Of all the various heaters on the market, the fan heater is the most versatile. It is compact, lightweight and extremely portable. It can be easily moved around the home or office as required, and it can even be packed away in a suitcase for traveling. With adjustable speed and temperature controls, the fan heater can warm a small room or just the space under a desk. Extra features, such as an oscillating grill or remote control, are also available on some models.
The typical fan heater is a small rounded box with a stand, front and back grills, and a control panel on top. They are almost always made of white plastic and contain a fan, motor and heating element. Some models have an adjustable stand that allows the heater to be pointed up or down. This helps direct the airflow into the center of the room when the fan heater is placed on the floor. A recessed handle for carrying is also a good feature to have.
A fan heater should have several speed settings so that a balance between heating and noise can be reached. The slower speeds are quieter but produce little heat, while the faster speeds heat up a room quicker but are much louder. An adjustable thermostat allows the temperature to be controlled better. If the thermostat has an off position, the fan heater can also be used as a cooling fan in summer. Auto-shutoff saves power by turning the heater off when not required, while anti-freeze turns it on when the temperature falls below a certain level.
An oscillating front grill helps distribute the heated air around the room more evenly. A programmable timer controls when a fan heater turns on and off. A remote control is often included with the more expensive models but is not really essential. Another important feature to look for when buying a fan heater is a long cord and posts to wrap it around for storage.
In the past, the fan heater and bar radiator have been responsible for many house fires. Current models have many safety features to help reduce this risk. It is important to check that a fan heater has a tip over switch which instantly cuts the power when it is knocked over. There should also be a thermostat that temporarily switches the heater off when it detects the temperature is getting too high.
The front and back grills should be small enough that children cannot put their fingers inside the heater. Double insulation to prevent electrical shock is also a good feature to have. Even with all these safety features, care should be taken when using a fan heater. They should never be left unattended with children or pets in the room and there should be a working smoke alarm installed.
Like any other appliance, the fan heater has a few problem areas that consumers need to be aware of. The thermostat may not be accurately calibrated, resulting in a different temperature than is shown on the dial. Dust can accumulate around the parts and restrict the airflow through them, resulting is less heating. The plastic case can become hot if there is restricted airflow caused by objects in front of the grills. Deep pile rugs can set off the tip over switch without the heater being knocked over.
While a reverse-cycle air conditioner is the preferred choice for heating most rooms, it is often not practical to install one in every room. The fan heater can be used to provide extra warmth to those areas of the home where there is no fixed heating, such as the laundry or garage. A fan heater can also be used at work to provide some extra warmth under the desk. It also makes a good backup in case the other heaters in the home are broken or missing.