Is the thought of winter’s cold embrace sending shivers down your spine? Are you grappling with the choice between the sleek innovation of infrared heaters and the sturdy reliability of oil-filled heaters? Fret not, we’ve got your back.

As the evenings turn chilly, the indispensable comfort of a room heater becomes apparent. Room heaters are your winter savior, warming up your room in minutes, and enabling you to move around freely without the cold nipping at your heels.

However, with so many different space heaters out there, it’s no wonder you might often find yourselves stuck between the choices. Among the popular contenders, infrared and oil-filled heaters tend to steal the spotlight.

So let’s stick around and uncover the key differences between the two so you can make the right choice when selecting a room heater. 

What is an Infrared Heater?

When it comes to indoor heating, infrared heaters are the undisputed champions. They work by converting electric power into radiant infrared warmth. Courtesy of its powerful core, made of durable metals of Tungsten or Nichrome Wire, which makes these heaters potent to emit a mesmerizing glow, warming up every solid object that falls within their direct gaze. These objects can include clothing, skin, and even your bed, all of which absorb the heat, resulting in a comforting warmth.

What sets infrared heaters apart is their unique mode of operation, which differs from traditional heating methods. They employ a reflector as a strategic companion, directing their radiant energy and allowing it to gracefully bounce and traverse throughout the room.

What is an Oil Heater?

An Oil Heater, also called an Oil Space Heater or Oil-Filled Radiator, operates by heating oil through electricity rather than burning it as fuel. Unlike the traditional heating procedure, it utilizes convection to transfer the heat from the oil. These heaters are typically equipped with metallic radiator fins, with the oil resting at the base.

When you switch on the heater, the heating element kicks in, warming up the oil and spreading it evenly through the fins. This, in turn, warms up the air around it. As the heated air rises, it displaces the colder air, which sinks downward. This gentle process ensures that the entire room gradually heats up, without relying on the oil to act as a fuel.

However, the real secret behind the efficiency of an Oil Space Heater is the special diathermic oil it contains. This oil is a blend of different mineral oils, designed to have a high specific heat and excellent thermal conductivity. This unique combination allows the heater to effectively transfer heat to the surrounding air without any loss of quality over time.

Also read: Dangers Of Oil Heaters

Differences Between Infrared and Oil Space Heaters

In this section, we will compare the heaters across various categories to help you determine which one is best suited for your home.

1. Weight

So, which of the two is lighter – the infrared heater or the oil-filled heater?

Weight is a crucial consideration when comparing room heaters. In general, infrared heaters stand out as the lighter option. This is owing to their construction which involves the use of materials like plastic, thin metals, and lightweight heating components. The heating elements, notably the light infrared tubes, contribute to their overall weightlessness.

In contrast, oil heaters tend to tip the scales toward the heavier side. This is primarily because of their substantial oil-filled metal bodies, including large oil canisters inside, which add to their weight. However, to facilitate their mobility and manage their bulky size, some oil-filled heaters come equipped with wheels for ease of movement. 

Still, if you put these heaters side by side, the oil-filled heater always feels heavier than the infrared one, even when they’re the same size.

2. Size

Oil heaters are typically known for their moderate size, maintaining a balance between sufficient size for even heat distribution without being excessively large. As most oil heaters conform to standard sizes, some smaller models are also available, albeit with lower heating capacities.

In contrast, Infrared Heaters come in a diverse range of sizes, catering to various needs. From compact versions suitable for personal desks to larger units capable of warming entire apartments, there’s a customizable size to fit every requirement. Additionally, the availability of different shapes further enhances the options, allowing you to find the perfect fit for your space.

Also read: Navien Tankless Water Heater Problems And Its Solutions

3. Efficiency

To make the right choice for your heating needs, it’s crucial to understand the efficiency characteristics of Infrared Heaters and Oil Heaters. 

Oil Heaters are efficient in warming enclosed spaces, ensuring even heat distribution. However, they are less effective outdoors, where the wind can disperse their warmth swiftly. 

On the other hand, Infrared Heaters are efficient in heating smaller spaces by directing focused heat, making them 40% more efficient than other heater types. Yet, their effectiveness decreases when heating larger rooms due to their limited heat radiation.

Each heater type suits specific purposes. Infrared heaters are ideal for smaller indoor spaces and outdoors, while oil heaters are better for larger indoor areas. Therefore, it’s vital to consider your unique heating requirements.

Furthermore, Infrared heaters target direct heating for quick and efficient warmth, while oil heaters offer uniform and prolonged heat distribution, facilitated by their sizable oil containers.

