Ever-rising utility costs can make heating an entire house prohibitively pricey. To save money but still keep occupied areas comfortable—say, the living room during a movie marathon—many renters and homeowners take advantage of space heaters.
Today’s models offer basic heating features at more affordable prices, newer bells and whistles, and all-important, upgraded safety features. The best space heater for any particular area will depend on the room’s size, the type of heater, and whether it will be used in a home with children and/or pets. Ahead, learn how to navigate all of the market options, and find out why the models below are among the best space heaters available.
We put these space heaters to the test in a hands-on review process. Testing took place in the home, in real-life scenarios to put performance and safety features on the spot. It also gave us an inside look at how their features function over time.
- BEST OVERALL: GiveBest Portable Electric Space Heater
- BEST VALUE: Amazon Basics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater
- UPGRADE PICK: AirNmore Comfort Deluxe Infrared Space Heater
- DESIGN PICK: Lasko Designer Oscillating Heater
- BEST FOR TEMP CONSISTENCY: DeLonghi TRD40615E Full Room Radiant Heater
- BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater
- BEST FOR BATHROOMS: Vornado VH10 Vortex Heater with Adjustable Thermostat
Before You Buy a Space Heater
A space heater can be a welcome source of supplemental warmth in a chilly room, especially if it also saves money on utility costs by allowing you to turn the HVAC thermostat down a few degrees. Keep in mind that space heaters get very hot and, if used carelessly, can lead to a house fire. Before shopping for a space heater, call your homeowners insurance agent. Some insurance policies will not cover damages from a fire caused by a space heater.
The Most Common Types of Space Heaters
For those just starting to shop for a space heater, it might come as a surprise to find so many different types from which to choose. Each type has its pros and cons, and not all space heaters are suitable for all rooms and situations.
Fan Space Heaters
Fan space heaters function by heating the air around an electric coil or wire elements and then dispersing the heat with a fan. They are among the least expensive models but do not offer the same efficiency as other types. Therefore, fan heaters are best suited to rooms without drafts or for warming a small space quickly.
Convection Space Heaters
Convection space heaters warm air over ceramic plates or disks and allow it to radiate warmth into the room. Some models do include fans for quicker heat dispersal and, like conventional fan heaters, they work best in rooms without drafts. Convection heaters come in compact or tower models, often with exterior cases that are cooler to the touch. Prices vary depending on wattage and added features.
Infrared Space Heaters
Infrared space heaters are among the quietest options for the home. They generate heat quickly by radiating heat to the objects—including people—in front of them. As opposed to heating the air in the room, this type of heater heats you, making it a good choice for use in drafty rooms. Just aim it at your chair and enjoy.
Oil-filled Space Heaters
Oil-filled space heaters (another type of radiant heater) are also a quiet option. Because they are capable of putting off an abundance of heat while using less electricity than fan-type models, these heaters are well suited to larger rooms. Due to the weight of the oil and the steel casing, these heaters are relatively heavy, but many come with wheels to make relocating easier. Oil-filled space heaters take a while to heat up, but they radiate continuously once they do.
Micathermic Space Heaters
Micathermic space heaters combine convection and radiant heating processes. Designed as a panel to stand or hang on a wall like a piece of artwork, they create a welcoming ambience for the senses by mimicking the look of a real fire and radiating heat. Some models include fans for greater efficiency and remote controls for extra convenience. These advanced heaters vary widely in price.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Space Heater
A small space heater might be suitable under a desk or next to a lounge chair, but it likely won’t make a dent in a sizable chilly room. Space heater size should suit the room it will warm and should, of course, be as safe as possible.
Space heaters are a leading cause of house fires, so it’s smart to pick one that boasts additional safety features to reduce risk. Manufacturers have introduced automatic shutoffs that kick in when a unit overheats or gets inadvertently knocked over. In addition, many have exterior cases that keep units cool to the touch at all times. Some models even come equipped with motion sensors that automatically turn the heater off when a pet or child comes too close. For extra peace of mind in your purchase, look for the letters NRTL on the space heater packaging, which indicates that the model has been tested for safety by the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.
Your Heating Needs
As a general rule of thumb, select a space heater that will produce 10 watts of power for every square foot. For instance, to heat a 10-by-12-foot room, you’d need to purchase a 1,200-watt space heater. A very large room may require more than one space heater to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout.
Other factors that affect a space heater’s efficiency include ceiling height, the insulating factor of the exterior walls, the number of windows, and the available outlets. While high-wattage heaters offer more heat than lower-wattage models, they’re limited to the capacity of the electrical outlet; a home’s standard 110-volt electrical outlet can only provide 1,500 watts of power, so that must be the wattage cap for any machine plugged into it.
