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Published Feb 3, 2022 1:33 PM

If you’re tired of stockpiling blankets, extra socks, and heated slippers to keep you warm, it might be time to consider getting a space heater. These powerful appliances are a great way to get cozy without installing a complicated heating system. If your radiator just isn’t cutting it or someone insists on keeping a window open to freshen the room up, a space heater could be the perfect solution. The best space heaters are designed specifically to warm up spaces both small and large; they should be portable, effective, and fast-acting.

Buying a space heater is a worthwhile investment, but you want to make sure you look at all the information available about each product to determine which will be right for you and your space. To get you started, we’ve created this brief guide to help you learn more about these lean, mean, cold-fighting machines. Get ready to cozy up with your favorite books without reaching for your hat and gloves.

How we picked the best space heaters

To select the best space heaters that will stave off even the worst winter chills and frigid breezes, we compared over 50 products—looking at reviews, wattage, heat type, bonus features, and brands. From high-tech options like the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool to an energy-efficient pick oil-filled radiator, these space heaters can suit a variety of needs and spaces. Whether you have a massive room that needs high-wattage heating or are trying to warm up your apartment on a budget, we compared reviews and specs to choose only reliable and quality heaters.

Things to consider when picking the best space heater

There are six things you should consider in order to find the best space heater for your needs. Think about what type of personal heater you want, how much space you’re trying to warm, how much power your heater will need, what the safety features are, and finally, what special features might be available. If you’re able to get specific about your requirements, you won’t have any trouble finding a reliable, long-lasting unit you’re happy with.

What type of space heater best fits your needs?

There are three main types of heating, with a few subcategories you should know about.

Convection heating is the most common and efficient type for single-room use. These space heaters work by circulating currents across an element such as an electric coil or oil, which are often blown out and drawn back in using a fan. Some models don’t include a fan, relying on natural airflow; this method is quieter but takes longer to heat an entire room. Ceramic heaters borrow from this method, using an internal, self-regulating ceramic element and fan to quickly heat a room.

Radiant heating is excellent for warming a targeted area like your bed or desk chair. They heat up almost instantaneously using quartz or other metals and a reflector to direct heat, though some will implement a fan. Infrared heaters are very similar, using infrared quartz bulbs to generate radiating heat. Unlike convection heating, this method will not warm up the air, making it better for targeted warmth. That said, it will heat a room if left on for a long time.

Micathermic heating is an efficient combination of convection and radiant processes. A micathermic heater radiates warmth off of a panel that is then circulated naturally throughout the room. To do this, these space heaters need to be reasonably large, but most models can be mounted on the wall to save space if necessary. Because micathermic heaters don’t use a fan, they are quiet and clean; they don’t circulate dust or pet dander, which makes them great for those who are allergy-prone or have asthma. Portable radiator heaters use micathermic methods to generate heat via oil encased inside.

How big of a room are you trying to heat?

While it’s clear that radiant heaters are best for targeted use and convection or micathermic models might be best for larger areas, there’s more to understand when it comes to room size and heater specs.

When it comes to heating, wattage is king. For space heaters, you want to have 10 watts of power per square foot; this is especially true if your portable heater is the primary source of warmth. If you have super tall ceilings, over 8 feet high, you’ll want to multiply your space’s total square footage by the ceiling height and 1.25. For rooms lacking insulation, add an extra 2 watts onto the equation. If you just need a little extra blast of heat here and there, you can relax on the wattage rule, but only slightly.

If you have a lot of ground to cover, it can be hard to find a supplementary heater that will keep you and any guests cozy for hours at a time. Infrared heaters are a bit more flexible because they warm up people and objects; while small models won’t do much, a large infrared heater can cover a larger room because it will target objects as well as people. Below you can find our favorite model.

How much energy will your space heater use?

Using a space heater regularly can suck up a lot of power, so it’s essential to look for energy-efficient models that won’t cause your electric bill to skyrocket. If you want to figure out how much your heater will cost you look up how much you currently pay for electricity per kilowatt-hour (this info is often listed on your monthly bill), determine the amount of time your space heater will be on, and calculate the kilowatts used per hour by dividing the maximum wattage by 1,000. Finally, multiply all three together, and that’s your average cost per day.

Unfortunately, at this time, the United States Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t given any existing space heater an Energy Star rating, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look for models with energy-efficient features. First things first: Don’t buy a space heater that has more wattage than you need. Just because it’s powerful doesn’t mean it’s the best space heater for you. Oil-filled radiator heaters are a great option for energy-efficient heating in a tinier area because they remain hot for a time, even after they are turned off. Secondly, consider investing in a model that includes a built-in thermostat and multiple output settings. This will conserve energy over time because the heater won’t be overcompensating when the temperature in the room changes. Timed heat settings and automatic shutoff can also aid efficiency, especially if you tend to forget to shut off appliances. Some heaters will come with an auto-eco setting designed to monitor room temperature and suggest a lower output temperature to heat the room, keeping it warm but not hot.

