Oil Filled vs Electric Heater (The Complete Pros & Cons Guide)

During extreme winters, your house may require an additional heating source. With temperatures dropping below naught in winters outside, keeping warm indoors may require a little extra help. This is where space heaters come to the rescue.

Buying a heater that suits your room temperature needs while saving your dollars on the bill can be a tricky choice. For your help, we have drafted an in-depth information guide regarding oil-filled and electric heaters. They provide a quick fix to your heating concerns while turning your rooms warm and cozy amid piercing cold outside.

Choosing the right heater from a motley of heaters available in the market can be a daunting task. You would need sufficient technical information regarding them. Otherwise, you might become overwhelmed. To better understand which heater is best to address your heating concerns, we have put together the complete pros and cons guide on oil-filled vs. electric heaters.

Oil Heaters

oil heater

An oil heater is also known as an oil-filled heater or oil-filled radiator. Contrary to its name, oil-filled heaters do not burn oil to produce heat. Diathermic oil is used as a reservoir, not as a fuel.

As the heating element located at the base of the heater converts electricity into heat, an oil-filled radiator pulls in cool air from the surroundings and pushes out the heat via thin fins. It uses thermal radiation and heat convection for this process.

Pros of Oil Filled Radiators

For a comparative analysis between oil-filled and electric heaters, we shall start by listing the advantages of oil-filled space heaters.

Energy Efficient

Oil-filled heaters are energy efficient as they can help in lowering down your electricity consumption. Once the diathermic oil is heated up, it retains heat and continues to provide heating even after it is switched off.

Only oil is heated by electricity, not the entire room. The heated oil then continues to provide heat without electricity consumption, saving a few dollars per unit.

Work Best in Small Areas

If you are looking for heaters that work efficiently in small to medium enclosed spaces such as bedrooms, garages, living rooms, and office cubicles, then oil-filled heaters are your go-to solution. Unlike electric heaters, which are quick to heat up and cool down, oil-filled heaters will keep a small area warm for a long time.


Often, electric heaters, particularly fan heaters, make a persistent noise. This noise can be irritating if you want a sound sleep at night. On the other hand, oil-filled heaters make no noise as they operate without a fan and use convection heating. Hence, they’re preferable.


Most modern oil-filled heaters come with wheels at the bottom. These wheels provide easy portability and maneuverability. You can place these heaters in any room as per convenience, without the hassle of carrying them manually.

Keep the Air Humid and Clean

Oil-filled radiators are known for keeping the environment clean and humid. Unlike electric fan heaters, which are notorious for sucking out humidity from the room, oil-filled radiator space heaters maintain a stable airflow without drying out the environment.

Thus, your health will not be compromised, and your room will remain heated for extended periods.


With kids running around in the house near an electric heater, you may be worried about their safety. Indeed, electric heaters have high heat output, and therefore, their heated surfaces are dangerous. You can burn your skin if you accidentally touch the surface.

On the other hand, oil-filled radiators have columns that do not heat much and prevent skin burning. So, if you have kids in your house, you know which heater to opt for.

Little boy sitting near oil-filled radiator

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Cons of Oil Heaters

As with any other electric appliance, oil-filled radiators also have certain disadvantages which need to be considered before buying.


Oil-filled space heaters are more expensive than electric heaters. Since they use convection heating with diathermic oil, this technology is relatively new and expensive.

Nevertheless, these heaters save energy consumption in the long run, and thus, you will have reduced bills in the future.


Most oil-filled heaters are bulky and large. This makes them a nuisance in the room, as they take up extra space. However, with wheels available, these can be easily moved around, reducing one dilemma of carrying them at your end.

Take Time to Heat up

Unlike other electric heaters, oil-filled heaters consume a significant amount of time to heat up. For instant heat, oil-filled radiators might not be a suitable option. Though, once heated, they take a while to cool down as well.

Electric Heaters

electric heater

An electric heater is an appliance that converts electrical energy into heat energy. They have electric resistors that convert the electric current into heat energy. Infrared radiation heaters, convection heaters, and fan heaters are all examples of electric heaters.

Read also: Saving Energy with Electric Resistance Heating

Pros of Electric Heaters

Even though they are relatively conventional, electric space heaters have certain advantages as compared to oil-filled heaters. We will discuss them below.


As they use a relatively simpler technology, most electric heaters are cheaper as compared to oil-filled heaters. You can buy a fan heater with almost half the amount of an oil-filled heater, saving you dollars in the initial purchase.

Heat Up Fast

Electric heaters are best for quick room heating. This is an advantage over oil-filled heaters, especially when you spent a while outside of your house in a chilling night, and need an instant heating appliance to make you warm.

Suitable for Large Spaces

Electric heaters are best for large laboratories, warehouses, and office floors. This is because they take significantly less time to heat up even the largest of spaces. In contrast, oil-filled heaters may not work efficiently in large spaces, as they take significant heating time. 

Cons of Electric Heaters

To make an intelligent choice, a customer must know the disadvantages of an appliance as well. We have listed a few cons of electric heaters for your referral.

Do Not Retain Heat

Since electric heaters rely on heat conversion technology, they only provide instant or on-the-spot heating. While this may seem like an advantage, the disadvantage is that your room also cools down as quickly as it heats up when the heater is switched off.

Consume More Electricity

Electric heaters are heavy on your bill. A typical fan heater can draw on about 2000-3000 watts of energy. They are known to lose heat as quickly as they heat up your surroundings. So, you have to keep them running for extended hours.

Lack a Thermostat

Most electric heaters lack a thermostat. You are unable to adjust the heat and maintain a constant room temperature while using an electric space heater.

Cause Noise Pollution

Electric fan heaters are noisy. As the fan rotates, it creates noise pollution in the room, which may be irritating to a lot of people.

They May Cause Health Concerns

Radiation electric heaters may not be safe for health. Bad air quality causes health issues such as difficulty in breathing, allergies, and asthma.

Read also: Electric Heater Keeps Tripping Breaker

Oil Heater vs Electric Heater: A Summary

There are many obvious differences between oil heaters and electric heaters. It is necessary that you make a smart and intelligent choice when it comes to buying a heater in winter. 

Both types of heaters operate with electricity. Hence, you should keep energy consumption and efficiency in mind before making a purchase. 

Moreover, the choice depends on the room size in which you wish to place the heater. Remember, there is never a good or a bad choice, just a smart choice! So, make sure you make a smart decision.

With a lifelong fascination with HVAC mechanics and a mechanical engineering degree from Berkeley, Thomas Johnson boasts years of industry expertise. He founded AirComfortLab.com to fill the void of understandable and useful online information about complex HVAC systems. As the chief editor, Thomas strives to provide accurate and engaging content to help readers make informed HVAC decisions.

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