When it comes to the Ceramic Space Heater vs Oil-Filled heater debate, there are clear advantages and disadvantages of each which should help narrow down your choice.
Oil-filled heater vs ceramic
Oil-filled heaters are suitable in situations where you plan to be in one room for an extended period of time, do not need immediate heat and require a quiet unit.
Ceramic space heaters are suitable in situations where you need something easy to move around, is easily portable, and when you require instant heat with more control over where the heat is pointing.
These units are much better for direct heating than oil-filled heaters.
Read on below to find out all the pros and cons of each heater and hopefully, it will help you come to a decision on whether a ceramic space heater or an oil-filled heater is the right choice for you.
Ceramic Space Heater vs Oil-Filled Pros & Cons
Ceramic Space Heater Pros
• Instant heat
With most ceramic space heaters it is only a matter of seconds before you can feel the heat coming from the heating element. Just turn the heater on, a few seconds later you have heat.
This is ideal in situations where you are looking for a near-immediate heating solution.
• Point the heat where you want
With Ceramic space heaters you have a whole lot more options in terms of where you want the heat to go.
Many space heaters come with a fan which can blow heat directly on you to warm you up quickly and consumer report recommends ceramic space heaters with a fan as the heat your room much better than no- fan units.
Some of the smaller ceramic fans even have an adjustable feature to move point the fan upwards or downwards.
If a more direct heater is what you are looking for, you might want to look at a radiant heater given their heat output works exactly that way. Here is good buyers guide we have put together for radiant heaters.
Along with the easy directional flow, a number of ceramic space heaters come with an oscillation feature that spreads out the heat more evenly in the room.
• Smaller & more portable
Ceramic space heaters come in many sizes but you will find no matter what the size they are generally much easier to move around and much more portable than their oil-filled counterparts.
So if you plan on moving around from room to room a lot then a ceramic heater is probably going to work a lot better for you than an oil-filled heater.
• Better for short-term heating
For the most part, ceramic space heaters are better as short-term heating solutions. This is because of the instant heating and the direct heating that these heaters can provide.
• Comes with a fan option
There are a number of ceramic space heater options that come with a fan-only option. While it may not be enough to cool you in warm weather it does give you an extra option of usage.
Ceramic Space Heater Cons
• Heat stops when the unit is turned off.
Although it is not quite as instant as a radiant heater, a room heated by ceramic space heaters will generally lose heat quicker, or become cooler, than an oil-filled heater
• Doesn’t heat the whole room as well.
If you plan to be in one room for a long period of time then a ceramic heater might not be the right option for you as they do not heat a whole room as well as an oil-filled heater.
One of the big differences between oil-filled and ceramic space heaters is with the fan.
While a fan is useful for the distribution of air in a ceramic heater it also means that you are going to end up with a fan that creates more noise.
Oil-filled heaters are basically silent so if a concern of yours is how much noise the heater is going to make, then an oil-filled heater is the way to go.
• More moving parts
More moving parts means more things that can break down.
If you have ever used or read reviews of many fan-related products you will often find issues with fans making noises they should or breaking.
• Dust can be an issue
When you use any fan there is a strong possibility that you will be blowing dust around.
Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to ceramic space heaters.
Ceramic heaters have small passages in the heating elements that air must pass through.
If you have a lot of dust in your living area you will need to maintain the unit because if the dust accumulates in the element the airflow could slow down and the surface temperature will increase – sometimes enough to fracture the element or cause the fuse to open effectively rendering the appliance useless.
The elements can be cleaned with compressed air but always check the user manual of your unit for maintenance advice and instructions.
Oil Filled Heater Pros
• Less chance of igniting things
Since there are no hot elements or panels and the heat is internal you don’t need to worry about an oil-filled heater igniting things.
Also, many models nowadays have a shut-off feature in which, if the heater is bumped over then a switch will automatically turn the heater off.
Many models also have a thermal shut-off feature as well which automatically turns off the heater at high temperatures to prevent overheating.
• No Noise
The great thing about oil-filled heaters is they don’t have any fans.
This means that they are almost silent. This is great for the bedrooms if you have trouble sleeping with the hum of a fan heater.
