Ceramic heaters?


Old 12-15-02, 05:12 AM
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Ceramic heaters?

Yesterday I had someone get a small ceramic heater for me, at a local True Value Hardware store. I don't have a car, so didn't go to the store myself.

I saw the heater advertised in their sale flyer.
Holmes Ceramic Heater
thru Dec 24

Two heat settings at 100-0/1500W, plus thermostat. Features automatic safety shutoff and an adjustable tilt base

Of course in the picture it looked much bigger than it actually is (and the box made it look even bigger). It's really small, like 6" high and 5" wide and deep.

I've never had a ceramic heater and thought maybe they are really small, but efficient? I have an old electric heater with 2 settings 1300/1500. So, going by that I thought it might work in a small room.

I had it going last night and I think it's terrible! Mainly because it smells so bad. Is this normal? It smells sort of lilke "electronics" (hot plastic? bus exhaust?) Closing it in a small room to heat up the room, creates such a bad smell (fumes?) we couldn't stay in the room. I went to bed last night, smelling it in the house and on my clothes. It's not smoking or getting overly hot, just has a bad smell it blows out into the room. I thought maybe it was just because of being new and would wear off (quickly). But I don't want to run it long enough to find out.

It was so tightly packed in the box I had to peel the box and packing away from it (so I no longer have the box). On the instruction booklet INSIDE the box, it says "not for use in bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc." Probably because of not having the right plug to be around water.

It also says not to have anything within 3 feet of it, of the top, sides, back. Which basically means sitting it in the middle of a room? From what I have seen it doesn't get hot enough to combust anything even beside it. And it supposedly automatically turns itself off if it overheats.

The reason I wanted it was to use in my bathroom. I have a woodstove in the middle of the house and the bathroom (on the end of the house) gets very cold in the winter. It didn't say anything in the flyer about "not for use in bathrooms" (seems like the main reason a person would buy a small electric heater would be FOR a bathroom?) and I don't think it said anything about this on the outside of the box.

I will probably call the store later, when it opens, and ask if they will refund my money, even thought I no longer have the box it came in. Which means I have to find someone to take it back to the store, during the hours they are open (only till 5:00 on weekdays and 1:00 PM on Sunday).

I'm anticipating the store telling me if there's a problem with it I have to return it to the manufacturer. Even though I bought it at their store yesterday afternoon.

I was just wondering if this is normal for a ceramic heater? And if so, maybe people should know about it, before they buy one?

At least a small, low priced one? I think this one said it was on sale from a regular price of $28.

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Old 12-15-02, 08:04 AM
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ceramic heaters

the caution about bathrooms and laundry rooms is probably due to possibility of chemicals adhering to the ceramic and burning off. laundry rooms are bad places for furnaces with hot surface ignitors as the laundy soap fumes eat them up. this may be similar. as for the smell, can you run it outside for a few hours? it may be just burning off the "new" smell, just a thought. as for clearance, i would never reconmmend violationg mfr spec, maybe you can trade it in for one with less clearance demands.
Old 12-15-02, 09:15 AM
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Hello Carrie:

Sounds like your not too happy with your heater.


There is really no difference in efficiency for any electric heater.
1500 watts of heat uses the same amount of electricity what ever style of heater you get.
The only real difference is in the style.
1500 watts is 1500 watts.

I would advise you to NOT us this type of heater around water.

"IT COULD KILL YOU", and we surely wouldn't want that to happen.

For bathroom use you should bite the bullet and have a permanently mounted heater installed.

I happen to use two of these type of heaters myself.

One is in an 8" x 8" insulated shed that houses a few rabbits.
A 250 watt heat lamp in the ceiling runs 24 hrs/day to keep the temp above freezing and the ceramic heater kicks in when the lamp can't keep up.
The other is also set above freezing in my small shop in case the main heater quits.

