Please recommend me a space heater

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,165
5,077
126
My house's central heater has sat disconnected rusting in the crawl space since I moved in here in 1983. I bought the house in 2000. The guy who did the inspection when I bought the house dropped off a proposal to renovate the whole house the next day, a total surprise to me, and he told me he'd done around 9 houses similar to mine in the past. He would have done a great job, I'm pretty sure, would have installed heating, fixed the foundation, etc. At the time I didn't have the money, I spent my last dime on the house and a refrigerator... the branch manager at my bank had told me my mortgage was a slam dunk but they bailed on me at the last minute, so I scraped together the funds and spent my last $1000 on the fridge, that I'm still using (saved it around 6 weeks ago, installing a new thermostat!).

So, I'm in the midst of a challenging winter, it's colder than recent ones here in Berkeley, CA. I tell myself I'm OK, but it's really not true. Today's better, it will drop a few F in coming days. I have had days in the last 2 weeks or so when my bedroom when I wake up is at 48F, kitchen not much higher. Years of experience help a lot, but it's still tough.

I realized a few days ago I have a space heater given me in the late 1990s that's perfect for me. It's a Holmes HFH-512 (Oct. 1994), has 3 power settings, a fan-only setting, and off, all on the same dial. Another dial says "Temperature" and has about 6 settings. Set on low I haven't seen the heater turn off yet, so maybe that (a thermostat, I presume) isn't working. The oscillating switch has broken free from it's mount but it's On, which is fine with me. It goes back and forth, rotating about 90 degrees. I put it on a Kasa monitoring smart plug (KP115) and see that the power draws are about 1300w, 900w, 450w. I think that's perfect for me. Thing is, I need two space heaters, one for my bedroom, the other for my kitchen.

A search comes up with nothing. I don't see anything that looks like the Holmes online (see pic below). Searching for space heaters I can't find anything so perfect for me in terms of those 3 power draws. My bedroom is small, the kitchen not much bigger, I don't require 1500w. Really, the setting I'll use the most is 450w. A working thermostat to turn it off would be nice, but not as essential as that power profile. Oscillating is also not essential, but a nicety. I have a couple infra-red reflecting space heaters but I find them annoying. If I have one in my bedroom, I point it at me, it warms me, but have to shut it off when it gets annoying, which it does after a few minutes (also, those parabolic heaters are big, too, too big). I reach for a switch on the power strip its plugged into. Still, one of those reflectors is what I've used during the winters in my bedroom, just at choice moments.

Now, I bought a couple Lasko CT22445 space heaters at Costco several weeks ago but I'm bringing them back in two days. They literally STINK! I tried the burn in thing, ran them 45 minutes on high, did that twice with one. They continue to fill the room with an odor I just can't abide. Besides annoying, it might be toxic. They were cheap there, $45, they have remote, oscillation, 3 heat settings (1500w, 1100w, 750w), eco mode, which uses on/off in tandem with thermostatic control, but the smell is a deal breaker. My gifted Holmes described above has no detectable odor!

I have another really old, small space heater that has one power setting, ~1200w. It has a thermostat for on/off and a fan. It's all metal, no smell, but it makes a serious racket! I almost never use it because it's so noisy. I'm thinking of taking it apart to see if lubricating the fan will help with the noise, it probably will, but I doubt it will get it anywhere near as quiet as the Holmes and the Lasko's.

The house is 111 years old, a craftsman that's been modified, is somewhat odd, has quite a few small rooms, two stories, back and front stairs, is somewhat drafty compared to modern construction. It would take a project to install central heating (I suppose in the attic), maybe I will, guess I should, but running it would be costly. Presumably such a system would burn a lot of natural gas. Meantime, and this winter in particular, just one simple space heater would really help. I have this in my Amazon cart, which is about as rudimentary as it gets. A review there says it doesn't smell. At least it hits my ~500w requirement, but it does nothing else... no thermostat, nothing. Also, it's expensive for what you get. A few more bucks and there are LOTS of heaters with features but most all of them have minimum power draw of 750w, which is high for me. There's one at Amazon that has 1000w/500w power profile, but the reviews didn't inspire me.

My bedroom has two bulbs above the middle, I keep an LED in one, a 250w heat lamp in the other and they have independent switches right at the bulbs. That heat lamp helps! A modest heater (~500w or so) would most times be sufficient in tandem with the heat lamp. And size matters. I can keep the Holmes in the kitchen.

Suggestions? Thanks for considered recommendations!

