When I was looking over the purchase prices of a new space heater, I wondered if these devices are compatible with smart plugs.
With more and more of my home being automated, having full control of a new space heater just seems like a good idea.
These appliances do pull more electricity, so is using a smart plug the best option?
Can you plug a space heater into a smart plug? There are no specific safety warnings that prevent the use of space heaters and smart plugs at the same time. However, there are certain precautions that should still be taken to prevent fires and keep your home safe.
Even though smart plug users are able to turn devices on and off with the click of a button through their smartphone apps, they should always make sure the space heater itself is completely shut down before leaving the house or going to sleep.
Space heaters are convenient devices to have during winter months when you need a little extra warmth. Since we know they can easily be plugged into the wall and used for long periods of time, do these same rules apply to smart plugs?
All About Space Heaters and Their Potential Dangers
A space heater is a self-contained device that is most commonly used to generate heat in a localized area, usually a single bedroom or smaller section of an entire home. They can be powered by various types of fuels and gases or can be completely electric.
The most common use of a space heater is to provide extra warmth to a certain section of the house when the temperatures are too cold for the central heating system to keep up with your heating needs.
In addition to most space heaters being powered by fuel or electricity, there are three main categories that these devices can fall under.
- The first category is convection heaters, which possess certain elements that become hot and transfer the newly created heat into the room in question. These elements are most commonly made from ceramic materials or sometimes metals.
- Space heaters can also fall under the category of infrared heaters, which use internal systems of wires to pass electricity and create heat as a result. Unlike convection heaters, this type of heater does not directly release the generated heat into the environment but rather transfers that heat onto another surface.
- The last type of space heater is known as a heat pump. These type of heaters are very similar to air conditioners because they move heat around in the room through an internal system. In more simple terms, heat pump space heaters will intake all of the existing heat that is surrounding the room and transfer it to inside the boundaries.
Even though space heaters can help to provide heat to different areas of a home relatively quickly, they can potentially become dangerous if certain safety measures are not taken at all times.
First of all, any space heater that is being used should always be tested for safety beforehand and UL certified. It is also absolutely necessary to turn off the space heater before sleeping to avoid any fires sparking up when no one is available to stop them.
Space heaters should never be placed on top of flammable surfaces like towels, rugs, carpets, or blankets. This can also include resting the space heater against any kind of furniture such as a couch that could potentially catch on fire.
Lastly, space heaters should always be new and up to date, with frequent replacements as needed when the current model becomes too old and outdated.
The Functions of Smart Plugs
Smart plugs are extensions that are inserted into wall sockets that can be controlled by a smartphone app. Once the smart plug is in the wall, other devices can be plugged into the outlet on the surface of the smart plug.
The smartphone application that is associated with the plug allows the user to turn connected devices on and off, without even being in the same room. So, if you leave the house in a rush and forget to turn off the lights, you would be able to turn off your bedroom lamp from your smartphone on the way to work.
Alternatively, you could start your coffee machine with the simple press of a button while you are still in bed, and have a steaming latte ready for you before you even enter the kitchen.
Smart plugs are also able to follow schedules that are set by the user and many of them are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa.
There are several different types of smart plugs that are available on the market, including indoor and outdoor devices. Here are some of our favorite smart plugs out now.
Smart plugs have also been reported to save money every month on electricity bills. This is done with the help of advanced features that most of these plugs offer, including detailed reports of energy use down to the consumption of each individual device.
The smart plug app could also tell you which lightbulbs in the house should be taken out and replaced with energy-saving alternatives.
Using Smart Plugs to Power a Space Heater
If you pay attention to the manufacturer directions and warnings that come with almost any kind of space heater, you will probably notice the warning about plugging the heater into surge protectors.
Most space heaters will instruct you to plug the heaters directly into the wall for optimum safety and the best possible experience.
These disclosures are given to consumers based on the fact that space heaters account for a large percentage of house fires, especially during the winter months when they are used most frequently. In fact, space heaters account for approximately one-third of all winter house fires.
With the increasingly user-friendly functions that come with a smart plug, including the ability to turn devices on and off remotely from a smartphone app, it is not unusual to wonder if space heaters can be plugged into them.
Even though space heaters are generally not supposed to be plugged into any kind of extension that comes out of the wall, which could include smart plugs, these directions are actually geared toward other objects like extension cords.
These recommendations are made due to the fact that space heaters draw large amounts of power from the outlets that they are plugged in to. Any kind of extension cord or external power strip will not be able to supply an adequate amount of power to the space heater, and could cause a fire hazard as a result.
The average space heater will require anywhere from one to two thousand watts of power to operate, which can actually be drawn from most smart plugs.
While it is true that plugging a space heater into a smart plug is not specifically encouraged by safety regulations, it is not directly discouraged either.
The largest percentage of house fires caused by space heaters are due to flammable objects being placed in their paths as discussed in earlier sections. In other words, it is more likely for a nearby towel to catch fire from the sparks that come from a space heater instead of the smart plug connection causing the device to bust out in flames.
Even though space heaters can be turned off with the push of a button from almost anywhere, the safety precaution of manually powering the heater off before leaving the house is the best practice in this situation, just in case of any failures within the smart plug system.
Since space heaters are supposed to be turned off when they are left unattended or when you are sleeping, it almost renders the smart plug an unnecessary feature.
What are the best types of space heaters to use during the winter?
In order to avoid the increased safety hazards that come with most types of space heaters, it is ideal to purchase an electric space heater for the winter months.
This type of space heater is more desirable because they avoid air quality concerns and are completely safe for in-home use. However, all precautions should be followed for any kind of space heater to decrease the risk of house fires.
How many fires are caused by space heaters every year?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that space heaters alone have accounted for over 25,000 fires in residential areas. These fires have also caused over 300 deaths every year.
How much do smart plugs usually cost?
There are various different models and types of smart plugs that exist on the market today with a variety of features and characteristics. Some of the most popular smart plugs that are available for purchase fall within a price range of anywhere from $20 to $50.
However more technologically advanced devices that are able to carry out more functions will have a higher price tag. Although homeowners can pay a large price to purchase smart plugs for every outlet in their home, the investment can be well worth it when the electricity bill drops in price for the months to come after the energy-saving plugs are put to use.