the ventilation, the more time it will take to warm up. 

You can easily use convection heaters in your bedroom or office space overnight.

Infrared Heater

Infrared heaters do not go by pulling and pushing methods. They heat the conductor and pass the heat to its surroundings through radiation. It is a similar process where the heat travels from the sun to earth. Infrared heaters are also known as ‘radiation heaters.’

Note that infrared heaters do not cover a greater range. It’s mainly effective if you are near the heater as it heats the object or the body directly. If you want a heater only for you near your desk or bed at your side, then infrared is a preferable type of space heater.

Conductors of Electric Space Heater

The two most noteworthy conductors of electric heaters are ceramic plates and oil-filled space. Here are a few pointers that set them apart in terms of mechanism.

Ceramic Plate

In the ceramic plate heater, the plates are arranged in an orderly fashion. With the help of electricity, they heat up to a level and then radiate heat using Infrared technology. On a convection heater, a fan is used to pull in and out the air. Thus, it heats the whole space.


In the oil-filled heater, there are also metal rods present. The electricity heats the oil and eventually the rods. Thus ends up warming the space around the heater. Though it takes longer to heat up, it keeps the heat steady for a long time. Also, it is safer to use as there is no direct exposure to the heated elements.

Positioning A Space Heater

Before placing a space heater, keep some points in mind. The place you set up the space heater should be fit for providing maximum efficiency.

  • Keep the heater at that place where you spend most of your time indoors.
  • Make sure that it is in a dry place. Moisture can harm the heater.
  • Try to place it away from the water pipelines.
  • Though it seems convenient, do not place a heater in front of a wall. The heater needs air passage from behind also.
  • Don’t place the heater in a baby nursery.

Safety Tips For Using Space Heater

No matter which heater you are using, always make sure to follow the safety measures. Here are some general safety tips for you to follow while operating a space heater.

  • Read the safety measures on the label of the heater carefully and execute them carefully.
  • Try not to use a non-electric heater indoors.
  • Turn off the heater when you are leaving the place.
  • Keep it away from the foot traffic.
  • Try to have a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installed in your house.
  • Do not use an electric heater for a long time.
  • Make sure to keep the space heater at least 3 feet away from toddlers and pets at all times.

Frequently Asked Question

Are space heaters safe to leave on all night?

Modern space heaters are allowed to leave on overnight, but it is encouraged not to do so. They can be the cause of fire accidents in your house if left unattended.

Are heaters healthy?

Though space heaters make you feel warm, non-electric heaters can harm your health badly. Try to buy a space heater that is certified by a renowned brand.

Are space heaters actually dangerous?

Space heaters generate a lot of heat energy on the power circuit. This may cause a fire sometimes. In 2016, space heaters caused more than 55 thousand fire accidents in the US alone. So, be extra-careful about using one.

Do space heaters use a lot of electricity?

Space heaters consume a lot of electricity. It uses about 1.5 kilowatt per hour. Considering the area you live in, the electricity bill can be skyrocketing!

How long does it take for a space heater to heat a room?

Depending on your model, the time to warm up the room might be different. But casually, it might take up to an hour to raise your room’s temperature to a decent level. 

Final Words

Space heaters are necessary devices during the winter season. Knowing how space heaters work will help you to know which heater is to choose. Choosing the correct variant of heater can help to warm up your space efficiently and can help to save electricity also.

A space heater uses a lot of electricity. If the electricity rate is higher in your area, it can cost you a fortune to keep your feet warm. Make sure to use the heater only at the time of your need. It will serve your purpose and also save you from getting bankrupt!

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