4. Heating Speed

When deciding between an infrared heater and an oil heater, consider their heating speed as a fundamental distinction. 

Infrared heaters swiftly reach full heat within a minute of activation, delivering instant warmth. Conversely, oil heaters take several minutes to warm up, as the substantial oil within the metal body requires time to distribute heat effectively. 

Despite their slower warm-up, oil heaters excel at sustaining a steady, lasting warmth within enclosed spaces. Thereby, making them a more suitable choice for extended use compared to infrared heaters.

Also read: Reasons Why Is My Electric Heater Blowing Cold Air in House?

5. Safety

Oil Heaters and Infrared Heaters are designed with several safety features, guaranteeing a secure and hassle-free experience. With built-in overheat protection, automatic shut-off, and tip-over prevention, users can rely on their operation.

However, Oil Heaters have a slight safety advantage over Infrared Heaters. The concentrated heat emitted by Infrared Heaters, shielded by hot metal grids, poses a risk.  As the exposed surface this can potentially cause serious burns when touched.

In contrast, Oil Heaters distribute warmth across expansive areas, minimizing the risk of overheating and ensuring a safe touch.

6. Portability

When prioritizing portability, the choice becomes evident – opt for an infrared heater. They are the practical choice for those who value mobility and ease of use. Lightweight and easy to move from one room to another, even across different floors, they offer a hassle-free relocation.

Conversely, oil heaters aim to offer mobility convenience, often equipped with rollers for maneuverability, but their portability is limited. These rollers are primarily useful for moving the heater on the same floor, making them less suitable for transferring between different levels.

7. Heating Capacity

Heating capacity defines the ability of a heater to store and emit heat over time. It plays a critical role in influencing the heater’s overall performance. Oil-filled heaters are highly regarded for their remarkable heat retention. They lock the heat and ensure a prolonged, cosy warmth even after they’ve been switched off.

While efficient, infrared heaters lack this crucial heating capacity. They experience swift heat dissipation, losing warmth once powered off. This limitation can be notably troublesome, during colder seasons.

Also read: The Best Micathermic Heaters For Your Room or Office

8. Versatility

Infrared heaters excel at providing targeted warmth in various spaces, while oil heaters shine indoors, creating a cozy ambience. However, their limitations emerge when used outdoors or in uninsulated rooms. Oil heaters focus on warming enclosed air, especially in areas without insulation. This restricted outdoor usage makes oil heaters less adaptable. Alternatively, infrared heaters are highly versatile, offering warmth in a range of indoor spaces and outdoor settings, akin to the comforting embrace of winter sunlight on chilly days.

9. Maintenance

Infrared heaters are known for their simplicity, featuring a basic setup that makes them user-friendly. They’re also low-maintenance and can be easily fixed if issues arise.

On the other hand, oil heaters are a bit more complex. This is primarily because of their heating element that is concealed within the metal body. Thus, complicating the repair process.

However, despite these distinctions, both types of heaters generally do not require frequent check-ups. Well, when it comes to maintenance, infrared heaters have an advantage, as they are more service-friendly, making long-term upkeep easier.

10. Price

In terms of pricing, infrared heaters are usually more affordable compared to oil heaters. The availability of various sizes in the range of infrared heaters makes it convenient to find a budget-friendly and compact unit. On the other hand, oil-filled heaters are often more expensive due to their larger, standard sizes. Consequently, opting for an infrared heater is typically the more economical choice when comparing the pricing of both options.

Also read: Oil Filled Heater Vs Ceramic Heaters

Final Verdict: Infrared vs Oil Heater – Which to Choose?

When it comes to the choice between Infrared and Oil Heaters, crafting a personalized checklist based on the discussed factors can be your guiding light.

For those who:

  • Crave instant warmth in smaller areas,
  • Emphasize mobility,
  • Seek efficient outdoor heating,
  • Value cost-effective solutions,
  • Don’t mind a heater that poses slight safety risks, Infrared Heaters are the way to go.

On the flip side, for those who:

  • Desire for consistent, lasting warmth in larger, enclosed spaces,
  • Require even heat dispersion,
  • Need to heat spacious rooms,
  • Prioritize safety in their heating appliances, Oil Heaters are the preferred choice.

Consider your priorities and spatial requirements, ensuring that your decision aligns with your unique preferences. Both these heaters are capable of efficiently heating spaces, and they both offer outstanding service. Hence, with both types offering distinctive advantages, the ball is in your court to make a well-informed and wise decision.