Space heaters have come a long way in recent years, and so has space heater safety. These small, portable heaters can be the ideal solution for when you want to warm up a single room, or supplement your home’s HVAC system.
Unfortunately, the improper use of space heaters can have devastating consequences. According to the National Fire Protection Association, over 80% of the nearly 50,000 heating-related residential fires and 500 fire-related fatalities that occur each year in the U.S. are caused by space heaters.
Learn how to use your space heaters safely this winter without compromising on home safety with our handy electrical safety tips:
Only Use UL or ETL-Listed Space Heaters
Verify that your space heater is marked with either an UL or ETL seal. These markings indicate that the heater passes industry standards for electrical safety, and that the heater has critical safety features such as a thermal shutoff that cuts power if the appliance gets too hot.
Don’t Use Extension Cords or Power Strips
One of the most important space heater safety tips is to always plug the heater directly into a wall outlet — never into an extension cord or power strip.
The high current flow needed to power a space heater exceeds the safe limits of most power strips and extension cords. When powered up, a space heater can quickly overheat a power strip or extension cord, causing the wires to melt and triggering a fire.
Check Your Electrical Circuits
Space heaters are often used in bedrooms, dens and living rooms where the outlets are typically on 15 Amp circuit breakers. When fully powered up, a standard 1500 watt space heater draws 12.5 Amps. If you turn on a television or lamp that’s on the same circuit, the load can exceed the 15 Amp limit, causing the breaker to trip.
Only Use Space Heaters With Tip-Over Protection
A major improvement in space heater safety has been the development of tip-over protection systems, which automatically cut power to the heater if the unit falls over. This feature can reduce the risk of a fire being triggered by your space heater being knocked over by kids or pets.
Don’t Use Space Heaters in the Bathroom
While it can be tempting to use a space heater to warm up your bathroom, electricity and water can be a deadly combination. Optimize your home safety by keeping all space heaters away from wet locations, including bathrooms, kitchens and porches that may be exposed to water.
Maintain at Least 3 Feet of Clearance
Another important space heater safety tip is to maintain at least 3 feet between your space heater and all flammable materials, including window coverings, furnishings and bedding.
Never Leave a Space Heater Unattended
Just like any other appliance that heats up such as your oven, you should never leave a space heater running when you’re not at home. Although space heater safety features like shut off timers and thermostats can reduce the risk of electrical malfunctions and fires, these features aren’t 100% foolproof.
Need Help With Your Space Heater?
Don’t take chances with your home safety this winter. Here at Electrical Pros, our team of licensed electrical safety specialists can help you stay safe and warm. Contact us today to learn more about space heater safety, including testing and upgrading your circuits for use with space heaters.