One main beef I have with these heaters is the plugs.
Every plug in heater I have ever owned would have a warm plug after extended running.
In fact one of the heaters I have now would burn your finger on the tip of the plug after continuous operation.
All of these types of heaters I have, get the plugs cut off and and industrial strength replacement get installed in their place.
Just pull the plug after several hours of continuous heating and you may see what I mean.

hvac4u is probably correct in that your heater has to burn off the manufacturing residue. Two or three hours should do it though.
Old 12-15-02, 04:37 PM
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I have a heater like this, and let it run for abit and the smell will be gone.. I use this in my back office, to get the chills off on a mild days.. I am pretty happy with mine.. I had mine for about 7 years, and no problems... The size is small. but ti puts out a lot of heat..

Old 12-15-02, 05:18 PM
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you really think the smell would be gone after awhile?

It was so bad last night, I couldn't sleep (and I had unplugged the heater which was on the other side of the house). I think the smell was on my nightgown. And, in the air in the house, mainly in the bathroom.

When I went into the bathroom last night (with it going or where it had been) I felt sick and my eye stung. all I could think of was being in a car in back of a bus, in the city.

I'm not sure I want to bother with it anymore.

If it's going to smell like that (fumes?) for several hours first, they should say this in the instruction booklet. Like to let it run first in a place where you aren't living.

I think I'm going to bring it back tomorrow.

Oh, as to the suggestion about "biting the bullet" and having built in heaters put in, I don't have the money to do that. Bullets or not. I mean you can't do something with nothing. There are a LOT of things it would be nice to have and do. I am VERY careful about electric things in the bathroom and around water. One of my aims is to get a gfi plug put in the bathroom. Or, I think they sell plug-in ones to plug in the outlet and then the electrical appliance in?

We do have an LP gas furnace and a vent in the bathroom, but we found this fuel expensive and not too efficient in heating the house (big old farmhouse). So, we have an Ashley woodstove in the middle of the house. This heats the main part of the house, and keeps the thermostat from going on (the furnace). The bathroom, which is at one end of the house, doesn't get too warm from it. It's not really a big problem. Just gets cold there when it's -20 below (F) which it gets to occasionally here in Vermont. The pipes don't freeze though.

It would probably help to have a small,slow fan in back of the woodstove to circulate it better.

There's always so much to get/do and never enough money to get/do it with.

Thanks for the feedback,

Old 12-15-02, 05:39 PM
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My apologies. Perhaps it was presumptuous of me to suggest the spending of more money than you have already.

My point is your well being. These heaters are unsafe at the best of times.

This heater would be defective if it still smells after a day, and should not be a problem to return.

It may be helpful to run the fan on the furnace to circulate the air more effectively, and maybe trade the ceramic heater for a large box fan to circulate air down the hallway.
Old 12-15-02, 06:29 PM
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It's okay, I'm sure it's the way most people live. If they need something they buy it or pay to have it done.

I get by on a low/fixed income. I think it's unusual for someone like this to have a computer and internet, but in my case, I put this as priority, because it's something I hope to use to make more money in some way. Right now I'm learning (teaching myself) Office 2000 programs, in hopes of getting some jobs at home setting up office programs. For people who want this but don't have a big enough business to have a full time, right there secretary. (I've talked to others who are doing this and charing $75 an hour. of course I have to learn the programs first).

4 years ago, my husband had a stroke, and has been in a nursing home since. I was basically "left alone" with a big house in the country (and currently no car). We never had a lot of money (had a big family, 7 children) but my husband was a house painter and could do all sorts of home repairs.

I've been trying to do the best I can (and as I said, trying to get into something I might be able to do for work at home).

