The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

January 13, 2014

Space heaters should be placed for safety, effectiveness

DANVILLE – Portable space heaters are an effective way to raise the temperature in a household, but users should know what the limits of the devices are.

“They need to know what kind of an area they’re looking to heat and what the capacity of the heater is,” said Becky Brown, manager at Cole’s Hardware. A buyer should not expect a heater to do any more than it is capable of, she said.

The vast majority of space heaters are 1,500 watt heaters, which will generate about 5,000 BTUs. A BTU is a heat measurement known as a “British thermal unit.”

Most people are not aware of the BTU measurements, Brown said. “Different styles of heaters can be more efficient in their use of that 1,500 watts, but they will still only give 5,000 BTUs,” Brown said. “They’re expecting it (the heater) to heat half the house because that’s what they want it to do,” but the appliance will always be limited by the number of BTUs it can generate.

Some heaters will be advertised as being able to heat so many numbers of square feet, but buyers should check the fine print as that could just be supplemental heat provided to that area, not primary heat.

“Placement is a big issue. It needs to be securely plugged into an outlet” and away from any combustible materials, Brown said. “If the plug is loose in the outlet, that can arc and generate heat,” which could melt plugs, cords and outlets. A space heater should preferably not be plugged in via a regular extension cord but with a heavy gauge wire that can safely handle the heater’s electrical load.


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