With endless snowstorms and chills that won’t quit, winter can be a tough time of year. The best space heaters are the perfect way to keep your toes from tingling without heating the whole house or office, but which one should you buy?
After extensive testing, our data found that the De’Longhi HMP1500 (available at Amazon for $99.95) is the best space heater because of its high performance and flexible design. For something smaller, a personal space heater, like the Lasko 754200 is a value-packed choice.
However, there are many space heaters on our list to choose from.
Type of heater: Mica
Dimensions: 27 x 0.9 x 22 inches
Weight: 10.1 pounds
Quick facts: Wall mountable, wheels included
Safety features: Automatic shut off if tipped over, overheat protection, power/caution indicator lights
If you want a space heater that does it all, this mica model is the one for you. The Delonghi HMP1500 aced our spot-heating and room-heating tests. Our thermal sensors recorded the HMP1500 outputting a maximum temperature of almost 95°F. This Delonghi also raised the temperature of a 1350-cubic-foot room 6 degrees in an hour, more than enough to warm a chilly room.
Performance aside, the HMP1500 also has design elements that can fit any lifestyle. People who want their heater to follow them from room to room can install the included wheels. Where stairs are a concern, a handle on the back lets you easily lift the 8-pound frame anywhere. If you have one room in your home that needs supplementary heating, the HMP1500 can be mounted to a wall as a permanent fixture.
Quick facts: Retails for around $30, has a fan-only setting
Safety features: Automatic overheat protection
When you think of a personal space heater, the Lasko 754200 is what most people typically imagine. It's compact, light, and relatively powerful. However, its power is highly directional. When it's on, you can only heat part of your body. While this Lasko does not have the versatility of our top pick, it's still a good value.
Quick facts: Adjustable thermostat, 1,500 watts power
Safety features: Automatic shut off if tipped over, overheat protection
The Vornado AVH10 combines a Vornado fan with a heating element to circulate hot air throughout the room.
The powerful fan means that heat circulates quickly. This isn’t surprising given that our favorite desk fan is the Vornado 660. We were concerned about fan noise, but the sound levels maxed out at a modest 44 decibels at a 4-foot distance, quiet enough to fade into the background noise of most rooms.
The AVH10 has an easy-to-read digital thermostat. This lets you dial in and maintain a comfortable temperature for your room without wasting energy.
The plastic housing remains cool to the touch. The cool exterior, plus a tilt shutoff and overheating protection, make this a safe choice if you have kids.
The AVH10, which distributes heat well and has strong airflow, makes an excellent whole room heater. The only downside was that the spot heating immediately in front of the heater was less intense than an infrared heater.
Quick facts: Can be set to warm gradually, 3-year warranty
Safety features: Automatic shutoff if tipped over or after two hours
When it comes to heating a room, we found the Honeywell HeatGenius to be a bit of a savant. Overall, it came in second place in our tests. This ceramic fan-forced Honeywell showed off its smart engineering with how well it utilized its 1500-watt coils.
On the one hand, the HeatGenius brought all its air-warming prowess to bear during our spot heating tests. Up close it reached temperatures north of 96°F, hotter than any other heater we tested. Should you not want to roast, the HeatGenius has phase heating—a feature that lets you bask in warm, moderate, and high heat in 30-minute chunks.
We liked the HeatGenius’ performance, but its usability left something to be desired. The controls are a bit clunky and complicated. We also found the Delonghi HMP1500 more versatile, able to be wall-mounted or moved on wheels.
The Delonghi EW7707CM came in third place. This oil-filled convection radiator-style heater had an output max temperature of around 83°F. Over the course of an hour, it brought the temperature in our testing room up 3 degrees. With these kinds of results, we found that the EW7707CM wasn't as good a personal space heater as the HMP1500.
However, you'll sing its virtues if you place it in the basement. Its lowest setting places the EW7707CM on anti-freeze duty, keeping rooms at around 41°F—well above pipe-bursting temperatures.
While other space heaters we tested could serve the same purpose, the EW7707CM was more energy efficient than the average heater. If you're going to keep a heater warming the pipes all winter, this one will dent your wallet the least.
Quick facts: Has a remote control, won't dry out a room
Safety features: Automatic shutoff if tipped over, overheat protection
The LifeSmart we tested used six quartz-wrapped elements to produce infrared heat. Using this kind of system helps target the heat and maintain humidity. Our test results lined up with what LifeSmart claimed this heater could do. None of the sensors were directly in the path of the heat elements, so the max temperature recorded was around 77°F. Results like these show that the LifeSmart is good as a personal heater, but not for sharing the warmth.
During the hour we ran this heater, we did not calculate a decrease in the general humidity. You'll appreciate that in the wintertime, when the cold, dry weather is chapping your lips and giving you a sore throat.
While the LifeSmart has premium features like a remote control, its weak room-heating performance makes it hard to justify spending nearly twice what it costs for most other models on the market. Still, if you want a personal heater that won't rob the room of all its moisture, the LifeSmart is worth considering.
The Lasko 6435 was the most unique-looking product we tested. It's only one of two models we tested that could sit on a window sill or a desk, and not look amiss. Wherever you place it, make sure it's close. The 6435 was a better spot heater than anything else. This model also oscillates, meaning it has a motor that waves back and forth, so it can warm up everyone sitting on your couch.
Quick facts: Strap handle, one of Oprah's favorite things
Safety features: Overheat protection, automatic shutoff if tipped over
Compact, well designed, and powerful, the Capsule nearly toppled our pick for best value. However, it’s about 30% more expensive than the Lasko 754200, but only 6.5% more powerful. We’d suggest that you get this one if you are constantly moving your heater from place to place. We found the Capsule’s strap handle very comfortable to use.
