Heating a confined space under a roof has become crucial in maintaining adequate warmth during freezing cold temperatures, especially during the cold season.

What Heaters Are Safe To Leave On Overnight?

If they are working stable and especially if the thermostat is totally functional, there is no worry to leave oil-filled radiator heaters turned on overnight.

Be sure to not leave anything flammable near or on the top of them. Click to read more

But how do we maintain a warm, cozy environment within the layered walls of our homes or even office buildings – while hail and snow pummel against our glass windows in a frenzy, threatening to bring along the icy touch of winter on her wings?

To combat this, most people have relegated themselves to using heating equipment such as heaters to thermoregulate their indoor environment.

You certainly wouldn’t want to work under negative zero conditions, with your fingers frozen to the keyboard of your office computer, would you?

Likewise, I’m pretty sure no one relishes in having to endure shivering cold temperatures in their own sacred sanctum – namely, their home.

As heaters have become a necessity over the decades to maintain a warm, stable environment within any confined space, years of research and technology has birthed the creation of a more portable heating device – namely, the space heater.

What Is A Space Heater?

It is crucial to explore the miscellany of safety tips and tricks regarding the installation and usage of your space heater.

But before we dive in into the do’s and don’ts of setting up, owning and utilizing your very own space heater, let’s explore another popular type of space heater which is commonly used in homes scattered around the globe, shall we?

I know what you’re thinking. One look at the word ‘space heater’, and your thoughts wander towards all the cheesy Sci-Fi 80’s flicks on television.

Contrary to its name, the space heater has nothing to do with ‘space’ – or rather, the black vacant place between the diamond-bright stars studding the heavens.

A space heater is actually a small device that is utilized to thermoregulate and provide warmth within a single, confined area. Think of your bedroom or even the office. It’s small, confined, and closed in.

There’s limited air circulation, but this doesn’t make it impervious to being hounded by freezing cold temperatures, especially during a fierce winter storm outside the building.

In contrast to central heating, which is mostly utilized to provide warmth throughout connected areas such as the labyrinth of rooms within an office tower or even your own home, space heaters merely provide enough heat to warm up a single space.

Space heaters are designed exclusively to be energy efficient and therefore operate on either electricity or fuel such as propane, natural gas or even wood pellets.

Smaller space heaters are designed solely on the basis of portability and mostly run on electricity. A space heater this size is usually used to heat up a very minute area such as an outdoor tent (during camping) or perhaps even a work shed.

Space Heater Safety Tips

Let’s look at the major concerns and solutions to operate a ceramic space heater safely..

Is It Safe To Leave My Space Heater On?

It is not safe to leave a space heater unattended. Whenever you exit the room, it is best to turn it off before leaving. Space heaters can pose as a fire hazard, as mentioned previously.

Here is an image shared by an user, who left a space heater on overnight. The wooden floor is almost burnt and luckily did not catch fire. Read complete review here

Burnt wooden floor caused by leaving space heater on overnight.

Due to this, it is always best to keep it switched off when no one is present in the room. Also, space heaters consume electricity whenever they are turned on.

Thus, leaving a room with a space heater running at full capacity will not only be costly, but is also a waste of energy.

Can I Sleep With A Space Heater On?

Simply put, no, this is not advisable either. Space heaters emit a gas called carbon monoxide, which has also earned its nickname as the ‘silent killer’.

Two in five deaths in space heater fires involve portable electric space heaters.

Space heaters account for 43 percent of U.S. home heating fires and 85 percent of associated deaths.

When you are asleep, you are blissfully unaware of your surroundings or the tick of a clock handle. Continuous inhalation of carbon monoxide will also catch you unawares while you are sheltered under the wings of heavy sleep.

Are Ceramic Heaters Safe To Leave On Overnight?

It is ill-advised to leave any sort of heater unattended, even overnight. Although ceramic heaters run solely on electricity, this does not make them completely immune to burning out or short-circuiting, especially when it is not installed, used or maintained correctly.

Never plug your space heater into an extension cord or power strip. Your space heater uses a lot of power to operate, and these temporary solutions aren't designed to handle the heat.

Ceramic space heater’s extension cord may melt, spark or otherwise become a real fire hazard that ignites a serious blaze.

When you are asleep overnight, you are most likely unaware if the heater malfunctions or even short-circuits. The risk of incurring a fire, especially when you’re asleep, is significantly increased.

Although the exterior plastic covering of the ceramic heater remains cool at all times, a malfunctioning heater will still pose as a major safety or fire hazard regardless. Thus, it is best you turn off your ceramic heater before turning in for the night.

Can I Leave Space Heater On All Night?

Once again, no matter what type of space heater is being used and what safety features it has, this is highly not recommended. Continuous contact with heated air can actually dry out your skin.

This can cause cracks on the outer layer of any patch of exposed skin, and in worst circumstances, lead to peeling and even bleeding including other health issues. Space heaters can also dry out your nasal passages, which can cause ruptures of the tiny blood vessels inside your nose, and eventually lead to a bloody nose.

Read complete guide on health issues related to electric, ceramic and space heater usage here.

Can I Leave Space Heater Plugged In?

Admittedly, it is very tempting to leave a space heater plugged in, so that you may return to a warm and cozy room anytime. Logically, this is not a good idea. Accidents tend to happen whenever carelessness comes into play.

A pet or a child might decide to touch the heater the moment you turn your back and sustain a horrible burn or injury.

Once you find the perfect space heater for you and your home, there are still some pet-safety aspects to consider. If you have a cat, avoid placing the heater on a tabletop. Cats enjoy jumping and climbing, which means there's a good chance they'll use the heater as their new playground.

