As the weather gets colder and colder, have you been wondering which types of space heaters are best for your indoor air? Even if that is far from your mind, it’s been on ours and we’d love to share that with you! You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you indoor air quality topics like best & worst air purifiers, best & worst candles, and best & worst organic mattresses, now join us for the best & worst space heaters in terms of indoor air quality.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
Space Heaters Can Warm Your Day But Not All Types Are Welcome
When it gets cold, we are cuddle up with a warm blanket, put on our warmer clothing, perhaps start a fire and turn on the heater. But if you have another room that needs to be heated, what type of space heater is the safest around children, grownups, and pets?
Mamavation is looking at the following variables to ensure you purchase a safe space heater:
- Promotes safe indoor air quality, i.e. doesn’t emit carcinogens into the air
- Doesn’t have a hot encasement that would could pose a burning hazard for children
- Immediately shuts down if it’s knocked over, so cannot start a fire if knocked over by a pet or child
But let’s start off with what we want you to avoid first–propane.
Space Heaters Can Pose a Deadly Problem If You Buy The Wrong One
Space heaters that use propane as a fuel can pose a deadly problem for your indoor air if they are not vented and if the combustion is not complete. Not only does the EPA warn about that pretty clearly, but you’re still able to purchase one easily online regardless if you understand the dangers or not. This is what is released into the air around combustion products like space heaters:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2), a non-toxic gas that forms through combustion. (This is what you exhaule)
- Carbon monoxide (CO), a toxic gas formed if combustion is incomplete. Can cause death or permanent brain and organ damage.
- Nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas and upper respiratory irritant causing cough, sore throat, headache, vertigo, and nausea. Also linked with an increase in asthma.
- Water vapor which can increase moisture problems in the home.
Complete combustion is the most important part here because carbon monoxide poisoning from unvented heaters sometimes happen when there is a lack of air, improper gas pressure, dust, dirt or rust on the burner, incorrect placement of artificial logs, or disruption of burner by air currents.
When other ventilation fans are operating they can reduce indoor air pressure which can trick the machines into back-drafting toxic gases. This back-drafting can happen when kitchen range hoods or bathroom exhaust fans are operating at same time and can lead to levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide exceeding safe levels for California.
The easiest way to avoid this entire mess is to focus on space heaters that are electric instead, which is what Mamavation recommends.
5 Types of Indoor Space Heaters
We found five types of indoor space heaters available for purchase online. Some are also a combination of the choices below. But we are going to start off with the least safe option and go down to the rest for you to see the differences.
Propane Space Heaters–WARNING NOT SAFE
WARNING: Propane space heaters do not use electricity, so instead they use liquid propane (LP). As we learned with candles, burning of fossil fuels creates indoor air pollution, which is why they can be so dangerous to families. These space heaters also pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if not ventilated properly. These propane space heaters also emit electromagnetic waves into the air (similar to infrared) to heat up objects close by. Mamavation does not recommend you purchase these types of space heaters.
- Propane products can produce the hottest heat available out of all the types of space heaters
- Doesn’t require electricity
- Cheapest to operate because propane is cheap
- Very inexpensive to purchase
- Carbon monoxide poisoning warning
- Can present a very serious indoor air quality problem if not vented properly (so vent!)
- Present higher risk of explosions and fires
- Some cannot be operated within a home safely so please check the manuals!
- Some propane space heaters emit carbon dioxide and must be well ventilated in order to create a safe indoor air experience.
- Likely emitting low levels of formaldehyde into the air, which is a carcinogen that can cause cancer
Fan Space Heaters–SAFE
Fan space heaters heat up a metal coil and that coil sends heat into the room with a fan. They are typically not as pretty as the other ones and powered by electric.
