Are you concerned about your space heater’s power cord getting hot? In this guide, we will examine your space heater’s cord together. As electrical engineers, we understand the importance of ensuring that your space heater is functioning safely and efficiently.

It’s important to note that some heat is expected from a space heater’s power cord. However, there are also many websites that spread panic about space heater cords overheating. Our approach is to remain calm and rational while investigating the situation. Let’s explore why a space heater’s power cord may get hot and what steps you can take to ensure its safety.

How Hot Should a Space Heater Cord Get?

We all know that space heaters can be a great way to heat specific areas of our homes or offices. However, it’s important to ensure that they are used safely. One potential safety concern is the temperature of the space heater cord. So, how hot should a space heater cord get?

oil filled space heater power cord temperature measurement

To answer this question, we conducted a test on two electric space heaters at home: an infrared heater and an oil-filled radiator. After running both heaters for 10 minutes, we used a Bosch laser thermometer to measure the temperature of their cords. The results showed that the cord of the infrared heater reached a temperature of 75.3°F (24°C), while the oil-filled radiator’s cord reached 94.4°F (34.7°C).

Based on our test, we can conclude that a space heater cord should not be “hot” to the touch. While the cord of the oil-filled radiator may feel warm, it is important to ensure that it does not get too hot, as this could be a safety hazard.

Why do space heater cords get hot?

Electric current heats up the power cord

We have observed that space heater cords get hot due to the electric current passing through them. When the electrons charge from the wall outlet to the space heater’s heating elements, they pass through the metal wire inside the power cord.

The more current the space heater draws from the wall outlet, the more electrons flow, and the more they bump into the wire’s metal atoms, creating heat.

This heat buildup is normal for regular power cords, and it is the reason why space heater cords get hot.

In our experiment, we used one 800W space heater and one 2,500W space heater. The power cord of the 2,500W space heater was warmer than the 800W space heater’s cord. This observation confirms that the stronger a space heater is, the hotter the power cord gets.

Heat coming from the space heater heats the power cord

We have also observed that the heat coming from the space heater can heat up the power cord. In our experiment, we noticed that the infrared heater’s cord temperature was very low.

One explanation is the lower wattage of that particular heater model. However, another reason the cord did not heat up as much is the directional heat of infrared heaters. Infrared heaters emit most of their heat as infrared heat and a small part of their heat through convection.

On the other hand, the oil-filled radiator’s cord gets a lot warmer. The higher power consumption (2,500W vs. 800W) is not the only explanation. We noticed parts of the cord getting warm simply because the oil-filled radiator also radiates heat toward the power cord.

The black power cord absorbs a lot of the heat and heats up.

To confirm that the oil-filled radiator’s heat is not the only reason for the cord heating up, we measured the temperature across the power cord. The cord was warm everywhere, which explains the heat up due to the electric current.

However, the closer we measured to the heater, the hotter it got. Space heater power cords can also get hot because the heater radiates heat directly at the cord. Large currents passing through the cord and external heat exposure add up.

In summary, space heater cords get hot due to the electric current passing through them and the heat coming from the space heater. The stronger the space heater, the hotter the power cord gets, and the closer the measurement to the heater, the hotter it gets.

It is essential to be aware of these factors to prevent any potential hazards.

Is my space heater power cord getting hot safe?

We understand that you may be concerned if your space heater power cord is getting hot. However, if your space heater is plugged into a wall outlet that meets its power specification, it is safe and expected for the power cord to get warm.

As we mentioned earlier, large currents will always generate some heat in a power cord. Additionally, some external heat exposure from the space heater radiating a part of its heat at the power cord is also expected.

It is important to note that while a warm power cord is normal, overheating is not expected and is always unsafe. If you notice that your space heater power cord is overheating or becoming too hot to touch, please unplug it immediately and seek professional assistance.

Safety checks for a space heater cord getting too hot

If you notice that your space heater cord is getting too hot, it is important to take immediate action to prevent any potential hazards. Follow these safety checks to ensure your space heater is safe to use:

1. Body temperature check:

To ensure your space heater cord is not getting too hot, perform a body temperature check. As a rule of thumb, your space heater’s power cord should never be hotter than your armpit, which is about body temperature.

This is a good reference point since it matches the temperature of a 2,500W space heater’s cord from a previous experiment. If your space heater cord is hotter than your armpit, it is recommended to unplug the space heater and investigate the cause of the overheating.

2. Heat fading away after turning space heater off check:

After turning off your space heater, leave it plugged into the wall outlet and check if the power cord remains hot. If the cord is still hot, it indicates that the space heater is drawing power from the wall outlet, which could be a sign of a short circuit or a broken part in the space heater’s internal electronics.

If the power cord remains hot after turning off the space heater, it is recommended to unplug it immediately and replace it with a new space heater.

3. Wall outlet heat up & discoloring check:

If you notice that your space heater power cord is turning brown, it is a sign that the cord is getting too hot. This could be due to bad quality cord or an electric fault that causes the cord to carry too much current.

It is important to note that discoloring can also occur due to light exposure or regular material aging, but the power cord usually gets a beige-to-yellow tint in these cases.

To prevent any potential hazards, it is recommended to replace the space heater cord if it is turning brown and investigate the cause of the overheating.

How to Fix a Space Heater Cord Getting Hot

If you notice that your space heater cord is getting too hot, it’s essential to address the issue promptly to prevent any potential hazards. Fortunately, fixing a space heater cord that is getting hot is quite simple if you have the right tools and skills. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Get a heavy-duty extension cord: We recommend the Clear Power heavy-duty extension cord, which you can find on Amazon.
  2. Disassemble your space heater: Open the side of the space heater where the power cord connects to.
  3. Locate the cord’s attachment and desolder the old wires.
  4. Cut the female end off the heavy-duty cord and strip the ends of the wires.
  5. Solder the new extension cord in place.
  6. Reassemble your space heater.

Replacing your space heater’s original power cord with a heavy-duty extension cord can fix overheating due to poor cord quality. However, if the issue persists after the cord replacement, it may be due to electronic issues that require professional attention.

What to do if you can’t fix your space heater cord getting hot

If you have tried to fix your space heater cord getting hot and have been unsuccessful, we recommend getting a new heater. The safety risk of running a potentially faulty space heater is too high, and getting it fixed can also be expensive. Additionally, if something goes wrong and the fixed heater starts a fire, you may have problems with your insurance.

Fortunately, there are many safe and affordable space heaters on the market. Our personal recommendation is the DeLonghi oil-filled radiator, which comes with built-in safety features, including overheat protection. DeLonghi oil-filled radiators can last for decades, so you won’t have to worry about buying replacement space heaters anytime soon.

Investing in a safe and reliable space heater is crucial for your home’s safety and your peace of mind. Don’t take any chances with a faulty space heater. Get a new one today and enjoy a warm and safe home.


In conclusion, it is normal for a power cord on a space heater to be warm, especially for units with higher wattage. However, it is important to distinguish between a warm cord and a dangerously overheating cord. With the knowledge gained from this guide, we can confidently make that distinction and ensure the safety of ourselves and our loved ones.