After 17 hours of research evaluating 120 products, we picked Lasko Designer Series Ceramic Oscillating Heater as our top choice.
According to Consumer Reports: “Thanks to the colder weather predicted for this winter and a surge in fuel prices, U.S. households could see their costs go up as much as 50 percent compared with last year.”
The thing you need to ask yourself now is, “How do I choose the best space heaters for my needs?”
One of the most important things to consider is safety.
In Consumer Reports’ note on space heater safety, “about 25,000 house fires and 300 deaths are attributed to space heaters each year. In addition, 6,000 people end up in the emergency room with burns from touching a heater’s hot surface.”
Rest assured. Each of our picks for the best space heaters include some form of safety measure, so you won’t have to worry about that.
What’s the bottom line?
If you want to save money on your heating system, there’s no need to fret. Wherever you find yourself feeling cold, you will find electric space heaters or an energy efficient space heater, can do wonders for improving your comfort and heating bill.
Okay, if you want heat—and you want heat quickly—this is the space heater for you. Both Consumer Reports and Indoor Space Heater Reviews reviewed this unit last year and they agree: although there are some quirks about it, this is the best infrared space heater for warming up a room quickly.
While reviews are mostly positive, there have been some issues with the thermostat not always being accurate, the heat not coming out forcefully enough, the controls being difficult to use, as well as noise complaints.
This is where this space heater shines. If you need fast and effective heating of a small space, this portable heater will do the trick.
No one’s really said much in terms of energy efficiency. However, considering how small this heater is, we can’t imagine it’ll crank up your electric bill too high.
This is a great pick in terms of safety. It comes with tip-over as well as overheating protection.
This is one of the noisier space heaters on the list. If you don’t mind the sound of fans though, this might not bother you.
This is well-priced for what you get (i.e. heat and peace of mind).
Let’s say you’ve got a fireplace, but you’re tired of cleaning out the ash, finding/buying wood, and making sure it goes out before you go to bed or leave for the night. Let’s also say that you don’t have a fireplace, but you love the look and warmth of them. Then you should definitely give this mock fireplace heater a try.
Although this space heater is well-reviewed, there are a couple complaints people have about it. For one, many people say this takes over a half-hour to heat a small room. There are some whose unit malfunctioned after a month, too.
While some users didn’t find the heat from this space heater to be enough, most people didn’t complain. All they wanted was something that looked as realistic as a fireplace and that provided just as much warmth as one.
Cozy by the Fire did a great analysis of the cost of using one of these Duraflame heaters. For just the LED flames and no heat, you’re looking at $.02/hour. For high heat settings plus the flames, it’ll run you about $.15/hour. So it really just depends on what you want to use this for and how long.
While there are no tip-over shut-off settings, that’s not really a worry with this heater which is meant to be placed in your fireplace. The unit also never gets hot to the touch, so you don’t have to worry about anyone accidentally touching it and burning themselves.
According to some, there’s a small whirring noise that comes from this mock fireplace, but it’s nothing overwhelmingly loud.
While this space heater is a little expensive for such a small and portable unit, you’re paying to replace everything you’d be using to otherwise keep your fireplace roaring.
Super compact, surprisingly warm, cheap, convenient to use during cold winters, great for home and office use, 200-watt energy use, energy-efficient, fits on any desk or countertop, no assembly required, and 3-year warranty included.
Not as warm as larger heaters and no way to direct heat output.
This heater is NOT designed for use on a large scale; it’s a personal heater that will heat up a very small space. If you work on a computer and tend to get cold hands, this is your top pick.
It sends the heat straight at your fingers to keep them warm during the winter. Though it doesn’t have the same heat output as larger space heaters, it’s hot enough that you won’t need to crank up your home heating system just to stay warm.
This little heater is designed for energy-efficiency, and its 200-watt output means decent warmth without sucking up power.
Not only is it compact enough to fit on any surface, the heating unit comes in a sturdy square shell that won’t fall or tip over ever, even when tilted at an angle. The ceramic heating element also comes with built-in safety features, including automatic overheat protection and auto shut-off.
It’s quieter than a portable fan, so it shouldn’t bother you as you work or nap.
At $24, it’s not the cheapest of the personal heaters (you can find some as low as $15), but it’s definitely the best-built and delivers good warmth for your hands during the winter.
There’s a difference between heating a small space quickly and heating a small space efficiently, and the Lasko Ceramic Pedestal Heater is great for efficiently warming every inch of a small room. It’s also been known to drastically lower heating bills, so that’s not too shabby either.
Some people have said the thermostat on this space heater is inaccurate.
You’ve got a couple different settings to work with as well as a thermostat (and a remote control to do it all with!), so you’ll have plenty of control over how much consistent heat you want to pour into your room.
This is a biggie. If you’re having issues with heating bills killing your wallet throughout the winter, this energy efficient heater is a must.
Unlike most space heaters, this one comes with a pedestal which makes it more stable. It also comes with the more standard built-in safety features of a space heater.
Customers love the super quiet oscillation of this heater.
This heater is very reasonably priced.
