The 30-Second Review

Any space heater will warm you up, but not all are created equal. The best space heater will include safety features like tip-over protection and UL certification. It should also be easy to move and operate, dispersing heat rapidly without wasting energy. To find our picks, we consulted firefighters, engineers, and consumer reviews to find reliable brands, then gathered 13 highly regarded models to test for ourselves.

Best for Large Rooms

This heater ($100) uses a slim tower design that fits well in corners. Like most space heaters, it warms via convection, heating air and dispersing it throughout the room. But two features sold us on the Lasko in particular: An oscillating fan keeps warm air circulating evenly, and a digital display allows you to program precise temperature settings as a safeguard against ratcheting up your energy bill.

Best for Small Spaces

Compact enough to carry one-handed, the UberHeat’s ($50) extreme portability makes it easy to fit into tight spaces. Like the Lasko, it’s a convection heater, but its stationary fan makes it best at targeting heat toward just one person.

Best for Garages and Basements

Pelonis HQ-1000
The Pelonis ($50) is the only one of our picks to use infrared tech to heat, warming you without directly heating the air. It takes a long time to heat entire rooms, but it’s great for instant, targeted warmth in drafty areas.

The Best Space Heater

Space heaters aren’t powerful enough to replace your central heating, but they’re a great option for people who want a little extra warmth during winter or who find themselves constantly bundling up at the office. The marketing surrounding heaters can be misleading though, with many brands claiming innovative technology that, upon closer inspection, turns out to be nothing but marketing. The key facts to keep in mind: All space heaters, including our picks, will hit virtually the same temperatures. But different types of heat — most commonly, convection and infrared — will disperse differently, which affects how quickly you feel warm.

The Lasko AW300 is our favorite for average to large rooms. Like most space heaters on the market, it’s a convection heater: It sucks in cold air, warms it up, and then circulates that warm air to the rest of the room with the help of a fan. The Lasko stood out in part because it has an oscillating fan. Its back-and-forth movement ensures that the entire room warms as evenly as possible (rather than heat pooling in one corner), making it ideal for areas like living rooms or kitchens where multiple people are likely to congregate. It's the largest of our picks, but its tower design allows it to fit easily into corners. It’s also one of the few models we looked at with digital controls, allowing you to set a target temperature to prevent wasting energy.

If you’re looking for a portable heater for a smaller space, like an office cubicle or a reading nook, compact design is key. Here, the Honeywell UberHeat is our choice. Not only did it provide a steady output of warm air, it was the smallest of the heaters we tested, which makes it easy to move around with you. Like the Lasko, it’s a convection heater, blowing warm air to the rest of the room via a fan, but the UberHeat’s fan is stationary and will only propel heat straight forward: Good if you’re planning to sit right in front of it, but not as efficient at heating large areas evenly.

Garages, attics, and basements are a different story. For areas of your home that tend to be drafty, we’d recommend the Pelonis HQ-1000. Unlike our other picks, the Pelonis is a radiant heater. Instead of heating the air directly, it heats up whatever objects (or people) are directly in front of it. We found its intensely focused heat uncomfortably warm indoors, but it’s a great way to stay toasty the next time that you venture down to the basement or head out to the garage for an afternoon, and it was easier to transport than the other radiant heaters that we tested.

Our Picks for the Best Space Heater

Best for Large Rooms

Lasko AW300A slim and effective convection heater for large spaces.

If you’re looking for an unobtrusive way to heat rooms you spend a lot of time in, like a living room or master bedroom, our pick is the Lasko AW300 ($100). For a floor-standing heater, the Lasko has a small footprint. Its tower shape lets it fit easily into the corner of a room, unlike the bulkier design of the oil-filled and micathermic heaters that we tested. It’s also light enough to move one-handed.

