Oil filled Radiator Pros and Cons

A woman relaxing in the warmth of her oil heater Winter is just around the corner and it's time to figure out how to warm up the old homestead. Many of us are trying to find inexpensive heat due to the rising cost of natural gas and electricity, indeed some people are dealing with reduced incomes and are really struggling to find a way to protect their families from the painful cold of winter.

You may want to consider oil filled radiators that work really well to heat up a room and cost very little to operate when compared to other forms of heating. In colder climates, households with central heating and air systems may find the costs to run a central system are too high. In those homes it may work well to lower the thermostat to about 55 degrees or turn off the central system completely and use portable oil filled heaters to heat particular rooms at different times of the day. Or if one lives in a small house or apartment, an oil filled heater may be perfect to heat most of the home for relatively little cost.

Oil filled radiators work really well to heat a room when it's on and the great thing is that they still radiate heat for a while after they are turned off due to the temperature of the oil. That is not always true about other heaters that create heat only when they are directly turned on because once switched off they quickly lose any residual heat.

Another great thing about these portable radiators is that they can be moved from room to room depending on where the heat is needed and they can be safely used when everyone is asleep. Even if it gets tipped over, the heater has a tip over switch that automatically turns it off preventing any accidents. Although it is generally safe to touch or move, the radiator should be kept at least 3 feet from surrounding objects. Not only is this smart fire prevention, but is also allows better circulation of the heat emanating from the oil filled coils.

How the radiator works

These oil filled radiators work by warming the oil in the channels which move through the system which in turn heats the oil inside the coils. The walls of the heater gradually warm the air around the heater as the air moves through the fins. As the air moves through the coils it continues to move away from the oil heater and by the nature of hot air, upwards, warming up the room and drawing in colder air to heat. Unlike other types of heaters, these radiators warm the air first and then the objects in the room helping the warm air retain its heat well after the radiator is turned off.

Some radiators have digital thermostats that allow you to set the temperature and once the room achieves the proper temperature, your heater will turn itself off until the room's temperature drops below the temperature set, at which point the heater kicks in once again to keep the temperature of the room at the desired level. The heaters work great for rooms and spaces of up to 150 square feet.

Safety features

The oil in the channels is electrically heated so there is no exposure to any flame and as this oil travels through sealed channels it is never exposed to any potential hazards. The covers for the heated walls protect children's hands or pet's curious noses from harm. In fact, the surface temperature of the heater is low enough that one may lay damp coats or gloves to speed their drying, but be careful to remove them as soon as they are dry. Although the heater's surface temperature is generally safe to touch, once clothes do dry, they can become too warm so it’s always wise to keep an eye on them. You can find more safety tips here.


Most oil filled radiators use about 300 to 400 watts to operate as opposed to other forms of heaters that use as much as 1500 watts. The radiators advantage is that even after the heater is turned off, perhaps before bedtime, the oil in the coils continues to emit heat for a longer time than other heaters that do not give off any heat after they are switched off. The relative silence of the radiators is preferable if the heater will be used in the bedroom as most other heaters have noisy fans that go way beyond “white noise” and may not keep the room as comfortable.


One feature that really draws in people is the portability on the caster wheels which allow easy moving from room to room depending on where the family is gathered. The heaters are also small and lightweight enough to use in the office. The low power draw is also safe to plug in to power strips in the office and uses such a low amount of power to operate that no one will notice a change in the fuel bill. The comfortable heat is great for the office that may require lower temperatures than humanly comfortable for the sake of the computers and other electronics situated.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages

A portable radiator can easily be moved from room to room The advantages of oil filled radiators are pretty clear:

  • Portable
  • Low power use
  • Sealed heater so hands or items will not come to harm.
  • Quiet
  • Room or area stays warm longer even after heater is turned off
  • Newer heaters have digital thermostats
  • Tip over safety switch prevents accidents
  • Great for smaller homes and rooms

The disadvantages are less clear, but should also be noted:

  • Some are larger and cumbersome to move. If you live in a two-story home, you may want to get a heater for upstairs too, for convenience sake.
  • They take a while to warm up, there is no instant heat I’m afraid
  • The initial cost may be higher, but the relatively low operation costs will pay for itself very quickly
  • Some people notice a smell that they find bothersome however this can be masked by using scented oils.
  • Some heaters have a hit and miss thermostat, so temperature is not quite exact
  • Better suited to smaller space due to relatively low output of heat.

Oil filled radiators are great for small homes and apartments that need a little boost of heat when the room will be occupied and it will continue to keep the air warm for a little while even after its turned off before bed. The safety issues of the past have been effectively addressed by manufacturers with tip over switches. The heated oil remains sealed and never burns off so the heaters will last for years without needing to be refilled or such.

If you and your family are preparing for a long winter on a really tight budget, then this is the right type of heater for your home. You can heat the main room with one heater and turn it off at the end of the night, and then have smaller units for the bedrooms so everyone stays safely warm even in the dark cold depths of winter. The initial cost of the heater may set you back at first, but the radiators pay for themselves quickly with monthly savings, especially in colder parts of the country that have long 4 to 6 months of bone-chilling winter.

If your office is on a tight budget, a smaller unit will provide a welcome respite from the cold, too. Low watt usage will go unnoticed by the office manager who might not even notice there is a heater under the desk keeping your toes toasty because the units are so quiet.

The advantages of an oil heater are clear with low-cost, safety in mind, and perfect radiant heat.