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Heater Buying Guide

Choose the best heater for your home. From space heaters and electric fireplaces to wood stoves and gas fireplaces, there are several options to consider.

Infrared Quartz Electric Fireplace.

What to Look for When Purchasing a Heater

Wood Pellet Stove.

British thermal units (BTU) measure how much heat the unit puts out. The BTU rating determines how much space the unit can heat safely and effectively.

Variable settings allow you to set the unit's heat output and its energy / fuel consumption. During warmer periods or in smaller spaces, you can turn the heater down and conserve energy / fuel.

Built-in blowers and fans or oscillating units distribute heat more evenly over a greater area. This will save energy / fuel and increase the overall comfort level in the space being heated.

Portability allows users to heat or supplement the heat in specific areas.

Built-in safety features — such as automatic shutoffs, anti-tipping devices and heat guards — make heaters more user-friendly and give you peace of mind.

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Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for using and placing a heating device.

Electric Space Heaters

Electric Space Heater.

In electric heating, options range from small personal heaters that will fit on a table to large heaters designed to heat entire rooms. Most small electric heaters have a wire-resistance coil or a ribbon strip that provides heat when electricity is supplied. Some of these models have ceramic casings that hold more heat for longer periods than basic models, making them more efficient. Some personal heaters also come with blowers or oscillating features that allow them to project heat over a larger area quickly. Small personal heaters are a good choice for heating specific areas quickly.

Larger electric heaters, like those designed to warm entire rooms, may be permanently filled with oil to allow them to hold and radiate heat for long periods. This design allows the heating element to cycle on fewer times and save energy while heating a larger area. These heaters usually take longer to warm up than personal heaters, but they'll heat a much larger area and do it more efficiently.

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Permanent or Fixed Electric Heaters

Electric Fireplace.

When you need a more permanent solution, you can choose from baseboard heating elements, wall-mount units or electric fireplaces.

Electric baseboard heaters have a resistance coil that works much like a coil in a personal heater. The differences are that the baseboard units are much larger, heat more efficiently and can be wired to a wall-mounted thermostat.

Fan-forced electric heaters are normally small rectangular boxes that mount directly to the wall. The heater has a built-in fan that moves the heated air throughout the room. This design allows these small heaters to quickly and effectively bring an entire room up to a comfortable temperature.

Electric fireplaces come with hearths and mantels that simulate actual wood-burning fireplaces without the expense of adding a brick-and-mortar fireplace. These heaters combine the convenience of electric heat with the comfort of a traditional wood-burning fireplace. In warm months, the heating element in some electric fireplaces may be turned off to create an ambient fire without the heat.

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Wood Heaters

Wood heaters are available as either traditional wood-burning stoves or as pellet stoves. Traditional wood stoves burn logs from 18 inches to 22 inches long to generate heat. Pellet stoves burn specially manufactured hardwood pellets that produce a lot of heat and very little ash.

Some stoves have glass fronts that allow you to enjoy the dancing flames, while taking advantage of superior heating. Look for a stove with an ash drawer to make cleanup easier and safer.

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Gas Heaters

Gas Fireplace.

Gas heaters are available as either natural gas or liquid propane (LP) burning units. The type of fuel you use will largely be determined by availability in your area. You'll also be able to choose between free-standing gas heaters, wall-mounted gas heaters, gas logs and freestanding units that resemble wood stoves. Some gas heaters require a vent stack to the outside of the home; these units are commonly called vented logs. Vent-free heaters can be installed anywhere in the home without the need to vent or exhaust gasses to the homes' exterior.

The availability and cost of fuels and energy sources varies by location. When choosing your heater, be sure to consider both of these elements before making your selection.

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