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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    103

    Best space heater technology with least IAQ impact?

    I want to get a space heater to supplement my HVAC system and get the room I'm occupying a few degrees warmer. I've read up on radiant oil filled, infrared quartz, and mica panel heaters, as well as fan-based ceramic convection heaters.

    It seems like a lot of people complain about these things offgassing (often for more than a few hours...try weeks.) There are complaints about sparking (mica panel), oxygen depletion, drying out the air too much (convection), toxic finishes offgassing, plastic cabinets and glues that get hot and offgass, and tephlon coatings that offgass.

    I'm going to be putting this in a bedroom (where I'll be trying to sleep) and I'm pretty sensitive to odors.

    Can someone direct me to the safest space heater technology that will have the least impact on IAQ?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    103
    Wow. I thought someone would have a clue. No easy answers?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    907
    Heaters that have elements getting hot enough to burn hair or dust, would have an impact on IAQ. I remember a heater that we used to run on low heat and never put on high for years. When we put it on high once, it started to produce very strong and unpleasant burnt odors. It was as if accumulated dust suddenly was smoking on the elements. We cleaned it and it was fine afterwards, but the cleaning was a pain. Given that partial combustion products (smoke) are often carcinogens, I'd say that the best heaters for IAQ are those that are easily cleaned and distribute the heat well over a large surface area. I'm thinking of getting a radiant heater panel to put under my desk -- easily cleaned, large surface, and one reviewer complains that "Even on High, you only feel the heat if you're virtually pressed against the panel". To me that means hair and dust is unlikely to burn, and I'm unlikely to burn myself by touching it.

    Another concern is safety. There are some heaters that shut off only when they overheat, as opposed to others that shut off immediately when they're tipped. I don't like the ones that wait for high heat before shutting off.
    -If you won't turn it on then nothing else matters.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    907
    After reading reviews of mica panels, it seems that technology needs reliability improvements.
    -If you won't turn it on then nothing else matters.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    4H: Hot, Humid Houston H.O.
    Posts
    3,304
    Quote Originally Posted by Ziocarl View Post
    I want to get a space heater to supplement my HVAC system and get the room I'm occupying a few degrees warmer. I've read up on radiant oil filled, infrared quartz, and mica panel heaters, as well as fan-based ceramic convection heaters.

    It seems like a lot of people complain about these things offgassing (often for more than a few hours...try weeks.) There are complaints about sparking (mica panel), oxygen depletion, drying out the air too much (convection), toxic finishes offgassing, plastic cabinets and glues that get hot and offgass, and tephlon coatings that offgass.

    I'm going to be putting this in a bedroom (where I'll be trying to sleep) and I'm pretty sensitive to odors.

    Can someone direct me to the safest space heater technology that will have the least impact on IAQ?

    Thanks!
    I want to question the idea that heaters dry out the air. I am thinking electric powered things, they ought to leave the absolute humidity exactly as it was before. The relative humidity will vary only because of temperature difference in the room, which ought to be negligible. Outside air infiltration ought to be a greater threat to excessively dry air.

    Anything that gets really hot will have the potential to burn dust and airborne stuff that settles on the heating elements. After some usage the stuff may be all burned and the smell problem goes away. Radiant oil filled heaters ought to have little or none of that anytime because the element exposed to air is at a lower temperature. I live in S.Texas and some of this heating study is book learnin' and not experience... but the laws of physics are the same wherever you live.

    Best of luck -- Pstu

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    103
    pmeunier,

    I think I read the reviews for the panel "that barely gets warm enough," but I can't remember which it was. Which one were you thinking of buying? I really wanted to try the mica one out, but was also scared away by the reports of "bright orange glowing holes appearing in the casing."

    I think the issue with smells, though, is more related to the materials used in the heater that get too hot. Most poeple complain of paint or solvent-like smells. I've also read of some heaters utilizing tephlon coatings, probably in order to reduce the amount of dust that collects in the unit. I don't want to breath tephlon fumes all night.

    What to do, what to do.....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    4H: Hot, Humid Houston H.O.
    Posts
    3,304
    If it's really teflon, I don't think you will be breathing any fumes from that. It would be grossly irresponsible to heat teflon to the temperature where it breaks down, in a consumer appliance. Big lawsuit waiting to happen, the mfg knows it so won't built that way.

    Best of luck -- Pstu

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    77
    I've tried the radiant oil heaters. I don't like them. They're too slow and don't seem to do much in regards to heating the room. About the only good thing is they're quiet.

    Typical 1500 watt ceramic fan heater will gum up with dust unless you wash the mesh filter out in the sink every so often. Even then, every couple years, you'd be best to take the thing entirely apart and clean out the internals of the unit.

    Vornado heater is my personal favourite. It has large air holes, so you don't get them gunked up with dust. Variable heat output and variable fan speed (Get the DVH model). They're also the only heater I know that REALLY circulates the air in the room like it should. They are very comfortable heaters. And the thermostat on the digital DVH model is surprisingly accurate.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    997
    Oil filled is the only way to go. I have one and it will heat my 28 x 27 basement very quickly! Once hot about five minutes they will really roll. Plus once turned off they will stay hot for a bit.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    103
    I've read that oil filled heaters can leak and/or offgas. Do you smell anything when it's running?

    I've also heard that they can make a pinging noise as the metal expands and contracts.

    I have a small vornado in my bedroom, but even that low fan noise is too much for me sometimes. Anyone know of a super quiet convection heater?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    997
    I have two for about 8 years. Mine have never leaked. But at $40 if they do just pitch them. As with any heaters first time it's on I'm sure they will burn of the dust. Mine make no noise.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    las vegas
    Posts
    1,505
    we have several oil filled & the newest one is probably 10 yrs old.
    no odors or leaks worst problem is wheels need lubed occasionally.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    103
    Can you guys recommend brands/models of oil filled heaters?

    Also, wouldn't most of the heat just head straight up to the ceiling? At least with a convection unit, it keeps moving that hot air around.

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