Right now, my daughter and her boyfriend (and their 3 year old) live with me, and they have a car. But, not a lot of money either (rural economy (LOL) Last week the faucet blew up on the old cabinet sink that was in the house when we bought it 5 years ago. It didn't surprise me, it had been leaking and we had kept trying to fix it- but knew it had to be replaced. By "blew up" I mean the fitting inside the cold water pipe broke, with the water gushing up to the ceiling. I jammed the faucet back in, and held in down, while my daughter found the shut off in the basement. Her boyfriend came home from work, and decided to put in a sink he had gotten (before) from a job he'd been on. It was just a double sink, with faucets. And he's not a plumber (but, now he is insterested in this, but can't find any school to go to here in Northern Vermont. I wonder if one can become a plumber in some other way? Maybe working for one and getting work training?)

Anyway, I hadn't yet paid the phone bill, so had enough money to get materials, and he built a frame of 2X4s and put the sink top on it, with a counter of treated plywood. Sort of like a "temporary" set up. Because the only shut off in the house was for the entire house, and with the broken faucet we couldn't turn the water on. (Well, for a few hours while he was getting materials, I cut a piece off an old broomstick and jammed it between the broken faucet jammed in the pipe, and the windowsill, holding it down (into the pipe) so we could turn the water on. It was really funny, at the time. But it WORKED)

Anyway, we ended up with the sink on the frame, with the wood counter top and the faucets hooked up and not leaking. It might not look too fancy, but it's much better than the old white metal cabinet sink, with the faucets leaking.

In that case, most people would have said to me "you have to get a new sink and a plumber and have it all redone".

But, we did what we could.

I once wrote on this board, in fact that was how I found it, about the front porch which has been sinking in the front, and I wanted to brace it, just to help secure it now. And someone told me I should put safety first and not try and "save a few dollars", but to do call a contractor and do it right.

I know this. But what do people do who don't have several thousand dollars or whatever it would take to have their porch rebuilt right?

There's the RIGHT way and the "doing the best we can with what we have".

I do know electric heaters aren't all that safe, especially in the bathroom. But, I'm 59 years old, and been a wife and mother for 41 years, and for a lot of years we had and have had them. When I was a child, my parents had kerosene heaters. Tall balck metal ones, with a handle on the top. They'd carry one into the bathroom and light it in the winter.

We always had some kind of a portable electric heater when our kids were small. A QUARTZ heater, and at one time ones that had, I think OIL sealed in them, and looked like small radiators, that plugged in. (I still have one somewhere, that stopped working).

I have a metal electric heater that was in this house when we moved in 5 years ago, and we've used in the bathroom when it's really cold. We don't leave it going, (especially overnight)and keep it well away from water. It just seems like it's old and when I saw the picture of the CERAMIC one in the sale flyer it looked like it might be better and more efficient. Both the old and new heater tripped the breaker when the microwave was turned on with it. Just something to remember. Don't put on anything that uses a lot of electric, when the heater is on.

We did have a breaker box put in when we first moved in, to replace the box with 2 or 3 fuses in it.

I have a very healthy respect for electricity, and water (combined).

I know there is a better way to do things, just can't always do it.

All I can do is the best I can. In this way, I guess I am a true "do it yourself-er". Not so much the kind who can have a lot of expensive materials delivered, and do a weekend project, like putting down new tile or something. But, the kind who has to figure out and learn how to "do" things, a lot on my own. At leat for now. Hopefully, at some point I'll get into something that will bring in more income and I can get a lot of what needs doing, done.

LIke I said, probably most people in my situation don't have a computer and internet. Living in the country like I do, I know there are a lot of people like me, keeping things together as best they can.

Thanks for the feedback,

~ Carrie
Old 12-15-02, 07:38 PM
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Smile Your right. We have to do the best we can.


Had you thought of running the furnace fan to even out the temperature throughout the house.

The cost of running the fan would be much less than operating a portable heater.
Old 12-15-02, 07:56 PM
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Yeah, take the heater back and get another one.. Mine don't make any smell at all.. just on a first start up after it been shut off for a long time...

We all gotta do what we can do.. I hope you and your Family have a happy Holiday, and Merry Christmas! :-)
Old 12-16-02, 07:25 AM
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I returned the heater

I didn't get another one, all the other kids were more expensive, and that was all the money I had. They put the credit for it back on my debit card.

