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Advances in technology, safety and product design make it a perfect time to invest in new space heater

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 December, 2015, 9:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 March, 2016, 5:34pm

Hong Kong may be experiencing its hottest year on record, but that hasn’t stopped department and electronics stores from displaying a wide range of home-heating devices in anticipation of cooler months ahead.

And, while it’s tempting to take our old appliances out of storage once again, advancements in technology, safety and product design make this a perfect time to invest in a new space heater.

The most common electric heaters use convection and radiant technology. According to Consumer Reports, an American magazine that conducts independent product reviews, convection models spread heat over a wide area with or without a fan, while radiant models are better for spot heating.

Micathermic heaters combine the two technologies, and prevent dust and allergens from recirculating in a room. Portable propane and kerosene heaters can produce much greater levels of heat but also come with higher risks of fire, injury and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Choosing the right heater for your needs depends primarily on the space in which it will be used, with experts recommending about 10W of heating power for every square foot of floor area if it is being used as the primary heating source. Other considerations are timers, remote controls, safety features, energy-saving functions, ease of mobility, and the look and feel of the device.

One of the most eye-catching products on the market is Dyson’s AM09 Hot+Cool fan heater. The bladeless ceramic heater offers two modes – diffused for wide and long-range heat distribution, and focused for powerful long-range personal heating – as well as a cooling function for use in warmer months.

Another benefit is the lack of exposed heating elements, reducing the risk of burning one’s skin and eliminating the burning smell common in older heaters. “Traditionally, [space heaters] were such a huge safety concern — people didn’t want to leave them on and they didn’t want to leave them unattended,” notes Robert Green, an engineer for Dyson. “So the biggest change has been safety.”

Other companies shaking up the home heating market include Stadler Form with its modern Paul and Anna fan heaters – the latter of which is equipped with two power levels and automatic shut-off – and De’Longhi with its sleek panel heaters offering up to 2,000 watts of heating power.

“De’Longhi transformed the home heating industry when Giuseppe de’Longhi brought the first electric radiator to the United States market. And we are poised to do the same with Slim Style, whose narrow frame and striking design makes it a sophisticated and impressive addition to any room," says Mike Prager, De’Longhi Group’s North America president and CEO, of its newest release. The Slim Style can be mounted on the wall and features a double fan system for better air distribution.

Regardless of the size and style of heater you choose, it’s important to heed safety precautions to prevent accidental fire or injury.  According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology advises consumers to buy only those heaters that meet statutory safety requirements for use in Hong Kong. It has also prepared guidelines for safe usage, advising consumers to keep children and combustible materials away from the heater, to turn off the heater before going to sleep, to plug the heater directly into the wall socket and avoid using with other high power-consumption electrical appliances, and not to use the heater in humid areas such as the bathroom unless specifically designed for that purpose.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department also reminds consumers to check for damage before use and to avoid any heaters fitted with a two-pin plug. Its website also provides information on product recalls.