Q:

What are some safety considerations for electric space heaters?

A:

Quick Answer

Electrical space heaters generate enough heat to start fires if used incorrectly, and users should keep them away from particularly flammable items. Fortunately, they pose no air safety risks.

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Full Answer

Compared to space heaters that use fossil fuels, electric space heaters cost more to run. However, their portability and easy use make them a popular option. Since they use electrical resistance to generate heat instead of combustion, they don't produce any chemical by-products that can pose risks. This safety makes them a preferred option for many homeowners.

However, electric space heaters still draw a significant amount of energy, which carries a small risk of electrical fire. As a result, use with an extension cord is not generally recommended. In addition, using them on an electrical outlet powering other energy-intensive devices can pose risks. Using the included cable helps mitigate these risks.

Space heaters also generate a significant amount of heat that safely spreads if airflow is unobstructed. Flammable items placed nearby, however, can catch fire. If the unit uses fans to distribute heat, a faulty fan can cause the space heater to overheat, although most systems simply stop operating. Tipping a space heater can cause it to heat up carpet or other flooring to dangerous levels, but many space heaters can detect tips and shut off automatically.

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