What is the most energy efficient space heater - and the best solar air heater?



space heaters
Image source: LaskoInfrared Dr.Heater

Space heaters have historically been known as a convenient way to heat up a small space quickly and efficiently; however, they've also earned a reputation as a fire hazard, especially when left unattended nearby flammable objects, such as clothing, carpeting, or bed sheets.

Fortunately, space heater technology has seen major advancements over the years. Not only have many manufacturers implemented more safety technology, but the space heaters have become even more energy efficient than before, especially with the introduction of the solar air heater.

Do you need a space heater?

Even if your home is already equipped with a heating system, having a space heater can be very beneficial. Space heaters provide excellent supplemental heating that can be a useful (and energy efficient) alternative to your heating system. For example, if your heating system breaks down in the middle of winter, a space heater will help ensure that you and your family will remain safe and comfortable as you wait for your heating system to be repaired or replaced.

What can I use a space heater for?

Space heaters can be used for more than just emergency situations in which your heating system is on the fritz. The following are just a few things you can use your space heater for:

  • Provide heat in outdoor spaces – Space heaters are great for improving the comfort and usability of outdoor living areas, such as a porch or deck, when it's colder outside.

  • Heat a small space in an energy efficient manner – Heating the entire house just to heat the room you're in is extremely inefficient. A space heater will allow you to save energy by only heating the room you're currently in.

  • Provide supplemental warmth to rooms that don't receive effective heating – Some parts of your home may not be heated effectively by your heating system. For example, the basement or garage. Space heaters can be quite useful for areas such as these.

What are the most energy efficient space heaters?

If you're going to invest in a conventional space heater, then you should look for an energy efficient model to help keep energy costs down. The following are a few examples of some of the most energy efficient conventional space heaters on the market today:

  • Lasko 6405 Designer Oscillating Heater – Lasko's lightweight heater has an oscillating feature that makes it easier to heat an entire space. It also boasts overheat protection that will automatically shut it off if the air around it is too hot.

  • Delonghi Mica Panel Heater – Delonghi's portable space heater comes with a built-in thermostat that allows you to control the heat it produces. It also has a number of safety features, including indicator lights, tip over detection, and a thermal cut-off switch.

  • Dr. Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater – Dr. Infrared's space heater uses radiant infrared heat. It works by heating up the objects in front of it instead of heating up the air, which helps prevent the space from getting too dry.

What is a solar air heater?

Solar air heaters are a little different than traditional space heaters. Instead of using natural gas, propane, or electricity to produce heat, they use thermal energy. This is done through the use of solar collectors. Unlike traditional space heaters, many solar air heaters typically need to be mounted to a roof, wall, or window, in order to collect the sun's heat. Some of these collectors can be heavy and installation may require a building permit.

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The way they work is relatively simple. Cold air is pulled from the bottom of the room via a fan. That cold air then picks up the thermal heat stored in the collector. Warm air is then blown out into the room. Because solar air heaters are more effective at heating smaller rooms, they have more in common with traditional space heaters than whole-house heating systems.

Solar air heaters can be incredibly energy efficient and can reduce your heating costs by as much as 70 percent. Besides their energy efficiency, they are also extremely durable and can last upwards of 20 years.

What are the best solar air heaters?

Solar air heaters are not as commonly available as conventional space heaters (yet), but they are beginning to catch on in popularity due to how incredibly energy efficient they are, especially when compared to even the most energy efficient conventional space heaters. Keeping that in mind, the following are some of the different companies that manufacture some of the best solar air heaters currently on the market:

  • Grammer Solar – Grammar Solar is a German company known for its TwinSolar air heaters, which are built using aluminum air collectors and insulated pipes through which the heat is channeled into the house. Other than having to change the filter once a year, no additional maintenance is needed.

  • Solar Infra SystemsSolar Infra Systems has a portable solar air heater that doesn't require installation. Although it will need to be placed in a space where it can collect sunlight, it will function even in partly cloudy conditions. The heater is most efficient in rooms that are 150 square feet or smaller.

  • SunfireSunfire solar air heaters are built using aluminum and tempered glass and are Solar Rating and Certification Corporation certified. They can be easily installed on southern-facing walls or roofs.

If you’re interested in exploring solar energy for your own home, check out our list of the ten best solar companies in the U.S.

What are the benefits of using energy efficient appliances?

You may notice when comparing appliances that energy efficient models tend to be slightly more expensive. Despite this, you should always look for appliances that are energy efficient, even when you're shopping for space heaters. The following are a few reasons why the more energy efficient an appliance is, the better:

  • Save money on heating costs – The initial costs are generally offset by the amount of money you'll save on your heating bills. Find out how you can reduce energy costs even more by keeping up with our blog.

  • Lower environmental impact – The less energy you use, the more you’re helping reduce the impact you're having on the environment.

  • Improve home value – Potential buyers will be drawn to solar air heaters installed in your windows, walls, or roofs due to their energy cost saving potential, their ability to improve indoor comfort, and because of people's general drive to be more environmentally responsible.

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 - Author of Solar Reviews

Andrew Sendy

Solar Industry Expert

Andy is arguably the most qualified rooftop solar expert in America. He is in a unique position, having founded a large solar company but now being independent of any particular company. He has appeared on CNBC, has been referenced in public hearings concerning the rooftop solar industry ( such as the recent CPUC NEM 3 decision) and has been referenced by many major publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and many others.

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