Don’t Buy It Until We Try It: Handy Heater

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BISMARCK, ND - The saying where there's smoke there's fire is not a good thing when it comes to space heaters. Winter is right around the corner so the Minot Fire Department helped me test one out for this week's don't buy it until we try it plus gave some tips on staying safe.

The Handy Heater is exactly what is sounds like, a portable heater that fits in your hand, but since fire is always a concern with space heaters I took it to the experts.

"It is listed through ETL. They follow standards through ASTM and other agencies so it does meet the minimum qualifications and that's why they're allowed to sell it" Fire Marshal Brian Andersen said.

That was the last of the good news for the Handy Heater.

"It was getting hot quickly and then we started noticing the smoke was coming out of it. That's obviously not good for a brand new product," said Andersen.

Andersen grabbed the thermal imaging camera and saw what was happening.

"I could see that the heat was staying contained within that unit," said Andersen.

The fan on the bottom of the heater had malfunctioned keeping the heat inside. He showed me on a stove what the heat distribution should actually look like, with the heat traveling up and off of the hot coil, which was not happening with the heater.

Space heaters, when functional can be safe, as long as they are used properly.

"The main problem we see with space heaters is the misuse of space heaters. They all say keep it away from people and pets because you can get burned pretty easily, and keep combustible materials away from it," said Andersen.

Unfortunately this product went up in smoke.

"I give it a thumbs down, it started to smoke a few minutes after we plugged it in," said Andersen.

Andersen said with space heaters you get what you pay for. Also don't plug them into extension cords and find one that has an overheating switch that will shut the device down if it gets too hot.