One of the main reasons for using a space heater is to save on energy costs. But unlike many other appliances, space heaters do not require energy testing by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nor does the agency issue Energy Star ratings for them, so those who are serious about saving should opt for the most efficient type.
Oil-filled space heaters are among the most efficient because they heat the oil and the metal casing, gradually dispersing radiant warmth into the room. Once the oil reaches the desired temperature, less energy is needed to maintain that temperature. Even after an oil-filled heater is turned off, it will continue to radiate heat for up to 30 minutes or more. Next in energy efficiency are infrared space heaters, which use up to 10 percent less energy than space heaters with coils and fans.
For the most part, space heaters are among the quietest of all small appliances. Space heaters that use radiant heat, either infrared or oil-filled, make virtually no noise. Traditional space heaters with fans will emit an average of 35 to 45 decibels of sound, approximately the same as soft indoor conversation.
Tips for Using a Space Heater
Homeowners and renters can save on utility costs by using a space heater in one or more rooms rather than heating the entire home. For the toastiest—and safest—results, check out these useful tips.
- Maintain a 3-foot safety area around the space heater, and do not allow blankets, furniture, draperies, children, or pets within this zone.
- Install both carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms in the home when using space heaters, and test them monthly to ensure the batteries and the detectors are working.
- For safety’s sake, turn off the space heater when you leave the room or go to bed. The exception to this rule is an oil-filled radiant heater, which may be left running. However, consult the owner’s manual, and follow all other safety precautions.
- Never use an extension cord with a space heater. Household extension cords are often not heavy-duty enough to handle the amount of electricity a space heater draws during operation.
- Remember to close the door in the room being heated to keep that toastiness from escaping to hallways and unoccupied areas.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a space heater should be powerful enough to heat the intended room and include safety features that turn the unit off if it falls over. The following models are suited to various heating needs, and any one of them might well serve a variety of situations.
Quiet operation and the ability to quickly heat rooms as large as 200 square feet make this GiveBest model a wise choice for warming up. The ceramic space heater has an adjustable thermostat as well as both overheat shutoff and tip-over shutoff for safety. It runs quietly so as not to distract from activities like reading, watching TV, and conversation. It’s less than 10 inches tall, weighs just over 3 pounds, and features an easy-carry handle for moving from room to room as needed.
The GiveBest was an unassuming space heater during testing. It doesn’t have the flashiest design or features. However, there are a few extra settings like the two heat settings and a fan and the built-in thermostat that made it a pleasure to use. We tested it in an approximately 200-square-foot home office, and it heated the room without a problem. When temps were cold, we bumped it up to the high-heat setting, but most of the time, the low setting kept it comfortable when temps were around 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the rest of the home.
The only thing we would have liked to see was a display that showed the exact setting of the thermostat. We pretty much guessed at the temperature setting, but if the air temperature went above the mystery temperature, the GiveBest turned off. It also turns off if kicked over, which is a bonus for homes with kids or pets. However, the tilt safety feature did not allow the heater to turn on when placed in plush carpet. It needed a flatter surface, or the trigger mechanism wasn’t depressed enough to allow the heater to turn on.
Overall, this model balances design, heating efficiency, and price for a heater that will work in most small spaces plus provide portability if it’s needed elsewhere.
- Watts: 1,500
- Weight: 3.2 pounds
- Dimensions: 6.2 by 7 by 9.2 inches
- Automatic shutoff for overheating and tilt
- Lightweight and simple to use
- Two heat settings and fan setting for ventilation
- Highly portable and easy to store
- No display to show exact thermostat temperature
- Safety feature prevented it from turning on while on plush carpet
Get the GiveBest space heater on Amazon or at Walmart.
For a reasonable price, this oscillating heater provides 1,500 watts of heat, enough to keep a 150-square-foot room warm and cozy. It features three power outputs (low, high, and fan only), plus tip-over shutoff for safety should it inadvertently get knocked over. There’s a simple on/off switch for easy operation and a thermostat dial that allows the user to select the desired temperature. After you set the thermostat, the heater will turn itself on and off to maintain the selected temperature. It weighs a mere 3.5 pounds and boasts a handle on the back for easy toting from room to room.
While this simple heater did well during testing, it doesn’t have any features that make it standout. The basic heat functions worked well, and the adjustable thermostat triggered an automatic shutoff. However, it could use a display to show the exact temperature setting. The current variable thermostat leaves you guessing as to the temperature you’re choosing. Overall, it’s lightweight, portable, and made quick work of heating a 150-square-foot office.
- Watts: 1,500
- Weight: 3.52 pounds
- Dimensions: 7.52 by 6.34 by 10.04 inches
- Lightweight and easy to set up and adjust
- Oscillation spreads heat well
- Easy to store
- No display to show exact thermostat setting
Get the Amazon Basics space heater on Amazon.
