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A space heater is a self-contained device for heating an enclosed area. Space heating is generally employed to warm a small space, and is usually held in contrast with central heating, which warms many connected spaces at once. Space heaters are usually portable or wall-mounted, and may use natural gas or propane, but are most commonly electric.

Types of heating

Space heaters can be divided into those that transfer their heat primarily by convection, or by radiation.

Convective heaters In convection heaters, heating elements either warm the air directly or heat oil or another filler, which in turn transfers heat to the air. The air then warms the objects and people in the space. Convective heaters are suitable for providing constant, diffuse heat in well-insulated rooms. Oil heaters warm up slowly but do not reach dangerous surface temperatures; wire-element heaters, which may be fan assisted, reach operating temperature much more quickly but may pose a fire hazard. One particular type of convective heater is the fan heater.

Radiative heaters Halogen heaters usually comprise tungsten filaments in heat-resistant quartz envelopes, mounted in front of a metal reflector in a plastic case. They operate much like halogen light-bulbs, but radiate their energy primarily in the infrared spectrum. They convert up to 86% of their input power to radiant energy, losing the remainder to conductive and convective heat. The advantage of halogen heaters is that the radiation they produce is absorbed directly by clothing and skin, without first heating the air in the space. This makes them suitable for warming people in poorly-insulated rooms, or even outdoors.

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