are bathroom heaters safe

Bathrooms can be cold. If you have tiled floors and walls, temperatures can soon drop. There’s nothing worse than running to the bathroom in the morning to go to the toilet and feeling like you are in Antarctica as you walk barefoot on the floor to sit on that icy throne.

This causes many people to invest in (or at least consider) a bathroom heater. But are bathroom heaters safe? Surely electrical appliances like this are dangerous when used in a room with moisture and water? If your bathroom is cold and you need a solution, we answer this question in the below guide.

Bathroom Heaters and Safety

Yes, you can use a heater in the bathroom. However – and this is important – there are some caveats, and we advise you to consider the below questions before buying one.

What IP Rating Does the Electric Heater Have?

“IP Rating” stands for “Ingress Protection“. Many appliances have an IP rating which shows how much protection they have against foreign bodies, contact, and water.

Without going into too much detail, here is a quick summary of IP ratings:

  • The first digit relates to its protection level against foreign bodies and contact.
  • The second digit relates to protection against water.

Therefore, check the IP rating of the electrical appliance you want and look at the second number. If it’s a 0 – don’t use it in your bathroom, as it has no water protection. Numbers 1-8 are as follows:

  1. Protected against dripping water
  2. Protected against dripping water below 15 degrees
  3. Protected against spray
  4. Protected against splashes
  5. Protected against jets
  6. Protected against heavy jets
  7. Protected against temporary immersion
  8. Protected against permanent immersion

As a result, we advise only using a portable heating solution with a second-digit rating of 3-4 or higher.

Does Your Bathroom Have GFCI Outlets?

This is not essential, but it helps improve safety when using a portable heating element in your bathroom. “GFCI” stands for “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter“.

These are essentially safety outlets that will automatically switch off if there are any fluctuations in the electrical current. Therefore, if water vapour or something enters an electrical appliance, it should shut off and not cause a fire or electrical hazard.

GFCI outlets typically have test and reset buttons in addition to the plug sockets. If you are unsure, seek the advice of a qualified electrician. This is a safety standard that requires all homes built after 1975 to have GFCI outlets in bathrooms.

Is There Ample Space to Place a Heater Away From Potential Water?

The size of your bathroom matters too. Smaller bathrooms will not have as much floor space to place a portable heater. In contrast, larger bathrooms will typically have space to put the temporary heating device safely in the corner of the room.

This is important because, ideally, your electric device needs to be as far away from water sources as possible – i.e. your sink, toilet, and shower or bath. The further away you can place it, the less likely it is to come into contact with water and cause safety hazards.

Therefore, assess the space you have in your bathroom or shower room. If there is a corner you can tuck the electric appliance away in, then it could be safe to use.

Is the Electric Heater Reliable Enough?

If your only solution is to use portable heaters in your bathroom, don’t cheap out on the quality. If you buy a poor-quality electric heater, it’s more likely to have a fault or cause a real safety hazard.

Before buying one, check the IP ratings, customer reviews, and manufacturer specifications. Also, it would be best practice to buy from a trusted brand or even a product that specifically states it can be used in wet or damp rooms.

Does Your Bathroom Air Easily?

Lastly, how humid and damp does your bathroom or shower room get?

For example, smaller bathrooms and shower rooms will hold moisture for longer and can become damp easier. Does the bathroom have a window? What about an extractor fan?

If you can’t air the room easily, there should be a smaller chance that water vapour can enter the electrical appliances and cause problems.

Alternatives to Electric Bathroom Heaters

If you are answering no to most of these questions, we advise seeking an alternative heating system. Luckily, there are many options; you aren’t just limited to electric heaters. We discuss the most common and safest bathroom heating systems below.

Wall Mounted Heaters

a modern shower area

If you are unsure about a portable heater, a bathroom wall heater could be a great alternative. Bathroom wall heaters are specifically designed for use in rooms with high moisture content.

They typically come with a simple plastic vent, a fan, and a heating element. They can provide warmth continuously, and if safely installed, they are infinitely more secure than portable heaters.

The only downside is that a bathroom wall heater has to be mounted to your bathroom wall. Therefore, this can be more expensive and require minor construction work. They are not really something you can install yourself.

Space Heaters

A space heater is another great heating solution and a viable alternative to electric heaters. Space heaters evaporate water in the air and essentially dehumidify rooms. As a result, they have built-in protection against water damage.

A good space heater will easily outperform a standard wall heater or electric heater in terms of efficiency and speed. They can heat up your bathroom quickly, so you usually don’t have to run them for as long.

Electric Towel Rails

Many electrical appliances have dual purposes, for example, towel rails. Primarily, these useful appliances are used for drying towels and clothes. However, due to the heat they generate, they can make bathrooms much warmer.

A towel rail could be the perfect option if you have the wall space and electrical sockets. It provides a storage solution, a way to dry wet towels and clothes quickly, but will also generate heat for your bathroom – perfect!

Infrared Heaters

Lastly, the infrared heater is a popular electric heating option that is seeing more use. Infrared heaters have mirror panels that generate heat but can also work as a standard bathroom mirror.

The glass remains clear and free from steam due to the infrared heat, and due to the design and the way the heaters work, they are incredibly safe for bathrooms.

As they are wall-mounted, you can save space and don’t have to place a heater in the middle of the floor to keep your bathroom warm. For small spaces, an infrared heater could be ideal.

Think Carefully Before Using an Electric Bathroom Heater

So, are bathroom heaters safe? Yes, but only in the right circumstances. As you can see, it’s not a straightforward decision. Before you commit to buying an electric bathroom heater, we advise asking the above questions and determining if it’s safe. If not – why not consider one of the alternatives we have listed, like a space heater or electric towel rail?

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