Infrared vs Oil Heaters: Compared Using 8 Categories


Unsure about the differences between infrared vs oil filled heaters?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Understanding the differences between heaters can be a little tricky, especially because there are too many options available, but not much information.

The good news is that in this article, you’ll find a detailed guide that will help you choose the one that best meets your needs.

When comparing infrared vs oil filled heaters, consider your needs. Infrared heaters are a great option if you’re looking for a lightweight, efficient, and quick heating solution. Oil heaters, on the other hand, provide constant heat and are ideal for larger rooms, but can be heavier and bigger.

Keep reading to learn more about these differences and choose the best heater!

Infrared vs Oil Heaters: Detailed Comparison

Comparing infrared heaters with oil-filled heaters can be tricky, as they operate on different principles.

An infrared heater converts electricity into heat. It warms the room by emitting infrared light and heating solid objects that are in direct line. It doesn’t heat the air in between.

Oil-filled heaters, on the other hand, are convection heaters that contain oil which is used as a heat reservoir. Although they contain oil, these heaters are powered by electricity.

So now we’ve got to know today’s candidates a little better, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it all.

In this section, we’ll compare the heaters across 8 categories so that you can decide which one is best for your home.

#1 Weight

Infrared heaters and oil-filled heaters are often chosen for their portability. We want them in our homes to allow us the option to quickly transfer a heater from room to room.

Now, that won’t be possible if the heater weighs a tonne. So, which is lighter, an infrared heater or an oil-filled heater?

Infrared heaters are lighter than oil heaters. This is because they are made of plastic, thin metals, and heating components that do not weigh much.

Oil heaters are heavier than infrared heaters. This is because of the large oil canisters that are inside them. Oil-filled heaters usually come on wheels. But even still, they are often heavy and awkward to transport.

Of course, it is possible to find oil heaters that are lighter because they are smaller. But when matching an infrared heater with an oil-filled heater of the same size, the latter will always be heavier.

If portability is very important to you, you should choose an infrared heater. Infrared heaters are lighter and easier to transport.

#2 Size

Infrared heaters tend to be smaller than oil-filled heaters. What’s nice about this, is that they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This makes it easier for you to choose a model that really suits your home.

Oil-filled heaters tend to be bigger than infrared heaters. They are also normally a bog-standard shape, which gives you a little less room for creativity.

infrared heater
Infrared heaters come in many shapes and sizes

Do you want to be able to choose the perfect size for your heater? Then an infrared heater will be best for you.

Tip: Infrared heaters are great if you have a small home or if you don’t have too much space.

#3 Speed

Infrared heaters are well-known for their fast and direct heat. Some models get up to their maximum temperature in under a minute, which is good if you’re very cold.

Oil heaters, on the other hand, are not as speedy when warming up. But once they do, they are great at keeping enclosed spaces nice and toasty.

If you are after an appliance that will heat up quickly, you should choose an infrared heater.

But, if speed isn’t something that you’re looking for, then keep reading to learn more about other differences between infrared and oil heaters.

#4 Efficiency

If you haven’t decided what heater to buy, you should definitely check its efficiency when heating the house.

Both heaters are very efficient, but they work differently.

You see, infrared heaters heat objects rather than the air. This makes you feel warmer when the heaters are on.

This technology comes in handy when you’re in a small area.

Oil-filled heaters, on the other hand, are ideal for heating bigger rooms. Thanks to the large oil canisters inside them, they are able to stay warmer for longer.

Are you looking for an efficient appliance? Then both infrared and oil-filled heaters would be a brilliant choice. But, if you have a big home, you should definitely consider buying an oil-filled heater.

#5 Price

Moving on, I’d like us to check the price difference.

Prices may vary, but normally, infrared heaters are cheaper than oil heaters. That said, there are large infrared heaters that are pricey.

Luckily, infrared heaters normally come in a variety of sizes. This makes it easier for you to get your hands on a very economical, small unit.

Oil-filled heaters are usually more expensive than infrared heaters. This is because they come in bog-standard sizes that are about the same price.

For the least expensive option, you should choose an infrared heater.

#6 Heat Retention

Although infrared heaters are efficient, they’re not as good at retaining heat. Once you turn an infrared heater off, the heat disappears, which can be disappointing, especially during winter.

Oil-filled heaters hold their heat very well. You will still feel the benefit of an oil heater for a long time after turning it off. 

oil heater
Oil-filled heaters are great at retaining their heat

Oil-filled heaters are the best at retaining heat.

#7 Wind

Are you looking for the perfect heater for an outdoor space? Then you should choose an infrared heater.

You see, infrared heaters are great for outdoor spaces as they use directional heat that withstands the wind. This is why you often see them in outdoor restaurant spaces during the cooler months.

Oil-filled heaters are not good at heating outdoor spaces. This is because oil heaters do not use directional heat. Rather, they heat the air. So, in an outdoor setting, the wind immediately blows the warm air away.

#8 Blocking the Heat

Do you want a heater that you can feel no matter where you are in a room? Then an oil-filled heater is the best option for you.

You see, it is easy to block an infrared heater. If an object or someone is in front of the appliance, you will not feel the benefit from it. This again comes back to the fact that infrared heaters use directional heat.

It is not as easy, however, to block an oil-filled heater. Even if there is something between you and the heater, you will still feel the benefit from it. This is because oil-filled heaters heat the air in the room and this makes you feel warmer no matter where you are.


So what’s the verdict? Should you go for an infrared heater or an oil-filled heater? Here’s a basic rundown of the two.

Infrared HeatersOil-Filled Heaters
Cool immediately when offHeavier
Come in many sizesBigger
Heat up fasterSlower to heat up
Very efficientVery efficient
CheaperMore expensive
Cool immediately when offContinuous heat when off
Good in the windNot good in the wind
Heat can be blockedHeat cannot be blocked

You should choose an infrared heater if:

  • You are looking for a lightweight heater that is easy to transport from room to room
  • Having a selection of models and sizes to choose from is important to you
  • You need an appliance that heats up quickly
  • You want something efficient
  • You are after a cheaper option
  • You need a heater that is effective in outdoor spaces

You should choose an oil-filled heater if:

  • You want an appliance that is effective at heating large rooms
  • You want something efficient
  • Constant heat that continues when the appliance is off is important to you
  • You need an appliance that’s heat you can feel anywhere

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Have a great day!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more