Safety Policies and Procedures Manual
Chapter 8: Fire Safety

Space Heaters

SPPM 8.50

For more information contact:
   WSU Fire Marshal
   Facilities Services, Operations


The WSU Fire Marshal and Facilities Services, Operations discourage the use of portable space heaters in University interior locations for the following reasons:

  • As sources of ignition, space heaters can create fire hazards.
  • Space heaters are not as energy efficient as central heating. (See also BPPM 80.85.)
  • The electric cord creates a tripping hazard.


University personnel may use portable space heaters if central heating is inadequate, nonexistent, or temporarily out-of-order. The WSU Fire Marshal has approved the following four types of space heaters for emergency use by University departments.

In order to conserve energy, the Facilities Services, Operations Energy Group recommends that University personnel select portable space heaters that use 200 watts or less of electricity. For safety purposes, the space heaters must have on/off switches and be UL (Underwriters Laboratory) listed.


A noncombusting electric oil-filled heater that distributes heat primarily by natural convection currents and low temperature radiation. Its appearance is similar to an old steam radiator. It is usually 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall and uses 1500 watts of electricity.


An electric water or antifreeze-filled heater that distributes heat by natural convection currents and low temperature radiation. This heater is long and low, looking like a baseboard heater. It uses 1500 watts of electricity.


An electric low-wattage heater that distributes heat by low-temperature radiation to a localized area. It is usually a thin panel mounted to a vertical surface, e.g., a desk. It uses 200 watts of electricity.

Ceramic Element

An electric heater with a fan having a ceramic heating element that distributes heat by forced air convection. This heater is usually shaped like a small cube, about seven or eight inches on each side. It uses 1500 watts of electricity.

Purchasing Information

Contact the Facilities Services, Operations Energy Group for information regarding purchasing approved space heaters.

Prohibited Heaters

Do not use the following types of space heaters in University buildings.

Electric Radiant

An electric heater with electric elements that glow bright red or orange. This heater distributes energy as high radiant heat and uses 1500 watts or more of electricity.


A heater that burns fossil fuels or alcohol.

Heater Use

Avoid placing space heaters close to building thermostats.

Revisions:  Apr. 2006 (Rev. 65); Nov. 1994 – new policy (Rev. 12).