- No dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Safer for indoor air quality than an unvented space heater
- Inexpensive in price
- Very compact in size and lightweight
- Creates Instant heat
- Heat can oscillate throughout the room
- Box around the unit is cool to the touch, so safer around children
- Easy to move around the room
- Heat immediately stops when it’s turned off
- Less energy-efficient than ceramic or infrared space heaters
- Takes more electrical energy because it must be run all the time to work
- Better for smaller areas
- Typically doesn’t have a precise monitoring
- Heat transfer can be blocked by physical objects in the room
Ceramic Space Heaters–SAFE
This type of space heater has ceramic plates that are attached to metal coils. They run on electricity that heats the coils and warm up the ceramic plates. Then the heat is released out of the machine and into your room. Some of them have fans and others do not. If they have fans, they heat up the room quicker.
- No dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Safer for indoor air quality than an unvented space heater
- Small and compact in size
- Heat can oscillate throughout the room
- The outside exterior box isn’t hot to touch
- May include a digital thermostat
- Heat continues to radiate after it’s turned off because ceramic plates are still hot
- Louder than infrared pace heaters
- Works better in smaller places than bigger spaces
- If they don’t have a fan, they take forever to heat up the room
- Heat transfer can be blocked by objects in the room
Infrared Space Heaters–SAFE
Infrared space heaters emit safe electromagnetic waves into the air that heat up the physical objects that are present in the room like furniture and people. This technology is the same type of radiation that comes from the Sun to heat up the Earth without the UV rays. These units do not need a fan to operate, however, some do have fans.
- No dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Heat is not blocked by objects, but rather heats up objects in the room
- Heat last even after the infrared heater is turned off
- They are typically designed nicely and look like wood cabinets and furniture
- It’s not hot to the touch so safer around children
- Sometimes they include a digital thermostat
- Easy to move across the room if it’s on wheels
- More sustainable because it’s uses less energy than most other units.
- Pricier than other space heating units
- Can be heavy, so not easy to pick up (but typically on wheels)
- Heat is one-directional, so it’s not radiating from both side of machine
- If you have nothing in the room, the room won’t get as warm.
- More expensive than ceramic and fan heaters
Oil-Filled Space Heaters–SAFE
Oil-filled space heaters are filled with diathermic oil that is heated up and circulates through the columns and when it gets hot, it’s released into the air. These heaters do not come with a fan.
- No dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Longlasting and continues to stay hot after turned off
- Easy to move around because it’s likely on wheels
- Has been known to ruin furniture from water/oil deposits from machine
- Can only really heat a room about 150 square feet or smaller
- The unit gets really hot and can pose a potential burn for children
- Heavier than most heaters
Panel Space Heaters–SAFE
Panel space heaters are becoming popular because they can be mounted on the wall or sit on the floor with a stand. They work similarly to oil-filled heaters by letting hot air radiate off the device to heat the room, however, they do NOT use oil. Instead, they use electrical currents to produce heated air.
- No dangers of carbon monixide poisoning
- Stylish and modern in design
- Can be mounted on the wall
- Easy to use
- Safest in terms of fire
- Doesn’t work as well as other types of space heaters
- Only heats up small rooms, so will need other sources of heat
- Not mobile and cannot move from room to room
Space Heater Safety Features to Look For
There are some tricks to looking for the perfect space heater in terms of safety.
- Make sure it’s tested for safety — Look for some certifications like UL (Underwriters Laboratory), CSA (Canadian Standards Association) or ETL (Intertek), which is the most popular you’ll find.
- Find one with a shut off valve around kids — To prevent burns, pay close attention to how hot the exterior is to the touch. Some units have a shut off valve if the machine gets too hot or is knocked over. We highly recommend that function.
- Propane gas heaters need to have a Low Oxygen Shut Off (ODS) — We’ve warned you to death about space heaters and the potential to leak dangerous chemicals into the air, but if you want to ensure that doesn’t happen, look for a unit with a Low Oxygen Shutoff (ODS). The ODS function means it will monitor the oxygen levels and shut them down when they reach a certain threshold. This reduces the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning but does not prevent it completely.
