Are Space Heaters Safe? - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

Are Space Heaters Safe?

Space heaters are an efficient and cost-effective way to heat up your home or office on a chilly day or night. But one of the major concerns people have while debating on whether to purchase a space heater or not is whether space heaters are safe for use. Many people are concerned due to the safety of their children, pets, and homes while using space heater in case they become a fire hazard or result in injury.

There are so many different types of space heaters available and they all have various different heating systems. They are each different in terms of their safety features and what determines if they are safe. A company must meet certain safety requirements before they are able to manufacture and sell a space heater which means the space heaters are safe for use up to a certain degree. The other safety issues that space heaters present are usually covered by the safety features that come built in with the heaters.

A Close Look

Woman using a portable electric heater

It is not possible to claim all space heaters are safe or unsafe as a generalization, as there are many factors that must be considered. However, there are many features and factors that a person can look into prior to purchasing a space heater, in order to determine whether the heater is safe for their purposes or not.

Fire Safety

Primarily, the biggest concern that people have when purchasing a space heater is whether the space heater will be a fire hazard or not. Space heaters pose a fire hazard if they overheat, if they come into contact with easily flammable material or if they are tipped over causing them to provide excessive heat toward a flammable material such as carpet.

However, this concern varies for different types of heat as they utilize different heating systems which can increase or minimize the risk of a fire. Most space heaters use electrical energy to work and they range from oil filled radiators to compact ceramic or infrared heaters. One of the biggest safety features that heaters have built-in is over-heat auto turn off.

Overheat auto turn-off is a feature that the majority of space heaters come with as a basic safety feature, it is one of the best ways to prevent fire hazards as well as other safety threats. The over-heat protection comes from a system that allows the space heater to detect that the body of the heater is getting too warm to function and is at risk of being a hazard. Once the heater detects this it automatically shuts down and allows the heater to cool before it can be operated again. Some of the newer heaters turn on by themselves again as well one they have cooled down.

Illustration of a tachometer. Prevent your valuable technical equipment from overheating

This auto turn-off feature is key in preventing fire hazards as overheated space heaters are the biggest risk and safety concern when it comes to fire hazards as they can not only cause a fire, but they can also result in the combustion of the heater as well. So, it is a good idea to make sure that if you are purchasing a space heater that it has an overheat auto turn off function.

Similarly, another feature that is related to fire hazard prevention is the auto tip over/turn-off function. Most heaters also come with this feature built in, which causes the heater to turn off if it detects that it has fallen over or has been knocked down. This is important for preventing fire hazards as it prevents the heater from falling over onto carpet or other flammable materials which could start a fire if they are directly exposed to the heat from the space heater.

Are space heaters safe to leave on all night? They do have other safety features that you can look for while making a purchasing decision if you are concerned about it being a fire hazard. One of these features includes timers and timed settings so you can set the heater to turn off after a certain amount of time. So that for instance when using the heater at night, you can set it to turn off automatically even after you have fallen asleep so that it is not a hazard while running when you are asleep.

Safety for Children and Pets

Two beautiful caucasian little sisters sitting on the windowsill, covered by blanket. They froze up and trying to warm up, using heater near their foots

Another major safety concern that people have when considering a space heater is the safety of their children and pets. It is quite easy for small children and pets to run into or knock into space heaters that maybe located within their reach. Although it is granted that parents try and keep heaters and other dangerous appliances out of reach of young children, with floor space heaters it is not always possible.

However, for the purpose of providing safe use for parents and pet owners, numerous space heaters come with various preventative and safety functions. One such measure that most companies have implemented is to have the heating element hidden and not directly exposed. Having the heating element exposed such as the heating coils or ceramic plates caused injuries to adults, children, and pets.

Another feature that you can look for in a space heater is a cool touch exterior. A cool touch exterior means that all sides and elements of the heater are cool enough to touch and will not cause any harm if you touch them. This is especially effective when considering small children and pets that may run into the heater or knock into it.

As well another feature that is effective in the safety of kids and pets, is the tip over auto turn off function. Although this feature is used to prevent fire hazards it is also effective in protecting small kids and pets. In the event that a pet or child does knock the space heater down, it will automatically turn off and prevent them from injuring themselves as well as causing fire hazard.


long-haired woman near electric heater at home

Although it is not possible to guarantee the safety of all space heaters, it is possible to select a model that meets your safety requirements and has features that make it safe for use within your selected environment. There are many different safety features that you can keep your eye out for when making the decision of purchasing a space heater. These include; overheat auto turn-off, tip over auto turn-off, cool exterior, hidden heating elements and many more. It is a good idea to conduct proper research prior to purchasing a space heater, so that you are aware of what your safety requirements are as well as what safety features and functions the space heater has to offer.