QUESTION: We're thinking of buying a heater that hangs on the wall, has a fabric cover and looks like a painting. We want to use it to add a little extra heat to the baby's room. Is it an appropriate choice?
ANSWER: Yes, it will likely work well for your intended purpose. It will allow you to keep the baby's room warmer without adding more heat to the entire house. It has no fan so it will operate quietly and won't contribute to the circulation of dust.
This heater produces a form of heat called radiant heat. It works like the sun does, heating objects in its path rather than air. Like the sun, its rays feel warm to you even if the surrounding air is cool. It works like this because the heater's surface is kept much warmer than the rest of the room's surfaces (though not too hot to touch), so it constantly radiates heat waves to them.
It's important to place radiant heaters in a location where they are free and clear of any obstructions such as furniture or drapes that would reduce the transfer of heat. In the baby's room it might be best to hang the heater on a wall near one side of the baby's crib so no objects obstruct the heater's view of the crib. Not too close. As a test, sit quietly right next to the crib with the heat on, stay there awhile to learn how it feels to you. Try hanging a blanket on the side of the crib that is opposite the heater. Then, the radiant heat will warm both this blanket and the crib mattress, making a cozy nest.
These heaters are available in different sizes. They are rated by the number of watts they deliver, typically 300-500 watts per panel. The dealers should be able to help you decide what size(s) will work for you.
You can choose several ways to control your heater's operation. You can simply plug it into an outlet, control it with a manual switch, an automatic timer, or a thermostat.
Be sure to shop around for the best buy. Compare price, control mechanism, warranty conditions, quality and durability, size, and aesthetics. For safety's sake, consider only units that are UL approved, and carefully read manufacturer's instructions.
There are other types of radiant heaters that might be suitable for this application too. Oil-filled and fan-option units come to mind as having similar advantages (quiet, no dust circulation).
Written by Mike Nuess from the Education and Information Network of the Washington State Energy Office.