What extra features make the best space heater?

Once you’ve figured out the size, specs, and safety settings you need to narrow down your selection, you can focus on the fun bonuses that make the best space heater. We’ve already mentioned a few helpful features, including a thermostat function, auto-eco mode, and timer settings. Another popular bonus feature is the inclusion of a remote for easy control. This is going to be a life-saver for those times you get perfectly comfortable, all snuggled up in bed before remembering to turn the heater on. It gets better: Some space heaters are considered “smart,” which means they can connect via wi-fi to your phone, providing a stream of information regarding your space’s air quality, humidity, and more. Some smart models come with a night-time mode to quiet noisy fans, HEPA filters for air purification, and dual-cooling systems that utilize the fan function, bypassing the heat generator. Of course, the more special features you tack on, the higher the price but depending on the frequency of use and overall efficiency of various models, you could end up saving money over time. Higher quality products experience fewer breakdowns and don’t need to be replaced as often, plus who wouldn’t want to control their space heater using a voice assistant like Alexa? One step closer to building your fully equipped smart house.

What safety features should you keep in mind?

We cannot overstate how important safety features are when it comes to space heaters. These powerful appliances are one of the leading causes of house fires in America, and while we want you to be warm, we certainly don’t want you to be that warm. Luckily, newer models are frequently equipped with safety features that will keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way.

You need to select a model with a shutoff sensor triggered if the unit starts to overheat or tip-over. This small but significant add-on is imperative to keep things safe. You should also consider purchasing a model with a long extension cord, even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Why? Space heaters need to be directly plugged into the wall; a long cord means you can easily resist the temptation to plug it into existing power strips or extension cords for “just a minute.” Consider a model that has a cool to the touch outer layer or handle so you can avoid any accidental burns. Finally, look for certifications from the Underwriters Laboratory and Intertek Group for added reassurance that your model meets safety standards.

While built-in features are important, there are also a few rules you’ll have to follow: as stated, never use power/extension cords to plug in your heater; never put one on a rug or elevated surface; unless specified otherwise, you won’t want to put a space heater near the kitchen or bathroom; and keep them out of reach/away from young kids or pets.

What brand best suits your needs?

There are some great brands out there dedicated to supplying safe space heaters worldwide, and we certainly have a few favorites. Vornado, Dyson, and De’Longhi are staples in the space heater game. Vornado has been around since 1930 and manufactures top-of-the-line space heaters, air purifiers, fans, humidifiers, and more. Likewise, Dyson was founded in 1991 by James Dyson and, today, not only manufactures high-end home staples—such as space heaters, washing machines, robot vacuums, and blowdryers—but also invests in research projects to improve medical equipment—such as ventilators, digital monitors, and electric vehicles.

The Italian company De’Longhi was incorporated in 1950 and is known for excellence in design when it comes to small home appliances such as espresso machines, portable air conditioners, dehumidifiers, space heaters, and more. De’Longhi has been the recipient of multiple awards and certifications for its dedication to high-end engineering, design, and production.

The best space heaters: Reviews & Recommendations

Best overall: Lasko 1500W Ceramic Tower Space Heater

Walmart

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Why it made the cut: This classic-design tower heater can fit in just about any space—and with an oscillating function and impressive wattage, it can heat up a room quickly and efficiently.

Specs:

  • Wattage: 1,500 watts
  • Dimensions: 21.63-inches high x 7.1-inches wide
  • Heating Type: Convection

Pros:

  • 8-hour auto-off timer
  • Slim design
  • High wattage

Cons:

  • Only two heat settings

This Lasko ceramic tower heater has a footprint of less than eight square inches but boasts 1,500 watts of heating power, making it ideal for warming up cold rooms in a hurry without taking up too much space. It includes a number of safety features like an 8-hour auto-shutoff timer, overheat protection, and a cool-touch exterior. Its widespread oscillation and adjustable thermostat make it a flexible choice that allows users to custom-tailor their heating experience. The heater’s cable is 72 inches in length, making this model a good choice for rooms with few outlets, plus the unit includes a multifunction remote control for added convenience.

Best for large room: Dr. Infrared Portable Space Heater

Amazon

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Why it made the cut: This pick is well-equipped to heat larger spaces like living rooms, large bedrooms, studios, or garages with its high wattage and high temp settings.

Specs:

  • Wattage: 1,500 watts
  • Dimensions: 13 x 12.5 x 17 inches
  • Heating Type: Radiant

Pros:

  • 12-hour automatic shut-off
  • 50 to 85 degree heat range
  • Heats large spaces

Cons:

  • Heavier and less portable

This radiant, infrared heater for large rooms heats up big spaces easily and efficiently. With 1,500 watts of power and a heat output temperature up to 85 degrees, you’ll be able to stay warm without needing to get up close. It has a 12-hour automatic shut-off timer, remote control, tip-over protection, a 72-inch electric cord, and caster wheels for maximum mobility.

