ISO Spaceheater
December 14, 2010 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Space-heater-filter: <$50, small space, fire-safe, not too hot.

Hello all. I need a space heater for my bedroom. Firstly, I would like to spend less than $50. Secondly, my room is small (about 10x10) but I have about 14-16 foot ceilings. This is a warehouse loft space, so I also have very tall windows (which I plan on winter-proofing soon), and cold cold concrete floors. My room is like a meat locker and is routinely about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the apartment. Thirdly, considering the small space and its awkward layout, the heater will need to be close to my makeshift closet--meaning it will need to be within a foot of my unprotected clothing. So it needs to be very fire-safe.

I don't need my room to be heated like an oven; I actually prefer a cooler room. But at present I can barely undress to change into my pjs without my nips turning into glass-cutters. BRRRRR

Seeking personal recommendations from people with similar living constraints. Located in NYC if that makes any difference.
posted by greta simone to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a DeLonghi oil filled radiator which I like. I can't remember the exact model but there are a lot that are under $50 on a google search. It takes a while to heat up and get the room warm, but it's safer than the ones that blow hot air. And it has an automatic shut off if it tips over. I think some models have timers on them too.

I don't have experience with tall ceilings, but in my last apartment I used it in a room larger than yours and it got the room quite hot.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:18 PM on December 14, 2010

I've been very happy with my Lasko ceramic heater, which is quite small, half your maximum price, and had many good recommendations on NewEgg when I first bought it. But I don't know about that 1' distance to clothing thing. I think it's specced for being 1' away from the back, and 3' clear in front of it.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:19 PM on December 14, 2010

I use the Vornado Vortex Heater, at the edge of your price range at $50.09. It's very fire safe. It shuts off if it tips over thanks to a little switch on the bottom that is depressed, and also shuts off if the airflow is blocked (e.g. curtain). It has an actual thermostat too, so that it just de/reactivates to maintain desired room temp. My room is a master bedroom which sounds roughly as large as yours by volume, and it's been sufficiently warm with this heater. Be warned, it uses a lot of power. I've tripped a circuit breaker multiple times with this on its "low" setting, and sometimes haven't been able to start my clothes dryer. But it's been very satisfactory for raising the temps in my room from 60 to 70°F before too long (less than an hour).
posted by mnemonic at 8:19 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have both a DeLonghi oil filled radiator as mentioned by Mary and a Lasko ceramic heater mentioned by deluding. I bought the Lasko first, but its whirring fan annoyed my girlfriend and it was deemed unacceptable for heating the bedroom while we slept. The DeLonghi is much quieter (no fan, makes some burbling noises when it's warming up), but it's also bigger. They both work great as heaters, and they both would do fine a foot away from clothing. The Lasko is directional, so you can point it away from the clothes, and the DeLonghi is a passive heater that doesn't really get hot enough to set anything on fire.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:32 PM on December 14, 2010

When I looked into this a few years ago, the oil-filled radiator models were rated as the safest type. Get one that is UL rated (most will be) and be sure you plug it directly into the wall rather than stringing it with extension cords (general rule for things that draw a lot of electricity).

Also -- get an area rug or some carpet squares to put over the cold concrete. I think you will be amazed at how much of a difference this makes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:36 PM on December 14, 2010

Oh I also want to add that most (if not all) of the DeLonghi models have a thermostat on them. Also LobsterMitten brings up a good point, rugs will make a HUGE difference as will thick curtains.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:45 PM on December 14, 2010

Any kind of air heater in that space is going to cost you lots of energy dollars by uselessly pouring most of its heat into the air pool above your head. What would work far, far better in a space like that is a wall-mounted bar radiator that aims heat directly at your body (such as you might usually see in a bathroom) along with a floor rug and/or fluffy slippers.

I would expect that a 600 watt bar radiator would warm you in that space about as effectively as a 2400 watt fan heater. If wall mounted above head height, it would pose no fire risk at all.
posted by flabdablet at 8:57 PM on December 14, 2010

Electric mattress pad.
You can take the cold if you know the bed is going to be
toasty when you get into it.
About 60 bucks.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:03 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

The big problem is that your heat will be up at the top, from a static heater. You really need a fan to move the warm air lower, to mix the air. A radiant heater could be good if you have room to aim it, ceramic radiant is quite safe. I'd wear cozy slippers though.
posted by anadem at 9:04 PM on December 14, 2010

2nd electric mattress pad, I got one from meijer recently and it's really great, and it was only $32 shipped. I have a lasko fan heater and a cheap $20 optimus reflector heater. I like the reflector much better because 1. it's quiet 2. you can warm hands much better by holding them near it, feels kind of like a real fireplace 3. easier to control heating by moving closer or farther, with fan heater it always felt either too hot or not enough 4. it's extremely light and easy to move around. On the other hand, it makes for a higher risk of fire, but it seems like if you can keep it a foot away from clothes and pointed away from them it'll be fine.