Indoor Air Quality is Important Considering You Spend Over 90% of Your Time Indoors Breathing
Your indoor air is actually more important than the air quality outside because, well, you are breathing it constantly. The air inside your home is concentrated in such a way that it’s estimated to be anywhere from 2-5x more polluted than the air outside according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) while other organizations have estimated that number to be almost 100x more polluted. Why? That’s because contaminants get trapped inside our homes, especially when they are super energy efficient. Outside, the wind and sun beat down the contaminants and break them down, but inside they have nowhere to go.
This is why it’s important to make a concerted effort to clean up your indoor air and keep it clean. Here are some tips on how you can do that.
- Open windows every day to allow contaminants outside (yes, even when it’s cold.)
- Bring in more houseplants. NASA has given us lots of information on what plants have the ability to filter out contaminants in the air.
- Dust every week and focus especially on the removal of dust bunnies anywhere. In the new study published by the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, scientists researched the exposure to 7 different flame retardants and discovered a clear reduction of exposure to these chemicals achieved through routine increased cleaning inside the home.
- Get a professional air purifier. The strongest air purifier on the market is the Intellipure Ultrafine 468. Click here to receive 10% off a machine for your home and use “Mamavation” at checkout. For our entire investigation on purifiers go here.
Mamavation’s Investigation on Space Heaters
Mamavation sifted through over 150+ space heaters available online. From the perspective of safety for children, followed by ease of use, and having additional safety features, we found that these brands were superior in general.
- De’Longhi (although no certifications)
- Dr. Infrared
- Heat Storm
- Honeywell (although no certifications)
- Life Smart (although people complain of smells when taken out of the box)
Not Our Favorite Space Heaters
These space heaters are powered by propane. These is not all the propane space heaters out there, but represent lots of the options.
- Bluegrass Living Bluegrass B30TPB-BB Vent Free Blue Flame Gas Space Heater with Blower and Base Feet-30,000, T-Stat Control, 30000 BTU, Black
- HeatFast HF160G Portable Home, Jobsite, Construction Site Forced Air Liquid Propane Salamander Torpedo Space Heater with Variable Temperature Control, 155,000 BTU, orange
- Mr. Heater 18000 BTU Vent Free Radiant 20# Propane Indoor Outdoor Space Heater
- Mr. Heater Corporation F299720 Vent-Free 20,000 BTU Blue Flame Propane Heater, Multi
- Mr. Heater Corporation F299730 Heater, One Size, White and Black
- Mr. Heater Corporation Vent-Free 10,000 BTU Radiant Propane Heater, Multi
- Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
- ProCom Liquid Propane Ventless Ice House Heater – 10,000 BTU, T-Stat, Model# ML100TBAHR
Better Space Heaters
These space heaters run on electricity and pose no threat of harming your indoor air quality, however, we didn’t find those extra safety features we were looking for.
- CCC Comfort Zone Heater | Ceramic Electric Portable Fan-Forced $25.97
- CCC Comfort Zone Radiant Quartz Tower Heater $46.59
- Comfort Zone 1,500-Watt Electric Digital Quartz Infrared Cabinet Space Heater with Remote Control in Black $61.69
- Comfort Zone CZ2032C Infrared Quartz Wood Cabinet Heater, 16″, Cherry $112.11
