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Most people don’t use their basement to its fullest potential. A lot of folks just use it as a storage area and try their best to not go down into that cold, dark place unless they absolutely need to.
However, if you need some extra room in your house, the basement can make a great area for a lounge, den, or gym.
Keeping your basement warm may be one of the last things on your mind, but doing so will keep you dry and comfortable. And it may even help prevent catastrophic water damage from a busted pipe.
Best all-around basement space heater
The De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater is the ideal space heater for heating your basement. Besides having a stable operation and multiple heat levels, this space heater has a multitude of features that the others in the roundup do not.
First, it has a 24-hour programmable timer so you can turn the heater on for a specified amount of time before it shuts itself off. Most space heaters have high and low heat levels, while this one has high, medium, low, and eco heat levels.
The eco feature is an energy-saving setting that uses the least amount of energy possible to maintain the temperature in space. It won’t work as fast as say, medium or high levels, but it will use less electricity instead.
Our favorite feature of this space heater is its anti-freeze setting. If you run the heater in this setting, it will maintain your basement’s temperature above 44°F. This is to help prevent frozen pipes and broken equipment as a result of low temperatures.
Although the heater is large, it sits on four wheels, so you’ll be able to wheel it around your basement if you need to put it elsewhere.
- 24-hour programmable timer
- Anti-freeze setting to protect your pipes
- Wheels for easy transport
- Large and weighs a lot
Best budget basement space heater
This super-compact, portable space heater also includes a thermostat for precise temperature control. The switch on top of the heater activates the oscillation—so it sweeps from side to side to heat every corner of your room.
The Lasko Ceramic Portable Space Heater is the best basement space heater for those on a budget. It is a no-frills forced-fan ceramic space heater that gets the job done.
Older models of this heater did not have a thermostat. However, this updated model includes a thermostat dial so you can maintain your basement at a stable temperature.
This is also probably the simplest space heater to use. It has two dials and a switch. One dial is for turning the heater on and adjusting the heat level, while the other dial is to adjust the thermostat. The switch is to turn the oscillator on/off.
Our favorite feature of this space heater is its oscillation. Just press the switch on the top of the heater and it will turn from side to side. This is great if you need to distribute air throughout your basement.
- Oscillator for wide airflow
- Small and compact for portable use
- Easy to use
- Sometimes not the best airflow, especially when dirty
Best infrared basement space heater
The Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater is an infrared space heater that excels at rapidly heating a small space. This electric infrared space heater is perfect if you just need to keep an area of your basement warm, not the entire thing. For instance, if you have a small lounge set up on one side of your basement.
This space heater comes with all the bells and whistles of some of the more expensive space heaters, such as a thermostat and remote control. Because of its large size, this space heater is set on wheels so it’s easy to move it around from one place to another.
Using this space heater is fairly simple. It has digital controls on the front. Use the power button to turn it on, and use the arrows to adjust the temperature setpoint. The mode button allows you to choose between three modes: low, high, and auto. The auto mode will intelligently cycle between low, high, and off to maintain the temperature setpoint in your space.
- Concentrated heat for small areas
- Remote control for easy use
- Wheels for easy transport
- Large, weighs a lot
Best basement space heater for airflow
The Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater is a tall forced-fan heater that packs a lot of airflow. It is designed for modestly heating a large space. Its oscillator aids it in moving airflow around an area. So, if you’re looking for a space heater that can cover a lot of area, this is your best bet.
For convenient operation, this space heater includes a remote control. It weighs 8 lbs so you’ll be able to easily move the space heater around and put it in place.
The fans on this heater are relatively quiet so they won’t disturb anyone.
- Quiet Operation
- Oscillator for wide area air flow
- Relatively light and easy to transport
- Tips over easily, so not the best for small children or pets
Best basement space heater for air dispersion
Because of its 360 degree air circulation, this heater works best when placed in the center of the room. It also has a remote control—so you can place it higher up and not have to worry about reaching it.
The Honeywell 360 Fan Forced Heater is a space heater with a unique 360-degree design. The heater’s shape is a circle and disperses air in all directions. This is especially useful if you need to place your space heater in the middle of the basement.
It is also one of the smallest and lightest space heaters that we reviewed. Coming in at only 3lbs, you’ll be able to easily move this heater around wherever you need it.
Once you have this heater set up, you don’t need to touch it again- simply use the included remote control to operate it. It also has an 8-hour timer so you can set it and forget it.
While this heater doesn’t have as many features as some of the others, it excels at heating a room from the center, so this is a good choice if you need to do that.
- Very compact. One of the lightest space heaters we reviewed
- 360 degree airflow for circular heat
- Includes remote control so you don’t need to touch the unit
- Needs to be placed in center of room to work properly
Why should you use a basement space heater?