So, to sum up, even though fan heater has a remote and a thermostat & timer and cost 3x as much, reflector is much more convenient. Oh, and the fan heater makes an annoyingly loud beep when turned on/off.
posted by rainy at 9:18 PM on December 14, 2010

I lived in a house with no heating at all as a student, and bought myself an oil-filled electric radiator, much like the ones MaryDellamorte and qxntpqbbbqxl suggest. That thing was great. Its slow to heat the room, so you need to use the timer to have it come on a couple of hours before you plan to be in there. Its very safe too.
posted by Joh at 9:28 PM on December 14, 2010

Get or make some insulated drapes. Makes a huge difference when dealing with heat loss and large windows.

Do you own the space? If so, perhaps electric under floor heating would be worth considering. Various types exist and can be used under tiles or some wood types. Not very expensive as an add-on to a flooring project.

And how is the rest of the apartment heated? Air ducts? Might it be possible to close some of them to redirect more air into the bedroom? Bearing in mind air systems have return ducts too, so make sure those aren't blocked.
posted by wkearney99 at 9:32 PM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: To answer some questions:

I don't own the apartment. This is a rental.

The rest of the somewhat largish apartment is heated by a sole radiator located, oh-so-conveniently, under the large warehouse windows in the living room (so lots of the heat is lost). My roommates rooms are warmer than mine because one's room is closest to the radiator, so she gets most of the heat, and the other's room is an interior room far from the apartment's large windows, so his has some natural insulation. Yay Brooklyn apartments and their curious construction.

I don't want to do any installations of any kind because I am not handy and would likely have to spend more money on tools/hardware. So a plug-in is preferred.

I already have rugs and curtains and the like, but it still barely gets above 50F in here right now. And I want a warm space, not just a warm bed (my bed is plenty warm at present, so no mattress pads/blankets needed).

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by greta simone at 9:51 PM on December 14, 2010

I have this ceramic space heater by Delonghi and I love it and bought it on Amazon. But now it looks like there are some that look exactly like it but not the same as the one I have. I *think* I paid around $80 though. I have about a 100 sq. foot office and even on the 750W setting that room turns into an inferno with the door closed. So I usually crack the door about 6 inches. Also it has a thermostat setting so it will turn off/on. It's quiet and you can put it up on the wall to get it out of the way too.
posted by thorny at 10:10 PM on December 14, 2010

You might consider dropping the ceiling with a blanket hung from higher up.
posted by rhizome at 10:14 PM on December 14, 2010

Army surplus parachutes also make excellent false ceilings.
posted by flabdablet at 4:25 AM on December 15, 2010

I recommend you read up a little on the different ways the different heaters work. For you, I wouldn't recommend ANY of the forced-air style heaters, ceramic or otherwise.

Convective heat in your case will only do as flabdablet said, push a bunch of air into the space over your head. Radiant heat, on the other hand, isn't as greatly affected by drafts or breezes or whatever.

I used to run a 10,000ft2 warehouse that had zero climate control. We often had winter days where the inside temperature would not reach over about 8-20 degrees. In that space, we used a quartz radiant heater for spot heating (a stationary employee, for example). A generic Holmes heater could make our very petite young worker warm enough that she could work in a sweatshirt. (Significant when it's 10 degrees inside.)

Quartz radiants (or the gas ones, which you can't have for $50) will push a beam of warmth across a room. Perfect for working on a computer, etc. I personally prefer an oil-filled radiant for a bedroom area because they're almost perfectly quiet, safe, and don't blow around dust and dry winter air. My bedroom isn't much smaller than yours (the ceilings are lower though), and we turn the oil radiant on about an hour before bedtime and it keeps it a perfect 65 degrees all night long without any noise. That warm air will still rise, but it feels differently and works differently than a regular forced-air style heater. Also safer.
posted by TomMelee at 5:52 AM on December 15, 2010

I like the Delonghi oil-filed heaters but did have one spontaneously start on fire quite a few years ago. I still use one but never leave it running unattended.
posted by JJ86 at 7:58 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Slightly above your price range at $65 is this parabolic heater. They're nice because you can really direct the heat at one area, rather than blowing all over the place.
posted by electroboy at 8:05 AM on December 15, 2010

We had an oil-filled radiator in our warehouse room, and dropped the ceiling with artist's canvas. It's really wide, and we were able to get it for 2.99 a yard. That made a huge difference versus just the heater. The whole room was warm instead of a two yard radius around the heater.

a sole radiator located, oh-so-conveniently, under the large warehouse windows in the living room (so lots of the heat is lost).

This is actually SOP for radiators, because if you put them across the room from leaky windows, they create drafts.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:40 AM on December 15, 2010

A box fan angled up at the ceiling, and a string of Christmas lights (the old, big-bulbed outdoor kind) strung around the room (ideally along the floor, but above head level is OK) on a variable voltage supply (used, from Ebay) will provide safe, distributed heat throughout the room.

Spraypaint the bulbs black, so it won't keep you awak at night.

Total cost: $30 or so. Less if you can some of these parts off Freecycle.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:34 AM on December 15, 2010

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