Most efficient space heater
December 30, 2014 10:08 PM   Subscribe

My new apartment is north facing and the wall heater struggles with keeping the temperature at a decent level. I've thought about purchasing one of those Quartz heaters that I can set the temp on and using that to heat my small living space. Another option would be one of the portable radiator type heaters. I'm looking to heat 400 square feet and like the idea of setting a temp and having it stay close to that number. With the wall heater it is a wild guess at where to set the dial. Suggestions? Would this be more economical than using the 30+ year old electric wall heater?

I'll be honest, I like to keep my place at 70 degrees. Cooler than that and my feet start to freeze even with heavy socks and woolen slippers.

Would these be safe enough to leave running while I am gone to work with the set temp lowered quite a bit?
posted by OkTwigs to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The radiant style (ie, the quartz one) is better for heating you up, while forced air is better for heating an entire room. The most efficient is definitely one that you can point at yourself so you can avoid heating the entire space.

In no case is it a good idea to leave a portable space heater running unattended.

FWIW, you may find that introducing a bit more humidity into the space helps you feel more comfortable at a lower temperature. Just don't go overboard or it will feel clammy and colder.
posted by wierdo at 11:08 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know other people who love the radiator-style oil-filled heaters. I got one a couple years ago, and it REALLY didn't help at all. I pulled it out again recently, and it helps keep the room a tad warmer than the rest of the house, but it certainly doesn't do much. This is in a 10x10 room. I don't know if mine is defective, or just doesn't get warm enough, but I wouldn't buy one again. It is definitely quiet (no fan), and I do feel that it's safer than most, but just not the WARMTH I was hoping for.

I have been eyeing one of those heaters that looks like a wood stove. Cute and maybe warm?
posted by hydra77 at 11:50 PM on December 30, 2014

Would these be safe enough to leave running while I am gone to work with the set temp lowered quite a bit?

I feel the oil-filled electric radiators are the safest type; they have a settable thermostat inside them which means the outside won't get over 120 F / 50 C or so.

That means if your cat knocks a towel over it or it falls over it won't set stuff on fire.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:55 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Random data point, but one of those oil filled heaters shorted out and burned my old house down. I'm completely dead fucking serious. somehow i didn't learn my lesson because i'm great at that, and ANOTHER one melted its cord at my girlfriends house. good times.

I use this in my bedroom, which otherwise just... doesn't have a heater at all, for some weird ass reason. it rules. it's very quiet, heats up the large room quickly(probably almost or exactly the square footage you're talking about too), and i wouldn't freak out if i left it on. it also seems to have infinitely variable fan speed/heating levels in the controller, meaning it doesn't just startle you by suddenly popping on full blast, but usually runs at a very low heat/fan speed setting once it's achieved or is close to the temp you want(when initially powered on in a cold as hell room it runs at full power, and eases off as it runs)

iImean, i don't leave it on when i'm not in the house ever, but it's got enough safety features i wouldn't worry about it.

I also have the like, 1995 version of that heater in storage and it still works perfectly. they're awesomely well made. They're also not $109, mine was like... $60 on sale at bed bath and beyond?

I also feel it's more efficient than most because of the smart controller for the heating elements and fan. Once the room is near the desired temp, it's only drawing like... 300 watts instead of the typical 1500, and it will often only operate in that state.
posted by emptythought at 12:26 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Here is my data dump about experiences with portable heaters, FWIW. Used them in NYC (no central heat) NZ (no central heat) and in LA (no central heat.) Here is the breakdown...

- Infrared Heaters No, no, no! I gave mine away to my acupuncturist. They are medical, do not heat the air, only organic material. Hard to explain, but basically, they keep you toasty until it feels burning, and only when "focused" on you or a particular body part. Will. Not. Work.

- Ceramic Heater, swivels with a fan. YES YES YES. I had a small model, heated my corner unit studio apartment over a carpark (zero insulation!) toasty warm within 20 minutes of coming home. This was the type I had. LOVED IT.

