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What is an oscillating heater? Heatercamp

What Is an Oscillating Heater? (5 Example + Infographic!)

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    “A particular mechanism of a space heater that allows the heater’s body or sometimes  FINs of air vents to twist left/right or up/down on a rhythmic pattern is called oscillation.” 

    However,  Oscillating Heater is a space heater with that particular feature.

    • Oscillation enhances the heating performance by dynamic air circulation from corner to corner.
    • Or it reflects radiated heat towards a broad direction such as 160°. 

    Results? You get better comfort even in a lower insulated space. Importantly, it allows the Heater to provide a wider heating zone with a lower BTU.

    Wanna learn briefly about oscillating heaters? Let’s dive in…

    Types of Oscillating Heater

    In 99% of cases, the oscillating feature comes with electric heaters and air-conditioners. Also, few fan forced gas heaters offer oscillation, though they require electricity to be functional.

    However, all their oscillation mechanisms work on a core procedure, which I will describe later in this article with the heading “How does oscillation work?

    Here’s a list of oscillating heaters that’s available online and offline.

    • Tower type oscillating heater
    • Fan forced oscillating heater
    • Halogen radiant oscillating heater
    • Lasko Ceramic oscillating heater
    • Hot & Cold air conditioner with Oscillation Feature.

    Lasko ceramic and hot/cold air conditioner’s oscillating mechanism works slightly differently, so I’ve mentioned that in the description.

    Tower Heater With Oscillation

    Tower heater with oscillation - Heatercamp

    Tower heaters are a particular type of fan-forced electric heater, and most of them come with the oscillating feature.

    They contain BLOWER ROTOR instead of fan blades to pass the hot air through the heating elements forcefully. Rotor blows air better than fan blades. As a result, they heat the room with an enhanced CFM rating.

    The oscillating mechanism remains integrated with the foot padel of those tower heaters. Usually, they offer an almost 160-degree heating zone by oscillation.

    While placing a tower-type oscillating heater, the hot air directly reaches your bed or the sitting position.

    My Favourite Tower Type Oscillating Heater – Lasko 5586

    Tower Type oscillating heater - Heatercamp

    The heating tower (body) of Lasko 5586 stays stand on a 10.5 inches diameter round plate. When the heating tower being oscillated, the foot remains to stand still.

    As I’ve interviewed a few long-term users, the oscillating feature remains functional throughout the lifespan, and I haven’t found any complaint getting it defected.

    Features I love

    • 160 Degree Oscillation
    • 900W/1500W duel heating mode
    • Remote control that works from 12 feet distance. 
    • Elegant LED display
    • Tip-Over Protection
    • 8 Hour Timmer
    • Wide range of temperature with electronic thermostat.

    Fan Forced Oscillating Heater

    These are the most basic and standard electric space heaters that come with the oscillating feature. Some of them contain a ceramic frame inside the chassis to hold the heating elements. 

    Their core mechanism, heating elements, oscillator components are almost similar to the tower-type oscillating heaters. Only these models use fan blades instead of a blower rotor.

    My favorite- ASTERION Oscillating space heater

    Fan forced oscillating heater- Heatercamp

    Asterion is the most elegant-looking oscillating heater with a ceramic molded heating element and futuristic features among all other standard modes from this generic.

    Along with oscillation, you can twist its neck up and down to position the airflow direction towards your bed or the sitting zone. Asterion’s oscillation provides around a 170-degree heating area with the same servo motor as the Lasko 5586. 

    Features of Asterion

    • 170 Degree Oscillation
    • 900W/1500W/ECO and Fan mode
    • Freeze protection
    • 15 feet long-distance remote control.
    • Greenlight Elegant LED display
    • Tip-Over Protection
    • 8 Hour Timmer
    • 60℉- 90℉ of temperature with electronic thermostat.

    Halogen Radiant Oscillating Heater 

    American peoples are primarily familiar with halogen patio heaters, but portable halogen heaters containing the oscillating feature aren’t as popular as those fan-forced or tower-type heaters.

    Instead of raising the room temperature halogen, oscillating heaters are mainly used for personalized heating in uninsulated or open spaces. 

    However, halogen tubes work as the heating elements, and a reflector focuses the radiated heat towards its front, covering a wide area. As the infrared wave directly penetrates the object, the unit doesn’t require raising the air temperature. 

