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Shopping for home heating is not a simple process given the wide range of products and fuels on the market. So, you might be wondering about the best heaters to heat multiple rooms. In this post, we combine industry professional knowledge and up-to-date research to answer your question.
There are many feasible ways to heat multiple rooms in a home. What is best depends on the details of your situation including fuel price and fuel availability. However, of the products available on the market today, the following heaters are the best options for multiple rooms:
- Electric resistance
- Heat pump
- Mini-split heat pump
- Gas wall mount or parlor stove
- Wood stove or fireplace
- Pellet stove
Keep reading the rest of this post for details on how to choose from the above list. We include recommendations for high-end products that fit each category. In reading this guide, you will learn about the pros and cons of the main at-home heating options.
How to Choose a Heater for Multiple Rooms
To choose a heater for multiple rooms, you need to pick ducted or unducted, the fuel, the size, and then finally, the brand and model.
Ducted vs. Unducted
When deciding how to heat multiple rooms, the first decision is whether you will be using ducts or not. Ducts are large conduits that allow a furnace to pump conditioned air from a central location to all the rooms of a home.
Once you have chosen ducted or unducted, then you will want to choose your fuel. Make this choice based on the availability of the fuel, utility prices, and budget. Below, we cover some of the advantages and disadvantages of the various fuel types.
Now that you have chosen your fuel, the final choice is to pick how large of a heater you need. Generally, heaters are sized by their BTU/hour input and output. As a rough rule, you need about 20 BTUs per square foot.
However, the actual required size of a heater is determined based not only on the square footage you plan on heating but also on several other home factors like local climate and insulation levels.
Therefore, asking a weatherization or HVAC professional what size heater they recommend is the most efficient option. This is because both undersized and oversized heaters use more energy than a heater that is properly sized for a space.
Heater Brand and Model
Only after you have made the above two choices will you want to decide on the heater brand and model. The market offers a wide selection of heaters that are likely appropriate for your space.
However, most of the heaters that are appropriate for multiple rooms require a professional installation. Thus, speaking with an HVAC contractor about their available options is an excellent choice. Or, continue your research but with much narrower search terms.
7 Best Heaters for Multiple Rooms
In the following sections, we'll cover the best heaters for multiple rooms. We'll consider ducted and unducted and then the many fuel types. The sizing you require is specific to your space.
Ducts are the most efficient way to move conditioned air from a central furnace to multiple rooms. In fact, a well-ducted furnace can efficiently and effectively heat an entire home. In addition, those same ducts can be hooked up to cooling to keep your home comfortable in the summer month.
That being said, ducts cost between $12 and $25 per linear foot to install. Thus, adding ducts can get expensive fast. Because of this cost, ducts are usually only considered if you are trying to heat three rooms or more.
This caveat is especially applicable because the increase in heating efficiency that ducts impart is less pronounced for smaller spaces and fewer rooms. Below, we'll consider the main fuel types that can be hooked up to ducted systems.
Gas includes both propane and natural gas. Generally, propane is stored in a large tank on your property which you will have to periodically get a company to refill. Natural gas, on the other hand, is a service that utilities pipe to many homes in and near cities.
If you have access to these fuels, gas is a very cost-effective way to heat multiple rooms, especially when ducted.
Downsides include the necessity to get a professional to make the installation of the gas lines and gas-fired furnace. Also, these units create more greenhouse gasses than some other options on the market.
Electric furnaces are also feasible choices, especially for those homes that have no gas hookup. While more readily available, electricity is usually more expensive per unit of heat output when compared to gas.
Electric furnaces are also generally the cheapest ducted option. This is based on the lower price of the appliance itself but also on the simplicity of installation. Still, you will need to hire a professional to put the furnace into your home.
Ducted heat pumps are an increasingly popular technology, especially because they can both heat and cool your home. Like electric resistance heaters, heat pumps use electricity to work. However, they also use the heat transfer properties of refrigerant compounds in order to be more efficient.
In fact, and according to the Department of Energy, heat pumps reduce the cost of heating with electricity by about 50 percent.
The major advantages of ducted heat pumps are somewhat eclipsed by the very high upfront cost of the appliances alone. However, for those that can move past the sticker shock, the increased efficiency may save money over many years of appliance use.
Unducted systems rely on the thermal conductivity of air and home material to move heat from one room to another. Because of this, the area immediately next to the heater is usually much hotter than those areas that are far away from the heater.
To make up for this, single locations heaters designed for heating many rooms are often equipped with fans. The other strategy used for heating many rooms is to just put out more heat. Unfortunately, this is usually not as efficient or comfortable across the entire home.
Below, we'll cover the best option for heating multiple rooms without ducts. We do not include electric resistance heat because this technology is best suited to heating only one room per heater.
Mini-Split Heat Pump
Mini-split heat pumps use the same technology discussed above in the ducted heat pump section. This means that they are super efficient at both heating and cooling a room or multiple rooms.
The conditioned air is blown out of a head that is usually installed high on an interior wall. Depending on which way these heads face, they often can effectively heat and cool multiple rooms. These heads are usually white and are about 1 foot by 1 foot by 4 feet large.
Overall, mini-split systems are relatively expensive to purchase but are also cheap to run and quite versatile. Be warned—not all homes have layouts that are appropriate for mini-split systems. Ask a local professional if a mini-split system is right for you.
Gas Wall Mount or Parlor Stove
Gas systems can also be installed in a central location to heat multiple rooms. Both natural gas and propane are options that you can consider based on local availability.
Generally, you can choose to get a wall mount, parlor stove, or fireplace gas heater. Unfortunately, these smaller gas heaters are not as efficient as their larger ducted cousins. However, gas is still usually a relatively cheap way to heat a home.
Wood Stove or Fireplace
Wood stoves or fireplaces are tried and true but very inefficient. However, a well-placed model can easily heat several rooms if given enough attention.
This requirement for attention is one of the major downsides of heating with wood. That is to say, if you are not there to constantly tend the fire, you can expect less heat output.
Wood, whether purchased or gathered on public land, is a hassle to deal with and not significantly cheap. Finally, wood smoke is unhealthy to breathe, and prolonged exposure can lead to respiratory issues.
Pellet stoves are basically wood stoves that burn manufactured wood pellets. Further, they use an electric hopper that feeds the pellets automatically. This combines to make pellet stoves more efficient and easier to run than regular wood.
However, pellet stoves still include many of the messy and labor-intensive downsides of normal wood heat.
How do you heat a large living room?
You can heat a large living room with any of the several options listed above. This includes gas, electric, wood, or heat pumps.
What size room will a 1500-watt heater heat?
It depends on the outside temperature and the specifics of your home. However, a 1500-watt heater is generally going to be very effective at heating up to 150 square feet.
How much does it cost to run a 1500-watt heater for an hour?
The exact cost depends on the price of electricity in your area. However, you can generally expect it to cost between $0.20 and $0.50 to run a 1500-watt electric heater for one hour.
In this post, we provided the 7 best heaters for heating multiple rooms. Overall, this guide includes all you need to make an informed and effective home heating decision. Good luck!
To learn more about heating your space, read these other articles: