Types of Portable Space Heaters

Revised: 7/31/19
Grainger Editorial Staff

Portable heaters, commonly referred to as space heaters, help warm up indoor facilities. They come in various forms but share a major feature: heating up a single, confined area, as opposed to a large space or several spaces simultaneously.

Types of Portable Heaters

Indoor space heaters offer convenience and provide heat directly. Learn about the four types of portable heaters to find the right one for your space.

What are the different types of space heaters?

Oil-Filled Radiant Heater

  • Defined by a radiator-like body
  • Mobile with wheels
  • Uses radiant heating to create warmth
  • Doesn't need to be refilled

Flat Panel Heater

  • Has a boardfixture with a flat,smooth surface
  • Can bewall-mounted orplaced on the floor
  • Uses convection technology to secrete heat
  • Slim and quiet with quick, powerful heat

Pedestal Heater

  • Has a cylindrical-like body, a curved top and buttons
  • Uses radiant heating to create warmth
  • Includes a timer and can be remote-controlled
  • Warms air over coil elements and fans out heat

Ceramic Heater

  • Has a short bodywith a ceramicpanel
  • Can be placedatop a table,chair, bench orshelf
  • Uses radiant heating to secrete warmth
  • Can use fan-forcing

Space Heaters' Electricity Consumption

Quadrillion Btu Billion kilowatt-hours Share of total
0.43 125 9%

Heating Up the USA

Indoor space heating makes up the largest portion of household energy use in the majority of the country. So let's break down usage and how much it costs to run a space heater per day?

  • For decades following the 1990’s, space heating has amounted for over 50% of residential energy consumption.
  • After 2009, space heating usage dipped to 41%.
  • Space Heating Fuel: 56% natural gas - 38% electricity - 20% other/none.
  • It costs $2.82 per day to use an electric space heater for 16 hours.
  • Space heaters resulted in 79% of fatalities in home heating fires.
  • 110.1 million units in the U.S. use space heaters.

Where to Keep your Space Heater

Type of Space Heaters Best for use in:
Oil-Filled Radiant Heater Long hallways, spaces which require a lot of transporting
Pedestal Heater Facilities in need of timing heater use
Flat Panel Heater Small offices, packed rooms
Ceramic Heater Places with a table or available mounting space, ex: a shelf with enough space

Space Heater Safety Tips

  • Keep all flammable items at least 3 feet away from space heaters.
  • Don't let kids within 3 feet of an open heater.
  • Keep heaters away from water to prevent electrocution.
  • Don't stack anything on heaters.
  • Heaters should be monitored while in use.
  • Keep space heaters away from exits, walkways and traveling spaces.


Consumer Reports

US Energy Information Administration

Consumer Reports

National Fire Protection Program

US Energy Information Administration

The product statements contained herein are intended for informational purposes only. Such product statements do not constitute a product recommendation or representation as to the appropriateness for a specific application or use. W. W. Grainger, Inc. does not guarantee the result of product operation or assume any liability for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of such products.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.


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