Space Heater Safety

Just read a heartbreaking article about several recent RV fires connected to electric space heaters. It's nice to be able to save on propane, especially if the electric is included in your space rent but some safety precautions are in order to prevent loss of life and property and out of concern for others.
Inappropriately used space heaters can be linked to tragedy after tragedy. To avoid problems, here are some recognized safety tips:
  • Buy a space heater that has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  • Keep all furniture and combustible items at least three feet away from any heating device.
  • Never use space heaters to dry clothing, towels or other combustibles.
  • Never refill a fuel-burning space heater while it’s on or inside your house.
  • Space heaters should not be left on while you are asleep or leave the room.
  • When not in use, space heaters should be unplugged.
  • Do not connect a space heater to an outlet with an extension cord, and never overload the circuit.
  • Never use a space heater with a damaged or frayed cord, and never cover the cord with carpeting or furniture.
  • Be sure your space heater is in good working condition and that the heating element is protected by a metal guard.
  • Keep young children away from space heaters.
  • Avoid using electric space heaters in a bathroom, and never touch an electric heater when you are wet.
  • Make sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working before using a space heater.
  • Check the cord on an electric space heater to determine if it is very warm or hot. If so, unplug it immediately and try another outlet. If it continues to be hot, contact an electrician.
Space heaters generally provide heat in one of two ways. Radiant heaters actually heat the objects at which they're aimed. They do not heat up the air in the room. The other type, convection heaters, warm the air around them. Not heating the air is an advantage for radiant heaters. There's no drafts from moving air. And radiant heat is great for heating just portions of a room. You're only heating the areas where you want heat. Just point the radiant heater at the chair that you're sitting in!

If you're considering a purchase a little research will help you to pick the best heater for your needs. If in a frigid climate you may want to heat your RV with the propane heater long enough to take off the chill and then use the electric heater, if necessary, to keep the heat. Here are some space heater guidelines and comparisons to aid you in your choice.

Radiant heaters use a variety of heating elements. Many use quartz tubes. Quartz heaters generally cost less than $70 and are rated between 750 and 1500 watts.

Parabolic heaters use a ceramic core. They cost a little more than quartz and put out about the same amount of heat per watt used. Ceramic element heaters are safer than heaters with coils. They use a larger heating area so it doesn't need to be as hot.

Halogen or reflective heaters use an energy saving halogen bulb to produce heat which is reflected on nearby objects. The feeling is much like having the sun shine on you.

Convection heaters can heat a whole room more quickly than a radiant heater. That works well if
there are a number of people in the room or they're moving about within the room. Some convection heaters also have fans to circulate the air in the room. Convection heaters are inexpensive. You'll get one rated up to 5,000 Btu's for less than $50.

Like radiant heaters, convection heaters use a variety of heating elements. Ceramic disc heaters cost up to $150 and produce up to 5,000 Btu's per hour.
Oil and water filled units are the most efficient convection heaters. They utilize a heating element in a bath of oil or water. Like a water heater, the element cycles on and off. The water or oil stays warm in it's container and heats the surrounding air.
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