Heaters for the Chemically Sensitive - Low Offgassing Options 2019

Types of Heaters 

Generally space heaters with fans are the most difficult here are some other options organised by type. 

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Heat Dishes

Optimus dish heater is a type I have used before. Others very sensitive have found that this type of heater has very little to offgas and does not take a long time. It does burn things if it is too close to objects that is a risk. There are a number of brands selling similar dish style heaters on Amazon.

Ceramic Heaters

For the extremely sensitive, universal reactor, the Ceramiciruit portable space heater is the way to go. This is the most tolerated that I have seen, and I have not seen anyone not tolerate it yet. But it is very costly at $988 plus shipping (approx $50 to ship to many parts of the US). If you are not a universal reactor I would try some of the other options from Amazon first.

Quartz Heaters

The next best tolerated type is quartz heaters. Some sensitive folks have recommended the Optimus tower quartz heater. There are other types of quartz heaters, but simpler is better. Optimus also makes a lower profile version that others have liked.

While space heaters with fans are not always the top choice, I have used some successfully with a few days of offgassing. Other sensitive folks have found this Vornado series (VMH10  to VMH600) to be very good.

Convection Heaters

The Patten Utility Heater was tolerated by someone who could not tolerate other convection heaters after some offgassing. It has been reported as noisier than others. There are a number of metal housing utility heaters. Some report only needing a couple or few days to offgas them.

Dyson, heater/fan/HEPA filter is also well tolerated by some.

Radiator Heaters

Oil filled radiator heaters are used by many. The oil is well sealed and should never leak out. I have seen it happen once but that is a major defect and failure. They look inert but they do offgass through the small vents in the front piece. Depending on your level of sensitivity I would say these heaters need to be offgassed for a while. Not having the noise of a fan is a plus for most people. You can find inexpensive versions. If you plan to run this and offgass it for a while, I would get a good quality one so that it will last you a long time.

Other Ways to Keep Warm

Heating blankets (can take a very long time to offgas), biomats (a little more tolerable and supposedly lower EMF) - those two won't work for the most sensitive. But the most tolerated plastic water bottle, Japanese Yutanpo metal water bottles might (buy them here in Canada and here in the US). It's a good idea to have emergency hand and feet warmers (really good to take out with you or for power outtages - I find them totally non-toxic).

Direct Vent Propane Heaters

Can be tolerable for many as the propane is vented.

Mini Split Heat Pump

This unit does not exchange inside and outside air. There is not much offgassing compared to other heating and cooling units.

Carl Grimes suggest it new AC equipment like heat pumps have an offgassing odour than it can be from heavy oil on stamped metal parts. It can be removed with a petroleum solvent, rinsed with hot water plus a non toxic detergent, then water only.

Keeping a mini split heat pump mould-free: 

There is some debate on whether a mini split can be kept clear of mould. I find these units easier to keep mould free than any other type of AC. The unit should come with a fine mesh filter on the front, once you take off the front panel you can access the coils. Keep that filter clean. I never got dust and mould on the coils. If your coils start to get dirt, grime or mould clean them. Make sure your unit is easily accessible. You spray the coils down with water and a cleaning products. Companies can do this part for you.

If you are there for the install, make sure the condensation tube is not too small. It should have a straightforward route out and where it empties should be easily accessible for you. You can pour hydrogen peroxide down the tube you can also blow it out with pressure or suction it out. Don't wait until it's plugged and overflowing to clean it. If that becomes mouldy it may be impossible to perfectly clean so preemptively cleaning it is a good idea.

You could ozone the unit a couple times without damaging it.

Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist with 5 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.

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