Space Heater Recommendation?
December 13, 2017 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm fortunate enough to work from home these days, but my home office is not terribly warm and, since I'm in an old apartment building, I don't have access to the heat controls myself. I'm looking for recommendations for a good space heater to heat a room that's about 110ft square with 9ish-foot ceilings.

I'm in Montreal, Canada, so a recommendation from or something else that will charge me in Canadian dollars would be sweet. Budget is around $250 CAD before taxes/shipping. I'd certainly prefer one with safety features as well and one that's not too loud, since I'm ostensibly attempting to work. :) Thanks!
posted by juliebug to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is the one my husband has, because The Wirecutter recommended it. It's not that loud that I recall, but if you want something absolutely quiet, Wirecutter recommends this one that is silent and has a built in thermostat
posted by foxfirefey at 1:15 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

I like the oil-filled radiators the best because they're still generating heat for a while even when you turn them off. They don't make any noise other than occasional popping/creaking when you first turn them on.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:19 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]

I like those oil-filled radiators too, but gosh I wish they lasted longer. I replace the ones that go for about $50 every couple of year, or every year sometimes. I think maybe I'll try a more expensive one like above next time.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:40 PM on December 13, 2017

Oil-filled radiators are the best and are silent. When new they can give off a smell the first couple times you turn them on, after that they are fine. In my experience they last a long time.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:52 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm third to say it, but: Get a radiator. I had a "regular" space heater in my office, and it never really got the job done right. Sure, it's make some hot in a relatively small space, but as soon as it cycled off the colder air circulated around and I was cold again.

The radiators do a much more gentle job of heating the room evenly and pleasantly. I put off buying one for years because of the cost ($100! for a heater! In Houston? WTF?), but now I feel super silly about that. The improvement is TREMENDOUS.

Mine is a Delonghi very similar to this one. ($100CDN). It works great in my office room, which is a little bigger than your room. I've had it for 3 or 4 years.
posted by uberchet at 1:54 PM on December 13, 2017

I have a portable baseboard electric heater with built-in thermostat like this one, but is temporarily out of stock (they were selling for $145 CAD there). Maybe a local retailer carries them (or similar)?

Edited to add: It is delightful and works extremely well. I've had it for 9 years.
posted by pammeke at 1:57 PM on December 13, 2017

I had a DeLonghi oil-filled radiator, used it often but not daily in winter. It lasted a long time, left it with the house when I moved. Be cautious about using it at full power, ours used to blow a fuse. And they sure feel safer than the ones with exposed coils.
posted by theora55 at 2:05 PM on December 13, 2017

I have had one of these keeping my RV warm for two years:

I bought another one because I love it so much, and needed the digital display (surprisingly uncommon) to get consistent heat.
posted by Brockles at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2017

Best answer: There's a tradeoff between silence and speed. We have a similar oil-filled DeLonghi to the one mentioned above in a room in our basement where we've had pipes freeze, and it makes no noise at all. Periodically I check it to make sure it's still on and hasn't blown a fuse or anything, but our pipes didn't freeze last year so I consider it a success. What it is not is fast.

If you need something that will heat up a room quickly (and not just keep it at a set temperature, once it gets there) then you'll want one of the ceramic things with a fan. You can get some that have big flat panels (so they look a bit more like a radiator than a box fan that heats). We have two of a previous model of this thing and they have a fan that comes on when the control is set to high. They do heat a room faster with the fan on, but you can turn the fan off for silent, if less effective, heat. I can't tell if that current model allows the fan to be turned completely off, since they mention "whisper quiet heat" and not "silent operation."

One thing to be clear on: don't plug a space heater into a power strip. Plug it directly into the wall, preferably on a circuit without any other loads. That may be difficult depending on how your apartment is wired. If you trip breakers or blow fuses, you're overloading the circuit and creating a real fire risk.
posted by fedward at 2:12 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nthing the oil-filled radiators over fan-forced hot air. Mine wasn't expensive (I'm sure it was less than $100, it has no fancy temp control stuff, just "low" and "high" switches) and it has lasted several years being used nearly daily in the winter in a ridiculously drafty and poorly-insulated back bedroom.
posted by desuetude at 2:35 PM on December 13, 2017

I would like to suggest considering getting an electric blanket or electric seat cover, as they are far cheaper to operate than space heaters, and will do the job well of heating you without consuming tons of energy to heat the space. Something to think about.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:07 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

You don't need to go to Amazon for an oil-filled radiator either. Any hardware store worthy of the name will have one.
posted by leaper at 5:20 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Along the lines of an electric blanket consider getting one of those microwaveable rice packs. I have one that I use at work and it’s awesome.
posted by MadMadam at 5:42 PM on December 13, 2017

Umpteenthing the oil-filled radiators. We've had two of them for at least twenty years and they're still working like champs.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:08 PM on December 13, 2017

Response by poster: Awesome suggestions, everyone, thanks!

Electric blankets and microwavable rice packs aren't good enough, since I'm typing all day and my hands get cold. As do my toes (even with socks and slippers!). Even my nose gets cold. I'm definitely looking for something to heat the room itself and not just the parts of me on the chair. :)

Thanks also to fedward for the reminder about power strips vs. directly into the wall. The corner I'm planning to place it in should do just fine -- I do worry that it's potentially on the same circuit as the rest of the room, though. I'll definitely flip some switches in the electric cabinet to see what all is on that particular circuit before I purchase anything.
posted by juliebug at 9:01 PM on December 13, 2017

This can heat a room and then some. I've fallen asleep with it on and woken up in the middle of the night to feeling like I'm in a sauna. It packs a lot of power for a small fan tower. I especially like that it has a remote control, and now I use the 1-hour sleep setting when I'm falling asleep so it shuts off on its own.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:45 PM on December 13, 2017

I bought a Delonghi a long time ago, but the smell did not go away and after about a week started giving me a severe headache.