My Holmes HFH-512 (Oct. 1994):
Holmes HFH-512 Space Heater.jpg
 
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herm0016

Diamond Member
Feb 26, 2005
8,103
807
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we have had this one for years, have used it for several things, but most recently in a greenhouse in the winter, harsh conditions. it has been great, the thermostat works good and its very safe being an oil filled. provides some radient heat to make you feel warmer rather than just some hot air.

it never really gets so hot as to "burn off" because the mineral oil in the radiator absorbs the heat and lets it out slowly. all the heat parts are metal and none of it will get so hot as to "burn" anything or give off bad odors, gases, etc. looks like the min setting may be 700, but with the thermostat should still work out just fine.
 
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shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
81,411
14,541
126
I like the oil radiator type.
The other designs have always been a fire hazard. More or less dangerous depending on the design. Ceramics are definitely safer than the pulled spring variety.
 

shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
81,411
14,541
126
Also, the Vornado fan heaters are dangerous. Modern Vornado fans are garbage compared to the old days. And if the fan dies you just have a heating coil getting hotter and hotter and threatening to melt.
I've watched two of them die in less than a year. No more.



 

Captante

Lifer
Oct 20, 2003
23,003
5,072
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Another vote for the oil-filled models if you want the heat to hang around so you can wake up to a warm bedroom. They are also safer then "radiant" heaters which pose a risk of setting something on fire by contact since the oil-types don't get nearly as hot.

One major downside however is that they take awhile to get to full operating temp and then awhile longer to warm the room so not ideal if your looking for "quick" heat.

Not all forced-air radiant heaters are dangerous provided they're used as intended and they will generate heat very quickly. However I would hesitate to leave one running while I slept due to fire-risk and the heat doesn't last once the element shuts off.


Something like these mounted properly might work & is safe:

750-Watt/1500-Watt Dual Quartz Electric Indoor Ceiling Heater

*($100 @ Home Depot for example)

 
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Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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The modern oiled filled ones have a weak point at the thermostat sensor. Too high of a current(aka normal use at 1500W) can cause it to fail.

I picked up a free one that was tossed out. Fired it up and it "worked", but after leaving it on, I noticed the thermostat was a rather inconsistent. It ultimately did die.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,165
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126
THESE FUCKERS ARE INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS!


DONT EVER USE THEM!



The one I have that makes a racket is similar to that. Years ago I installed a switch that turns off the heating coil, so I can use it as a fan. That switch you see here doesn't exist on mine. You turn it off by turning the knob counterclockwise to the end of range. Its thermostat seems to work fine but it's total guesswork where to set it. I only use it in the bathroom when I'm cutting my hair in cold weather! Never leave the room, sit it on the toilet seat.
Also, the Vornado fan heaters are dangerous. Modern Vornado fans are garbage compared to the old days. And if the fan dies you just have a heating coil getting hotter and hotter and threatening to melt.
I've watched two of them die in less than a year. No more.



Last night I checked out Consumer Reports page (Feb. 2021 issue, page 13) on space heaters. Their top one was the Vornado VMH600 at $160. I had read some very negative reviews of the Vornados on Amazon. That CR coverage on space heaters is incredibly scanty and worthless.
 
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shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
81,411
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you know what? Consumer Reports is very frequently wrong. They often miss dangerous or faulty items and even give them glowing reviews. I've seen it more than once.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
62,599
9,758
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Wait, how have you been heating the house with no central heat? I would focus on fixing the furnace, though given it's age it's probably worth looking at replacing with a high efficiency condensing furnace. A heat pump might be worth looking at too, they've come a long way. Some can work down to -30.

If you have abundance of free or cheap electricity, baseboard rads might be worth looking into otherwise it's going to cost a lot. As far as plug in heaters the oil filled ones are probably the safest. I'd get some heat trace wire for the pipes too if you'll be without heat for long. I need to do the same actually, the texas incident a while back made me realize I'm not all that well prepared for a situation that I lose heat/power for long. The heat trace wire could run off solar at least.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
87,707
10,733
126
Wait, how have you been heating the house with no central heat? I would focus on fixing the furnace, though given it's age it's probably worth looking at replacing with a high efficiency condensing furnace. A heat pump might be worth looking at too, they've come a long way. Some can work down to -30.

If you have abundance of free or cheap electricity, baseboard rads might be worth looking into otherwise it's going to cost a lot. As far as plug in heaters the oil filled ones are probably the safest. I'd get some heat trace wire for the pipes too if you'll be without heat for long. I need to do the same actually, the texas incident a while back made me realize I'm not all that well prepared for a situation that I lose heat/power for long. The heat trace wire could run off solar at least.

