Radiant Heaters reliability and safety varies in tests
Radiant heaters are a good way to warm a chilly room. They can also help you save on your energy bills since using a space heater occasionally during mild fall and spring days might let you skip turning on your central heat; during the winter, keeping a space heater in one room could allow you to keep the central heat at a lower setting. Electric space radiant heaters — the products covered in this report — are the safest type to use in insulated rooms.
We found the best comparison reviews of electric space radiant heaters at ConsumerReports.org and Good Housekeeping. Infrared Heaters Consumer Reports documents its testing procedures best, evaluating 13 heaters based on ratings for safety, temperature control, noise and ease of use. Good Housekeeping editors test almost twice as many heaters but discuss only the four best electric heaters. More informally, Dan Crane of Slate.com tests seven space heaters in his Los Angeles apartment, rating them on heating speed, noise and features. Owner-written reviews and ratings of space heaters complement these professional tests by discussing performance over a longer period of time. We found the most useful owner-written heater reviews at Amazon.com, but Viewpoints.com, Epinions.com and various retailer sites also are worth consulting.
According to ConsumerReports.org, the latest radiant heaters have better safety features and produce more consistent heat than older models. However, some newer models still lack safety features, such as a tip-over switch to shut off the radiant heaters if they fall over. Because radiant heaters can cause burns, fires and deaths, it’s important to follow safety precautions. Although newer space heaters are said to be safer than their predecessors, some products still carry risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters were responsible for 79 percent of deaths in heating-related fires between 2003 and 2007. Experts say most radiant heaters fires are caused by heaters placed too close to curtains, upholstery or other combustible materials. A minimum 3-foot clearance is recommended. Experts also caution that radiant heaters should not be left running while the room is empty or while people are sleeping.
Radiant heaters provide quick spot heating
Radiant heaters work by sending electricity through a ribbon element or quartz tube, quickly generating warmth directly in front of the unit. This makes them a good choice for warming a small space like the chilly corner of an office or workshop, and the U.S. Department of Energy says radiant heaters are the most efficient heating choice if you are going to be in a room for a short time. However, radiant heaters can’t distribute heat very far from the heating element. If you buy a radiant heater expecting it to raise the temperature in the whole room, you’ll be disappointed. Moreover, the heating element gives off a reddish glow that some users may find annoying or distracting.
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