Do you ever have your space heater going, but you’re still running around the house trying to get extra blankets to stay warm? You might think your heater is bad or you need a bigger unit. While you might need a new heater, there could be a different reason you’re still cold.
Not all heaters are the same. It’s just not just the design or size of the heater that matters, but the way heat is created.
If you’ve ever struggled to figure out why your heater doesn’t keep you as warm as it should, here are some possibilities.
1. Infrared heat is superior
There are three types of heat transfer: convection, conduction, and radiation. Each type of heat is created in a different way. However, radiant heating (infrared) is superior to all other forms of heat. If your heater isn’t keeping you warm, you probably aren’t using infrared heat.
Convection heating works by putting a warm object in a medium like water or air. Air doesn’t conduct heat very well, so convection heaters take a while to heat up a space. Convection space heaters come in a variety of styles, but oil-filled heaters are probably the most recognizable form of convection heating.
Conduction heating works by using force to make molecules to vibrate faster, which ends up transferring the heat to another surface (usually metal) that then radiates the heat into the space.
Radiant heat works purely by thermal radiation. Thermal radiation is 100% efficient and doesn’t involve an exchange of mass or a medium to create heat. Unlike convection and conduction, which only heat up the space around you, infrared radiation heats up your body and clothing. Infrared heat penetrates the skin and sticks to your body and clothing, which makes the warmth last longer.
2. Some heaters are inefficient
With convection and conduction heating, there will always be a loss of energy. However, that loss of energy will vary based on your specific heating unit. If you’re using an older heater, you’re probably better off.
Although it might seem like newer heaters should be more efficient, that isn’t always the case. Appliances, including space heaters, were made with higher quality materials in the past. Newer heaters might be “energy efficient,” but if they aren’t drawing enough power to keep you warm, you’re better off with an older heater even if it draws more power.
3. Your heater is in the wrong place
Although the most important factor is producing the right kind of heat, you also need to put your heater in the right place. For example, you can put a space heater against a wall, on your desk, in front of your body, or mount it to the ceiling or wall.
Where you should put your space heater will vary based on the room you’re trying to heat. For example, if you’re in a large room, you’re better off placing your heater near your body. In this case, you’d definitely want an infrared space heater.
If you’re in a small room, like the bathroom, you can put your heater pretty much anywhere that won’t come in contact with water. Some people install infrared heaters on the ceiling in their bathrooms. Although heat rises, infrared heat blown down with a fan will heat up a space quickly.
Ironically, the best place to put a space heater is under a window. This positioning will heat the cool air as it comes in and will prevent drafts.
If you’re not getting warm, experiment with placing your heater in different areas. You’d be surprised at how much warmer a space can get just by moving your space heater to a different area. Just be sure to allow air flow through the back of the heater unless it’s specifically designed to sit flush against the wall.
4. Your space isn’t well-insulated
Poorly insulated space is one of the main reasons a space heater will fail to keep you warm. If you’re using a heater to pump out warm air that just rises and escapes the room, you’ll never heat the room.
If you’re using infrared heat, you can sit next to your heater and get warm, but you still won’t heat your space without proper insulation.
If you’ve tried multiple heaters, including infrared, and you still aren’t able to get warm, consider adding insulation to your space.
Have a variety of space heaters on hand
Consider keeping a few different types of space heaters on hand. There might be times when convection isn’t enough and infrared is too intense. By preparing ahead of time, you’ll have options when they’re needed.