The Dyson AM09 Fan Heater is Consumer Reports’ #1 pick for the best small space heater. It received high marks on par with what paying customers say: this space saver heats quickly, is great for medium- to small-sized spaces, has reliable safety features, and is chock-full of value-adds like a timer and remote control.
It’s crazy expensive.
This space heater does an amazing job of heating up small and medium spaces quickly and effectively.
While some users have reported that this space saver is energy efficient, cost savings and energy efficiency aren't commonly reported benefits of this one.
The Dyson does a fantastic job in presenting a high-quality and safe product for homes. There’s an automatic tip-over cut-out and users love the heavy duty cord.
As with any other space heater with oscillation, this one’s a little noisy, though not totally obtrusive.
This is a bit more expensive than all the other models on this list (and most space heaters, in general). This is a splurge, but it’s a totally reliable space heater that you can use all year-round for heating and cooling.
Many of the reviews on this propane space heater revolve around its use outdoors, but it does just as well indoors—especially if you want it on-hand for emergency situations. When it comes to finding a propane space heater that gets the job done, everyone agrees that Mr. Heater’s Portable Buddy is the only one you need.
Some customers have received defective units that stop working after a few uses.
If you want flawless heat in your home, garage, cabin, or while out camping, you’re going to get it with this propane heater. The only reason this isn’t #1 on our list is because it won’t look great if you want to use this as a daily heater in your home (and I’m assuming that’s why most of you are reading this).
Note: There is an elevation limit (8000 feet), so you can't use it on high-altitude climbs or treks.
You’re just paying for the propane, so no need to worry about energy efficiency. You can use the little Coleman propane tanks available at every Walmart, Target, and sporting goods store.
There’s tip-over, low oxygen, and pilot light auto-shut off features on this heater. Check out Heater PRO’s video review to learn exactly how the safety features work.
No complaints here.
This is decently priced and would definitely make a great gift for that camper in your life.
Is it surprising to you that Lasko makes the best space heater overall? Not really. These guys know how to make high-quality heating units—and this one also happens to make for a beautiful addition to your home.
Many people complain about the remote control not being great, although it really is just value-added. The unit itself is easy enough to operate. Just be mindful of any issues with an odor or the plug fraying—the complaints are few and far between, but still important to be aware of.
Per Consumer Reports’ review: “The Lasko Designer Series space heater is excellent at room heating and very good at bathing a person in direct heat.” There are two heat settings to choose from, enabling you to optimize heat output and energy use.
Customers love the energy efficiency of this one. Part of that comes from the built-in 7-hour timer functionality, so you don’t have to leave it running all day; only when you need it.
Comes with overheating protection. Since this sits on its own stand, you shouldn’t have to worry about it toppling over unless you’ve got super rowdy kids or dogs around.
The oscillating fan is very quiet, so you shouldn’t notice the sound of this heater much.
In terms of what you get? This is a steal!
There are a number of different space heater types to consider when shopping:
Fuel-Burning Space Heaters – These consume fuel (propane, natural gas, etc.) in order to produce the heat. They tend to be very effective for larger spaces, as they can generate a lot of heat at once. However, it’s important to understand that they tend to emit carbon monoxide when they consume oxygen to burn the fuel. If you run these in an enclosed space, you could end up suffering carbon monoxide poisoning. Fuel-burning heats require flues or vents for the harmful gases to escape.
Filler Space Heaters – These heaters are filled with a material that grows hot when electricity is passed through it. For example, many filler heaters contain oil, as it heats up nicely as a result of the electrical current. When the filler grows hot, it radiates enough heat to warm up larger spaces, such as apartment buildings. They work more slowly than other heater types, as the filler material typically requires more time to heat up. However, once the filler material is hot, it will provide steady, uninterrupted heating—making it very effective as a heating option!
Convective Space Heaters – These heaters use a fan to distribute warm air throughout an enclosed room or space, warming up all of the air in the room rather than just the air in front of the heater directly (like fuel heaters). This means that they will take longer to warm up a space, but it will make the entire space gradually grow warmer consistently. They provide a constant heating effect that will keep the room warm even after you shut off the heat.
Radiative Space Heaters –These heaters give off radiation, which is responsible for heating your area. The radiative heat will affect your clothes and skin directly, heating your body rather than the ambient air. They tend to work fastest, and they eliminate the need for insulation. They tend to be smaller and portable, so you can carry them from place to place and use them wherever. However, they won’t heat large spaces, but focus on heating you personally.
When shopping for a space heater, you’ll be asked to choose what type of heating element you want to work with. There are typically nine different types of heating elements to work with:
Shopping for the right space heater is easier said than done. With so many heaters on the market, it can be tough to find the one that suits your needs best. You may have no idea what features you need, what heating element works best, or how large of a heater you actually need.
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!
Here are the main factors to consider when buying a space heater:
Size – The size of your heater will be determined according to the size of the space you want to heat. If you’re just looking for something to keep you warm while snuggled on a couch or at your desk, a smaller, focused-heat heater will do the job.
