How to Safely Use a Space Heater in the Bathroom

What you need to know, plus one model that did well in our testing

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It’s best to keep electrical appliances, such as space heaters, away from water sources, but we get that it’s also not ideal to step out of the shower into a frigid bathroom. So if you choose to put a space heater in the bathroom, exercise caution.

First, make sure your bathroom has ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets, required in all bathrooms since 1975. To prevent a fatal electric shock, a GFCI outlet constantly monitors current flowing through a circuit—and will automatically shut the power off if it detects even a small amount of stray current. To identify a GFCI outlet, look for two buttons that say “test” and “reset.”

More on Space Heaters

It’s also safest if your heater has an appliance leakage current interrupter (ALCI) plug. Chris Regan, who oversees CR’s space heater tests, says that ALCI plugs also monitor and safeguard against differences in current, adding extra protection.

Only two of the 49 space heaters in our ratings today have an ALCI plug, and one of them lacks a tip-over switch—a safety feature that shuts off the heater if it gets knocked over.

The Soleil PTC-910B has both features and performed well in our tests, earning an Excellent rating in our room heating test. But like many space heaters we’ve evaluated, the area where the heat exhausts can get burning hot, so we don’t advise using this model if you have small children or pets.

For more information, learn how to find the safest space heater for your home.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.