    If you gossip sitting with family and friends in the living room, conservatory, or any open space, placing an oscillating halogen heater in the middle portion will provide you a wave of warmth without any vital insulation.

    Finally, you might know that halogen heaters transmit heat with infrared radiation. If you are interested in choosing an infrared model, then I’ve written an article on Perfectly Sizing an Infrared Heater here.

    My favorite Oscillating halogen heater – Comfort Zone CZHTV9

    Halogen Oscillating heater - Heatercamp

    The first reason I prefer Comfort Zone CZHTV9 is its ultra-quiet operation. The only moving components inside this halogen oscillating heater are its servo motor and adjacent gear, that the reason behind its silence.

    While working on a desk, alighting a single halogen tube will produce sufficient heat to give you comfort, and both of its tubes might be used during snowfalls.

    The oscillation mechanism of Comfort Zone works fine, but the single complaint of mine is its narrow twisting radius. 

    Highlighted Feature of CZHTV9 Oscillating Heater

    • 70 + 70 Degree Oscillation on each side.
    • 750W + 750W dual halogen tubes
    • Pin drops silent operation.

    Ceramic Heater with Oscillating Feature

    Generally, the heating element of fan-forced and tower-type electric heaters remains attached with a ceramic chassis. Thus they are called a ceramic heaters. But there is a particular model with a little bit more.

    My favorite – Lasko Ceramic Oscillating Heater

    Ceramic Oscillating Heater - Heatercamp

    The most unique-looking ceramic oscillating heater I’ve ever seen in my life is Lasko 6405. Not only the out looking, but it’s also building material, the oscillating mechanism is entirely different.

    As the item is designed like a flower vase, the whole body stands on a metal stand. Notably, the SERVO motor remains attached to the metal foot and oscillates the entire heater’s chassis. 

    More clearly, to visualize its oscillating mechanism, have a quick look at the upper demographic Image. 

    Here the servo motor base carries the entire weight of the heater. However, the baseplate is too rugged to last for long years.

    My favorite facts

    • Most elegant design
    • Ultra-quiet oscillation
    • 750W & 1500W heating
    • 4 Hour Timer
    • Electronic thermostat 60F to 90F MAX

    Oscillating Heater/AC Combo

    Lastly, the space heating device you may get is a portable, oscillating air conditioner with hot and cool functionality. They work on heat pump mechanisms using a compressor, and inside the air vent’s there are multiple fins with integrated oscillating functionality.

    Importantly, these are the only devices that offer a FOUR Way oscillation feature.

    My favorite Oscillating Heater with Air Conditioner

    Oscillating heater with air conditioner

    I prefer BLACK+DECKER among other similar items for three main reasons.

    • Strong airflow with four-way oscillation
    • 350 Square feet heating coverage 
    • Multiple functioning mode with heating/cooling/dry and fan only to utilize them season-wise according to demands.

    Black Decker’s oscillation works slightly differently comparing electric space heaters. Instead of twisting the whole chassis, the air vent’s fins move ups and down using a shaft connected with the servo oscillator. 

    Also, the internal fins could be twisted left and right, so that you get the ultimate freedom of aiming the airflow towards your exact direction.

    How does oscillation work in a space heater?

    The heart of the oscillating mechanism is the SERVO, an electrical motor that spins clockwise and counterclockwise by maintaining a periodic motion. They could be both AC and DC. 

    To learn about how oscillation works, the first step should be to understand the mechanism of SERVO. To avoid complications, I will only demonstrate the DC servo mechanism with an Infographic.

    How does oscillation work - Infographic

    Firstly, here you are watching the core DC motor with connecting points “A” and “B.”

    • If you connect the DC (+) pole directly with the point “A” and (-) pole with point “B,” the motor will start spinning. The spinning direction might be either clockwise or counterclockwise; think, in this case, it’s clockwise.
    • If you alter the connection, DC (-) to A and (+) to B, then the spinning direction will be the opposite way. 

    The relay automatically alters the connection (+)/(-), maintaining a specific period. That delay might be 10 sec or anything else. In most cases, it’s 10 sec for electric oscillating heaters.

    This whole setup is called SERVO. 

    Let’s discuss the oscillation mechanism of the space heater.

    Oscillation Mechanism Infographic

    A half-round (moon-shaped) gear remains attached with the circular footplate. Another gear connected to the SERVO touches that moon-shaped gear through the central heater’s body.

    While the SERVO motor spins, the gear comes to position X, then goes back to position Y. Thus, it maintains its oscillation on a periodic motion.