- Comfort Zone CZ442E Personal Ceramic Heater – 1500W Portable Warmer for Small Room, Office, Bedroom, Desk – Energy-Saving Heating Unit with Adjustable Thermostat, Tip-Over Switch & Overheat Protection $25.97
- Comfort Zone CZ449E Oscillating Ceramic Heater – 1500W Energy-Efficient Electric Warmer For Indoor Use – 70° Oscillation, Adjustable Thermostat, Safety Tip-Over Switch & Overheat Protection System $29.99
- Comfort Zone CZ550 1500w Electric Radiant Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat, Ivory $40.90
- Comfort Zone Electric “Stove Style” Fireplace Heater $70.70
- COSTWAY Infrared Heater, 600W/1200W Portable Electric Radiant Tower Space Heater, Overheat & Tip-Over Protection, Fast and Quiet Heating, Automatic Thermostat, Personal Quartz Heater for Office and Home $62.99
- Crane Heaters, Infrared Heater, White $114.99
- Crane Mini Tower Heater, Personal Ceramic Heater, Oscillating Function, 1500 Watt, Adjustable Thermostat, Overheat Protection, 10 Inch, “10”” mini tower” (EE-6492) $32.00
- Crane Mini Tower Heater, Personal Ceramic Heater, Oscillating Function, 1500 Watt, Adjustable Thermostat, Overheat Protection, 17 Inch $38.82
- Crane Personal Ceramic Space Heater, 2 Settings 800W/1200W, Overheat Protection, For Home Office Desk, Black (EE-6490)
- De’Longhi Ceramic Compact Heater, Quiet 1500W, Digital Adjustable Thermostat, 3 Heat Settings, Timer, Remote Control, Energy Saving, Safety Features, Black, DCH5915ER $89.95
- De’Longhi Ceramic Tower Heater, Quiet 1500W, Digital Adjustable Thermostat, 3 Heat Settings, Timer, Remote Control, ECO Energy Saving Mode, Safety Features, 24″, Dark Gray, TCH7915ER $99.99
- De’Longhi Convection Panel Heater, Full Room Quiet 1500W, Freestanding/Easy Install Wall Mount, LED Digital Display, Adjustable Thermostat, Timer, EcoEnergy Saving Mode, White $149.95
- De’Longhi Convection Panel Heater, Full Room Quiet 1500W, Freestanding/Easy Install Wall Mount, LED Digital Display, Adjustable Thermostat, Timer, Energy Saving, Asphalt Gray $156.81
- De’Longhi Mica Thermic Panel Heater, Full Room Quiet 1500W, Freestanding/Easy Install Wall Mount, Adjustable Thermostat, 2 Heat Settings, Black, HMP1500 $99.99
- De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater, Quiet 1500W, Adjustable Thermostat Timer, Energy Saving, Safety Features, Nice for Home with Pets/Kids, Light Gray $140.78
- De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater, Quiet 1500W, Adjustable Thermostat, 3 Heat Settings Energy Saving, Safety Features, Nice for Home with Pets/Kids, Light Gray – Comfort Temp $101.13
- De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater, Quiet 1500W, Adjustable Thermostat, 3 Heat Settings, Energy Saving, Safety Features, Nice for Home with Pets/Kids, Light Gray, Comfort Temp EW7707CM $87.95
- Duraflame 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove with Remote Control – Portable Indoor Space Heater – DFI-5010 (Bronze) $219.41
- Duraflame 5,200 BTU Electric Stove with 3D Flame Effects $126.16
- Duraflame 5,200-BTU Infrared Quartz Cabinet Electric Space Heater with Thermostat $143.98
- Duraflame DFI021ARU Electric Log Set Heater with Realistic Ember Bed, Black $139.99
- Duraflame DFS-500-0 Thomas Electric Stove with Heater, Black $99.99
- Duraflame Electric DFI-550-36 Infrared Quartz Fireplace Stove Heater, Black $158.18
- Duraflame Electric DFI030ARU Infrared Quartz Set Heater with Realistic Ember Bed and Logs, Black $139.99
- Duraflame Electric Freestanding Infrared Quartz Fireplace Stove, Red $156.00
- Duraflame Electric Infrared Quartz Fireplace Stove, Black $160.65
