Portable oil-filled radiator in a baby nursery: is it safe?
December 9, 2009 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Portable oil-filled radiator in a baby nursery: is it safe?

There is a room in my home that is heated only by an oil-filled portable radiator, the kind that shuts off if it overheats or gets knocked over. It heats the room well. It is this room that would become the nursery should I have a child in the next few years (which is the plan). The home is rented, so installing another heat source is not an option.

Is it safe to heat a nursery with this kind of heater? Would you do it? It has multiple safety features, it keeps the room warm, it's away from the walls and furniture... But I can't help worrying that this isn't a good idea.

Am I being paranoid, or conscientious? Are these heaters reliably safe? Would you put one in a baby's room?

Anonymous because the baby plans are not common knowledge.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
It's got a thermostat. Even if you pile loose paper, sawdust, and non-oily rags on top of it, it should be fine; it's never going to get over the ignition temperature of _anything_.

It's much safer than most other poratable heating options, I'd say. You may get a slight blister if you lean on it for a while, but that's self-correcting behavior.

I found the timers on the Delonghi to be a bit noisy, and preferred the timerless models.

Just double check there's not a recall on the model you get, not that there ever have been, but this way you'll feel better, and worry about more important stuff..
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:08 PM on December 9, 2009

Why are you worried? The only thing safer, as far as I'm concerned, would be central forced air which has other "faults". I think you're being paranoid.

An oil radiator is safer than a steam or hot water radiator (they get wicked hot, and can leak hot-hot-hot steam or water), or electric baseboard heat (those radiators also get hot and are nearly impossible to clean behind/under). And far safer than a kerosene/propane heater or an electric coil heater.

I'd do it. Have done it, actually.
posted by jlkr at 8:17 PM on December 9, 2009

I'm in Australia and almost no houses here are centrally heated. (And yes, in some places it can get very cold.) We all use the oil filled heaters for our nurseries. I recommend getting a smoke alarm and putting it above the powerpoint where the heater would plug in. Just for piece of mind.
posted by taff at 8:25 PM on December 9, 2009

Oh, and if you rent.... use double sided tape to stick the smoke alarm to the ceiling.
posted by taff at 8:26 PM on December 9, 2009

I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't be safe. Depending on when the house was built, the in-wall wiring is probably more dangerous.

Things to check — and these go for all high-current electric appliances, regardless of where they're installed — are:
- is it plugged in securely (no wiggling in the outlet)?
- If it has a grounded cord, is the outlet grounded and is the ground good? (an outlet tester will run you less than $8 from HD)
- If it's connected via an extension cord, is the extension cord rated for the appliance's current draw? (I would use a 14ga or better extension cord on all heaters drawing more than 1 kW. For short runs of less apparently you can get away with 16ga, or so say the manufacturers of som extension cords, but they get warm. I just don't buy them.)
- is the cord somewhere where it's likely to get walked on? Move it. (Don't tape it to the floor, that gets rid of the trip hazard and is OK for an afternoon, but it won't stop the wiring from getting damaged.)

My personal feeling, just as the owner of a few types of electric heaters over the years, is that the oil-filled electric rads are probably the safest and best design out there for heating a room and maintaining temperature. Since the heating elements are inside the case, surrounded by oil, they're almost impossible to start a fire with. (It's also harder to burn yourself quite as badly, although they do get hot enough to hurt.) Compared to "Heatlog" or parabolic radiant heaters with exposed coils, they're much safer all around.

So really the only things you should worry about are the same things that should concern you with any appliance.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:34 PM on December 9, 2009

Am I being paranoid, or conscientious? Both, prematurely. You'll have enough to worry about when you are actually going to have a baby. .. and the bonus if you have a second........ none of the concerns you are having now.
posted by Frasermoo at 9:39 PM on December 9, 2009

It's much safer than most other poratable heating options

Quite - electric fan heaters tend to dry the air quicker while heating it, and need water in the room.
posted by rodgerd at 10:17 PM on December 9, 2009

I'd say perfectly safe. We use one (a DeLonghi) in the kids room at night when it's cold, rather than have the whole house central heating on.
posted by col at 4:32 AM on December 10, 2009

I agree that this is probably your safest heating option. My one caution would be that we turned one on once with the cord still partially wrapped on the plastic part on the front, but the back of the cord was touching the radiator and it melted some of the coating off the cord and exposed some wires. Since this is the sole heating unit for the room, it doesn't sound like you're unplugging it too often, so this shouldn't be an issue.
posted by thejanna at 5:32 AM on December 10, 2009

We've been using a DeLonghi in our baby's room for about the past two months, and it's been great so far-- never gets hot enough to burn you, even when on the highest settings. The only caution I'd give is that at small-baby temperatures (fairly warm, since they can't have blankets) it does dry out the air, so you'll probably want to look into a supplemental humidifier when/if the time comes.
posted by Bardolph at 6:58 AM on December 10, 2009

My DeLonghi oil-filled heater had a distinct smell of oil about it and gave me a severe headache.

I asked DeLonghi whether the heater had a pressure relief valve which would come into play in case of thermostat failure and runaway heating, because I thought a small amount of oil escaping from such a valve occasionally during normal operation could account for the smell.

In response, I got what I thought was the runaround.

Here is a recent review of a popular DeLonghi:

Like other heaters of this type, the DeLonghi SafeHeat Oil Filled TRD0715T takes quite a while to heat up initially, but then provides steady quiet heat. It's the top-ranked heater of this type, but we found many reports of quality-control issues, including some units that smell bad even after months of use.

posted by jamjam at 4:30 PM on February 13, 2010

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