    Except for this mechanism, there are several few more oscillator equipment. But, all those space heaters and air conditioner oscillations follow this core procedure.

    2-Side vs 4-Side oscillating Heater. 

    4 Side Oscillation Explained

    In four-way oscillation, one set of fins oscillate left and right, and another set of fins oscillate ups and down, remaining in front of the air vent.

    It’s a very rare feature that I’ve hardly found in some air conditioners. Though, many space heaters’ neck is twistable up and down manually along with motorized left/right oscillation.

    In four-way oscillation, you get the ultimate freedom to place your heater as you can get the hot air wherever you need it. No matter you keep sitting on the floor or inside your recliner, the oscillator fins will find you in any direction.

    But, the drawback is, four-way oscillation’s defecting rate is high, which is my personal experience. 

    On the other hand, two-way oscillation is highly available. Even hardly you will find a space heater that doesn’t come with an oscillating feature. 

    Though they don’t oscillate ups and downs, manually adjusting the height, you may enjoy a warm air breeze with left/right oscillation.

    The advantage is two-way oscillation hardly gets defective. In 99% of cases, they last till the heater’s lifespan.

    To learn it visually, you may watch the video on “What is a servo motor and how does it work?”

    Drawbacks of an Oscillating Heater?

    Hardly, I can find out a few drawbacks of the oscillating feature. Though, all of them are extremely rare.

    Firstly, I used a NOVA oscillating heater, whose neck got loosened and could not be repaired. As a result, the heater didn’t hold its standing position and bowed down.

    I’ve found a neighbor’s heater. In this case, the servo gear was eroded. A clicking noise was coming through while turning on the oscillating feature, and the oscillation was getting delayed. It was an old Lasko heater and the warranty period expired. Finding no sphere parts, we could not repair it. 

    All these scenarios are very unfamiliar. Currently, I’m using my De’Longhi DCH5915ER for the last couple of years, and still, it’s working like new.

    Why does a gas or kerosene heater doesn’t contains an oscillating feature?

    Gas and kerosene heaters come in three forms. 

    • Convection 
    • Radiant
    • Forced Air

    Convection and radiant models don’t have a single electronic component inside, and I already have explained an electrical SERVO is the heart of oscillation.

    Additionally, convection or radiant heaters are gigantic; their heat output remains around 10K to 30K BTU/hr so that they can raise the temperature of the entire space. In that scenario, they don’t require an oscillation.

    Lastly, the forced air, kerosene, and propane heaters produce more than 50K to 200K+ BTUs and are usually essential for garage or uninsulated construction side. 

    Though all those torpedo construction heaters or garage heaters use electricity for ignition and blow out the air, those gigantic power producers don’t require an oscillation, as they can easily make your place toasty.

    So, that’s the basic reason why gas or kerosene heater doesn’t come with an oscillating feature.

    What can You do if Your Space Heater Doesn’t Have an Oscillating Feature?

    Primarily, if your space heater can raise the whole room temperature, it doesn’t even require an oscillation. This scenario is applicable for insulated bedrooms.

    But, some particular space heaters can raise the whole room temperature, but they pass heat in a single direction. 

    Blue flame heaters are the best example of this category. Yes, they are an ultra-efficient, fantastic choice as a greenhouse heater and can produce a massive 20K to 30K BTU/hr heat, but the temperature climbs towards the roof.

    In this scenario, you might place a simple, functional table fan just at the top of the heater. As the fan has an oscillating feature that will spread the heat nicely towards your spaces like a greenhouse, garage, or large commercial areas.

    Does oscillation increase heating performance?

    Yes, for uninsulated spaces, and NO for insulated rooms.

    Think of a bedroom that remains highly insulated during winter. If you place the heater on the floor with a preset temperature, your entire room will get warmed. No matter where you sit or sleep, you will feel the whole comfort in any corner of the room.

    The problem will appear when you sit with multiple family members inside a large living room, where the heater can’t produce sufficient heat to raise the whole space temperature. There the oscillating feature will help you a lot by providing warm waves equally to every single member.


    An oscillating heater won’t increase your heater’s BTU but enhances your comfort with a broader heating zone. 

    Additionally, an oscillating feature doesn’t increase the heater’s price that much, and operational cost remains totally the same whether you use the oscillator or not.

    So, there’s no reason to choose an oscillating heater instead of a fixed one.