- Honeywell 360 Degree Surround Heater with Fan Forced Technology – Space Heater with Surround Heat Output and Two Heat Settings – Energy Efficient Portable Heater $39.99
- Honeywell ComfortTemp 4 Ceramic Tower Heaters, 8 x 8 x 23.4, Black $72.40
- Honeywell EnergySmart Ceramic Surround Whole Room Heater – Black $64.99
- Honeywell EnergySmart Thermawave Ceramic Heater $69.99
- Honeywell HCE200W UberHeat Ceramic Heater White Energy Efficient Space Saving Portable Heater With 2 Heat Settings & Adjustable Thermostat for Living Room, Bedroom, Office $34.99
- Honeywell HCE322V Digital Ceramic Tower Heater Whole Room 1500 Watt Black Oscillating Room Heater with Programmable Thermostat, 2 Heat Settings, Auto-Off Timer, Dust Filter $61.87
- Honeywell HZ-7300 Deluxe Energy Smart Cool Touch Heater, Black $47.99
- Honeywell HZ-7300 Deluxe Energy Smart Cool Touch Heater, Black $51.41
- Honeywell HZ-789 EnergySmart Electric Oil Filled Radiator Whole Room Heater $79.99
- Honeywell HZ-980 MyEnergySmart Infared Whole Room Heater,Black $179.99
- Honeywell Motion Sensor Ceramic Convection Heater, Large Room Sensory, Black $70.83
- Honeywell Slim Ceramic Tower Heater, Large Room, Black – Easy to Use Ceramic Heater – Slim Space Heater with Two Heat Settings $48.99
- Honeywell Turbo Force Power Heater + Fan – Space Heater with Wide-Area Heating, Pivoting Head and Triple Oscillation – Fan and Heater Combo with Powerful Heat and Circulation $89.99
- LIFE SMART Black 6 Element Infrared Heater Steel Cabinet $107.89
- LIFE SMART Electric Infrared Quartz Oscillating Tower Heater with Adjustable Thermostat and Timer, Wood Appearance Decorative Heater with Tip-Over and Overheat Protection 1500W/1000W $115.99
- LifeSmart 2 Element Quartz Infrared 24-Inch Electric Portable Tower Indoor Room Space Heater and Fan, Black $64.99
- Lifesmart 3 Element Quartz Infrared Electric Portable Fireplace Space Heater $189.99
- Lifesmart Corp Lifelux Series Ultimate 8 Element Extra Large Room Infrared Deluxe Wood Cabinet & Remote $139.99
- LIFESMART Electric Infrared Quartz Oscillating Tower Heater with Adjustable Thermostat and Timer, Wood Appearance Decorative Heater with Tip-Over and Overheat Protection 1500W/1000W $115.99
- Lifesmart Large Room Infrared Quartz Fireplace in Burnished Oak Finish w/Remote $239.99
- LifeSmart ZCHT1071US 1500 Watt 8 Element Quartz Infrared Electric Portable Large Room Space Zone Heater, Black $109.99
- Lifesmart Zone Series 6-Element Infrared Heater, Black (HT1015) $89.95
- Vornado OSCTH1 Oscillating Electric Tower Space Heater for Home and Office with Built-in Timer, Adjustable Thermostat, Digital Display, Advanced Safety Features, Black $99.99
- Vornado TAVH10 Electric Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat, Auto Climate Control, 2 Heat Settings, 12-Hour Timer, Remote, Advanced Safety Features, Black $141.70
- Vornado Velocity 3 Space Heater with 3 Heat Settings, Adjustable Thermostat, and Advanced Safety Features, Small, White $59.99
- Vornado VH10 Vortex Heater with Adjustable Thermostat, 2 Heat Settings, Advanced Safety Features, Black $79.99
- Vornado VH202 Personal Space Heater, Black $29.99
- Vornado VHEAT Vintage Metal Heater, Green $149.99
- Vornado VMH500 Whole Room Metal Heater with Auto Climate, 2 Heat Settings, Adjustable Thermostat, 1-12 Hour Timer, and Remote, Ice White $118.29
- Vornado VMH600 Whole Room Stainless Steel Heater with Auto Climate Control and Remote $214.00
Best Space Heaters
These space heaters run on electric, don’t muck up your indoor air quality, have certifications, and have additional safety features for fire prevention. They also had good ratings on Amazon and we couldn’t find any obvious things wrong with them.
