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How to Size a Small Electric Space Heater
A rule of thumb for sizing a space heater is 10 watts for each square foot.

Using this rule, a 1500 watt space heater would heat a 12'x12' room. (144 sq. ft.)

Factors that reduce the effectiveness of any small space heater are drafts, inadequate
insulation, large window space, an open floor plan, or a room with a stairway.

Situations such as these may require an additional space heater, but here's where
you have to be careful. Since the circuits on most older homes are wired for only 15
amps, and a 1500 watt heater draws 12.5 amps, no other electrical devices should be
plugged into the same circuit.

In order to avoid a potentially hazardous situation determine which outlets are on
each circuit by plugging a small lamp into the outlet and flipping the circuit breakers off
one at a time until the lamp turns off or purchase a
circuit breaker finder.

Sam's Small Space Heater Safety Tips

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features
    like overheat protection and a tip-over switch.

  • Locate the space heater on a level surface away from foot traffic.

  • Keep it at least 3 feet away from combustible items such as drapes and
    furniture. This is the number one cause of space heater fires.

    According to Georgetown, MA., Fire Chief Al Beardsley, "What takes place is the
    material (drapes, mattresses) dries out and over time the chemical composition
    of the material changes and combustion occurs."

  • Don't use the space heater as a dryer for clothing, wet towels, etc.

  • If you have little ones running around put the space heater into one of those
    scissor-like kiddie corrals so the kids can't get at it or buy a space heater
    capable of wall mounting.

  • A number of micathermic heaters can be mounted on the wall but one model in
    particular, the DeLonghi HHP1500 Safeheat Mica-Panel Heater, has been known
    to pose safety hazards. You can read more about it here.

  • Although some space heaters are sold as "waterproof" I don't recommend their
    use in bathrooms. However, if you need to warm up the bathroom you can still
    plug the space heater in a few minutes before you plan on bathing and then
    remove it.

  • Plug the space heater directly into the wall outlet. Do not use extension cords
    or power strips. Most retail extension cords and power strips are intended for
    use with low powered electronics such as computers and TVs, not devices that
    draw high amps such as coffee machines, microwave ovens and electric space

The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that each year about 28,000
house fires are attributed to space heaters, resulting in 300 related deaths.

This doesn't mean space heaters are inherently dangerous, only that caution and
common sense should be exercised in the pursuit of additional comfort for you and
your family.
Electric Space Heater Sizing and Safety
(See also: Top Space Heater Picks for 2013)