For warmth and peace of mind, consider the ample safety features of the AirNmore Comfort Infrared Space Heater. Though it will heat a room up to 150 square feet, its outer casing will remain cool to the touch, which is crucial for homes with kids and pets. The tip-over safety function shuts the unit off if it gets knocked over (though it clocks in at nearly 27 pounds, making this less likely than some smaller models), and a 14-gauge cord with a three-prong heater plug reduces the risk of the cord melting from overheating.
The power level is adjustable, and the heater has a built-in thermostat to maintain a consistent temperature. A removable, washable filter prevents dust from recirculating in the air. You might confuse this space heater for an old-time radio; it definitely looks more design-friendly than the more utilitarian models. We loved this heater in testing, though with infrared heaters, you have to direct the heat toward you. It’s a penetrating heat, but only if it hits your body.
A tiny remote control let us change modes (low or high) and temperatures while working at a desk, and we liked that we could precisely adjust the temperature setting and see it on the display. The downside with the AirNmore is its size. It’s big and takes up a lot of room when heating up a relatively small 150-square-foot space. However, the casters make moving this behemoth out of the way when not in use fairly easy.
- Watts: 1,500
- Weight: 26.9 pounds
- Dimensions: 16.5 by 13 by 16.75 inches
- Onboard cord storage and four casters
- Comfortable penetrating heat
- Shows precise thermostat setting
- Includes particle filter for cleaner air
Get the AirNMore space heater on Amazon or at Walmart.
The Lasko Designer Oscillating Heater has smooth contours and rests on an attractive base, making it look more like a work of art than a space heater. Appearance aside, it effectively heats rooms up to 150 square feet by oscillating smoothly from side to side for uniform heat distribution. Switch between its adjustable heat settings via the remote; the Lasko can even be programmed in advance to turn on and off when desired. This handsome space heater also features a safety shutoff in case the unit tips over.
This beauty was a pleasant surprise during testing because it cranks out the heat. It may be designed to heat 150-square-foot spaces, but it can do more than that with the heat it puts out. The oscillating setting spread the heat far and wide, quickly heating the 200-square-foot test space (another office) to perfection. We liked that you can pick the temperature setting, though it only goes in 5-degree increments. Plus, it comes with a timer that automatically turns the unit off after 1, 2, or 4 hours. With that set, we didn’t worry about leaving it on while we were away.
Once the room reaches the set temperature, this space heater automatically shuts off. However, we noticed that if the temperature began to fall, it didn’t automatically turn back on. But we could turn it back on using the remote, so no one actually had to get out of their chair. This model might have made us a little lazy.
- Watts: 1,500
- Weight: 6.5 pounds
- Dimensions: 10 by 10 by 16 inches
- Attractive design that doesn’t look like a heater
- Three automatic timer settings
- Remote control to adjust any of the settings
- Heats the room very quickly
- Shuts off when desired temp is reached; has to be turned on again
Get the Lasko space heater at Amazon, Walmart, or The Home Depot.
The permanently sealed oil reservoir of the De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator comes filled with oil and never needs refilling, as the oil level is never reduced and never runs out. At 1,500 watts, this radiator provides soothing warmth in rooms up to 150 square feet. An adjustable thermostat keeps the room at a consistent temperature, and users can select an efficient eco mode to optimize energy consumption.
A safety shut-off feature keeps the unit from overheating, while insulated wiring and reinforced connections offer additional safety. Its low-surface-temperature case reduces the risk of accidental burns. Weighing a substantial 26.6 pounds, it comes with wheels to make relocation easier.
This large heater doesn’t blow heat at you like many of the other models. Radiant heat permeates the room, slowly raising the temperature. The De’Longhi kept a 150-square-foot office comfortable and was easy to leave on all day because it turned on and off as the temperature fluctuated. The controls took a little more work to understand, but it was a set-it-and-forget-it space heater once we figured it out. It’s quiet and only reminds you it’s there with the clicks and pops of its normal operation.
Overall, this model’s slow, quiet heat was comfortable and less noticeable than models with a fan. The downside was that its tall, narrow design makes it easier to tip over.
- Watts: 1,500
- Weight: 26.6 pounds
- Dimensions: 26.1 by 10.4 by 16.4 inches
- Quiet operation
- Automatically turned on and off based on the thermostat setting
- Comfortable room temperature without a fan blowing in the room
- Slow to heat the space
- Tall, narrow design makes it more susceptible to tipping over
Get the De’Longhi space heater at Amazon, Walmart, or The Home Depot.
The Dr Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater looks like a classic radio but runs like the high-tech space heater that it is. Emitting only 39 decibels, this infrared heater features quiet air circulation that moves the heat through large spaces. We tested it in a 200-square-foot office, and the Dr Infrared made quick work of heating it. Infrared heaters don’t heat the air; instead, they heat objects. This heater’s quiet fan made it feel like the heat permeated farther and made a difference in overall room temperature.
