Oil Filled Heaters, The Features and Benefits of Oil Filled Electric Heaters
Electric oil filled heaters are one of the safest types of space heaters on the market today. They are designed to provide supplemental heat for a room (or a garage!) that already has a heating system in place but doesn't quite get the job done. They are silent, efficient, and portable.
The unit consists of vertical, oil filled plates with electric heating elements inside. The heating elements warm up the oil, which then warms up the surface of the plates. The warmth is transferred to the air surrounding the plates, which then rises and draws cool air up from the floor. They are sometimes called oil filled radiator heaters, because they resemble the old hot-water radiators found in many older buildings.
Portable oil filled heaters have a lot of advantages over other types of space heaters. Because most of them don't use fans, the typical model will not stir up any dust. As mentioned already, they are nearly silent in operation. The only maintenance that is required is to occasionally wipe the surface down with a damp cloth.
The surface temperature on an oil filled space heater is lower than on most other types of electric units. There is almost no fire risk, and you won't get a serious burn from accidentally touching or bumping into one. Because a portable oil filled heater has no exposed heating elements or open flame, it is safe for environments where flammable vapors might be present, such as in a garage or workshop.
Oil filled space heaters do not deplete oxygen or give off nasty fumes or carbon monoxide like fuel burning heaters. They also will not dry out the air as much as exposed-element electric units do.
Oil filled electric heaters typically have three wattage settings: 600 watts, 900 watts, and 1500 watts. Some have thermostats that you can set, and some of the better models have programmable timers that will turn the unit on and off. You can even get one with a remote control so you can turn it on from the comfort of your bed!
Prices (at the time of this writing) start at around $30 or so for a basic model, and go up from there. If you want a full-featured model with a digital controls and a remote, those are in the one hundred dollar range. Some of the best rated and most popular models are made by Delonghi and run in the $50 to $80 range (again, at the time of this writing).
Oil filled space heaters do have a couple of disadvantages, though. They take a little while to warm up, so the warmth is not instant like it is with some other electric units. Once it is warmed up though, it will continue to radiate heat for a while even after you turn it off.
Because they heat slowly, it will take a LONG time to heat up a large or drafty area. They won't work very well if you are going to be in your garage for only thirty minutes or so and need a quick warm-up. That is just not what oil filled heaters are designed for.
I have one that I bought about thirteen years ago when I was remodeling an old house that didn't have any heat. I now use in my garage when I will be out there for a few hours or so. It's nice to be able to roll it around to wherever I am working and not have air blowing on me!
As with almost anything else, there are a few drawbacks to consider. One possible disadvantage that applies equally to many electric space heaters is the amount of power they consume from a single 110V outlet.
If you only have a 15 amp breaker, a 1500 watt heater will use most of the available current on that circuit. If you are running the heater full blast, have a few lights on, and then you turn on a TV or a power tool that is all on the same 15 amp circuit, you might flip a breaker. A 20 amp circuit is less likely to have this problem, though.
Overall, oil filled heaters offer a good solution for safe, quiet, and efficient supplemental heat. They work great in a garage because they don't stir up dust and don't have an open flame or red-hot element that could ignite fumes. There aren't any exhaust fumes to worry about, no noise, and no maintenance. Most are portable, so you can move the heater with you to wherever you are working.
There is a wide range of models available, too. As long as you are just warming up a relatively small area and will be there for a little while, oil filled space heaters are a great choice for safe, quiet, efficient heat. For information on other heating alternatives, explore our Related Pages menu on the right near the top of this page.