How To Choose A Kotatsu Heater
Kotatsu Element Size
In addition to making sure your Kotatsu heater is the right size to fit your table frame, you also need to make sure that the heat the heater emits matches the general size of your Kotatsu set. Generally speaking, kotatsu sizes don’t vary so significantly that you need to worry about it too much.
The other thing to look out for is how thick the unit is. Obviously, the thicker it is, the more it sticks out under the table and the more annoying it will be. So thinner is better. Sizes range from 4cm (1.5 inches) on the slim side to about 7-8cm (around 3 inches) for thicker kotatsu heaters.
Kotatsu Heater Wattage
Wattage is related to sizes. Wattages are most commonly around the 600w mark, which is generally sufficient for most Kotatsu.
Be aware there are some smaller Kotatsu Heater units that are made specifically for single person Kotatsu applications that are as low as 100w. These are not going to be warm enough for a family size Kotatsu.
One advantage of lower wattage Kotatsu heaters is that you can leave them running for a long time, perhaps coming and going from the kotatsu, and not have to worry too much about power costs. Some people also say they have greater peace of mind by using a lower wattage kotatsu heater because they worry less about the worry of fires.
Of course the best way to get the best of both worlds is to have a Kotatsu with an adjustable heat dial, which most modern units have.
Quartz Vs. Halogen Kotatsu Heaters
Both Quartz and Halogen are good options for Kotatsu heaters. Generally speaking, halogen heaters are more energy efficient and longer lasting than Quartz. If you want to read about the details of the difference between quartz and halogen check out this article.
Do kotatsu heater casings get hot enough to burn?
Kotatsu heaters are specifically designed to not get so hot that they will burn. Make sure you get a heater that is specifically made for a Kotatsu.
That being said, it is possible to sustain a low level temperature burn if you leave your body on a heated surface for extended periods of time.
Is a kotatsu a fire hazard?
Kotatsu do not represent a significant fire hazard if used correctly. Modern Kotatsu generally have automatic temperature adjustment functionality. In 2017, there were four reports from the Tokyo Fire Department of fires linked to the use of Kotatsu.
There have been cases where incorrect use of Kotatus has led to fires. These are often associated with different items being pushed inside the Kotatus cavity, such as laundry or flammable items that can ignite if in contact with the heating apparatus too long.
The top things to be aware of when using a Kotatsu from a safety perspective are:
(1) Keep cushions and clothes out of the kotatsu
(2) Don’t put furniture on the power cord
(3) Arrange a cord in a way that it is not constantly getting stepped on and damaged
(4) Prevent dust from accumulating on the heater of the electric kotatsu, which can build up and become flammable over time
(5) Turn off the power when not using the kotatsu
As with any kind of heating, using a kotatsu demands a level of awareness.
Can you burn yourself on a kotatsu?
It is possible to sustain low temperature burns from long contact with a kotatsu heating apparatus.
Low temperature burns are those caused by heat sources below 60 ° C. For every 1 degree increase in temperature, the time it takes to get a low temperature burn is roughly halved. If you were to touch something at 44 ° C for 6 hours, you run the risk of getting a low temperature burn.
Low-temperature burns tend to cause burns that run deeply into the skin. Legs, ankles, and heels are particularly susceptible to low-temperature burns as these areas of the body do not perceive pain as acutely as others and often have poor blood circulation.
This means people should take care in spending too long in a Kotatsu, such as sleeping for long periods of time.
Do you need a Power Converter for a Kotatsu heater?
It is possible to use a 100v Japanese Kotatsu in the U.S. which has 120v power, but it is not recommended. This is because the device will tend to overheat if you turn it up higher than its lowest operating levels. Some people do it, but you need to balance up the slight inconvenience of using a power converter with the risk you are taking of using a device with a power source it was not designed for.
What converter would you use for a kotatsu heater
Voltage in Japan is 100v, so if you buy a Japanese made Kotatsu you would need a power converter or transformer to convert to 120v for North America, 230v for Central Europe or 240v for Australia.