Heating With Electric Heaters.
Often times certain rooms in a home are not warm enough, [I will get into the reasons later] so as a result people are using small space heaters to supplement, or even heat their entire home. One thing that concerns me, I see time and time again, is people heating with electric space heaters unsafely. I'm going to go over some basic rules for space heaters that is worth mentioning because every year there are dozens of fires are started by electric space heaters, but no public servants are speaking out or warning people.
All space heaters are not created equal:
Your local hardware and box stores have a wide array of electric space heaters, unfortunately most of us are Nineveh enough to trust our government to protect us from unsafe products. Though many products fall through the cracks.
-First culprit is low quality heaters; anything extremely cheep, is generally to good to be true. Almost all heaters advertise the "1500 Watt" output, though very few put out near that much energy...thought they may use that amount and run up your electric bill. those fancy oscillating, plastic heaters often don't produce any more heat than a warm fart. they often have many moving parts and fans that are made out of the cheapest products corporations can come up with, so that they last just long enough for you to throw it away, n buy a new one, thus keeping the profits rolling in. Problem is, when those moving parts implode, they can create a short within the unit that can start a fire.
-Second culprit is electric heaters with fans: Even the best of heaters are subject to wear and tear, those with moving parts are more susceptible than others. A good portion of heaters, have fans in them to move the heat, unfortunately this is a flaw in two ways; first the fan actually acts as a cooling fan, and takes the heat'n energy away. Second is the fan wears out with in a short period; today's products are design to break, even the better ones, you have to pay a lot of money to get good products now adays, n even a few of those are still made cheaply.
-Third culprit is "duty cycle": Perhaps the biggest ignorance[innocently not knowing] of people is the ability of the heater to use electricity safely. "duty cycle" is the ability of the appliance to operate and draw electricity over an extended period of time. Heavy duty professional heaters have duty cycle of 90%; meaning they can safely run for 55 minutes out of an hour, meaning, the heater has to shut off for 5 minutes, [not all at once, but a few seconds every few minutes; if it runs constantly, the risk of over heating and fire is increased...the more over the duty cycle one pushes it, the greater the risk of fire and harm.
Cheep heaters have a very low duty cycle; 50-60%; meaning for every 40 minutes creating heat, the heater requires to be shut off for 20 minutes. [again, not all at once, the heater could run for five minutes, n shut off for 1.
The problem arises when people [freezing their buts off] try to get as much heat as possible; cranking the heat settings to maximum, and thermostat to maximum so that the appliance is drawing the maximum amps, [more amps=more electricity] and NEVER shuts off, [what is called 100% duty cycle.] which is a recipe for disaster.
What Type of space heater is safer: When considering electric space heaters, heaters with no moving parts are usually better, [there are a few exceptions] no fans, n rotators, or cheap dollar style plastic heaters; quality heaters produce quality heat.
I personally heat with space heaters as a supplement to my wood heat when I am away, and when its not very cold. [5 degrees or less], I use the radiator style heaters, [$70] they have oil in them to transfer heat through convection, and a thermostat and three heat settings switch, [control amperage] 'n there are no moving parts. The only thing to watch for on radiator heaters is if they leak the oil out...the oil is used to transfer the heat from the element to the radiator. They can be used on average of three years, [with regular inspection for leaks or damage] before I replace them.
The radiant heater also comes in a mini version for about $30 that work well for small rooms such as bedrooms. again, keep it on medium, [except for extreme cold situations] and ALWAYS keep the thermostat no higher than two thirds so that it shuts off ever once in a while.
Ceramic heaters [that do have fans] do produce a fair amount of heat, and can be used periodically, though not recommended for constant heavy use for obvious reasons, that both the element and the fan wears out, these are usually good for about one year of moderate use before they are toast. and become a liability.
Infrared Heaters are the latest technology; good quality heaters, draw relatively lower amperage buy using a light bulb instead of resistor elements to create the heat. they generally have fans, though the high quality ones have good quality fans that are designed for 80-90% duty cycle based on their low amperage use. I do sell a high quality inferred heater for around $400 that can heat a large area. The difference between a high quality heater and low quality is in the thickness of the electrical cord, the larger the cord diameter, the more amperage that can pass through longer without causing over heating...this is usually an indicator that the internals are also heavier duty, n have a higher duty cycle.
