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Radiant Heaters vs. Convection Heaters

Whether or not you are aware of it, there are actually two types of space heaters that you can buy, and significant differences exist between the two. As the technology advances, radiant space heaters are gaining a larger market share on the more conventional convection heaters.

This article will explain the differences between the two and help you decide which type is best for your heating needs.
Let’s start with the more common convection heaters here, and then read on about the radiant (also known as infrared heaters) here.


The best question to ask is: do you want to heat people or space? If you want to heat space, then go convection. If you don’t need to heat a space but only need to keep people warm, consider radiant.

Another way to decide is: furnace vs. campfire. If you want to blast a room or space with heat, as with a furnace, go with a convection heater. If you only need a campfire, go with a radiant heater.

Whichever type of heater you choose:

  • Find one with a stamp of approval by an independent agency, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
  • Choose one with safety features, such as automatic shutdown if the unit is tipped.
  • Clear the area around your heater.
  • Use only No. 14 or No. 12 AWG extension cords (not standard cords); otherwise, you risk an electrical fire.