It is winter time and many people will resort to some kind of space heater to keep a room warm without the need to heat the rest of the home. For example you can be very comfortable in your family room with a space heater running in that room while the remainder of the home is kept cooler and saving you money on the heating cost.
There are various types of space heaters. We talked about two types in the title, the infrared and the regular space heater. We will explain the difference in a moment. There is at least one more type of space heater and really that is the fireplace that can be used to keep one room warmer than another. We will first talk about the different types and them discuss the efficiency of each type.
Fireplaces – typically are built into a room and cannot be moved around. They may be either wood burning or they may have gas fired fireplaces inserted to avoid having the trouble of carting in wood and lighting fires etc.
Space heaters – generate heat by converting electricity to heat. They heat the elements of the space heater which in turn transmit heat to the air around the space heater. Some come with fans which will circulate this heated air around the room and speed up the process of warming the room. These space heaters can become quite hot and both adults and children need to be careful around them to avoid touching them and burning their hands.
Infrared Space Heaters – generate heat in the infrared spectrum. They do not heat the air around them at all. The infrared spectrum will heat a surface with the light waves encounter a surface such as a person. Aimed properly a person can sit in a cold room and be quite comfortable as long as the infrared rays are hitting the person. There is no danger from anything hot, although some people may find the light a bit bright especially for sleeping.
Efficiency is difficult to measure for many devices, so we will indicate averages that may be available from various space heaters.
The wood fireplace is probably the most inefficient. Since most of the hot air goes up the chimney. In fact it draws warm air from your home into the fireplace which then goes up the chimney. All wood burning chimneys must have a source of fresh air. Otherwise they will not burn properly and may even cause smoke to come into your home instead of going up the chimney. Modern wood burning fireplaces will have a fresh air intake installed around the fireplace. This reduces the amount of air extracted from the home and provide a source of fresh air.
The gas fireplace has it owns source of fresh air and in fact is a self contained unit. They are much more efficient than wood burning fireplaces. Older models were approximately 70% efficient without a fan and close to 80% efficient with a fan. The fan blows the warm air around the fireplace into the rest of the home. Never the less these gas fireplaces perform well and will keep a small room like a family room very comfortable. You can allow the rest of the home to be quite cool while you remain comfortable in the room were the gas fireplace is located.
Infrared and regular Space Heaters claim to be 100% efficient. While they are very close to being 100%, they are actually a bit less than 100% since some electrical energy is lost in the transmission of the electricity and if there is a fan, some energy will be lost in the operation of the fan. They are so close that many people just consider them to be 100% efficient for marketing purposes.
Never the less these small space heaters are an inexpensive alternative to keeping your entire home warm. When all you need is the room where you spend most of your time to be kept warm. Some space heaters will also have timers on them. This allows the owner to set them to coincide with rates that are lower during the day usually in the evening.