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Are Ceramic Heaters Safe To Leave On Overnight? (Safety Tips)

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Ceramic heaters are one of the newest convection heaters available today. They are an excellent way to keep a small room or small space in your home warm and cozy on a cold winter’s night. Unfortunately, they’re not immune from accidents that can happen without warning.

Note: although many portable heaters are meant for small rooms, there are some that can work very well in large spaces like this Portable Eco-Smart Space Heater.

If you’re like many older adults, you have probably used portable space heaters to help you keep warm during the colder winter months. And if you happen to use a ceramic heater, you may be wondering if it is safe to leave it running overnight.

Even though there have been recent improvements of the safety measures in heaters which reduces the risk for fire hazards, the general recommendation is to turn off space heaters, including ceramic heaters before you go to sleep.

Five out of six (or 85 percent) of home heating deaths are attributed to space heaters, according to the National Fire Protection Association, so if you feel yourself nodding off, turn the unit off, unplug it, make sure it’s cool, and then hit the sack.

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Ceramic space heaters have an exterior plastic covering that should remain cool at all times, even while it’s running and keeping the room warm. This should make it safer but even so, a malfunctioning unit can still be a fire hazard and present a potential safety risk.

So I strongly recommend that you do not leave your heater on all night long.

The modern space heaters have built in safety features which turn off the heater if it falls, timers allowing you to run the heater for only a specific amount of time and some even come with a remote control making it easier to control from your easy chair.

Can Ceramic Heaters Catch Fire?

Simply put, yes – ceramic heaters can catch fire! It’s also important to know that they can reach high temperatures in five minutes or less.

But having said that, the risk of a ceramic heater catching fire vs. other types of portable heaters is lower.

The reason for this is because the heating element (ceramic plates aka ceramic element) inside this type of heater does not get overheated which in turn reduces the chances of it catching fire.

But, like any appliance, things can go wrong so although the risk is lower – it’s not a 100% guarantee.

Is It Safe To Sleep With A Ceramic Heater On?

In my opinion, no type of space heater is safe to leave on while you sleep. A short circuit or some type of malfunction could cause a fire.

Having said that – ceramic heaters are safer than other types of space heaters simply because of how they produce heat.

Ceramic heaters work by passing electricity through the ceramic plate that gets hot with time then radiates the heat into your space. So, instead of the whole unit getting hot, only the inside ceramic plates get hot while the outside plastic casing remains cool.

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The fact that the outer shell of a ceramic heater remains cool does make this type of device safer to use BUT – the risk is still not completely eliminated because like any appliance, something can go wrong.

So although a ceramic heater may be safer than other types of portable heaters, I would still recommend to avoid leaving it on overnight or while you are sleeping.

Another factor to consider is that all portable heaters can cause your skin and nasal passages to dry out if you are exposed to them for a length of time.

Can Ceramic Heaters Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Ceramic heating units are safe because they don’t have the toxic emissions that come from other space heaters, like carbon monoxide.

Only heaters that burn some type of combustible fuel create carbon monoxide and ceramic heaters work by using electricity to warm ceramic plates inside the heater. Then the heat from these plates radiate into the room.

What Heaters Are Safe To Leave On Overnight?

Personally, I would not recommend to leave any space heaters on overnight. Although the chances of something happening may be less with a ceramic space heater, there still is some risk involved.

Having said that – let’s go over some of the other types of space heaters available.

Oil Heaters

Oil heaters can be safe if they are equipped with auto shut off features which turns the unit off if they overheat or tip over. They also tend to stay cool to the touch which decreases the chances of anything catching on fire near it.

But again, it is NOT RECOMMENDED to keep anything that is flammable near a space heater of any kind.

Infrared Heater

Unlike radiators and other types of space heaters, infrared heaters (aka radiant heaters) don’t emit any hot air into your living space but instead use rays which are then absorbed by objects near it.

This technology also helps them to heat a room quickly, usually within a minute or two. The heat from an infrared heater normally will last a long time even after it’s been turned off.

Electric Space Heater

Most of us are very familiar with portable electric heaters. This is by far the most common type of heater that many seniors and families use. Many of the newer models have safety features which shut them off when they overheat or if they fall down.