- AmazonBasics 1500W Ceramic Personal Heater with Adjustable Thermostat, Black $30.99
- AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater with Adjustable Thermostat, Black $35.49
- AmazonBasics Portable Eco-Smart Space Heater – Black $78.49
- AmazonBasics Portable Eco-Smart Space Heater – Wood $102.00
- andily Space Heater Electric Heater for Home and Office Ceramic Small Heater with Thermostat, 750W/1500W $24.38
- Dr Infrared Heater DR998, 1500W, Advanced Dual Heating System with Humidifier and Oscillation Fan and Remote Control $134.99
- Dr Infrared Heater DR999, 1500W, Advanced Dual Heating System with Nightstand Design, Furniture-Grade Cabinet, Remote Control $147.53
- Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 1500-Watt $108.75
- FLAMEMORE CH-3003 Portable Electric Space Remote Control 1500W 6-Element Infrared Heater 12H Timer with Tip-Over & Overheating Shut-Off Quiet for Indoor Use, 12.4in X 15.4in X15.7in, Wood $109.00
- Flamemore Electric Portable Quartz Infrared Space Cabinet Heater for Indoor Use with Realistic Flame Effect, Remote Control & 12 H Timer, Overheat & Tip-over Shut Off Thermostat for Room Office Wood $148.00
- Heat Storm Classic Smithfield Portable Infrared Space Heater $97.82
- Heat Storm Deluxe Logan Portable Infrared Space Heater $114.93
- Heat Storm Deluxe Mounted Space Infrared Wall Heater, White $76.72
- Heat Storm HS-1000-WX-WIFI WiFi Infrared Wall Heater $95.00
- Heat Storm HS-1500-ISA Portable Infrared Heater, 1500 watts, Sahara Black $79.99
- Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX-WIFI Infrared Heater, Wifi Wall Mounted $95.54
- Howard Berger Comfort Zone CZ499R Oscillating Tower Heater with Remote Control $64.00
- KOOLWOOM Portable Electrci Space Heater Infrared Zone Heating Systems with Thermostat for Office and Home,Tip-Over and overheat Protection Remote Control 12hr Timer & Filter 1000W-1500W Dark Walnut $109.99
- Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater 8.5 L x 7.25 W x 23 H inches $60.72
- Lasko 760000 Cyclonic Ceramic Heater $94.19
- Lasko Bladeless Ceramic Heater with Remote Control $108.00
- Lasko CC23160 Motion Heat Plus Whole Room Heater $164.00
- Lasko Designer Series Ceramic Space Heater-Features Oscillation, Remote, and Built-in Timer, Beige $76.99
- Lasko FH500 Fan & Space Heater Combo Tower, 42 Inch, Black White $94.99
- PELONIS NTH15-17BRA Portable 1500W Vertical and Horizontal Ceramic Tower Space Heater, Internal Oscillation, with Remote Control, Programmable Thermostat & 24H Timer and Overheating Protection, White $69.99
- PELONIS Oscillating Digital Fan Heater $48.86
- PELONIS PH-17P 1500W Fast Heating, Programmable Thermostat, Easy Control, Widespread Oscillation, Over Heating & Tip-over Switch Protection, 7.87 x 8.07 x 12.01 inches, white $39.99
- PELONIS PHTA1ABB Portable, 1500W/900W, Quiet Cooling & Heating Mode Space Heater for All Season, Tip Over & Overheat Protection,for Home, Office Personal Use, Black, 7 x 5.82 x 8.54 inches $27.90
- PELONIS PHTPU1501 Ceramic Tower 1500W Indoor Space Heater with Oscillation, Remote Control, Programmable Thermostat & 8H Timer, ECO Mode, Tip-Over Switch & Overheating Protection, White $55.24
- PELONIS Portable Heater with Air Circulation Fan with LED Display. Cooling & Heating Mode Space Heater for All Year Around Use, Tip Over & Overheat Protection,for Home, Office Personal Use, Black $33.99
About the Author
Leah Segedie is a consumer watchdog, author, entrepreneur, environmental activist, and mother of three boys.
She wrote Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, & Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!) in 2018. She’s consistently been featured in the media for the past 15 years in media outlets like ABC, CBS, CNN, Yahoo, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Ladies Home Journal, Shape Magazine, Fitness Magazine to name a few.
Did you like this post? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and don’t miss another investigation!