Best energy saving: De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater

Amazon

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Why it made the cut: Unlike the other space heaters on this list, the De’Longhi pick uses oil to maintain its heat for an energy-efficient and quiet-running design.

Specs:

  • Wattage: 1,500 watts
  • Dimensions: 27.76 x 18.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Heating Type: Radiant

Pros:

  • Portable design with wheels
  • Energy-efficient
  • Quiet heating

Cons:

  • Pricier than some other models

This energy-efficient space heater will stay hot even after turning it off, extending its heating power without sucking up electricity. Additionally, you can select eco-mode, optimizing power usage with a built-in thermostat for additional energy saving. It has 1,500 watts of power, automatic shutoff to prevent overheating, and thermal slots that funnel hot air while maintaining a low surface temperature so you won’t be at risk of burning yourself.

Best for bedrooms: Vornado AVH10 Vortex Heater

Amazon

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Why it made the cut: This small space heater has safety features like tip-over protection, cool-touch base, and automatic shut-off, which make it a great pick for smaller spaces.

Specs:

  • Watts: 750 W
  • Dimensions: 11.7 x 9.3 x 12 inches
  • Heating Type: Convection

Pros:

  • Compact design
  • Bonus safety features
  • Auto climate control

Cons:

  • Less wattage than other options

The Vornado VH10 is a great space heater that comes equipped with thoughtful, extra safety features. It boasts tip-over protection, a cool-touch case, and automatic safety shut-off. It also has a timer and auto-climate control, which senses how much heat and circulation is required to maintain the set temperature. With two quiet heat settings at 750 and 1,200 watts, as well as a fan-only option, you will be comfortably basking at home, worry-free.

Best electric: Dyson Pure Hot + Cool HP04

Amazon

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Why it made the cut: For those who want a multifunction device that can be used year-round, the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool does just that. It filters your air for allergens and dust with a HEPA-certified filter, heats in cooler months, and can act as a fan once the temperatures rise back up.

Specs:

  • 350-degree oscillation
  • Dimensions: 9.76 x 8.07 x 30.08 inches
  • Heating Type: Convection

Pros:

  • HEPA Filter
  • Captures allergens
  • Sleek and aesthetic design

Cons:

  • Expensive for a “space heater”
  • May be less effective than other models

The Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Air Purifier is a dream with all the high-tech, special features needed to heat and purifier an entire room at once. This multifunction feat of engineering treats and projects air, cooling or heating it as needed. It offers 350-degree oscillation, a sealed HEPA filter to trap 99.7 percent of allergens, and voice-control compatibility with Alexa. Equipped with three intelligent sensors, this air purifier, cooling fan, and space heater will also monitor pollution events in real-time, alerting you to any problematic airborne particles or gases via the Dyson app. The heater/fan has 10 speed settings, Bluetooth connectivity, quiet operation, and multiple additional settings.

Best space heater on a budget: What you get for under $50

While you won’t be getting a ton of special features, you will be able to find a space heater for under $50. Generally speaking, more budget-friendly options won’t be able to heat large rooms, nor will they provide generous heating options. However, you should be able to find a model that provides targeted heat and includes the important safety features outlined above. We recommend checking out this Lasko ceramic tower heater to keep you warm without breaking the bank. Of course, we recommend saving up for an upgraded model down the line to maximize functionality and longevity.

FAQs

Q: What space heater gives off the most heat?

The space heater that gives off the most heat is the Dr. Infrared Portable Space Heater, which has 1,500 watts to heat larger spaces and can crank up to 85 degrees for maximum power.

Q: What is the safest type of space heater?

The safest type of space heater is one with tip-over protection, a cool-touch case, and an automatic safety shut-off. Our safest pick is the Vornado AVH10 Vortex Heater—it has those features plus a timer and auto-climate control, which senses how much heat and circulation is required to maintain the set temperature.

Q: What kind of room heater is best?

An oscillating, adjustable, remote-controlled option can suit a wide variety of spaces, so the best space heater overall is the Lasko 1500W Ceramic Tower Space Heater, which has a classic shape, over 500 rave reviews, and an affordable price tag.

A final word on finding the best space heater

Space heaters are a great way to save space, stay warm, and snuggle up safely during cold times. Choose the best space heater for you by examining safety settings, power specs, heater type, and any additional features you find exciting. As long as you know what your space needs, we’re confident you can find the right tiny furnace to keep you from constantly re-wearing your favorite heated socks. Give your puffy coat a break by taking it off indoors as you slowly sink into the warmth of your new space heater.

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