5 safety tips for using a space heater in a bathroom

5 Safety Tips for using a Space Heater in a Bathroom 

Can you use a space heater in a bathroom? If yes, what do you have to consider for safety? And which kind of space heater is best for bathrooms? In this article, we’re going to cover all of these questions and a little more.

But first:

Can you use a space heater in a bathroom?

Answer: Yes, you can use a space heater in a bathroom as long as you do it responsibly. Even though there’s water vapor in the air, most space heaters are still able to run just fine. You can minimize the risk of an accident by sticking to the space-heater-bathroom safety tips below.

Most people would initially think that you shouldn’t use a space heater in your bathroom. But that’s nonsense. As long as you stick to certain security measures, you’ll be safe.

Most space heater accidents are caused by misuse and not by technical failure.

Therefore, just make sure you follow the 5 tips below and you can safely use your space heater in your bathroom.

Even the first tip will prevent 75% of accidents (source).

5 Safety Tips for using a Space Heater in a Bathroom

So, let’s take a look at the safety tips for using a space heater in a bathroom.

1. Make sure your bathroom has GFCI outlets

The very first thing you need to check before using a space heater is whether your bathroom has ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets.

These safety outlets automatically shut off the power if there are slight fluctuations in current.  Thus, they protect you in case your space heater gets faulty (e.g. when water enters the electronics).

They are sensitive and quick:

“If the current flowing into the circuit differs by a very small amount (as little as 0.006 amperes) from the returning current, the GFCI interrupts power faster than a blink of an eye “

GFCI Fact Sheet –  United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

GFCI outlets are required by law in all bathrooms that are built since 1975.

If your house is newer than that, you surely have GFCI outlets. If it’s older, please check your outlets. Maybe they have been upgraded in the meantime.

You can easily distinguish CFGI outlets from normal outlets because they have two big buttons built-in: One button says “RESET” and the other says “TEST”.

In case you don’t have any CFGI outlets in your bathroom, don’t use a space heater!

2. Don’t use a cheap space heater in your bathroom

Oftentimes space heaters are built very cheaply and suited just for supplemental heat. These are the heaters for under 30 bucks you can find in supermarkets.

Cheap space heaters are nearly always fragile and undependable. Water vapor could make the electronics rust and wear your space heater down quickly.

If you have a bathroom without a regular heating source, you’re probably rather looking for a permanent solution instead of something that works for just a season before it breaks.

Additionally, cheap space heaters often lack safety features that you absolutely need in your bathroom.

“CPSC said that most electric heaters do not have protection against electrocution should the appliance come in contact with water.”

CPSC Cautions 

That’s why I recommend getting a quality space heater with high ratings where you can be sure it’ll reliably heat your bathroom.

I’ll recommend a good space heater later on.

3. Place your space heater in a safe spot in your bathroom

Generally, you should place your space heater as far as possible from any water source.

Mostly, that’s in a corner of your bathroom.

The reason is that while most (quality) space heaters can handle water vapor, they can’t handle dense fluid water. Placing it away from water sources makes sure you don’t accidentally splash water on it.

Additionally, and even more importantly: Keep your space heater on the ground. Never place it in an elevated position.

As long as it’s on the ground you can be sure, it can’t fall down into the bathtub, your shower or your sink. All of that would have dangerous consequences.

And you avoid that it hits the ground, breaks and exposes wires that carry electricity.

Always place your space heater on the ground and as far as possible from water sources.

4. Prefer Powerful Hot Space Heaters in your Bathroom

Here’s the most counterintuitive tip:

In bathrooms, powerful space heaters are the better choice.

Most people worry about powerful space heaters. But in bathrooms, they are exactly what you need.

But why?

A space heater that gets really hot evaporates the water in the air and dehumidifies the room – basically, it protects itself by reducing the amount of water that surrounds it.

Powerful space heaters protect themselves.

Additionally, the more powerful your space heater is, the faster it will heat up and the shorter the time you need to preheat it.

That means you could save money on your electricity bill and reduce risks (the shorter your space heater runs, the smaller the risk of an accident).

Also, bigger heaters are better than smaller heaters. Because they are heavier and more stable, they’re less likely to tip over.

They heat faster and are more durable.

Powerful space heaters outperform small, fragile space heaters in all ways when it comes to using them in a bathroom.

Generally, they are a more reliable choice.

5. Air your bathroom after showering

After showering or taking a bath, you should always air the bathroom.

The water vapor in the air could harm your space heater in the long run.

Therefore, open the window right when you’re finished taking your bath.

Airing your room with a space heater could theoretically be even more efficient as the heat prevents condensation of water. Thus, most of the humidity is in the air in the form of vapor and you can air your room more effectively.

If you don’t have a window in your bathroom, I recommend getting a strong ventilator to blow the humid air out of the bathroom and then open the windows in another room.

By airing your bathroom, you protect the electronics in your space heater from wearing down.

In the long run, rust could build-up in the electronic circuits of your space heater and decrease the efficiency.

I’ve had electronic devices (a bike light for example) that suddenly stopped working and when I opened them to see why (I’m an electrical engineer – I have to open everything that’s broken), I discovered that everything was full of rust. After scraping off the rust, it worked just fine again.

But you should avoid all the hassle and just air your room.

The Best Space Heaters for your Bathroom

I’ve found two space heaters really suited for bathrooms.

The first one is the Stiebel Eltron 074058 120-Volt 1500-Watts Wall Mounted Electric Fan Heater (click here to check the price on amazon).

It is specially designed for bathrooms and looks rather unsuspicious. You have to mount it to the wall.

“This is a well built and aesthetically pleasing heating unit. I have this in an outdoor home office that is 180 square feet.”

RainierRandy – Reviewer

However, it is really difficult to hardwire this space heater. So, I only recommend it if you know something about electronics and you like putting effort into such things (and being proud afterward).

The alternative choice, and that’s the one I recommend for most people, is this one:

dr infrared space heater you can use in a bathroom

The Dr Infrared Heater Portable (click here to check the price on amazon) will get your bathroom heating job done.

It’s very powerful. It quickly & effortlessly heats a bathroom and helps with dehumidifying

“This little heater heats the room so well and keeps it warm all night. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another one of these”

Tyler – Reviewer

Conclusion

Using a space heater in a bathroom is not dangerous at all as long as you follow these 5 safety tips.

By keeping them in mind all the time, you don’t have to worry about your space heater anymore.

Actually, you only have to remember airing your bathroom regularly.

The other tips are one-time considerations:

  • You only need to check whether your bathroom has CFGI outlets once.
  • You only need to get rid of your cheap space heater once.
  • Usually, you decide for one safe space heater spot in your bathroom and keep your space heater there. So that’s a one-time decision as well.
  • And you only buy a powerful space heater that’s suited for your bathroom once.

So,  go through these space heater steps once and stay safe in your bathroom forever.

I hope, I encouraged you to use your space heater safely and confidently in your bathroom.

The risk in your hands as long as you handle your heater with responsibility.

Remember: Most accidents are caused by human misuse of the heater and not by the heater itself.

Anyways, if you’re interested in more space heater articles, I’d recommend to check out this article:
5 Space heaters you can leave unattended (Safe & Reliable)

About the Author

Daniel Hirsch

Daniel is an electrical engineer, blogger, and author. He studied electrical engineering and information technology and decided to blog about heaters after working in the temperature sensing industry.