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As a polar blast sweeps through much of the country, it may be time to invest in a portable heater. Although they can be expensive to run, if you choose the right heater for your room size, and position it well, you'll be able to heat the space quickly and easily. But all heaters are not made equal. Here's what you need to know before before buying a heater.
Although electric heaters used to be considered dangerous, today they come with built-in safety features. However, these heaters are responsible for 43% of all home heating related fires and 85% of associated deaths every year, according to Choice, so when you're buying an electric heater, always make sure you're buying a reputable brand. If you're buying a second hand heater, check it hasn't been recalled, at recalls.gov.au.
Electric heaters don't need ventilation as they don't produce carbon monoxide, but always leave plenty of space around them, and don't leave them on all night. There are several types of electric heaters; oil-filled column heaters, radiant heaters, and convection and panel heaters.
Oil-filled column heaters
These don't burn oil, but use electricity to heat the oil that's sealed inside their columns. Some don't even contain oil, but other materials that work in the same way. They're ideal if you want to leave them switched on for long periods of time. Their surfaces don't get as hot as other types of electric heaters, but because they rely on natural convection, they can take longer to heat a room than other types of heater. If you want to move heat around the room faster, try using a ceiling fan on a very low speed to help it distribute heat more quickly. The De'Longhi DL2401TF 2,400W Oil Column Heater with Fan, $164 is a great option.
Panel or convection heaters
Panel heaters are often thin and flat, so can work well in small spaces. They draw cold air over an electric heating element. A fan speeds up heat dispersion, helping heat rooms quickly and evenly. The fans can be noisy, but if you switch them off, it can mean the heat rises - leaving you with cold feet! They're much lighter than oil-filled column heaters and will heat rooms very quickly. Some panel heaters can be expensive but he Noirot Spot Plus 7358-5T 1,500W Panel Heater with Timer, $399, is a good option, and also comes with a lifetime warranty.
Often called 'ceramic' heaters, these heaters are often smaller and designed to be more portable than other electric heaters. They're great at heating rooms fast, and are meant to be slightly safer than other heaters as the ceramic cools more quickly than metallic elements, meaning there's less risk of burns. The Dyson AM09 Hot+Cool Fan Heater, $494 performs well and looks good too.
Gas heaters are great for heating big spaces quickly and cheaply. Flued gas heaters involve a pipe that carries exhaust gases outside, so the room isn't filled with fumes. If you're looking for an easier, portable alternative, look at non-flued gas heaters. These are much more efficient than electric heaters, provide almost instant heat, and are cheaper to run than electric heaters. However, it's illegal to use them in bedrooms, bathrooms and other small or badly ventilated rooms, due to the emissions. Some other restrictions apply too, so always check with the retailer before you buy. If you're buying a gas heater, always buy a carbon monoxide alarm too. The Rinnai Dynamo 15 Convector Heater, $1299 is a good option.
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