I would strongly recommend that if you have an older model space heater to upgrade it to a newer one with these safety features.

Vented Propane Heater

Finally, these space heaters are the most dangerous to have in a home. They do release carbon monoxide and are very dangerous due to the open flames.

I would not recommend to use these types of heaters in your home or any indoor space.

Safe Ceramic Heaters For Pets

Our pets are wonderful companions but they can also be playful, rambunctious and let’s face it – clumsy at times. For these reasons, using a space heater in a home with pets requires some careful planning.

Your playful pet can easily run into the heater, tip it over and accidentally begin the process of starting a fire. Other scenarios can occur as well, but you get the point.

So, if you are going to use a space heater and you have pets, you want to at least use the safest type of heaters for pets.

That would be a ceramic heater with overheat and tip over protection like this one.

Ceramic heaters are safer for pets because the outside part of a ceramic heater stays cool, while the heating elements inside the heater get hot and blow out warm air into the room. So, if your pet were to brush up against this heater, they won’t get burned.

And any type of space heater that you do have in your home should have an overheat and tip protection device on it which shuts off the heater if it were to overheat and/or tip over.

This video is a news report on how quickly house fires can start from improper use of space heaters.

6 Ceramic Heater Safety Tips

Although this article is about ceramic heaters, these safety tips are important for all types of space heaters.

1. An Auto Shut Off Feature Is A Must

If your space heater is an older model it probably does not have an automatic shut off feature which turns the unit off if it overheats and/or if it falls down.

This is a very important feature and one found in many modern heaters. In my opinion, it’s a necessary feature that can help to save your life, your home and your family.

2. Placement Is Important

Never place a space heater on furniture, drapes or any other flammable surface.

Over half (54%) of the home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.

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Never place anything combustible or flammable near the heater. This includes items like paper, cardboard or clothing. The safest places for the heater are rooms that have no potential for being exposed to water. This includes kitchens, bathrooms and basements where leaking pipes, plumbing or other water hazards are possible.

Place your ceramic heater on a level, hard surface that is non-flammable (ceramic tiles are ideal).

3. Plug It Directly Into A Wall Outlet

Never use an extension cord or a power strip with your ceramic heater.

The problem is that most extension cords and power strips can’t handle the high currents that the heaters pull off the wall – it’s just too much for even some low-quality cords to handle and they could catch fire really fast!

Even if you believe you have a high quality extension cord or power strip – it’s simply not worth the risk.

4. Turn It Off When You Are Sleeping Or Away

Do not leave your ceramic heater unattended. It should be turned off when you’re away from home or asleep.

This may be the most difficult safety rule to follow for seniors. Reason being that many older adults have a space heater on while they are reading or watching television and it’s very common for them to simply nod off and take a nap.

For this reason, I recommend that when you are in that position – avoid using your space heater.

5. The 3 Feet Rule

The general rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 3 feet of space around the space heater. This helps to ensure that there is no accidental contact with the device and a flammable object.

It can be tempting to have your heater just out of arms length so you can warm up easily but 3 feet is a safe distance that keeps you from accidentally touching it or falling against it. If you do not have a clear path around the heater then it’s best to turn it off.

Also, keeping the heater 3 feet away from flammable objects like furniture, drapes, rugs, etc. will help to prevent space heater fires.

6. Check That Your Smoke Alarms Are Working

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you have a working smoke alarm in the room where your ceramic heater is located.

Smoke detectors should be place in the following locations…

  • in each bedroom
  • in the hallways outside the bedrooms
  • on every floor of your home
  • in every room of the house except the bathrooms (dining room, living room, laundry room, garage, etc.)
  • in the kitchen but at least 10 feet away from kitchen appliances

Check out the Best Space Heaters To Buy In 2021!

All in all, although ceramic heaters are not safe to leave on overnight (no space heater is) they do have some additional safety features that other heaters may not.

If you do need to use a portable heater this winter, I do recommend that you purchase one that has as many built in safety features as possible and that you never, ever leave it unattended.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a ceramic heater use a lot of electricity?

A ceramic heater normally uses about 1 to 2 kWh of energy so for most parts of the United States that comes out to about 15 cents to 30 cents per hour.

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