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Safety of oil-filled electric heaters

Updated April 17, 2017

Sealed, oil-filled radiator heaters are becoming more popular as a home heating option. While these heaters offer some safety advantages compared to traditional radiant or forced-air heaters, there are still guidelines you should follow to ensure safe operation.

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Oil-filled heaters work by using an enclosed heating element to raise the temperature of a reservoir of non-flammable oil. The heat produced then radiates through the metal body of the heater.


Since the element is completely enclosed, the risk of the heater causing a fire is less than with exposed-element models.

Safety Features

Many oil-filled heaters utilise safety features like overheat sensors and automatic cutoffs which will turn the heater off if it is tipped over.

Common Sense

You should still follow basic heater safety procedures when using a radiator. Ensure that no flammable materials are within three feet of the device, plug it directly into a wall socket (not a power strip or extension cord), and allow the heater to cool down completely before moving it.


A common failure of oil-filled radiators is a leak in the oil reservoir. Should you notice such a leak, switch off and unplug your radiator immediately to prevent damage or injury from hot oil.

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About the Author

Milton Kazmeyer

Milton Kazmeyer has worked in the insurance, financial and manufacturing fields and also served as a federal contractor. He began his writing career in 2007 and now works full-time as a writer and transcriptionist. His primary fields of expertise include computers, astronomy, alternative energy sources and the environment.

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