PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Space heaters can take the chill out of a cooler room, but they can also be dangerous. Forty percent of home heating fires are caused by space heaters.

Consumer Reports’ expert testing revealed heaters that provide both warmth and safety.

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When Consumer Reports tests heaters, they check to see how fast it warms a room and also check to see how well they spot heat an individual. A mannequin is equipped with sensors that measure how much warmth a space heater can provide through spot heating. The smaller, personal sized space heaters struggled in this important test.

Consumer Reports says for a little more money you can get one that’s slightly larger, but still very portable. It recommends a $70 one from Comfort Zone, model # CZ499R

Since space heaters can be a fire hazard, Consumer Reports also looks at how safe each one is. Testers measure the surface temperature of each heater to see if it gets too hot to the touch. In most cases, the heaters are pretty cool. However, if you do have pets or children, stay away from heaters with metal surfaces and large areas that are easy to contact.

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Another test mimics what would happen if something flammable comes into contact with a space heater. Always keep your space heater at least three feet away from flammable objects and never use an extension cord.

Consumer Reports says look for a space heater with a tip over switch that turns the heater off if it’s knocked over, and an overheat sensor that shuts off the heater if it gets too hot. The recommended comfort zone heater offers those safety features. And if you’d like a larger space heater so does the Lifesmart, model # ZCHT1001US, for $100.

Consumer Reports says keep in mind that larger space heaters don’t necessarily offer more heat than smaller ones. However, they’re meant to stay in one place so they’re a good option as a permanent heater in a larger room.

Complete ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to CR.org.

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