California electricity ain't cheap.
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
55,515
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I'll throw in with the oil filled heaters too, and not because they're safe, but because they work well. They heat up slowly, but they seem to do a better job of heating a room more evenly, rather than the "spot" heaters that feel awesome when you're right in front of them, but not so much when you step away. I have an oil filled baseboard type heater, but I haven't used it in awhile.
 

herm0016

Diamond Member
Feb 26, 2005
8,103
807
126
Wait, how have you been heating the house with no central heat? I would focus on fixing the furnace, though given it's age it's probably worth looking at replacing with a high efficiency condensing furnace. A heat pump might be worth looking at too, they've come a long way. Some can work down to -30.

If you have abundance of free or cheap electricity, baseboard rads might be worth looking into otherwise it's going to cost a lot. As far as plug in heaters the oil filled ones are probably the safest. I'd get some heat trace wire for the pipes too if you'll be without heat for long. I need to do the same actually, the texas incident a while back made me realize I'm not all that well prepared for a situation that I lose heat/power for long. The heat trace wire could run off solar at least.
dude, the avg temp is probably 50f degrees in the winter. he does not live in the frozen north. if he looses power in the winter he grabs an extra blanket and has no worries about the pipes freezing.
 
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MrSquished

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Jan 14, 2013
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dude, the avg temp is probably 50f degrees in the winter. he does not live in the frozen north. if he looses power in the winter he grabs an extra blanket and has no worries about the pipes freezing.
My buddy lived in Alameda for a bit and I went to visit him there like 15 years ago. He had no central heat or air and it was then I learned about the climate of the Bay area.
 
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Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
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Wait, how have you been heating the house with no central heat? I would focus on fixing the furnace, though given it's age it's probably worth looking at replacing with a high efficiency condensing furnace. A heat pump might be worth looking at too, they've come a long way. Some can work down to -30.

If you have abundance of free or cheap electricity, baseboard rads might be worth looking into otherwise it's going to cost a lot. As far as plug in heaters the oil filled ones are probably the safest. I'd get some heat trace wire for the pipes too if you'll be without heat for long. I need to do the same actually, the texas incident a while back made me realize I'm not all that well prepared for a situation that I lose heat/power for long. The heat trace wire could run off solar at least.
Your situation, being in Canada, is way different from mine. I'm in Berkeley, CA, about 10 miles from San Francisco, across the bay. I've been living here continuously since 1973, was here for around 3-4 years earlier, in undergraduate studies. I have never seen a single snow flake here!!! The coldest it's been was almost 30 years ago. There was a cold snap and I think nighttime outdoor temperature got down to maybe 26F. In the kitchen it was 40F in the morning. My ~5 roommates had all gone away for a week or two, it was Xmas time, IIRC. It was just me here. Since the kitchen was the temperature of the interior of the fridge, I just left fridge food on the counter!

It rarely gets anywhere near that cold generally. A couple nights ago my outdoors thermometer showed 33F at the coldest (I have a battery operated interior thermometer whose sensor is outside, and at the press of either of two buttons it shows max and min temperature since midnight).

Inside my bedroom, a maybe typical deep winter day will be ~52F in the bedroom early in the morning (different thermometer, I have a couple in the bedroom). This last week it was maybe 3-4 F cooler.

That old heater in the crawlspace, I'm sure it's useless, besides that it's ancient, maybe from the 50s, maybe earlier, I have no idea. A new heating system, well, I was talking to my nextdoor neighbor today. He had some ideas on what I could do when I spoke with him some years ago, I should ask him again. He said he's personally installed a couple of whole house heating systems (i.e. central heating). Part of my reticence is my environmentalism, also I can be kind of a cheapskate. I've never been a guy who lets money burn a hole in his pocket.

I too am thinking about what situation I'd be in if I lose power for a significant stretch. I figure (hope) to buy a generator and set it up so I can get quick power to the house. I don't think I need a monster generator, something modest would suffice for me, is my guess. It's just me here. The fridge uses average 1.25kwh/day. My lights? They're all LED or CFL. A heater part time in the coldest weather won't amount to much if it's only drawing ~500w. Maybe ~$1200 for a Honda generator. I would maybe need to get an electrician over here to set up the connection, also I need to have my service changed from duplex to single family, I did that with the city planning department after buying the house but the electricity setup's the same.
dude, the avg temp is probably 50f degrees in the winter. he does not live in the frozen north. if he looses power in the winter he grabs an extra blanket and has no worries about the pipes freezing.
Spot on!
With climate change the weather is all screwed up these days so it's best to be prepared for cold snaps no matter where you live.
There's something to that.
 