Having a space heater in your basement is beneficial in many different ways. Not only does it make your basement a more comfortable space, but it also helps to prevent home issues such as freezing pipes or mold growth.
Most homes have their own built-in heating systems. However, basements are often left in the cold, excluded from the heat of the home’s furnace. This is where space heaters come into play. In the U.S., 37% of households supplement their main equipment with a secondary heating source. Almost half of these households use portable electric space heaters.
Advantages of using a space heater in your basement
Using an electric space heater in your basement has many advantages – including some that you wouldn’t expect. Besides comfort reasons, there are also safety and utility reasons.
First, having a space heater in your basement helps to prevent moisture and condensation build-up. Cold air can hold less moisture, so basement air that’s below its dew point will have moisture condensate onto your floors and walls.
Controlling humidity can also help prevent unwanted mold and mildew growth in your basement.
In addition to keeping humidity levels down, using a space heater in your basement also helps prevent frozen pipes. Plumbing and equipment such as water heaters are often located in the basement. If a basement gets too cold, pipes may freeze and crack, causing damage to your home.
If you’re just looking to turn your basement into a comfortable space, then a basement space heater can help with that too.
Many people turn their basements into functional spaces such as a home gym or a workshop. Keeping your basement comfortable while working can make all the difference in terms of productivity.
One of the most common reasons why people opt to use an electric space heater in their basement is due to the size and portability. It’s very simple to get a portable space heater set up and going in your basement – you basically just take it out of the box, plug it in, and turn it on. You also have the advantage of putting it wherever you want – well, almost wherever you want (more on this below).
How to choose a space heater for your basement
Choosing the right space heater for your basement isn’t a difficult choice if you know what to look for.
First, you need to figure out how big the space is that you need to heat. A large basement will require a more powerful heater, or possibly even more than one heater.
You also need to take into account if you want to heat the entire basement, or just a small part of it. For instance, if you are going to set up a rec area in part of your basement, you’ll only need to heat that area. However, if you need to keep your entire basement warm, then you’ll want to make sure that your heater is able to do that.
One of the most important features of a space heater is a thermostat. A thermostat allows you to dial in a room temperature that you want your space heater to maintain. So if you select 72°F on the thermostat, then the space heater will try to maintain a space temperature of 72°F.
One thing to note is that any electric space heater that plugs into a wall outlet is only able to consume a maximum of 1500W. This means that most electric space heaters are all rated for the same heat output, regardless of any “special” features.
There are differences, however. Specifically, some space heaters are capable of concentrating heat in a relatively small area, while others are designed to disperse heat across a wide area. Also, there are different types of space heaters such as infrared, ceramic, and oil (more on this below).
The last thing to consider (and possibly the most important) is the safety features of the space heater. Most space heaters have tip-over protection and overheat protection at a minimum.
It’s also important to choose a space heater that is tested by a safety certification company. Companies such as UL and ETL operate independent laboratories that test and certify that a product is safe and works as advertised.
Where to put a basement space heater
Figuring out where to place your basement space heater is critical, for a few reasons. First, you need to ensure that your space heater is placed in a safe place. This means that it is kept clear of any nearby objects. Especially flammable objects such as paper, combustible liquids, and trash. The NFPA recommends that space heaters should be placed a minimum of three feet away from anything that can burn.
In terms of performance and efficiency, you’ll want to ensure that your space heater has enough airflow to distribute heat throughout the room. If your space heater has a fan, be sure that it is directed toward the area that needs the most heat. If you’re trying to heat the entire space, place the heater in a central location to cover the most area.
You also need to take care in where you plug-in your space heater. Plugging into a GFCI outlet is important to help protect against electrical shocks that may occur in your basement. In fact, the National Electric Code (NEC) requires GFCI receptacles to be installed in unfinished basements in the U.S.
It’s also important to only plug an electric space heater directly into an outlet – no using extension cords or power strips. This is because extension cords can add extra resistance to the line, drawing more amps and increasing the risk of fire.
Features of a basement space heater
Some space heaters have a multitude of features that give them much more value besides just heat. Convenience, safety, and utility features are what set the best basement space heaters above the rest.
Depending on the space heater you choose, you may get one or more of the features listed below. If there’s a specific feature that you’re looking for, make sure that the heater you choose has it.
Most space heaters have some sort of temperature control device. These thermostats allow you to dial in the temperature that you want to keep the space at.
However, not all thermostats are made equal. Some thermostats are just a rotary dial that allows you to choose a heat level between hot and cold. Then there are digital thermostats that allow you to pick a specific temperature so you have precise control over the heat level in your basement.
A space heater with an oscillator will allow the heater to rotate from side to side to blow air evenly throughout a space. Oscillators are important if you need your space heater to heat a large space evenly.
