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AC and Heating Tip from AC Express

The Various Types of Space Heaters

The Various Types of Space Heaters

Space heaters represent the ultimate marriage of convenience, energy efficiency, and comfort when it comes to heating in Austin in the winter. Think about how your ceiling fans and box fans help you out in the summer and help take some of the work of keeping you cool and comfortable off of your air conditioner. In the same way, space heaters help take some of the work of keeping your warm and cozy off of your furnace or heat pump.

But not all space heaters are created the same. Today’s HVAC market has more options than ever when it comes to space heaters and supplemental forms of heating in general. There’s a wealth of types of space heaters and brands and models. From different power levels to different types of fuels, your choices are great and that can make the process of deciding what space heater is right for you somewhat daunting. That’s what this tip of the day aims to solve. We’re going to run down the various types of space heaters and what pros and cons each have. Then we’re going to look at situations which might warrant each type. We’ll also look at some of the specific models that are particularly worth looking at as a starting point.

Convection Heaters

Convective or convection space heaters run on the principle of radiating heat from a heating surface area, working much like your convection oven does. Convection heaters are the king of the space-heating world when it comes to heating large spaces. These heaters are filled with a heat transfer oil to radiate heat from the external surface area. These heaters are low maintenance, never needing to be refilled, and easy to clean. Heat is regulated with a thermostat and dispersed through the room using the natural airflow, although some come with a fan to help with air movement.

This is a popular type of space heater and for good reason. They work very well for those who have large areas to heat like a good sized living room. Add this with the fact that they don’t need refueling and they’re easy to clean and you’ve got an extremely convenient source of heat.

Convection heaters rely on the movement of air to spread their heat. This means they work best when paired with a forced air central heating system like a furnace or heat pump. The heat remains just around the surface area of the space heater until the circulation of the air in the room moves it around. In a way this is the opposite of the principle on which a ceiling fan works. Ceiling fans don’t produce cool air but they move the air around you making it feel cooler. Convection space heaters do produce heat but they don’t move it around you. They let the circulation of air via the central ductwork system do that. This means they should be used in closed spaces.

The main benefit to convection heaters is that they are good at heating an entire room for an extended period of time. Convection heaters are best where quick heat is not a priority and silence is a requirement, this makes them great for bedrooms. Convection heaters are not recommended for families with children or pets since the surfaces of these heaters are hot to the touch.

Radiant Heaters

Radiant space heaters are right up there with convection heaters as one of the most popular types of space heaters available. Radiative space heaters are among the best options for indoor heating. You can also use this type of heater outdoors as well. Infrared and fireplace heaters, even patio heaters can fall under this category. The reason radiative heaters are popular is because they eliminate the need for insulation. Most heaters are not able to function properly, even in closed areas, simply because the area lacks insulation. But when it comes to radiative heaters, they work seamlessly regardless of poor insulation. Radiative heaters are exactly what their name suggests. They give off radiative heat. This radiation is what is responsible for heating the area.

The radiation emitted by these heaters affects the clothes and skin as opposed to the ambient air. This is why these heaters get the job done quickly. This also happens to be the reason radiative heaters can be used outdoors for basic heating. This is something that gives them a big advantage over convection heaters, which can only be effectively used indoors as they require the circulation of air in a closed in and well insulated area. The best part is that these heaters are small. This enables you to carry them from one place to another without any hassle.

Of course along with the fact that they affect your skin directly comes their biggest downside, which is that they can only affect people within view of the heater. They are the best choice in rooms where people can remain within the line of sight of the heater. They are useful in rooms where people remain still (like a bedroom), or where people will only be for a few hours at time, since heating the entire room is avoided; only the people and their immediate surroundings are heated directly. The fact that they don’t require the movement of air means they can be used in conjunction with not only forced air heating systems like furnaces and heat pumps but also boilers and other types of central heating.

Micathermic Heaters

Micathermic space heaters can be thought of as a hybrid of the previous two types of heaters listed, radiant heaters and convection heaters. They release 80% convection heat and 20% direct radiant heat. They are generally lightweight and many models are wall mountable. Like convection heaters, they are silent and put off no light. They use the airflow of the room to circulate heat, which is an advantage to allergy sufferers, as dust is not recirculating through the room. However, they are hot to the touch and not recommended around children or pets.