Safety features: Automatic shutoff if tipped over, overheat protection
The Dr Infrared, like the LifeSmart, uses quartz heating elements. While the Dr Infrared was more powerful, it didn't do as well at spreading the heat around the room. During testing, we also noticed that this model dried out the air more than the other infrared heaters. When you combine these two negatives, even the lower price tag keeps the Dr Infrared from claiming a top spot.
Quick facts: No assembly required, also comes in black
Safety features: Automatic shutoff if tipped over, overheat protection
As wide as the Lasko 5622 is, the path of its warmth isn't actually that great. The outer ring of our sensors barely registered any heat. The sweet spot is dead center, and you could get smaller space heaters for that. The 5622's saving grace is that it works right out of the box. Most space heaters in this size range require you to install legs or wheels.
Where the 5622 was the widest heater we tested, the Lasko 755320 is the tallest. Standing nearly 2-feet tall, the 755320 is known as a tower heater and boasts the same design as a tower fan. It oscillates like one, too.
During testing, we liked how the handle on the back made it easy to move this Lasko from room to room. However, its performance is lackluster compared to other heaters on this list. Even with the oscillation on, we found that the sides of our testing room did not get warm.
With a heater as small as the Honeywell UberHeat, spot heating is a must. While this little heater didn’t stack up as well as the Lasko 754200, it did all right, raising the temperature a foot away to 74°F.
Where the UberHeat lagged behind in performance, it made up for in looks. A lot of space heaters out there look bulky and misshapen, but this Honeywell’s design makes it appear that it belongs on a nightstand or tidy home office desk.
In nutshell, to find the best space heater, we broke down our testing into two categories: performance and usability. To test performance, we placed each heater into a temperature-controlled room, which stayed at 72°F and 50% humidity.
We know that's not necessarily like your living room or the ideal room you'd heat, but that room is the most stable temperature in our entire laboratory and could help us best test whether or not the room would heat to the desired temperature.
During setup, each heater was placed in the center of a 180-square-foot chamber with a 1,350-cubic-foot volume, and plugged into a watt meter.
We then placed two rings of temperature sensors at varying heights to simulate feet and torsos at different distances. These sensors were used to determine spot heating and overall room temperature changes.
Each heater was placed on its highest heat settings and left to run for an hour. After that, we gathered the data from the sensors.
Heaters that could evenly heat both the inner and outer rings of sensors received the highest ratings.
Most of the space heaters we tested had a mechanism to shut the device off if it got too hot. Nevertheless, it's recommended to always have a 3-foot radius between a space heater and anything even remotely flammable–including blankets and upholstery. Some also included a tip over switch that would automatically turn off the machine if it got knocked to the floor.
Also, never plug an electric space heater into an extension cord. Portable space heaters draw up to 1,500 watts of power, more than enough to cause a dangerous spark.
Finally, be sensible and don't touch a space heater when it is in operation. Some portable heaters have a cool exterior when they are running, but that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous.
Types of Space Heaters
Space heaters have various heating methods that can affect the size, weight, and other aspects of the product. There are ceramic heaters, fan heaters, oil-filled convection heaters, and some rely on infrared technology. Which one is best for your home? Here's a breakdown of the types we reviewed:
Mica: Thin, energy-efficient, and frequently wall-mountable, mica heaters are part radiant and part convection. They operate silently.
Ceramic Fan-Forced: Convection heaters that blow warm air out from a fan; ceramic space heaters are good for spot heating but not for large rooms. Expect some fan noise. The plastic shell may be safe to the touch in some models, but the grill is always very hot.
Oil-filled convection: Reminiscent of oil-filled radiators you find in old homes, oil-filled convection heaters work well for entire rooms. Their quiet operation makes it great for living rooms, but they're very hot to the touch on all sides and maybe not the best choice for houses with young children.
Infrared: Sometimes known as "quartz" heaters, these devices don't actually heat the air so much as beam heat directly at you. This is why infrared heaters are often used outdoors, because they are unaffected by wind. Their tops and sides are usually cool to the touch.
Convection Only: Everyone knows hot air rises. Convection heaters simply have a heating element inside a grate. While they are not good for spot heating, they are virtually silent when in operation.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Space Heater
When you’re shopping for a space heater, there are some things you should think about to make sure that it's a good fit for you and your home.
Location: Do you have an area in your home that is both 3 feet away from all flammable objects, and is not in the middle of a walking path? If not, see if you can clear a place in your home where the space heater can be safely operated.
Safety: Does part of the product get hot to the touch while in operation? If so, make sure that kids are aware of what areas are safe to touch on the space heater, if any. With little ones in the house, it may be best to choose a space heater with a protective grate covering the heating unit.
Floor plan: What is the layout of the room(s) you'd like to heat? If you have an open floor plan, and you'd like to heat more than one room, chances are that a single space heater won't cut it.
Space heaters operate best in small spaces and rooms; for large spaces, you may need to safely deploy multiple space heaters in strategic locations throughout your home. If you don't want to buy multiple space heaters, think about picking a space heater that emphasizes whole-room heating over spot heating.
Outlet location: Is there an electrical outlet located near the spot where you want the space heater to live? Most electric heater power cords are not very long, and it is strongly recommended that space heaters should not be plugged into extension cords.
As a safety precaution, do not plug anything into the same outlet into which the space heater is plugged. These heaters use a lot of electricity, so it's best not to overload the outlet.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.