- Electric Coil Type. Meh. Used them in the tv studio I used to work in. Too much focused heat, would never ever ever ever leave that on when not home. Fire danger for sure!

- Radiant Heat Thingy, looks like an old fashioned radiator, but electric.

Eventually would heat up a room in NYC or NZ, but Damn Inefficient!! I guess you could leave it on all day, but it is still an electric appliance, so that is not advised. Ever. Nope.

Conclusion? Get a bossy little electric ceramic heater that rotates and blows hot air. Most efficient and safe unit if you get one w/ auto shut-off if it topples over while you sleep or leave the room.

That is my best advice.
posted by jbenben at 1:15 AM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

For completeness...

I considered a wall mounted convection heater like this one before I bought the ceramic space heater I love so much.

I did not understand quite how it worked and was concerned about safety because I couldn't grok it.

That's the final end of the data dump.
posted by jbenben at 1:29 AM on December 31, 2014

Consider also the humidity. If you happen to live in a humid climate, a dehumidifier will not only make it more comfortable, but will actually put out more heat than any ordinary heater using the same amount of energy (except heat pumps).
posted by alexei at 2:25 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

In terms of keeping the temperature even, you can plug a portable heater into a 110V programmable thermostat. Besides being programmable, a thermostat located some distance (the length of the heater's cord) from the heater itself is much better than an on-board thermostat.
posted by jon1270 at 3:13 AM on December 31, 2014

Best answer: Sweethome's best space heaters.
posted by srboisvert at 5:34 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Personally, I love Vornado products. I've got two fans that run damn close to silent on the lowest level and have survived 2 years of near constant use in a small apartment with a cat to clog things up.
posted by srboisvert at 5:36 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mica electric heaters. They don't rapidly heat an area but are good for quietly holding a room at a temperature. Cheaper to run than electric oil heaters. Also don't get as hot. As am Aussie now living in the snowy mid west I found a humidifier one of the best ways to help me feel warmer when it felt like out central heating wasn't cutting it.
posted by wwax at 5:54 AM on December 31, 2014

I know other people who love the radiator-style oil-filled heaters. I got one a couple years ago, and it REALLY didn't help at all. I pulled it out again recently, and it helps keep the room a tad warmer than the rest of the house, but it certainly doesn't do much. This is in a 10x10 room.

Our furnace went out on a holiday weekend and I picked up one of these to tide us over until the furnace could be repaired. It worked ok, not great but it did the job of keeping one room liveable while the rest of the house got increasingly cold.

But I'd treat any space heater as an occasional use thing -- something to use while you are there and need the extra heat, but not something I would be comfortable leaving running 24/7, especially unattended.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:27 AM on December 31, 2014

I'd suggest a full-tower desktop PC with a high-end CPU and multiple GPUs. The waste heat will warm your apartment, and a computer is far more useful than a space heater. :)
posted by starbreaker at 7:40 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not a heater, but just checking to see if you have thermometer to keep a check of your home temperature with these various heat/heaters on. Keep it somewhere near where you usually spend a lot of your time in your place. We like this little digital one, which does temp., humidity, and also records the daily high and low ranges of those things.

Also, I really like to use this heated foot rest, for working on the computer or watching tv. The foot rest setting is low, and it takes a little while to warm up fully, but I have found that when my feet are warm I can handle a cooler air temp as long as I dress warmly otherwise.
posted by gudrun at 8:02 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have been eyeing one of those heaters that looks like a wood stove. Cute and maybe warm?

I have one. It's cute and warm but not the most efficient. Still, it takes the chill off the living room and there is just something primal and comforting about the "flames," even if they are fake. It's also nice that you don't have to hide it when it's not needed for heat.
posted by caryatid at 6:16 PM on December 31, 2014

It's difficult to share the load between two independently controlled sources of heat. Chances are that the wall heater is more efficient, so you want it to carry the load as much as possible. Use whatever sort of me heater you get to heat you and your immediate surroundings. Don't get one to heat a whole room.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:26 PM on January 1, 2015

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