Radiant or Convection Heat?
Electric space heaters break down into two basic types: radiant or convection. Radiant models—such as ceramic and quartz portables, under-floor systems, cove heaters and ceiling panels—emit infrared radiation that heats up objects and people directly within their line of sight. They're designed for ultra-quick heating and are best for: Heating one or two people,l arge rooms where you don't want to heat the entire space, open rooms without a lot of furniture or obstacles between you and the heater, spot heating and sporadic use, workshops and home offices where you mostly want warmth for yourself while you're at your desk or workbench, or a TV room where the occupants are sitting in one area.
Convection models include oil-filled radiators, electric baseboard and toe-kick heaters, and flat panel wall-mounted units that warm the air around the heater and rely on the room's air circulation to heat the room. Fan-forced convection models are the most popular type of supplemental heater. They have a heating element and a fan that blows the warm air around the room. These heat a room more quickly than a unit without a fan; however, when the fan shuts off, the room cools down quickly. The fans can be quite noisy and are a serious concern for people affected by allergens blowing around the room. Convection models are best for: rooms with doors so you can contain the warm air, whole-room heating, constant operation, rooms where you move around instead of sitting in one spot.
When you're shopping for a portable electric space heater, look for models that offer advanced safety features like child-resistant controls, an overheat shutoff, and a tip-over safety alarm and shutoff. Also consider models with energy-efficient options such as thermostats, occupancy sensors, automatic timers and multiple power settings.