Infrared vs Oil Heaters: Head-To-Head Comparison

Space heaters are amongst the most bought heating equipment in the chilly season. These heating units are available in different types, models, shapes and sizes to suit the changing needs of the buyers. Amongst the many popular types of space heaters, infrared and oil-filled heaters are largely purchased by people in the winter.

Both these heaters do a commendable job of heating a particular room in the household or the office. People also use these heating devices to warm up their garages, workshops, etc. Infrared and oil-filled heaters have unique pros and cons that might help you decide the best pick for this season.

In this write-up, we will compare these two types of space heaters head-to-head. We will also suggest which option is best for you and why. Keep reading to understand these devices in detail.

Infrared vs Oil Heaters

Difference Between Infrared Heater & Oil Heater?

There are several differences between an Infrared heater and an oil space heater. Infrared heaters are designed to provide direct heat to the object placed in front of the heating device, whereas oil-filled space heaters heat the entire room evenly. Besides, there’s a lot more to the difference list. Let’s take a look at these distinctions in detail.


Infrared Heaters

Oil-filled Heaters


Infrared heaters are light in weight. They are manufactured using lighter materials like plastic, thin metal, etc.

Oil-filled space heaters are heavier as compared to Infrared heaters. The oil-filled heaters are manufactured with a big oil tank made using a metal body. These tanks make the device heavier.


Infrared heaters are available in different sizes. You can choose a heater in different sizes depending on your budget and other requirements. The power and efficiency of an infrared space heater are directly proportional to its size.

Oil-filled space heaters are comparatively bigger. They are majorly available in two sizes, big and small. Big heaters perform better and are more expensive

Heating Speed

Infrared heaters are extremely fast. They can heat any object in front of the device in a matter of a few seconds. You can instantly feel the heat coming out as soon as you turn on these heaters.

Oil-filled heaters use oil as fuel to generate heat, and it takes several minutes for the machine to distribute the heat evenly. Oil heaters are great when you need a heating source for a prolonged period.


Infrared heaters are super easy to move and easier to operate. You can move them from one place to another without additional support as these are lightweight and easy to carry.

As already explained, oil-filled heaters are heavier, and hence moving them from one place to another is quite a task. However, many models come with roller legs, which makes movement easier.

Heating Capacity

The heating capacity of an Infrared heater is extremely low. This means the infrared heater cannot store any heat and the hot air goes off as soon as you switch off the heater.

Oil heaters, on the other hand, use oil as fuel that remains hot for a long time, even after switching off the device. This hot oil keeps emitting heat to keep the room warmer for long.


Infrared heaters need proper maintenance and are easy to maintain as they include simple elements. In case of malfunction, you can open and check the heater on your own.

Oil-filled heaters do not require regular maintenance, but if the device malfunctions, it becomes harder to fix them without the help of an electrician.


Infrared heaters emit direct heat on the object placed before the heater, which can make your skin excessively dry. As a result, infrared heaters don’t feel as comfortable as the oil-filled heater.

Meanwhile, oil-filled heaters produce even heat that makes the entire room warm. In this heating system, the heat is not directed to any particular object; therefore, the comfort level is optimum with this heating system.

So, these are some of the basic differences between an infrared heater and an oil-filled heater. Infrared heaters are perfect for instant heat, while oil heaters are best for a more stable and prolonged heat requirement.

What is an Infrared Heater?

Infrared Heater
Chernetskaya /

An infrared heater is a heating unit that uses coils to generate heat with the help of a bulb. After the heat is produced, it travels to the objects or people present around the heater using infrared radiation.

Infrared heaters are faster and emit heat in as little as a minute, the same as the sun. Similarly, it cools down as fast as it generates heat. As soon as you switch off the heater, the heat disappears, bringing the temperature down to cold conditions. Therefore, infrared heaters are great for quick heating necessities.


  • These heaters are lightweight and easy to carry.
  • They emit heat at high speed and reach the maximum temperature within a minute or so.
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • They are easy to store because of their compact size.


  • Not efficient enough to heat a large room.
  • It is not safe to touch the heater’s body.
  • The heating capacity is too low, generating no heat after the device is off.
  • Infrared heaters are fragile and can break easily.

What is an Oil Space Heater?

Electric Oil Heater
Volodymyr Kondratiev /

The oil-filled heaters are large-size heating units that often look like radiators. The design of oil-filled heaters has fins and columns with no openings as they are enclosed on all sides.

This heater has an oil reservoir, and when the oil in this reservoir heats, these fins heat up. The oil in the tank takes a long time to heat, which makes this heater a little slower than its counterparts.

Similarly, when you switch off the heating unit, the oil takes time to cool down, keeping the room warmer even after the power is off. The oil-filled heater warms the environment around the unit, spreading even heat.

The best part about oil heaters is that they make absolutely no noise and are one of the quietest heating systems.


  • Supremely efficient for heating large rooms
  • Safe to touch the outer body of the heater
  • Comes with a very high heating capacity as it generates a good amount of heat even after the heater is switched off.
  • Oil heaters are child and pet safe as the outer body is safe to touch
  • Very stable and long-lasting


  • They are heavier and difficult to move because of their solid, durable metal body.
  • The heating speed of oil heaters is comparatively slow
  • It can only be used in closed rooms

Which Is Cheaper Infrared Heater Or Oil Heater?

An infrared heater is cheaper than an oil heater.

You can find oil-filled and infrared heaters within the price range of $50 to $200. Both these heating units are manufactured in cheap to expensive price ranges. With more price comes more features, and this applies to both the heater categories.

An infrared heater is cheaper because of its size and the product’s material. In addition, the cost of running an infrared heater is also less compared to the oil one.

However, oil-filled heaters are more durable and have a better heating capacity.

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Which Is More Efficient Infrared Heater Or Oil Heater?

Oil-filled heaters are always more efficient than infrared ones.

Different people might have different views on efficiency, depending on how they use the heater. For instance, if someone has to use a heater outdoors, an infrared heater would be more efficient for them.

In contrast, if a household has big rooms and an individual is looking for a heating system that emits even heat, the oil-filled heater would be the best.

So, depending on the type of use, the efficiency of the product can be ascertained. 

Which Is Better Infrared Heater Or Oil Heater?

An infrared space heater is best for small rooms, while oil-filled ones are best for widespread areas.

Both infrared and oil-filled heaters have pros and cons, and you should always choose an option depending on how you use the device.

Infrared heaters are compact, easy to use, easy to maintain, and cost-effective as they consume lesser energy comparatively. On the other hand, oil-filled heaters provide even heat. They are best for heating bigger areas and keeping a room warm for a long time, even after the device is turned off.

Infrared heaters require regular maintenance, which is not the case with oil-filled options.

So, depending on your needs and preferences, choose a product accordingly.

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Final Thoughts

Both these types of space heaters are highly popular and largely in demand. Infrared heaters are best for instant heat, while oil heaters are great for a more stable and long-lasting heating experience.

You can choose between the two depending on your needs and preferences. In addition, your budget also comes into play while you struggle to pick one of these space heaters.

Generally, if you always have kids and pets around the heating unit, you should prefer oil-filled heaters as they are safer and more reliable with curious family members.

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