Oil Heater vs. Electric Heater: Which To Choose?

Last Updated on December 11, 2021

COSTWAY Oil Filled Radiator Heater

The ongoing debate between oil and electric heaters may never be resolved, though some “heated conversations” have come as a result. We mainly argue the main points: efficiency and overall performance, but eco-friendly is increasingly part of the dialogue. Whether you have been part of one of these conversations or not, it is a good idea to have some knowledge of what is better for you home.

That being said, we are not here to choose sides. We simply want to relay some information that you may not know and help you figure out what is best for you. Below, we will go into how they work and their effectiveness. Also, we look at the cost compared to the dangers, and another feature that is important to the decision making process. Read on below for some vital info on these two opposing systems.

How They Work

Starting with the oil heater, it works by pushing the heated oil through a series of pipes, which then radiates heat. Inside the oil heater, there are hollow tubes that the oil flows through. The oil is heated either by electricity or by a flame depending on the model.

Electric heaters use an electrical current to heat the air. The heaters are made of metal and when the electric current runs through it, the metal warms and spreads the warmth through the home. It is important o note here that electric heaters do heat more quickly than oil heaters but they also cool down faster causing the space to lose the heat more rapidly when you shut the heater off.

Both systems, depending on the size and model, can heat larger spaces and rooms when the weather is cold. They are a good option to add supplemental heat to your HVAC system without causing a huge spike in energy costs.

DeLonghi Oil Filled space heater

Oil Filled Heater, Credit: DeLonghi, Amazon

Cost and Eco-Friendliness

The cost of an electric heater can vary depending on the size, model, and manufacturer. They can be anywhere between $30 to $400 dollars depending on the option you pick. When it comes to the cost to run each model, that can vary as well based on your location.

Different states and towns have different energy rates. It can also depend on whether you are running your heater during peak or off-hours. That being said, both systems do run electricity. Oil heaters, though they do take longer to heat up, will stay warm for longer if you turn them down or off completely.

On the other hand, electric heaters need constant electricity running through them to keep the space warm. If you are planning to run the electric heater continuously through the worst of the cold weather, you will notice an increase in your energy costs.

When it comes to eco-friendliness, oil heaters and electric heaters are reality safe. The only drawback is oil heaters will eventually need to have the oil replaced, or removed when the item’s life span is done. With that said, oil in a heater can run for many years without needing to be changed at all.

Lasko 5160 Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote Control

Dangers and Other Considerations

When it comes to safety, oil heaters are the best bet. They do not become too hot to the touch are not prone to lighting anything on fire. Oil heaters are preferred when there are children in the home.

Electric heaters are a more dangerous option. They can become very hot to the touch, and anything draped over them such as curtains or blankets are and anger of catching on fire. Also, as there is such a large amount of electricity running through them, any liquids spills can quickly become dangerous.

A few other considerations are weight and noise. Electric heaters tend to be a lot lighter than their counterparts. This makes it easier to move and store away for the summer. Electric heaters are the noisier of the two though.

Oil heaters, while heavier, are quite like the oil running through it stays hot and does need anything another heating mechanism. Electric heaters have constant electricity running through them making it a noisier option.

andily Space Heater Electric

Electric Space Heater, Credit: Andily, Amazon

Which One Is Right For You?

With all of the above information, you still may not be sure which is right for you. Here are a few things to consider to help you choose. Do you need a heater that can warm the space quickly, or can you wait for gradual heat? Do you mind a slightly higher electricity bill, or do you aim to keep costs as low as possible?

Both of these questions can help you decide which option is best, but you may also want to consider whether there are children in the house. Electric heaters are not recommended for children as they get too hot, and can cause serious injury, You also do not want anything draped over it that could start a fire.


Regardless of which option you choose, both systems have their pros and cons. You will be able to add extra warmth to your home with either one while keeping your energy costs low.

We hope you have found some valuable information, and you now have a better idea of which one is right for you.

Written By Shannon MacDevine

Featured image credit: COSTWAY Oil Filled Radiator Heater, Amazon