[Baltimore Sun] Are radiator heaters safe?

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Keeping your home warm without spending a fortune can be a challenge in this age of rising energy prices. Radiator heaters are known to be effective, but could they solve your energy woes, and are they safe?

While there were once safety issues associated with them, you shouldn’t have any problems with new models. Still, there’s plenty more to know about them.

What are radiator heaters?

Radiator heaters, also known as radiant heaters, are space heaters that use natural convection to heat spaces. This is the transfer of thermal energy from a hot surface to the cooler air around it.

These heaters are generally oil-filled. When you switch them on, electricity heats the oil inside them, which warms up external surfaces that in turn transfer their heat to the air around them. The warm air then circulates due to natural convection currents, which helps evenly and consistently heat whole rooms.

Are radiator heaters safe?

There was a time when radiator heaters had some safety issues. If they tipped over, they could leak oil and keep on heating, which posed a fire risk. However, radiant heaters sold today have an automatic shut-off that turns the heater off if it tips over. The oil is also sealed in the system so it won’t leak if the heater tips.

With these potential safety issues solved, radiator heaters are very safe. In fact, they’re often considered safer than heaters with exposed heating elements because they don’t get as hot to the touch.

Radiator heater pros

There’s a lot to love about radiant heaters. These are just some of their benefits:

Quiet operation: Radiators run practically silently, while forced-air heaters produce constant noise from their fans.
Long-lasting heat: The oil inside radiator heaters stays warm for quite a while after the unit switches off, so you won’t start getting cold again right away.
Heats large areas: Most space heaters only warm the area that they’re pointing at, but natural convection lets the warmth from a radiator heater warm a whole room.
Better for people with allergies: Heaters with fans can stir up dust and other allergens, but this isn’t an issue with radiator heaters.
Energy-efficient: Because these heaters warm a whole room and stay hot for a while after switching off, there’s no need to run them constantly, which saves energy. It’s also energy-efficient to use a single radiator heater when you only need to warm one room, as opposed to heating your whole house with central heating.
Consistent temperatures: Radiator heaters often use thermostats to maintain a consistent temperature, so the unit will shut off once the temperature’s reached and switch back on again when the room cools down again.

Radiator heater cons

Radiator heaters have some drawbacks as well, which are worth considering before you buy.

Slow to heat up: Unless you’re sitting directly next to the heater, it may take around 20 minutes to notice the effects.
Fairly large: Radiator heaters are fairly big and bulky, so you might not like how much floor space they take up or may consider them eyesores.

Best radiator heaters

De’Longhi TRD40615E Full Room Radiant Heater

This effective radiator heater has a thermal slot design to maximize surface area for more effective heating while keeping the exterior temperature safe and low. It has three heating levels and a digital thermostat to help keep heating consistent.

De’Longhi Comfort Temp Full Room Radiant Thermostat

Thanks to its permanently sealed oil system, it doesn’t need refilling, and there’s no chance of leaks. Additionally, it has anti-tip protection. The “Comfort Temp” system is designed to help maintain the optimal room temperature.

Pelonis Electric Oil-Filled Radiator

You can switch among three heat settings, and the unit switches off when the desired temperature is reached to maintain comfortable heat. Heavy-duty casters make it easy to wheel the heater between rooms.

Dreo Radiator Heater

The digital thermostat and remote control make it simple to heat your space as much or as little as you like. Its large fins and U-shaped heating tubes help it release heat effectively and efficiently.

Prices listed reflect time and date of publication and are subject to change.

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