Note that only fan heaters will have this option. So you’ll only find oscillators on convective and ceramic heaters.
A timer on a space heater allows you to set a countdown timer for when you want the heater to shut off. For instance, if you set the timer for 4 hours, then the heater will heat the room for 4 hours, then turn off. Timers are useful if you need to heat a space for a predetermined amount of time. Or if you need the heater to shut off after you leave your house.
Remote controls are very nice to have for a space heater. Having a remote control allows you to adjust the heater’s settings from across the room. They are quite useful if you have the heater in an unreachable place- such as high up on a metal shelf where you can’t reach it.
These days, more and more space heaters include Wi-Fi capability. This means that you’ll be able to control your space heater from your smartphone or computer. Some space heaters are full-on smart devices that have scheduling controls. So you’ll be able to set a weekly schedule that the heater turns on and off.
Tip-over auto shutoff
Tip-over protection is a safety feature that is included in almost every portable space heater. In case the heater is not standing upright, tip-over protection will turn it off. This is important because if a heater gets knocked over, it can overheat the floor or an object and start a fire.
Overheat protection is another safety feature that turns off your space heater in the event that it overheats. This may sound silly, but space heaters can only withstand a certain level of temperature before it starts to break down and cause a fire.
A space heater is at risk of overheating if, for instance, its fan breaks. If a convective heater’s fan fails to work, then the space heater will overheat and possibly cause a fire. Having overheat protection will help prevent this from happening.
Because of its critical nature, overheat protection is found in almost every space heater.
4 different types of electric space heater technologies
Even though electric space heaters use electric power to heat a room, they differ in the methods in which they provide heat. Here are a few commonly used types of electric space heaters:
Forced-fan convective space heaters
Forced-fan or convective space heaters are the most common type of space heater. They work by running an electric current through a coil to generate heat. A fan blows air across the hot coil to distribute heat throughout the space.
These types of heaters are useful if you need to heat a large space. Since they use a fan to move warm air, the air has a chance to cover over a larger space.
Infrared space heaters
Infrared heaters work much differently. These types of heaters produce heat from an infrared light bulb. This light bulb generates infrared light energy that radiates outward, heating any object in its path.
Infrared heaters differ from forced fan heaters because they don’t heat up air, they heat up solid objects. This is why they are commonly used outdoors on patios and seating areas.
The drawback of infrared heaters is that they only heat up objects in the immediate area. So if you’re looking to heat up a small area, then it’s a great choice. But not such a good choice if you want to heat your entire basement.
Infrared heaters generate radiant heat, so they are also called radiant heaters or radiative heaters.
Oil-filled space heaters
Oil heaters are a type of filler space heater that generates heat by heating a filler material. In this case, diathermic oil is contained in a metal radiator. The oil is heated by electricity to provide warmth to an area.
Oil heaters are advantageous because once they heat up, their operation is stable. The diathermic oil inside the radiator helps retain heat even after the heater is turned off. Also, the oil is fully contained inside the radiator, so it never burns off.
Ceramic space heaters
Ceramic space heaters come in two different forms: radiant and convective. Most ceramic space heaters are convective heaters that distribute heat by blowing hot air. Some ceramic space heaters are radiant space heaters that work by directly heating objects in their path.
What makes a ceramic heater a ceramic heater is its ceramic heating element. This heating element heats up and is used to transfer heat to its surroundings by either convective or radiative forces.
How to use an electric space heater safely
Most space heaters include one or more safety features such as tip-over shutoff and overheat protection. However, you still need to do your due diligence to ensure that your space heater is operating safely. Here are a few tips for using an electric space heater safely in your basement:
- Keep your heater away from obstructions. According to the NFPA’s Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment, 54% of home heating deaths were caused by heating equipment igniting things that can burn, such as furniture, clothing, mattresses, and bedding. Be sure that there are no objects (especially flammable objects) within 3 feet of your space heater.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. You should always have a fire extinguisher in your house. If you have a space heater in your basement, be sure to keep an additional fire extinguisher in your basement as well. A good rule of thumb is to use a fire extinguisher with an ‘ABC’ rating. These are effective against multiple types of fires- such as wood, grease, and electrical fires.
- Keep your heater away from water. Many people have utilities in their basement such as water heaters and water pipes. Keep your space heater clear and away from these things in case they spring a leak or decide to explode. Remember, water and electricity don’t mix.
- Plug your space heater in a GFCI outlet. Using a GFCI outlet to power your space heater is important to help prevent electrocution from a malfunctioning heater. A ground fault can occur when a space heater is damaged or comes into contact with water. A GFCI outlet will automatically disconnect power when a ground fault is detected, keeping you safe from electrocution.
- Use the space heater’s controls properly. Most basement space heaters have a thermostat and timer. Be sure to use these to ensure that you don’t overheat an area and cause damage.