Types of Electric Heaters and Safety Rules For Them

Types of Electric Heaters and Safety Rules For Them


Central heating system in the house

In this article I will compare 3 types of electric heaters for home: baseboard heater, space heater and portable heaters. In conclusion, you will find important safety information for using them.

Electric Baseboard Heater

Electric baseboard heaters differ from hot water baseboard heaters, in that they are usually use to heat up single rooms whereas the hot water baseboard heaters are normally part of the bigger central heating system.

How it works?

Cables inside the electric baseboard heater warm the air which is then pushed out from the baseboard unit. Cold air is sucked in and the heating process continues in this cyclic manner. They are not as efficient to use, for heating purposes, as central heating for example but they do a much better job at heating than the typical portable space heater does.

Temperature is normally controlled by the use of thermostats that are installed in each room. Once the air being sucked back into the electric baseboard heater reaches the temperature on the thermostat, the electric unit shuts down until the temperature in the room drops. This means that rooms that get a lot of use during winter can be warmed, while any rooms that are in disuse during winter can have their thermostat down so low that the heater rarely comes on. Being able to adjust the thermostat if needed makes the electric baseboard heater fairly practical to use.

Advantages

Of course the main con in many people’s mind with the electric baseboard heater is that it takes up floor space and they can sometimes clash with a room’s overall décor. Not much can be done about their taking up space, but it is possible to decorate or paint the unit so that it matches with your furnishings, if needed. They also need to be installed in an area where there is good air flow so can’t be semi-hidden behind curtains or the couch, or near wall hangings as they may catch on fire.

In order to stimulate good heat and air circulation it is often suggested that they be placed underneath a window so that the cold air falls from the window at the same time as warm air is rising from the heater. If they are placed at baseboard level beneath a window there needs to be at least twelve inches minimum clearance from curtains for safety reasons.

Electric baseboard heaters are great to use in bedrooms, where their quiet operation doesn’t disturb sleep and the fact that they can be controlled using a thermostat makes it easy to heat up the room when needed and turn the temperature down when the room is empty.

The Electric Space Heater

Normally speaking, an electric space heater is less energy efficient and much more costly to run than many other types of space heaters. Why then do so many people still continue to buy them and use them, and what is it that makes people choose an electric space heater over an oil filled heater, for example?

How it works?

First of all, let’s describe the electric space heater. I have heard it referred to, by someone who was not particularly impressed with this humble heater, as an oversized toaster! Perhaps the older styled electric space heaters of the past, with their glowing red coils behind a metal grate, could conceivably be considered as such, but these days electric space heaters come in many different shapes and forms.

The electric space heater has really come a long way over the years. Now it is possible to find remotely controlled heaters that include a thermostat and a fan to push the hot air around the room.

Typically, a modern high-tech electric space heater, with all of these heaters, could cost you around $200 to buy, they operate quietly and keep your room at an even temperature.

A cheaper unit, without all the associated gadgets, can normally be bought for under $100, with some other types of electric space heaters considerably cheaper than others. For example, oil filled electric heaters are usually much cheaper to buy than a small electric space heater with a fan. If you are looking for something even less expensive, there are some very good, moderately priced electric space heaters with ceramic bars inside that heat up. Some of these also have a fan that is used to move warm air around the room, though not all do.

Advantages

One great use for an electric space heater is when you are trying to only heat up a few rooms of your house during winter, rather than having the central heating turned on for rooms that no one will be occupying. They’re also great to have on hand if you have someone living or staying with you who is more sensitive to the cold. Rather than having to turn up the entire heating for the whole home, you can simply install a small electric space heater in the room of the person who needs more heat, and still keep the rest of the house at a moderate temperature, thus saving considerably on your electricity or other fuel costs.

They are also extremely portable, which means it is very simple to move them around from room to room, should you need to do so. While they may not be the most energy efficient to run if you’re relying on them as your sole source of heating during winter, they are a great little addition to have on hand for those times when they’re needed.

Portable Electric Heaters

Portable electric heaterWith winter almost here, many people are re-evaluating their heating systems. If you run a central heating system, chances are that you are evaluating how much it costs you to run your system during winter, and deciding whether or not it is worth it to continue. Fuel prices are on the increase, and with the current economic downturn many people are actually opting for alternative heating, such as portable electric heaters.

One option for this winter is to turn your central heating down a few degrees, and dress more warmly. That will definitely prove to be a saving. If someone in your home isn’t comfortable with the lowered heating, or if they have special needs, (such as a nursery, for example) you could always buy a portable heater to put in the room so that only one room has to be warmer.

