Are infrared heaters safe to leave on overnight?

Infrared heaters are perfectly safe to leave on overnight. Over-heating protection makes sure infrared heaters will not get too hot. Tip-over protection ensures shut down in case the heater should fall over. Infrared heaters do, however, require a safe distance of 3 feet (0.9 m) from other objects so the heat output doesn’t get blocked.

Except for gas-fired heaters, infrared space heaters are safe to leave unattended during the night. However, some things need to be taken care of before it is completely safe.

An infrared heater in the bedroom


A modern infrared heating panel is entirely safe to leave on during the night. Other common infrared heaters, such as portable quartz heaters or gas-fired heaters, are less safe. However, they can be left on during the night after taking the following measures:

  • keep a safe distance from other objects
  • place the heater in such a way that tripping hazard is minimized
  • prevent children and pets from reaching the heater


Additionally, when purchasing an infrared heater, keep your desire to run it overnight in mind. Consider purchasing a heater with the following features:

  • tip-over protection
  • automatic shut-off when the heater becomes too hot
  • a timer function
  • a thermostat

Hey! If you are interested in the benefits and potential issues with infrared heaters, you can read my article: Infrared heating pros and cons (personal experience)



Gas-fired infrared heaters cannot be left unattended

Some infrared heaters are fueled by gas rather than electricity. These heaters are not safe to run during the night as they should not be left unattended. In the case of a gas leak, it is vital to be able to smell the gas and shut off the device. This is not an option when you are asleep, and a gas leak is very dangerous. Some gas-fired infrared heaters explicitly mention that they should not be used in bedrooms.



How to ensure a safe distance around infrared heaters

To ensure maximum safety, read the owner’s manual carefully, and follow its advice. Using your heater correctly goes a long way in ensuring safety. For this, place your infrared heater in such a way that the device can function properly:

  • Keep combustible materials such as furniture, pillows, bedding, papers, clothes, and curtains at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) from the front and rear of the heater, and keep them away from the sides.
  • The heater must not be located immediately below a socket-outlet.



Safety concerns and preventive measures for overnight heating

As long as nothing can get too close in front of a wall or ceiling mounted heater, there are no safety concerns for leaving them on all night.

For portable infrared heaters, some safety precautions need to be taken before they are safe to leave on during the night.



How to prevent blocking of the heat output

In order to safely leave the heater unattended, any potential blocking of the heat output has to be prevented. Therefore, the following list of do’s and don’ts need to be ensured:

  • Do not place anything close to the front and rear of the heater.
  • Do not cover the heater, as this may block airflow and cause the heater to malfunction.
  • Do not block air intakes or exhaust in any manner, this prevents a possible fire.
  • Do not place the heater on soft surfaces, like a bed, where openings may become blocked.
  • Do not insert or allow foreign objects to enter any ventilation or exhaust opening as this may cause an electric shock, fire, or damage to the heater.
  • Do not use the heater in areas where gasoline, paint, or flammable liquids are used or stored.

To best prevent any blocking of the heater, make sure that there are no curtains or bedsheets close to the heater. You have to be really sure that nothing is able to come into contact with the heater during the night.



How to prevent tripping hazard

Portable infrared heaters are normally installed on the ground and are not fixed in place. Therefore, your children, pets, and yourself can bump into the heater or trip over the power cord. Especially on a nightly bathroom trip. This can cause the heater to tip over and cause a multitude of issues such as:

  • malfunction due to damage by the fall
  • blocking of the heat outlet, causing the heater to quickly over-heat
  • (small) objects can have entered the heater due to the fall, and catch fire when coming into contact with the heating element



How to reduce the tripping hazard

To prevent tripping over or bumping into the heater, make sure to place it so that it does not block any walkways. The power cord is also a tripping hazard. Therefore, make sure to arrange the power cord away from the walkways. However, be sure to follow these safety requirements:

  • Do not run the cord under carpeting.
  • Do not cover the cord with rugs, runners, or similar coverings.
  • Make sure the power cord is not rolled up when the heater is in use.
  • Avoid the use of an extension cord because the extension cord may overheat and cause a risk of fire.



What to look for in an infrared heater for nightly safety

There are several features that make an infrared heater safer to use during the night. These features are:

  • tip-over protection
  • automatic shut-off when the heater becomes too hot
  • a timer function
  • a thermostat



Tip-over protection

Most portable heaters come with tip-over protection. This means that anytime they tip over, they automatically shut down. This feature is especially useful when using the heater overnight, as tripping is more likely when walking through the house during nightly bathroom visits.


This button is pressed when the heater is standing upright, causing the heater to shut down when it tips over.



Automatic shut-off

An important safety feature of infrared heaters that become extremely hot, such as quartz heaters, is an automatic shut-off. This feature makes sure the heater will shut down when the heating element becomes too hot. With this feature, you can be sure that the heater is working properly all the time.



Timer function

Some infrared heaters have a timer option. This can be useful if you want the heater to keep the room warm for a set amount of time when you go to bed, but don’t require constant heating during the night.



Thermostat

Infrared heaters sometimes have an in-built thermostat. This is a very useful feature as you can set a comfortable temperature for the night. Keep in mind that a relatively cool room temperature provides the best sleep. Studies have shown that men sleep optimally between 17 and 28 degrees Celcius (63 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit). Women prefer temperatures between 23 °C (73 °F) and 28 °C (82 °F).

You can read all about how to get the best night’s sleep in my article: Does air quality affect sleep? Yes, here’s how



Infrared heating panels are the safest option

Modern infrared panels have several advantages compared to conventional IR space heaters. First of all, they are mounted to the wall or ceiling, eliminating any tripping hazard and never tipping over. On top of that, these panels tend to not get very hot. In fact, they are safe to touch for a second or two without any danger. Therefore, they are perfectly safe to leave on during the night.

On top of that, these panels can easily be connected to a thermostat and a timer. Because of this, the desired temperature can be maintained even when unattended.

Other advantages of infrared panels are that they look sleek and modern and can be ordered as a plain white panel, a mirror, or a piece of art. See the pictures below.

A beatiful landscape picture on an infrared panel.
An infrared panel as an art piece.
Image credit: Arno Reijnen from www.infrarood-warmtepanelen.nl
bathroom mirro and IR panel in one
An infrared panel used as a bathroom mirror.
Image credit: Arno Reijnen from www.infrarood-warmtepanelen.nl