It reminded me of the smell of transformer oil, and in my naïveté I called the EPA and suggested they check them out for contamination with PCBs, then took my heater down to the basement and forgot about it. But a couple of years later, some Delonghi oil-filled heaters were recalled for contamination with PCBs, including mine, though I'm certain it had nothing to do with my phone call.

I'm completely positive no current model contains PCBs, but there have been recalls for other issues over the years as you can see in my link, and I'm not really comfortable with a device in which hot, flammable oil and electricity are mixed the way they are in an oil-filled heater.

I also think a good power strip (15 amp breaker and 12 gauge cord) is better than plugging it into the wall, because the power strip breaker will pop at 15 amps and the wall circuit will let you draw 20-30 amps before it lets go. Though it must be said that every authoritative source I've looked at echoes fedward's advice to plug it directly into the wall.
posted by jamjam at 10:17 PM on December 13, 2017

Basically all electric heat is 100% efficient and any unit will, eventually, heat the space the same given the same wattage. Complications arise when one factors in how warm a unit feels. Fan units can feel warmer because they blow over ambient temperature air directly on you. However as the temperature in the room rises to the set point they can feel colder because moving air is cooling (which is why we use fans in the summer). They also obviously are noisier than passive units.

Radiant units feel "slower" because they are heating the room and not a stream of air directed at the user

A plug in baseboard as linked to by pammeke are basically portable version of baseboard heat. They work well but take up a relatively large amount of space.

You have both a relatively large space (especially if you have a low efficiency window in the room) and what is likely to be a single 15A circuit in the room possibly shared with other rooms. This is going to limit how much plug in heat you can realistically use. I'd be wary of buying a heater with only a single power setting over a 1200W watts. You'd probably find that you'll experience tripping breakers.

You should always plug high power draw items directly into the wall whenever possible. Right off the top the instructions probably say to do so in order to comply with the listing of the heater (IE: the only reason they can legally sell the product). And even the best power strip means adding yet another set of contacts into the circuit and it's at contacts where trouble starts. I also find it unlikely that the power strip breaker is any more reliable than the unit in your breaker panel; they are both operating under the same constraints and the power bar breaker generally has less volume to work with.

PS: practically all heating appliances are going to have some odour when first operated. Dust, air contaminants and manufacturing residues on the elements will heat up and emit odours. It generally isn't anything to worry about.
posted by Mitheral at 12:03 AM on December 14, 2017

When I've needed this kind of space heating, I have also used oil heaters and found them good. They take a while to warm up but they tend to have timers on them or you can turn them on manually before you need them.

I also think a good power strip (15 amp breaker and 12 gauge cord) is better than plugging it into the wall, because the power strip breaker will pop at 15 amps...

Power strips really aren't designed for high usage appliances like heaters. Overloading power strips can and does cause fires. Even if the breaker doesn't trip, the strip will get hot. I've seen melted sockets from people running heaters. It's an unnecessary risk.
posted by mewsic at 12:17 AM on December 14, 2017

Until your update I was going to say that one of the little 250W jobs might heat the area right around your desk just fine, but if your nose and fingers are getting cold, you probably need more than that.
posted by wierdo at 6:59 AM on December 14, 2017

Best answer: Lurrrrrve our DeLonghi oil-filled radiant heaters. We used them when we had bedrooms with NO OTHER HEAT SOURCE and the weather outsize was zero degrees and we were perfectly comfortable.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:40 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

the wall circuit will let you draw 20-30 amps before it lets go

Unless the outlets are in the kitchen, wall sockets are standard 15 amps. You're never going to run across a 30 amp wall socked in the US. I don't think they even make 30A two prong+ground outlets.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:00 PM on December 14, 2017

Thirty amp circuit breaker.

This one's on Amazon, among several others, and Home Depot also has a bunch.

Unless you're talking about GFCIs? Which is a whole 'nother thing.
posted by jamjam at 12:40 PM on December 14, 2017

That's a circuit breaker. I mean outlets. Of course there's single pole 30A breakers.

My comment that you'll most likely find 15A service at a typical wall outlet still stands.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: advantages of a oil-filled radiator heater:
1) if you've got an open space/room that can't be closed to other rooms by a door, it will heat the 110 sq. ft. room/space nicely. A heater fan draws in cool air from the other open rooms.
2) almost silent operation
3) even temperature -- it gives off heat when the thermostat has shut off the element

advantages of a heater fan:
1) fast warm up if you can close off the space to be heated
2) cheap to purchase compared to a radiator heater
posted by dlwr300 at 6:59 AM on December 15, 2017

Response by poster: I've been given a ceramic space heater by my parents for Christmas, which completely wrecks what I was planning on doing, which was getting a DeLonghi oil-filled radiator heater. I was going to make my purchase in the next week and report back on how it was working out, but I guess I'm going with what my folks bought for me instead.

Thanks to all for your suggestions and comments!
posted by juliebug at 3:58 AM on December 26, 2017

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