Alternatively you can switch off your central heating all together and simply buy electric space heaters. Portable electric heaters are much more economical to run these days than they were years ago, and it is a very real possibility that you could actually save on heating costs by choosing to heat your home with portable electric heaters. The great thing about buying portable heaters is that they can be moved from room to room, as needed, which makes them an ideal choice for small families, singles, or couples without children. Use them in the living room in the evening, then move them into the bedroom as you prepare to go to bed.

Types

There are two types of portable electric heaters, radiant heaters and those that rely on convection or the circulation of air to heat a room. Radiant heaters are a great choice if you are only needing to heat the room for a few hours and providing you can stay in direct line with the heater (as radiant heat heats up objects within their line of sight.)

If you are planning on using the heater to heat up an area for an evening, or all day, then you would be better off running a convection heater as that will heat up the air in the entire room. Portable electric heaters are great as they do not need to be vented, and are safe to operate within your home.

Important!

No matter what type of portable electric heater you buy there are some safety guidelines to keep in mind. Remember that they should always be plugged directly into the wall socket (or into a very heavy gauge wire extension cord) and they should have built in safety switches that will turn the electric heater off if it happens to get tipped over.

Remember too, that small children and pets have been burned by getting too close to an electric heater, so unless you are using an oil-filled portable electric heater, make sure that your children or pets can’t come in contact with the heater.

They are a great choice if you are only needing to heat the room for a few hours and providing you can stay in direct line with the heater (as radiant heat heats up objects within their line of sight.)

If you are planning on using the heater to heat up an area for an evening, or all day, then you would be better off running a convection heater as that will heat up the air in the entire room. Portable electric heaters are great as they do not need to be vented, and are safe to operate within your home.

No matter what type of portable electric heater you buy there are some safety guidelines to keep in mind. Remember that they should always be plugged directly into the wall socket (or into a very heavy gauge wire extension cord) and they should have built in safety switches that will turn the electric heater off if it happens to get tipped over. Remember too, that small children and pets have been burned by getting too close to an electric heater, so unless you are using an oil-filled portable electric heater, make sure that your children or pets can’t come in contact with the heater.

Safety Rules for Electric Heaters

Oil heater safetyWith winter fast approaching, it is a good time to refresh yourself on electric heater safety tips, as well as to go over them with your children or other people in your home or working environment.

There are over half a million home fires reported yearly, in the United States alone. Of course, not all fires result in major property damage, but even a little bit of property damage is often too much–in terms of having to pay for repairs or reconstruction. About 25% of fires, however, actually cause considerable damage meaning that they engulf one whole room of the house or more. This 25% of fires are the ones that cause loss of life, severe burning and major destruction of property.

While not all fires are caused by misuse or not following safety instructions when using household appliances, many are, with heaters being a major player.

Rule 1: Read the instruction manual before you plug in and use your electric heater, and make sure you demonstrate to others the safe use of the electric heater, or have all others who will be using the heater read the instructions.

Rule 2: Unplug the heater when its not in use, and never leave an unattended heater on alone in a room. Anything could happen while you were gone.

Rule 3: Plug your electric heater directly into the wall socket, not into an extension cord. Many extension cords have been known to overheat, and then cause a fire.

Rule 4: Don’t hide cords under rugs or have any heavy furniture on top of it. Even though cords are a bit unsightly, hiding the cord can mean hiding a damaged cord. Damaged cords can start first. Also, placing anything heavy on top of the cord can also damage it.

Rule 5: Make sure the heater is not placed against anything, especially anything that could be likely to catch on fire such as clothing or material, or any flammable material. The safest range is to make sure that there is 3 feet of space surrounding the heater on all sides. This also applies to not drying clothing or other items in front of an electric heater–it is just too easy for things to catch fire this way.

Rule 6: Be careful of water. Electric heaters should not generally be used in bathrooms, or in any room where it is likely to come in touch with water, or damp areas of the house.

Rule 7: Don’t use a heater with a damaged cord. Don’t plug anything else into the outlet your heater is plugged into, and make sure you check your heater’s plug often to make sure it’s still in good condition.

Rule 8: Keep your electric heater away from children, and make sure that you don’t leave a heater on in a room with an untended or sleeping child, for example in a child’s bedroom while he is sleeping.

Rule 9: Keep your heater on a flat surface, generally this should be the floor unless your heater is specifically made to sit on a table top.

If you are careful to follow these rules, and you take good care of your electric heater, you really shouldn’t have any problems with it. Happy heating this cold winter!


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