Electric wall heaters are one of the best options for heating a room, especially a smaller space. They have more advantages over portable heaters in terms of efficiency and safety.
Yes, electric wall heaters are safe when used correctly, actually safer than most other forms of heating for numerous reasons. Even though they are safer, there are still a few risks associated with this type of heater, and all heating appliances should be treated with care.
With electric wall heaters, the pros far outweigh the cons, so let’s take a look at this simple appliance that has found its way into our homes.
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The Types Of Electric Wall Heaters
For this discussion, we will address two types of wall heater:
- The flat, white, square ceramic heater that mounts on the wall
- The steel-framed ones with the element – typically found in bathrooms.
The critical criterion for wall heaters is whether there is an exposed hot element or not. The ceramic-style convection/radiation heaters do not have an exposed element and are by default safer than the ones that do.
However, a wall-mounted heater is inherently safer than a portable one, and any heater without the exposed element is inherently safer than one with it. However, there are still some safety aspects that apply to both.
Are Electric Wall Heaters Safe?
With portable heaters in use, they usually require an extension cord to work. Inevitably, this means that loose cables are lying around across walkways and floors, and there is a risk of tripping.
While loose electrical cables often trip up younger kids and pets, it happens to older kids and adults. Tripping over a live cable can tug the contact wires loose and cause a short or ignite a fire if they land on the carpet.
After tripping over a cable, falling off balance can lead to serious injury, especially if you hit a window or glass table or other objects with sharp edges. With kids often running through the house (even after being told not to), the risk of tripping over a trailing wire is a concern.
Because the electric wall heater is mounted to the wall and all the connections are secured, there are no loose cables or plugs to worry about; this makes them very safe indeed.
How Far Should Furniture Be From Electric Wall Heaters?
When using a portable heater, the ‘three-foot rule applies, which means you need to leave a space of at least three feet between the heater and any surface or furniture in the same vicinity.
This is because the high temperatures generated by portable heaters, whether oil, gas or electric, can cause combustible substances like textiles and wood to burn if they contact the heating element for any length of time.
Take a look at this guide if you’re wanting to paint your electric wall heater.
Aside from textiles, clothing is also at risk of being burnt or melted if it’s polycotton and placed against the heater for a long time. While portable heaters offer the advantage of convenience, they are more dangerous than wall heaters.
Portable heaters can also cause burns on people and pets if they accidentally bump into them or touch them. You’re unlikely to burn yourself on a wall heater as they are off the floor and usually don’t reach the same kind of temperatures that portable heaters do.
An electric wall heater mounted lower down near the floor should have a minimum three-foot gap between the heater and furniture. Wall heaters mounted high on the wall have little chance of coming into contact with anything, so this will be at your discretion.
Do Electric Heaters Give Off Harmful Fumes?
Electric wall heaters do not emit any smoke or harmful fumes while in operation or otherwise.
It’s not the same for other types of heaters though. There is always a greater fire risk when you have portable oil heaters, gas heaters, or electric heaters with exposed elements.
While some manufacturers have added a thermal cutoff mechanism that cuts the power supply to the heating element if it falls over, older heaters and gas heaters don’t have this.
A gas heater that has been knocked over can easily start a fire and quickly, and the same is true for the infra-red heating elements. While oil heaters are less likely to ignite, they may spew boiling oil around the room if the heater develops a small leak.
Should the thermal cutoff switch on an oil heater fail, it can heat up rapidly and explode or leak, creating fire and thick black smoke as well as oil scalds on walls and furniture.
Gas heaters use LPG, propane, or butane as their fuel, making them highly efficient as their BTU output is far superior to most other portable heaters.
From a safety perspective, they are safe, but the explosive nature of the fuel can be a risk if the feeder pipe ruptures or there is a gas leak, which can lead to people and pets being exposed to unhealthy fumes and vapors.
Can Electric Wall Heaters Catch Fire?
Yes, as with any electrical device, an electric wall heater can catch fire due to an electrical fault of lack of maintenance. However, an electric wall heater attached to a wall is much safer as there is no risk of being knocked over. The steel ones do have a risk because of their exposed element, but because they are mounted on the wall, they are more challenging to access, so they are safer.
One of the biggest causes of fires with heaters is caused when the heater is plugged into an extension cord or a multiplug that has other plugs connected. The enormous power draw of the heater creates heat in the plug source, which can cause plug or multiplug to overheat, melt and burn.
Usually, the earth leakage will trip when this happens, allowing the heater to be safely disconnected and avoid a potential fire or electrocution. So a portable heater should be plugged into the wall, not into an extension cord or multiplug.
Wall-mounted heaters are usually hardwired to the wall, posing little to no risk of melting the plug point and causing a fire, but no electric element is 100% safe.
If the heater is left on high for a long time or forgotten about, there could be a problem, but remember that wall heaters don’t heat up as much as portable heaters and are designed to dissipate heat very efficiently, read more about how an electric wall heater works.
Can You Leave A Wall Heater On Overnight?
While you can leave some wall heaters on overnight safely, it would be better to let it heat the room for about three hours before going to sleep and then either turning it down or switching it off. Even better, get one with a timer or thermostat so you don’t have to remember to turn it off yourself.
There are always some basic rules with any heater, like don’t cover your heater, don’t leave it on high, and don’t leave it on overnight if you can avoid it.
Whether the ceramic or infra-red heater, the electric wall heater is a very safe option when it comes to heating your home.
Its cables are secured from little hands, and there is no risk of tripping or knocking the heater over or off the wall and causing a fire.
With electric wall-mounted heaters, you can go to bed with peace of mind knowing that your family and home are both safe and warm.
If you’re wondering whether to get a bathroom wall heater, we’ve recently discussed if bathroom wall heaters are safe too.
Read our guide to find the best electric wall heater for your home.