It’s also packed with features including standby, eco, low, and high power modes. The digital display shows the thermostat’s setting, which made it easy to make adjustments based on our comfort levels.
We’re big fans of remote controls. This model’s remote control let us make comfort adjustments without getting out of our office chair. We appreciated that we could leave it on all day while we worked, and it would turn on and off as needed. There’s also an adjustable timer, which can go up to 12 hours before automatically shutting off the heater.
Overall, it’s a gorgeous heater that can handle spaces up to about 850 square feet. It’s not the most mobile unit, weighing 24 pounds, but it does have casters for easier mobility.
- Watts: 1,500
- Weight: 24 pounds
- Dimensions: 13 by 12.5 by 17 inches
- Puts out fast, infrared heat
- Quiet fan helps circulate heat
- Thermostat adjustability and setting options
- Remote control lets you fine-tune without getting out of chair
Get the Dr Infrared space heater on Amazon or The Home Depot.
A set of three safety features with the Vornado provides extra security in a bathroom setting. The Vornado’s cool-touch exterior, heat detection, and tilt shutoff create a safer heater for a room where it could easily get knocked over. All three of these scenarios are more than likely in the bathroom. (The heat detection feature turns the heater off if a towel or clothing falls on top of the heater.) Among its other features, it has an adjustable thermostat, though there’s no display to show you the exact temperature and two heat settings—low or high.
The Vornado’s wide base made it more stable than similar space heaters we tested. When that’s coupled with the three safety features, it’s made for places (or homes) where blankets, towels, and clothes could end up on top of the heater, or pets and kids might knock it over. This model moved air beautifully and heated our office space quickly. The only thing we felt was missing was a display so we could have seen the precise temperature setting rather than guessing with the adjustable thermostat.
- Watts: 1,500
- Weight: 5.1 pounds
- Dimensions: 12 by 11.7 by 9.3 inches
- Three safety features
- Wide base provides more stability
- Vortex action moves a lot of air through the room
- Cannot see the precise temperature setting
Get the Vornado space heater on Amazon or The Home Depot.
The Lasko Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat Space Heater performed well in many respects. It has 11 heat settings, a cool-touch exterior, and a compact design. What it doesn’t have is an automatic tilt shut-off feature. That means if it gets knocked over, it keeps running. In a home with pets, kids, and, honestly, most adults, it could keep running facedown, posing a fire hazard. For that reason, it didn’t make our list of top picks.
The GiveBest Portable Electric Space Heater is our best overall pick for its balance of ease of use, portability, and price. This model will meet most needs yet takes up very little square footage when in use or storage. However, if you’re looking for an upgrade and have a larger room, the Dr Infrared Portable Space Heater is far more attractive and offers a wider range of settings and modes. It can also power through more than the average 150 to 200 square feet.
How We Tested the Best Space Heaters
We tested these space heaters in person, in real-world situations. They were all tested in a home office setting where the office was 150 to 200 square feet in size. One of the test offices also had large windows, so the room temperature fluctuated more often. We also tried them on different surfaces, from plush carpet to bare floors.
For models with a digital display, we set the thermostat between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit to see how well the space heater kept a consistent room temperature. From there, we made adjustments to settings (low and high), timers, and safety features. For example, we tipped over every single space heater to make sure it turned off.
Models designed to turn on and off based on the thermostat were left running to see how they performed over time. Some stayed in standby mode for hours without turning on because a furnace kept the room at temperature. We wanted to make sure they wouldn’t turn on if it wasn’t necessary. Ease of use was also a consideration, and models with remote controls or intuitive designs got higher marks from us.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Space Heater
- A good space heater will keep a room’s occupants warm and comfortable, even if the rest of the house is chilly.
- Homeowners and renters can save on heating costs by using a space heater in one room and lowering the thermostat for the rest of the house.
- Many of today’s space heaters come with built-in thermostats, enabling them to keep the room at a consistent and cozy temp.
- Space heaters are portable and can be moved from room to room as necessary.
The best space heater will keep folks warm and safe when manufacturer’s guidelines are followed. For more information on space heaters, see the answers to these common questions.
Q: Is it OK to have a space heater on all night?
Most space heaters should be turned off at night and when you leave a room. The exception is an oil-filled radiating space heater, which can be left on. However, make certain not to leave anything flammable within 3 feet of the radiator.
Q: What space heaters use the least electricity?
Oil-filled radiant heaters use the least amount of electricity because once they heat up, it takes very little energy to keep them warm. Plus, they will radiate heat for up to 30 minutes or more after they’ve been turned off.
Q: What is the safest type of space heater?
The safest space heater is one that will automatically shut off if it overheats or if it accidentally tips over.