Are space heaters safe to leave on all night and just how long can space heaters be left on? Read on to find out how to use and operate these devices safely at home.
Since the first cave people lit the first fires, few things have proven to be more intrinsic to the human experience than finding a way to conquer the cold and keep warm in the winter. We’ve devised a great many ways to do just that over the years. For decades now, one of the most ubiquitous and inexpensive ways of conquering the cold and keeping warm has been to employ a space heater.
They’re a common enough fixture of life in the Northern and Northeastern United States. The same holds true for apartment complexes and hotels across the country. If you’ve ever rented a room short or long term, chances are you’ve done so with a space heater at your disposal.
Even so, space heaters are items that have a lot of pros and cons. One of the most contentious debates regarding space heaters is whether or not they are safe to have on overnight, and whether this should count as a point for or against them.
The reasons for wanting to know this are clear. On the one hand, if you live in the Northeast or Northern part of the United States, let alone other countries where it gets quite cold in the winter, you know how important it is to have a reliable source of heat at those times. On the other hand, however, the last thing you want is to have something which is hot and dangerous when improperly used blazing away while you’re sound asleep.
Let’s endeavor to learn a little bit more about space heaters, therefore, working our way up to answering that big question.
Space Heater 101
The broadest definition of a space heater is a portable unit which gives off enough heat to heat your room. There is naturally quite a bit of variation within those broad confines, so let’s narrow things down to the type of space heaters we most commonly deal with today, namely, units which make use of an electric power source – either from a power socket or via its own generator – to generate and give off heat.
Space heaters can come in all shapes and sizes, and just as importantly, can be placed in a variety of positions in your room. This last point is important because your proximity to the space heater in question is naturally going to have an impact in determining whether or not it is safe to have on through the night.
We have already alluded to some of the considerable upsides that come from using space heaters. For one thing, they are portable, meaning that you can place them anywhere in the home with ease. That allows for a degree of freedom which is practically impossible to match with most other heating systems. This also allows you to take space heaters with you on trips, ensuring you have a source of heat with you wherever you go.
In addition, space heaters are quite cost effective. Many other types of heating units can be a lot pricier due to the materials or fuel sources they use or other extenuating factors. Because space heaters which use electricity are so simple and efficient, they can afford to be a lot more cost effective, making them a perennial favorite with everyone from landlords looking to provide tenants with an inexpensive source of heating to those same tenants looking to make sure they can heat their apartments or rooms without breaking the bank.
Then, there’s the fact that modern electrical space heaters are more powerful than units of the past. This means that they are not only able to give off more heat, but to do so in such a way as to make it unnecessary to keep the unit quite as close to you as was previously required. The heat radiates out further from modern units than past ones, meaning you can remain at a greater distance, thereby improving the overall safety of the unit.
That’s going to matter in considering how to deal with your space heater during the night. You don’t need it right up against your bed anymore, which can make it safer to use in that setting.
That being said, just because a lot has been improved in terms of the construction and efficiency of space heaters over the past few decades doesn’t mean there aren’t still cons which you’ll need to consider when evaluating whether or not space heaters are right for you.
For one thing, space heaters can give off air which is incredibly hot and dry. While it may seem obvious that a space heater would give off a great deal of heat (that is what they’re designed to do, after all) this can still be too much sometimes, and some units don’t allow you to adjust the degree of heat given off. This means that, if you are trying to sleep with a space heater on, you could wake up to find yourself in an oven.
But this begs the question, and a bigger con – are space heaters safe to leave on all night?
Are Space Heaters Safe To Leave On All Night?
There are many problems with leaving your space heater on overnight, not the least of which being that doing so runs the risk of the unit overheating. After all, as stated, these units can become quite hot, and sleeping while they’re blazing away is a recipe for disaster.
What’s more, not only is leaving a space heater on during the night a health risk, but it can also be damaging when it comes to your skin. That oven-like atmosphere can be a fast way to dry out your skin. In addition, it can also dry out your nasal passages. Then, there’s the fact that if you leave your space heater on for a long stretch, the heat may not level off, but rather build and build, leaving you with a room that feels less like a warm sauna and more like your own personal inferno.
And that’s without that becoming too literal as your heater catches fire from overuse.
How Long Can Space Heaters Be Left on?
As stated, one of the biggest problems with leaving your space heater on overnight is the fact that it can overheat, leading to catastrophic problems. That begs the question, however – how long can you leave a space heater on at a single stretch and have it still be safe?
This is going to depend a great deal on the actual model of the space heater that you are using. Even so, no matter the type of space heater, you probably aren’t going to want to leave your space heater on for more than two to four hours at a stretch. Pushing things past four hours runs the risk of the unit overheating – and by now, you know what that means.
You’ll thus want to keep the following safety tips in mind and make sure to exercise extreme caution when keeping space heaters on for a protracted period of time, and not have them on overnight. They give off enough heat that you should be able to turn the heater off before bed and bask in the leftover heat for some time before falling asleep. This and some good blankets can help you keep safe and warm this winter.