The Best Space Heaters for the Home

Learn the features that matter most in a space heater so you can find the unit that works best for your needs and budget.

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Best Space Heater

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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.

If it’s been a while since you last shopped for a space heater, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. 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.

  1. BEST OVERALL: GiveBest Portable Electric Space Heater
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater
  3. UPGRADE PICK: AirNmore Comfort Deluxe Infrared Space Heater
  4. BEST FOR BATHROOMS: Bimonk Oscillating Bathroom Space Heater
  5. DESIGN PICK: Lasko Designer Series Ceramic Space Heater
  6. BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater
The Best Space Heater Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

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 homeowner’s 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 space heater types. Therefore, fan heaters are best suited for 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 range 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 for 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 continuous warm heat 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 ambiance 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 be warming and should, of course, be as safe as possible.

Safety

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 indicate 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-foot by 12-foot room, you’d need to purchase a 1200-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.

Energy Efficiency 

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 as much as 10 percent less energy than space heaters with coils and fans.

Noise Level 

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.

Best Overall

The Best Space Heater Option: GiveBest Ceramic Space Heater
Photo: amazon.com

Quiet operation and the ability to quickly heat rooms as large as 150 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.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Space Heater Options: AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater
Photo: amazon.com

This nicely priced oscillating heater provides 1500 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 setting the thermostat, the heater will turn itself on and off to maintain the selected temperature. The space heater stands 10.04 inches tall, 7.52 inches wide, and measures 6.34 inches from front to back. It weighs a mere 3.5 pounds and boasts a handle on the back for easy toting from room to room.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Space Heater Options: AirNmore Comfort Deluxe Infrared Space Heater
Photo: amazon.com

For warmth with peace of mind, consider the ample safety features of the AirNmore Comfort Deluxe 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, 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 consistent temperature. There’s a removable washable filter that prevents dust from recirculating in the air. The AirNmore stands 16.75 inches high, 13 inches wide, and measures 16 inches from front to back. It weighs in at a hefty 26.9 pounds.

Best for Bathrooms

The Best Space Heater Option: OPOLAR Ceramic Bathroom Space Heater
Photo: amazon.com

Most space heaters are not recommended for use in bathrooms, due to the danger of condensation forming on the heater, which could result in an electrical shock to the user. Fortunately, the Bimonk Oscillating Bathroom Space Heater features waterproof housing and a circuit protection plug. Additional safety features include overheat and tip-over shutoff protection.

There’s an adjustable thermostat and 80-degree oscillation, so users can set the desired heat and enjoy its even distribution throughout the space. Weighing in at just over 4 pounds, while measuring less than 14 inches high and 9 inches wide, the unit is easy to move from room to room by its handle.

Design Pick

The Best Space Heater Option: Lasko Designer Series Space Heater
Photo: amazon.com

This Lasko model 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 stands 16 inches high, measures 10 inches in diameter, weighs 6.5 pounds, and features a safety shutoff in case the unit tips over.

Best for Large Rooms

The Best Space Heater Options: De'Longhi 1500W Energy Saving Oil-Filled Radiator
Photo: amazon.com

The permanently sealed oil reservoir of this De’Longhi comes filled with oil and never needs refilling, as the oil level is never reduced and never runs out. This 1500-watt radiator provides soothing warmth in rooms up to 150 square feet. The adjustable thermostat keeps the room at a consistent temperature, and users can select an efficient Eco mode to optimize energy consumption.

The heater features a safety shutoff to keep the unit from overheating as well as insulated wiring and reinforced connections for additional safety. A low-surface-temperature case reduces the risk of accidental burns. The heater stands 26.1 inches high, 10.4 inches wide, and is 16.4 inches from front to back. It weighs in at 26.6 pounds and comes with wheels to make relocation easier.

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.

FAQs About Space Heaters

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.