• Better if you are moving around
Given that oil heaters spread the heat out around the room rather than directing heat towards the person it makes oil filled heaters better for heating up a room where you may be moving around a lot.
• Larger heater area/surface
Oil-filled heaters have a large heating surface area so this gives them the advantage over ceramic heaters when it comes to heating up larger rooms.
• Can work with a thermostat to save power
Another advantage oil-filled heaters have over ceramic heaters are the use in conjunction with a thermostat.
Given the extra surface area to heat rooms, once the room has reached your desired temperature, oil heaters can ‘sleep’ until the temperature drops below the desired level again enabling the user to save power.
Some oil-filled heaters have a smart feature where the heater will automatically switch between heat and power settings to automatically give you the most optimal and economical heating settings.
• Will keep the heat when turned off
After you turn off an oil-filled heater it will take a lot longer for the room to cool down.
Unlike ceramic heaters, which cools down very quickly after turning off.
• Good for heater bedrooms overnight with thermostat
As mentioned above, since there is no noise made from an oil-filled heater, they are great for keeping a bedroom warm while you sleep with the help of generally, built-in thermostats.
• Less moving parts
Less moving parts mean fewer things that can break or cause issues.
It’s common for heaters with fans to have issues with fans breaking or making unwanted noises.
Oil Filled Heater Cons
• Take longer to heat up and cool down
Unfortunately, if you are wanting instant heat, an oil-filled heater is not for you.
They take up to 10-15 minutes to heat a room so are a better option if you plan on being in that room for a long stretch of time.
• Not circulated around the house with a fan
As there is no fan or any oscillation the heat generally tends to come off of the heater and rise and is not distributed more evenly around the room.
• Can be large and heavy
Although they have often had carry handles on them, for the most part, you will be able to get smaller and more portable ceramic space heaters so if you are moving rooms a lot, or need something that is smaller and you can move around a lot, then you might be better off with a ceramic space heater.
• Sometimes pipes can freeze
If it’s cold enough sometimes pipes can freeze on oil-filled heaters. Many of the later models, however, have anti-freeze settings to prevent this from happening.
Safety Tips for Ceramic and Oil-Filled heaters
• They use a lot of energy – only use one plugin the outlet
If you are running multiple appliances in the same outlet as a heater you run a high risk of either tripping the breaker or starting a fire.
Usually, both jacks on a wall outlet combined are often 1800w so when a heater is on high, that does not leave a lot of wiggle room
• Don’t use your heater in the bathroom
Unless your heater specifies it can be used in the bathroom, do not do it.
Its lifespan will be shortened when exposed to steam in a bathroom and you risk causing an unwanted fire.
Consumer safety advises against it.
• Don’t use an extension cord
Most extension cords are not rated to carry the power that these heaters draw.
The unit could overheat and cause a fire. It is advised by EFSI.org to plug the unit directly into the wall.
• Always check if the units are ETL listed and have a tip-off feature.
Money-saving tips for Ceramic and Oil-filled heaters
• Insulate your house
In order for any heater to heat your house efficiently, you are going to want to make sure your place is properly insulated.
According to Greenhomegnome.com 45% of the average kilowatt per hour consumption in the home is spent on space heating.
That is a lot of money spent so you will want to be as efficient as you can with your purchase.
According to Shrinkthatfootprint a modern well-insulated house could save you $750 a year on heating bills compared to a non-insulated home.
If you are looking to save long-term on heating costs, insulation might be worth considering.
• Heat Rises – A ceiling fan can help save you money
As we all know, heat rises. So all this heat we are getting from our ceramic or oil-filled heater is heading to the ceiling.
A ceiling fan can help distribute that warm air around the room from the ceiling.
According to bonfe.com this can save you up to 15% in heating costs
• Use Energy Star products
If you want to save even more on your heating bill, if you can find them, looks for an energy star appliance.
• Check out energy.gov for more energy-saving tips
Though you may not be able to knock every one of these suggestions off the list, there are a bunch of useful and actionable steps you can take to save any more money on your heating.
Also, check out our comparison between Oil heaters and Electric Heaters.
Still got questions? Check out Oil Heater FAQs.
Want to know what the Top Oil Filled Heater is? Check out our useful guide.
Are oil heaters safe? Find out in our comprehensive guide to Oil Filled Heater Safety.