Consumer Reports: Safe space heaters

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Space heaters can take the chill out of a cooler room, but they can also be dangerous. (WLS)

Space heaters can take the chill out of a cooler room, but they can also be dangerous, as 40-percent of home heating fires are caused by space heaters. Consumer Reports' expert testing reveals heaters that provide both warmth and safety.

If you need a little extra warmth to get you through the winter, consider a space heater. Consumer Reports just tested a variety of shapes and sizes, from personal sized portable heaters to larger units.

"When we test heaters we check to see how fast they warm a room and we also check to see how well they spot heat an individual," said Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports.

This mannequin is equipped with sensors that measure how much warmth a space heater can provide through spot heating.

The smaller, personal sized space heaters struggled in this important test.

Consumer Reports says for a little more money you can get one that's slightly larger but still very portable. It recommends the $70 Comfort Zone CZ499R.
And since space heaters can be a fire hazard Consumer Reports also looks at how safe each one is. Testers measure the surface temperature of each heater to see if it gets too hot to the touch.

"In most cases the heaters are pretty cool but if you do have pets or children stay away from heaters with metal surfaces and large areas that are easy to contact," said Sawchuk.

This test mimics what would happen if something flammable comes into contact with a space heater.

"Always keep your space heater at least three feet away from flammable objects. And never use an extension cord," said Sawchuk.

Consumer Reports says look for a space heater with a tip over switch that turns the heater off if it's knocked over, and an overheat sensor that shuts off the heater if it gets too hot.

The recommended Comfort Zone heater offers those safety features. So does the larger space heater from Lifesmart called the Lifesmart ZCHT1001US for $100.

Consumer Reports says keep in mind that larger space heaters don't necessarily offer more heat than smaller ones. However they're meant to stay in one place so they're a good option as a permanent heater in a larger room.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
Related Topics:
homefire safetyconsumer reports

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