As with the compact panel heaters a micathermic panel heater is able to be positioned near the user. In doing so they are good at providing quality and efficient individual heating. Micathermic radiant panel heaters use a special technology, second generation micathermic II to direct infrared heat in one particular direction. They are efficient in that they are able to turn approximately 80% of the input energy into radiant heat. The remaining 20% creates convection heat. Once switched on micathermic heaters can reach maximum temperature output in a short time, as little as a few minutes.

A micathermic panel heater will normally come with several temperature settings. A thermostat is usually incorporated into the heater due to the convection element to the heating provided. The heaters also tend to incorporate a number of safety features such as the guarding against overheating or damage done to the surroundings should they be tipped over. A micathermic will often come with a timer. Micathermic space heaters work on the principle of conduction, using heating elements in much the same way as your toaster does.

Fuel Burning Space Heaters

So far we’ve talked about space heaters that use electricity as their main source of fuel, the difference is in how that electricity is used to generate heat. There are types of space heaters that run on things other than electricity though. These types of heaters can be categorized together as fuel burning space heaters. Fuel burning space heaters do not use electricity for providing heat. Instead they burn fuels.

If you need to heat a large space, this type of heater will work best for you. Sometimes they come in the form of garage heaters. Since these heaters burn fuel, they emit carbon monoxide. If the carbon monoxide accumulates within a closed space, it could cause poisoning. This is why measures need to be taken to avoid this. Fuel burning space heaters are installed with flues to allow the harmful gases to escape. Do keep in mind that the flue needs to be installed permanently and requires ample space. This is why fuel burning space heaters are not preferred for small spaces.

One type of fuel burning space heater is the oil space heater. These have a hollow steel shell body with fins. The body is filled with oil which surrounds an electric resistance element. The element heats the oil which in turn heats the body and fins. Air is warmed as it rises past the fins. The main heating mode is convection. Oil heaters heat mostly via convection and therefore have all the problems of and advantages of convection heating.

Highly Rated Space Heater Models

Before we close out this tip of the day let’s take a quick look at some of the space heaters that are rated most highly so that you can get an idea of what to look for in a specific space heater before you buy.

Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater with Adjustable Thermostat: This is a great option for those who only need to heat a small area and are working on a budget. An office or a bedroom would be a great location for this convection heater. Because it uses a fan to spread its heat it isn’t silent but it is quite affordable and effective.

Envi Wall Mounted Electric Panel Heater: This space heater uses "stack convection technology" to evenly distribute heat throughout a room. This technology maximizes heat transfer through natural convection, so heated air is evenly distributed throughout a room without the use of a fan. 450 watts heats 130 square feet.

De’Longhi EW7507EB: This is a heavy duty space heater that is great for those who need to heat a large space. It is a fuel based heater that runs on heating oil. This 14.5 by 6.3 by 25.2-inch radiator-style unit efficiently, silently, and steadily puts out plenty of heat, and it can maintain a set temperature on a schedule with its built-in thermostat and timer. Plus, it continues to produce heat for a full hour after you turn it off. The downside to this model is that it tends to be slow to heat up, weighs a hefty 24 pounds, and gets pretty hot to the touch.

Space Heaters and Heating Repair in Austin

For those looking for a way to improve both their comfort and their energy bills this winter and winters in the future, consider space heaters. With the right heater in the right location used efficiently, you can greatly reduce the amount of work your furnace has to put in to keeping you warm and comfortable and stay cozy while doing so. There are many types of space heaters with different optimal uses and locations so shopping around for a while before making a decision is recommended.

Having a functioning heater is necessary during the winter even in relatively mild climates like ours in Austin. Heating a whole house takes the very precise mechanics of a sophisticated machine like a modern furnace and sometimes things don’t work like they should. That’s where heating repair and maintenance comes in. AC Express is an Austin heater repair company operating everywhere from Buda and Kyle to Pflugerville and Round Rock and in between. For the best heater repair in Austin, call today!


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