This dog loves it too as now he sleeps in front of it.

A space heater might also tip over and fall on the floor, thus coming into contact with upholstered furniture, the carpet – or basically any highly flammable object which will pose as a major fire hazard.

If you truly need to keep a room heated while you are away, always make sure another adult is present in the room to ensure that the heater does not fall over while you are gone. Otherwise, it would be best to switch off the space heater when you exit the room, and simply switch it back on again when you return.

Where Do I Place My Space Heater?

The most crucial aspect of placement lies in one simple thing: space! Space heaters need a radius of at least one meter or more from the nearest object which could pose as a potential fire hazard.

This includes curtains, bedding, furniture, rugs, blankets, and even carpets. It is always best to place a space heater as far away from any object that you might deem as highly flammable.

A space heater also needs to be positioned at least three-feet-away from any humans or living creatures.

Placing yourself too close to your heater will not only create discomfort, but it will also allow small children or animals to wander too close to your device.

The chances of incurring burns can be lowered significantly if a space heater is positioned as far away from people or animals as possible, such as the corner of a room and away from any windows.Ceramic heaters use an internal ceramic heating element. Capable of regulating its own temperature without the use of wiring and coils to generate heat, the ceramic heating element uses its positive temperature coefficient to self-regulate its own temperature, reducing its temperature as the desired heater temperature is reached.

You must also place your space heater on a level surface. This is to lessen the chance of it tipping over. Thus, it would be better to position your space heater on the floor rather than on a rug or even carpet. You should also never allow your space heater to be positioned near any wet objects or water sources such as the kitchen sink, bathroom or even fish aquarium.

Remember, some space heaters such as ceramic heaters run purely on electricity. It is very easy for a space heater to become a shock hazard when the device comes into contact with water.

Can A Space Heater Start a Fire?

Any heating device is capable of initiating a fire, if left unattended, or if the device sustains damage during installation or usage. Space heaters are no different. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) estimated that less than 10% of house fires in North America were attributed to space heaters.

The main reason behind these fires were usually due to the placement of the space heater near highly flammable objects, especially the cotton fabrics of curtains and bedspreads. 85% of deaths of people caught in household fires were also linked to space heaters.

Additionally, easily 25, 000 house fires were triggered by space heaters every year, according to a report by the United States Product Safety Commission. So, yes, space heaters can easily start a fire.

How Does Carbon monoxide From Heaters Kill?

The carbon monoxide emitted as a byproduct of the space heater’s heat radiation usually enters through your nasal passages as you inhale in your sleep. The gas will not only dry out your sinuses, but it will also bind to the hemoglobin located in your red blood cells in favor of oxygen.

As more and more carbon monoxide binds to your hemoglobin, the amount of oxygen that binds to your red blood cells decreases over a period of time.

Eventually, the amount of oxygen circulating through your veins is so little that your tissues began to deteriorate, and your organs begin to fail one by one.

Thus, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide will lead eventually lead to fatality. The estimated time for complete carbon monoxide poisoning usually depends on the amount of carbon monoxide generated by the space heater and the amount inhaled by your body.

If ever you awaken while being poisoned, you will usually feel an overwhelming sense of fatigue, ataxia (loss of coordination), sluggish and even nausea. Should you live through the poisoning, the recovery period is anywhere between five to six weeks. The price for comfort and warmth is steep, and ultimately, it is not worth jeopardizing your life or your health for.

However, if temperatures have indeed plummeted in your household and the cold has become intolerable, it is best to keep your space heater on at most, two hours before you tuck yourself under your bedcovers.

Dangers Of Leaving Space Heaters Un-Attended And Powered-On

Any space heater can pose a safety hazard. A lot of meticulous care needs to be focused on proper installation, usage, and maintenance to ensure that a space heater functions adequately at an optimal and safe level that doesn’t threaten the lives of your family or even coworkers.

Here is a short list of why space heaters can be dangerous if they are left on:

Shock Hazard

All electrical devices present a shock hazard to anyone, anytime, especially if plugged in incorrectly or if the device is faulty, defective or damaged.

Space heaters consume a lot of electricity to be converted into thermal energy and keep you toasty and warm. Overloading circuits are especially common in most households, and this can trigger a massive power failure, or worst – a fire.

Fire Hazard

Not all space heaters are built equally in terms of shape, design or even weight. Some of the taller space heaters can easily tip over and fall, thus resulting in a potential fire hazard.

Space heaters that come into contact with highly flammable material such as cloth or even curtains can very easily set the whole house on fire before you even know it.

Burns

Not all space heaters are equal to a ceramic heater in terms of warmth output or exterior casing protection. Some space heaters or even bar heaters and paraffin heaters possess extremely hot exteriors, which is dangerous towards pets and children, which are most likely to come into contact with the heater due to curiosity.

One accidental brush of the paw or sticky little finger and you will most likely end up spending your night at either the vet’s or ER trauma unit, cradling either your best friend or your child. All it takes is one moment of carelessness or ignorance, and the result could be a nasty burn.

Property Damage

As a standing fire hazard, space heaters can result in massive property damage. Once a space heater malfunctions or tips over, it’s usually game over.

It is also a common mistake for people to put items or flammable objects on a space heater, under the notion that the item would ‘warm up’ or ‘dry out’ quicker.

While this gesture might seem harmless at the start, the one major element people disregard is that a space heater generates heat – and can therefore easily start a fire by burning the items piled upon it.

Every year, hundreds of people lose their homes around the world due to a heating device of some sort.

Further Reads :

  1. https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Fire-statistics/Fire-causes/Appliances-and-equipment/Heating-equipment
  2. https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Smoke-alarms