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How do I Choose the Best Oil Space Heater?

By Mike Howells
Updated May 17, 2024
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Space heaters are small, portable heating devices that plug into electric outlets to provide a targeted source of heat. They come in a variety of different designs that have both advantages and disadvantages. Electric, ceramic, halogen, and oil are just a few of the different types available. Among these different designs are superior and inferior models, and choosing the best oil space heater may require additional research.

The first choice a consumer has to make is which kind of space heater to purchase. Electric space heaters possess the ability to generate heat virtually instantly and are often the most inexpensive choice, but suffer from high electricity consumption and can present a considerable fire risk. Ceramic space heaters pose less of a fire risk and use less energy, but are far more expensive. Halogen heaters take advantage of the heat halogen bulbs give off, reflecting it off a special surface to provide warmth.

An oil space heater looks like an old fashioned iron radiator on wheels. It does not burn oil, but instead uses an electric heating element to heat a permanently sealed amount of oil stored in the radiator. Initially, it produces heat much more slowly than either an electric or ceramic model, but because it has no exposed wiring or single source of heat it poses less of a fire hazard.

Since oil retains its heat for a considerable amount of time, an oil space heater's element does not have to be constantly on to continue providing heat. Once up to the preferred temperature, the heating element cycles on and off periodically to maintain its temperature, curbing energy consumption. The radiator design of an oil space heater means that warmth radiates naturally without the need for fans. This further decreases energy consumption and also cuts down on the unpleasant drying effect forced air heaters can have.

There are several things to look for when choosing the best oil space heater, mostly related to convenience and safety. Nearly all oil space models produce around the same amount of heat, so the best and the worst ones will still ultimately produce roughly the same warming energy. Features included on the best oil space heaters are timers, thermostats, automatic shutoff settings, and remote controls. Though there are not many moving parts in an oil space heater, a factory warranty can be helpful in cases where a thermostat or other wiring fails. Better models will offer longer warranties that cover more kinds of failures.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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