Greg, you said "Had you thought of running the furnace fan to even out the temperature throughout the house."

How do I run the furnace fan without the heat (gas) going on?

I didn't think the fan would run without it getting to a certain temp? I don't want to put out the pilot, and I don't think the fan would work by itself. I occasionally use the gas furnace, like putting it on in the morning, when it's not too cold and supposed to be warmer during the day. To avoid having to start a wood fire.

It's a LP gas furnace in the basement, with hot air ducts going through the rooms.

I have tried putting a window fan in back or, or in front of the woodstove, but it seems to go too fast, and cools the air. Maybe it's too big.

I think they sell special fans for circulating heat that aren't as fast.

I have a big front porch that faces south, and in the winter I have it enclosed in clear plastic. Which is a BIG help in keeping the wind and snow from hitting the front of the house. Sometimes when the sun is out, it's 90+ on the porch, even when it's 0 out ( using USA (F) degrees in this).

I have openned one of the house windows (out onto the porch) when it's hotter on the porch (with the sun hitting it) than in the house (LOL)

I've thought there might be a slow- heat circulating fan that would work good for this, and draw in the solar heated air, at least part of the day, when the sun is out and warming it on the porch.

The potential for solar heat is so obvious, I wonder why it's not used more? Of course it might put the oil companies out of business, but with all the trouble in the middle east, why aren't more looking into solar heating in a more aggressive way?

The oil companies could change over to solar heat. Of course, the sun is free and can't be metered and delivered (well, it could if the equipment used for it had a meter system on it) but seems like just making, and installing and maintaining what was needed for solar heating (passive or otherwise) would be just as big an industry as processing and deliverying oil.

I guess all the oil/gas heating people here won't like this.

Actually, in the past, we have had oil furnaces and not a lot of money for fixing and buying new, and I leanred a lot about them. Mainly from people we knew who worked on them, and helped us with ones we had. I like to learn all I can about things, when I get the chance. (no, I never learned the "tech" side of oil burners, and adjusting them, etc).

When we moved into this house, there was the LP gas furnace. If I had a choice, between gas and oil I'd have picked oil. Mainly because I'm more familiar with it and wouldn't dare do anything myself with the gas furnace. At that time (5 years ago) gas prices were lower than oil, but not now. We use the LP gas for hot water, too (got rid of the old gas stove and had an electric one put in.)

anyway, I'm rambling.... I wonder if there's a topic on here for solar heat? Or is that included in this one?

Always seems like there is so much one can do, "with money".

Even though the old MOTHER EARTH NEWS used to be full of ideas people could do with very little.
Old 12-16-02, 07:54 AM
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What do you have?

How old is your furnace and Brand?? Do you have Central Air??

If you have Central Air, on your T-Stat, there is a switch on the upper back-side of it saying "On-Fan-Auto" If you do have that switch, just flip it over to "ON' and that will turn your furnace fan, and run it all the time with out having to call for heat or cooling.. When the fan is running, it's going to pull the cool air out of the coolside of the house, and also pull the warm air in the warm side of the house, and mix it... After awhile, the temp in the house should balance out some what.

Also, make sure you don't forget to change your air filter..

If you have an older furnace.. Some of them has a white pull switch on the fan/limit control on the upperside of the furnace in the burner area. Also at times I've seen where a person set up another switch that will be marked fan on or auto on the side of the unit itself...
Old 12-16-02, 08:39 AM
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Make sure that you plug in the heater in a GCFI protected outlet if you use it in the bathroom or anywhere humidity may be present.
Old 12-16-02, 10:35 AM
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As jay said there is likely a switch inside the furnace to manually run the fan without the heat running.
A small number don't have this, but yours probably does.

As far as a fan for the wood stove, you would get better air movement if you put a fan in such a position that would blow heat out of the room the stove was in, rather that a fan that blew from the back of the stove to the same room.
This room is already warm enough.

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