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Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
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So, today I ordered this, which I'd had in my Amazon cart:

Amazon Basics 500-Watt Ceramic Small Space Personal Mini Heater - White

I'd have ordered the blue one but it's OOS. ~$24.

What convinced me were these factors:

1. 500w is probably my preferred output.
2. Of the heaters I saw that had that setting, or close, it was the only one that didn't have a lot of negative reviews.
3. A guy said it had no bad smells (a biggie for me).
4. I saw several places caution to NOT have a space heater on an extension cord under any circumstances.

4. was the clincher. My bedroom has ONE OUTLET! It's on the other side of the room from me in my bed. It's behind a big chest of drawers! I have a power strip plugged into that outlet and everything else in the room is powered from it, including several other power strips and extensions cords. It's beyond unconventional. Now, I don't run a lot in the bedroom. There's a newish 43" 4K Roku TV, my stereo, which is just a solid state receiver and 2 sets of speakers, not high wattage. There's a couple 300 CD players that use very little juice. Some lights, including the overhead lights, which don't plug into the wall, but they are on the same circuit. Quite a lot in my house is on that circuit. I had its circuit breaker flip off a couple weeks ago, first time in over a dozen years, probably more. I think both my Lasko heaters were going, which I shouldn't have done. Actually, I think the kitchen outlets are supposed to be on a different circuit, I'll have to check that. Anyway, the Laskos are going back to Costco in two days.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
33,165
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My buddy lived in Alameda for a bit and I went to visit him there like 15 years ago. He had no central heat or air and it was then I learned about the climate of the Bay area.
I like the weather here. I grew up in L.A., where it seemed like we didn't have weather. The winter was cooler, but not by all that much and it rained about 1/2 as much as the Bay Area. It feels like we have seasons, L.A. almost didn't. But it's nothing like the north or eastern US with all the snow. Also, we don't get threatening weather like the mid-west and south-east. It's interesting without being very stressful.
 

MrSquished

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Jan 14, 2013
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I like the weather here. I grew up in L.A., where it seemed like we didn't have weather. The winter was cooler, but not by all that much and it rained about 1/2 as much as the Bay Area. It feels like we have seasons, L.A. almost didn't. But it's nothing like the north or eastern US with all the snow. Also, we don't get threatening weather like the mid-west and south-east. It's interesting without being very stressful.
The Bay Area is a really beautiful part of the country, and as far as where big cities are located too, it's top notch. It's geographically stunning, lots of natural beauty nearby, near the ocean, mild climate, some diversity - It makes a lot of sense why it became so desirable to live there - which unfortunately with old fashioned housing policy just made it so expensive.
 
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Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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So, today I ordered this, which I'd had in my Amazon cart:

Amazon Basics 500-Watt Ceramic Small Space Personal Mini Heater - White

I'd have ordered the blue one but it's OOS. ~$24.

What convinced me were these factors:

1. 500w is probably my preferred output.
2. Of the heaters I saw that had that setting, or close, it was the only one that didn't have a lot of negative reviews.
3. A guy said it had no bad smells (a biggie for me).
4. I saw several places caution to NOT have a space heater on an extension cord under any circumstances.

4. was the clincher. My bedroom has ONE OUTLET! It's on the other side of the room from me in my bed. It's behind a big chest of drawers! I have a power strip plugged into that outlet and everything else in the room is powered from it, including several other power strips and extensions cords. It's beyond unconventional. Now, I don't run a lot in the bedroom. There's a newish 43" 4K Roku TV, my stereo, which is just a solid state receiver and 2 sets of speakers, not high wattage. There's a couple 300 CD players that use very little juice. Some lights, including the overhead lights, which don't plug into the wall, but they are on the same circuit. Quite a lot in my house is on that circuit. I had its circuit breaker flip off a couple weeks ago, first time in over a dozen years, probably more. I think both my Lasko heaters were going, which I shouldn't have done. Actually, I think the kitchen outlets are supposed to be on a different circuit, I'll have to check that. Anyway, the Laskos are going back to Costco in two days.
500 watts is child's play even for 16 gauge extension cords. They are indeed fire hazards if used at the full wattage(1500) on a circuit.
 
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