Are All Electric Space Heaters The Same? [Different Types]

You walk into a store to buy a simple electric space heater, but you’re suddenly overwhelmed with the number of options. 

Some are for small rooms, some are oil-filled, some are ceramic, and before you know it, you’ve left the store without a space heater because it was just too much to deal with. So, let’s first answer the question at large: Are all electric space heaters the same?

Not all electric space heaters are the same. They come in various sizes and use different technologies to heat a room. For example, there are oil-filled heaters, panel heaters, and infrared heaters. 

Despite the varying mechanics, almost all electric space heaters operate at 1500 Watts. Confusing right? That means a space heater advertised for small rooms can generate the same amount of heat as a space heater advertised for large rooms.

What are the different types of electric space heaters?

Despite their power similarities, there are a few different types of electric space heaters. These include:

  • Ceramic space heater
  • Fan space heater
  • Infrared space heater
  • Oil-filled space heater 
  • Panel space heater

In general, they do the same thing: heat up a room and the people inside. But there are some key differences. Let’s check them out in more detail.

Ceramic Space Heaters

Ceramic space heaters are one of the most popular models of heaters because of how quickly they warm a room. Internal metal coils heat up ceramic plates that release hot energy into the air. 

Some ceramic space heaters come with an installed fan to help distribute the hot air. They’re great for heating up small to medium-sized rooms.

Fan Space Heaters

Fan space heaters use heated metal coils to transmit heat. The built-in fan then spreads that heat throughout the room. These come in a lightweight design and are easy to move around. 

They can be relied on for smaller spaces, like bathrooms, but won’t be able to keep a large space warm.

Infrared Space Heaters

Infrared space heaters use a completely different technology than most heaters. Instead of heating up coils or ceramic, infrared heaters transmit electromagnetic waves that heat physical objects. Similar to how the sun emits radiation, these heaters directly warm up your body and furniture, not the air.

If you use this style of heater, you’ll want to put it in a room with a lot of physical objects. These are typically more expensive and cumbersome than other models.

Oil-Filled Space Heaters

Oil-filled space heaters use a diathermic oil that heats up and emits hot air into a space. Unlike other models, they continue to heat a room even when switched off, which means you don’t need to run it continuously.

Oil-filled space heaters can’t heat up a large, open room, but they are great for apartments and bedrooms.

Panel Space Heaters

Panel space heaters are a new type of heater that can be placed on the floor or mounted on a wall. They use electrical current to radiate heat but don’t provide the same amount of warmth as other options.

However, since they can be off the floor, they’re great for kids’ rooms, and you can run them continuously without the fear of starting a fire. Many people use panel space heaters as a supplemental heat source.

The following video explains more about the different types of space heaters:

Are there electric space heaters that run on batteries?

There are only small electric space heaters for jackets, gloves, and cars that run on batteries. You won’t find a battery-powered electric space heater large enough to heat a room. 

The batteries currently available can’t provide enough power while also being compact and versatile. As of now, you’ll have to settle with an electric device that uses a cord, but most are still easily portable.

The only cordless option for space heaters would be to use one that runs on propane or another gas (not electric). Propane heaters are often more expensive to buy and run, and dealing with any form of gas can be a dangerous endeavor, so be wary.

Is there a space heater that works without electricity?

There are several types of space heaters that work without electricity. Non-electric space heaters will use natural gas, kerosene, or propane to generate heat. Keep in mind that non-electric heaters are not all designed to be used indoors.

Therefore, make sure the model you are using specifically states it is for indoor use. If it’s not, harmful carbon monoxide can fill the room. It would be a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector handy even if the non-electric heater claims to be safe indoors.

For indoor use, electric space heaters seem to be the most popular choice, but if you’re looking for something a little more functional, then a gas-powered device might be the best option for you.

Can you leave an electric space heater plugged in?

You can leave most modern, reputable space heaters plugged in all the time or overnight. Check the manual to see if your heater will automatically turn off in the case of overheating. You should also ensure that nothing flammable is near the heater. 

Unknown brands or cheap devices should not be trusted to be plugged in all the time. When leaving a space heater unsupervised, consider switching it to the lowest setting to reduce the risk of overheating or fires.

If you are worried about your space heater causing an electrical fire during the night, consider choosing an option that continues emitting heat even when turned off. Ceramic heaters and oil-filled heaters would be great options to consider.

Are electric space heaters a fire hazard?

Like all electrical appliances, electric space heaters are a fire hazard. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, portable electric space heaters cause about 1,200 fires a year. 

Since heaters emit heat, you need to be extra cautious not to place anything flammable close to the device. Items like clothing, curtains, and bedding can easily catch on fire and cause serious damage. Older or budget heaters should be avoided as they are more likely to overheat and start electrical fires.

You should only plug space heaters into a wall outlet. People often use extension cords, surge protectors, and power strips for their appliances, but manufacturers advise against using these for electric space heaters. 

To further reduce the risk of a fire, keep your device at a low setting when unsupervised, always use a top-name brand that automatically shuts off when overheating occurs, and keep it out of the reach of children.


Although all electric space heaters are designed to heat a room and the objects inside, they’re not all the same. You can choose a ceramic heater, fan heater, infrared heater, panel heater, and oil-filled heater. All of which have unique features and will meet your specific needs.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any cordless, battery-powered electric space heaters, but most are lightweight and easy to carry around. You’ll be able to safely leave your electric heater plugged in for long periods, but always make sure to take safety precautions because fires can happen. Hopefully, this article helped you decide on the right electric space heater for you. Good luck!

Eustace is a technology enthusiast and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts, solve problems, and make informed decisions.