How to tell when a heater is a risk: there are a number of indicator that indicate a better quality appliance; a few of them I have listed above, though the heater is just one part of the system; the wall plug that the heater is plugged into is also the other part of the equation. they to have duty cycle, and like a car, can only handle a certain number of hours use before they wear out and become the weak link that cause a horrible electrical fire. Inspection of the outlet by simply removing the cover to look for signs of wear, like burnt wires, or contacts. Inspection of outlets is best left to professionals; they can do a resistance test to test for any weak points in your electrical system, However, anyone with basic knowledge can do the initial inspection, though make sure to turn the power off at the fuse box before attempting such inspections.
When the heater is in use, check the electrical cord by holding it in your hand tightly to feel for heat; the electrical cord is usually a little warm over extended use, though if the cord is "hot" or very warm, then your chance of an electrical fire and damage to your electrical system is increased.
Listen to the appliance, you can hear the thermostat "click" on and off, make sure you hear it shut off a couple times an hour. even the heaters without a fan, you can hear a "click" if you pay attention.
and of course the old snaze; use your nose to smell the heater every once in while to smell for a burnt or melted plastic smell, also sparks are sometime visible, both in the heater, and where it plugs into the outlet. unplug the cord a couple times a year to check for visible melting where the plug goes in.
Future of heat:
The future of energy is not in LNG or smart meters as corporations would hope, its in personal power plants; solar, wind, and zero point energy, they are making great leaps and bounds in technology.
The future will see the banning of natural gas in residential out of pure necessity.
Past: Architects should be Shot!
For living in a first world country in the 21 century, today's modern homes are very inefficient, it almost appears to be done on purpose so corporations can sell homeowners as much energy as possible. For example, most homes built post war right up to the 90's had at least one fireplace, and most often two, sometimes three. The chimney's pre war use to be build in the middle of the home for optimum efficiency; you see in the old days wood and coal fires were their main source of both heating and cooking. Then along came capitalism, and enslavement to big corporations who wanted people to use as much of their product as possible, so government [who makes the building codes] was subrogated by lobbyist n those in power to allow design of houses that would increase the need for energy to keep it warm, not to mention instigate the vanity of gas fireplaces that often did nothing but provide a pretty picture.
The amount of extra energy that is required to heat the billions of homes in north america purely as a result of either ignorance or malice in the design is staggering. Poor design has contributed to climate change and toxic problems such as acid rain that most can't even begin to comprehend. Take your average 2400 square food home built in post war...two floors, two fireplaces; one above the other...ON THE OUTSIDE WALL OF THE HOME, with the entire fireplace sitting on the outside of the envelope of the home...only the face of the fireplace on the inside.
As a result of the chimney being on the outside, there air constantly convects, hot air rises, cold air falls; fireplaces installed for pure vanity, carefully designed not to produce any heat, end up being two giant holes in your home, much worse, these two holes are also cold sinks [devices used to remove heat] when they are sitting outside in the cold air...the colder they get, the more air that convects, sucking all your nice natural gas heated air inside the home, out throught the top fireplace chimney, [that rarely get used] while the down stairs has the extra special gift of constant cold air coming down the chimney downstairs...like a supper train wailing down the tracks at 600mph...the colder it gets outside, the faster and more cold air comes down, and nice $$$ heated hot air escapes out through the top fireplace. Any time there is a temperature differnce, the air moves like the wind blowing.
The fix is the installation of high efficiency wood inserts, designed to install into existing fireplaces, and produce large amounts of heat from wood that burns cleaner than natural gas. wood is carbon neutral, and a benefit and good insurance to man.
Today's homes should not use natural gas what so ever, it is very corrosive, both in its extraction, and its use. Natural gas is also getting very expensive even though its is found everywhere in the world in great supplies. Mark my words, natural gas will be banned...mother earth can not stomach it and corporate capitalism much longer.