Space Heaters

Space heaters provide heat to specific areas or objects. There are many different types, ranging from small portable heaters that use varying methods of heat distribution to permanently installed heaters that are surface-mounted to a ceiling or wall. Depending on their design, space heaters can operate on electricity, natural gas, wood, or liquid fuel, though they most often use electricity or natural gas. Other terms for space heaters include: quartz, infrared, parabolic, ceramic, halogen, and reflective heaters.

Space heaters won’t be the right choice for every application, but they can save energy and money in some cases, such as:

  • When using only part of a facility that has a central heating system that can’t isolate the area in use
  • When only a small fraction of a large facility is occupied, such as a shipping desk in an unheated warehouse
  • When specific tasks of limited duration must be performed in an otherwise unheated space

Typically, portable electric heaters are used in residential applications, leaving the permanently installed ceiling- or wall-mounted heaters for commercial and industrial (C&I) uses. There are exceptions to this, with surface-mounted radiant heating panels sometimes used in residential applications and portable electric heaters sometimes used in C&I spaces.

The efficiency of a specific space heater isn’t necessarily important; what matters is its intended use—the type of heating the consumer wants from it. Using a space heater in a manner for which it wasn’t intended can drive up energy costs and fail to provide occupant comfort. But in the right applications, space heaters can maintain comfort and lower overall energy costs.

What are the options?
How to make the best choice
What’s on the horizon?
Who are the manufacturers?
Content last reviewed: