Updated 1 month ago

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

Written by Andy Sendy

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Image source: Lasko, Infrared Dr.Heater

Space heaters are a convenient way to heat up a small space quickly and efficiently – and with newly developed technology, you can practice being more energy efficient by purchasing a solar air heater. 

Brave the cold weather and invest in environmentally friendly technologies; here are a few of our top picks for energy-efficient space heaters and solar air heaters.

Looking for home energy efficiency? See how much power you can offset with solar.

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.

How much electricity does a space heater use?

Like most things, the amount of electricity a space heater needs to run depends on the size of the appliance and its energy efficiency. You can find the exact amount of electricity needed by searching for the power and energy efficiency ratings on the product label.

On average, a 1,500-watt space heater is the most common and they will need at least a 100-volt outlet. Luckily, most homes have 110-volt outlets throughout.

Watts, kilowatt-hours, voltage: what do they all mean? There are a few key terms that you need an understanding of to fully grasp how electricity works and what watts have to do with your appliances. The basics - one kilowatt (kW) equals 1,000 watts and one megawatt (MW) equals 1,000 kilowatts. Voltage, or volts, is essentially the speed at which electricity passes through a circuit. You might be familiar with kilowatt-hours (kWh) from your electric bill because kWh is the measure of electricity use over time. Altogether, the voltage your outlet can handle dictates how many watts your space heater can be and your bill will show how much electricity is used via the total kWh usage.

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.Calculate how much you can save by installing solar panels

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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 – Grammer 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.

You can identify ways to make your whole home more energy efficient through a home energy audit.

What will your space heater cost you?

If the cost of running a space heater is unappealing to you, solar panels can keep your monthly electric bill costs down. While installing solar panels is more expensive than buying a space heater, they can make your electric heating bill next to nothing. With solar, you can run a space heater for any amount of time for practically no electricity cost.

Using space heaters is an efficient way to keep warm even if you have a thermostat-controlled central heating system or baseboard heaters in your home. They can give more drafty rooms an extra warm boost or provide a heating element in your bathroom during cold winter months. You can expect most space heaters to need 1,500 kWh to run, and most average home outlets can provide that power with no issue.

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Written by Andy Sendy Solar Industry Expert

Andy Sendy is a well-known and trusted figure within the solar industry with more than 15 years of experience. His video reviews of the leading brands of solar panels and home energy storage batteries are a must-watch each year for both homeowners and solar industry professionals alike. In 2021, an article he wrote about a clause in the Tesla solar panel rental contract caused Tesla to change this clause within days. He was the founder of Sola...

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