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When blankets and sweatshirts aren’t quite enough to cut it in the winter, many people turn to space heaters for warmth. We get it! They are affordable and easy to use. In just a short trip to the store and a simple walk to the plug-in you can have a room that is as toasty as you please. There is nothing wrong with using space heaters instead of relying on your regular furnace for heat, but it is very important that you follow all safety precautions. 

The National Fire Protection Association states that heating equipment is the 2nd leading cause of home fires. Additionally, fires involving fixed and portable space heaters caused the most deaths from heating fires.

Here are some things to keep in mind to use your space heater safely.

Mind the Gap

The NFPA recommends leaving a 3-foot gap between your space heater and any objects that are flammable like curtains or blankets. We recommend taking that a step further and making sure it’s a distance away from any object – flammable or not.

Automatic Shut-Off Feature is Highly Recommended

Get the type of space heater with an automatic shut-off feature. There are many types of space heaters at Walmart and other major retailers that now feature the automatic shut-off function. This is one of the most important safety features of a room heater. If the heater senses anything malfunctioning, like overheating or the unit falling over, it will automatically shut down.

Don’t plug a space heater into a power strip

The US Department of Energy recommends plugging your space heater directly into a wall outlet. Nothing else should be plugged into that outlet while the heater is in use. Wall outlets are set up to handle more wattage than a standard power strip that typically has multiple it

ems plugged into it. If you want to hear it from yet another third-party source, the Electrical Safety Foundation International says space heaters can overheat a power strip, as well as an extension cord, and potentially cause a fire.

Don’t leave the unit unattended

Always keep in mind that your space heater should not be running when no one is present. Although there are safety features on most units, they should not be solely relied upon for the safety of your home.

Types of Space Heaters


This is the most popular type of space heater as it offers many different features such as timers, oscillation, remote controls and more. They work by having ceramic plates inside that are attached to metal coils. As electricity runs through the coils the plates heat up to produce warmth. This type of heater warms up quickly and is very efficient. Some models of ceramic heaters include fans, while some do not. 


Infared space heaters emit electromagnetic waves into the air that heat up anything present in the room. They are very silent, very efficient and can heat larger areas than a fan-forced heater.


The only space heater that does not utilize electricity as its power source is the propane space heater. They use propane to operate. The main advantage of this is that they can still be used even in the event of a power outage.


This type of space heater is relatively new and can be mounted on a wallet or sit on the ground. Heat radiates from the device but is not pushed out by a fan. This type of unit is not suited to heat large areas. 

Which Space Heater is Best?

It depends on the size of the area you are trying to heat and the length of time you will need to use the heater.  Take a look through the list above to see what type of heater will work best for your situation. Your unit having the appropriate safety features is what is the most important. If you’re looking for some recommendations, here is a list of the best space heaters.