If you want to keep larger spaces and rooms warm (without turning on central heating), a larger space heater will be necessary. As a good rule of thumb, you’ll need about 10 watts for every square foot of room space—so a 750-watt heater for 75 square feet, 1500 watts for 150 square feet, and 3000 watts for 300 square feet.
Type – The list in the previous section will help you find the right heating element for the room and space you want to heat. For outdoors, it’s always best to go with natural gas or propane, as they produce a lot of direct heat. For larger indoor spaces, infrared heaters will focus on heating you up, while convective heaters will slowly warm up the entire room. For heating you up directly, consider an oil heater to keep your area warm for hours, or a fan heater to blow warm air right at you.
Placement – There are a number of locations for the heater to be placed:
Most people will automatically gravitate toward buying a freestanding space heater, but it may be a good idea to consider these other options.
Noise Level – The amount of noise your heater makes can be a major factor if you’re looking for a heater to use in your bedroom or living room. A noisy heating unit can be very distracting, making it hard for you to sleep, read, or watch TV. Most modern indoor models are fairly quiet, particularly electric heaters, though some fan-based heaters tend to be noisy. Outdoor heaters (propane and natural gas) will be noisier than average.
Features – There are many important features to consider when shopping for a space heater:
It’s a given that your space heater is going to be hot—that’s what you bought it for in the first place! But it shouldn’t be a fire hazard, which is why it’s critical that you shop for heaters that are as safe as possible.
Always look for heaters that have labels from recognized testing laboratories— ETL (Intertek), CSA (Canadian Standards Association), or UL (Underwriters Laboratory)—which means they have been tested to ensure they are safe. These are included on all electric space heaters, and they’re proof that the appliances meet these associations’ safety standards.
Make sure that the heater comes with two built-in shut-off switches: tip-over protection and overheat protection. Heaters, particularly electric heaters, can become very hot, to the point that they are extremely dangerous if they overheat. An overheat shut-off switch will stop the heater from reaching a dangerous heat. Tip-over protection will shut the heater off in case it falls over. This is an important safety feature, especially if you have pets or children.
Always check the power cord before buying any electric heater. Damaged power cords are a major safety hazard, and are one of the main causes of heater-related injuries, deaths, and fires.
If you’re going to buy a gas or propane heater, be aware that the gas line is the primary safety hazard. At the first sign of leak or damage, be ready to get the line checked out or switched out.
The placement of your space heater should be determined by two things: 1) safety and 2) maximum efficiency.
In this section, we’re going to focus on placement for efficiency, the location of your heater will deliver maximum heating power for your room and home.
Convection heaters are designed to heat your entire room efficiently, so you can place them anywhere in the room and they’ll do an effective job. However, other heaters aren’t as efficient, so you have to be smart with their placement.
Oil heaters are best placed in the center of the room. They radiate an even amount of heat, so they will warm up the air around it quickly. In a central location, the oil heater will heat up the entire room evenly and efficiently.
Fan heaters need to be placed away from walls, furniture, or anything that could block the air intake built into the back. Place it on one side of the room, with the vent pointing into the middle of the room to blow the cool air evenly across the entire space.
Electric heaters can get very hot, so you need to make sure they’re well away from anything flammable. Never cover or place anything on top of them—it will be a safety hazard and will diminish the heating ability of the heater.
Space heaters can be dangerous if you’re not careful, or if they’re used incorrectly! Follow these safety tips to reduce any fire, injury, or burn hazards in your home:
Live by the 3-foot rule – Keep your heater at least three feet away from anything: beds, sofas, furniture, curtains, clothes, people, and pets. This is the safe distance to not only reduce fire hazards, but also risks to you and your family.
Keep it level – Make sure to always place the heater on a solid, even surface. Even with built-in tip protection, it’s better to be safe and reduce the risk of the heater getting knocked over.
Avoid extension cords – Always plug the heater directly into the wall. Only use an extension cord or power strip if you have no other option. The risk of overheating and burning the plugs is very high!
Turn it off when out or sleeping – If you’re not in the room where the heater is running, turn it off. If you’re going to sleep, turn it off. If you’re leaving the house, turn it off. It’s always better to be safe!
Ensure proper ventilation – Make sure your house has proper ventilation when using any kind of heater, both fuel-burning and electric-based heaters. Avoid using fuel-burning heaters inside your home as much as possible.
Train your kids and pets – Take time to teach them to be cautious around the heater, even when it’s off. Heaters can be a safety risk, amplified significantly if you have wild pets or active children.
Watch for water – Unless you know for certain the heater is 100% bathroom-safe, keep it out of the bathroom! Make sure to keep the heater as far away from moisture, damp, or water as possible. Even a small amount of moisture could get into the electric circuits and cause a dangerous short.
Unplug it – Even after the heater is turned off, it may be a good idea to unplug it. It’s a small safety precaution that can make a world of difference!
Read the manual – Even if it goes against your nature, take a few minutes to sit and read the heater’s manual. You’ll learn a thing or two about heater safety and operation that you might not have known.
Beware of high-traffic areas – Keep heaters out of any areas in your home that get a lot of traffic, such as hallways, kitchens, or dining rooms. Make sure that it’s placed to the side and out of the way of anyone walking around your house.