The Lasko spreads warm air quickly thanks to a fan that can oscillate up to 180 degrees — or remain locked into a stationary position if you want more targeted heat. The fan was strong enough that we could feel warm air wafting toward us from about 16 feet away as soon as we turned the heater on, and we preferred the efficiency of this design to the Delonghi Flat Panel Convection Heater and the Crane Flat Panel Convection Heater, which had stationary heat vents that sent all of their warm air straight up toward the ceiling.

Give your heater some breathing room

Space heaters should have at least 3 feet of space between flammable objects such as a curtains or pillows. Bill Mace told us “the most common cause of space heater related fires is when a combustible material is placed too close.” When looking for a heater, the best rule of thumb is to match the size of the heater to the size of the room.

Lasko for Space Heater

The closest competitor to the Lasko was the $450 Dyson AM09. The Dyson works similarly to the Lasko — it's a tower heater with an oscillating fan — but it has a couple of extra features that the Lasko doesn’t offer: You can adjust the vertical angle of the Dyson's fan for more control over airflow, and the unit also doubles as a fan. The additional features are nice, although none of us felt inclined to shell out an extra $350 for them. But the main reason we preferred the Lasko AW300? It’s more user-friendly. All of the Dyson’s extra features are controlled through a small remote. The heating tower itself only has a power button and the ability to set a target temperature. If you lose the remote, you’ll lose your ability to control all those additional features. The Lasko also comes with a remote control, but all of its controls — setting a target temperature, setting a timer, changing the fan settings, and activating oscillation — are accessible through buttons on the tower itself. Given the amount of times we’ve lost a much larger TV remote, we appreciated this safeguard.

Lasko vs Dyson for Space Heater

The Lasko (left, top and bottom) has a full range of controls both on its remote and on the unit itself. Most of the Dyson's settings can only be accessed via remote.

We also appreciated the Lasko AW300’s built-in digital thermostat, which we found surprisingly accurate. When we set a target temperature and then checked heat output with our own thermometer, the Lasko consistently fell within 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit of the target. Like most of the models we looked at, the Lasko hits 90 degrees at its highest setting, and can be set as low as 49 degrees if you’re trying to conserve energy.

Because the Lasko is a convection heater, you won’t feel as intensely warm right next to it as you would with an infrared heater, like the Pelonis and or the Dr. Infrared — the Lasko is designed to spread heat outward rather than keep it pooled in one place. But for highly trafficked areas, this tradeoff feels more than worth it: You’re more likely to achieve an evenly heated room, and the Lasko’s style of heating makes it a safer option around kids and pets. We were able to hold our hands directly on top of the heat guard for over 20 seconds without burning our hands.

The one potential downside is that you can’t turn the Lasko’s fan off without turning the entire heater off. If you want heat but sometimes need a break from air blowing in your face, we’d suggest the Honeywell UberHeat, below.

Best for Small Spaces

Honeywell HeatGenius HCE840A compact and portable heater that’s great for small areas.

If you’re not trying to heat up an entire living room, but want extra warmth for, say, an office cubicle or small bedroom, the Honeywell UberHeat ($33) is our hands-down favorite. We love it for its toasty output of warm air and highly portable design.

The true strength of the UberHeat comes from this portability. Compared to every other heater we tested, the UberHeat was the most compact: a little larger than an alarm clock. The Vornado VH200 and our off-brand personal convection heater from Lowes were both bulkier — harder to pick up and less compatible with tight spaces. And the handle at the top of the UberHeat makes it even easier to carry from room to room — unlike the Ceramic DQ075’s handle, which caused us to drop the heater on three separate occasions when we tried to grab it.

The tradeoff with any small heater is that controls tend to be minimal, and the UberHeat is no exception. The heater has two wattage settings, two fan settings, and a dial-based thermostat. Be warned that the thermostat takes more work to figure out than the Lasko’s digital display: To set your desired temperature on the UberHeat, you’ll need to turn the heater on, wait until you’re comfortably warm, then turn the thermostat dial slowly down until the heater shuts off. There’s no way to know exactly what temperature you’ve chosen, but the heater will kick back on if the temperature begins to dip again.

UberHeat Controls for Space Heater

The Honeywell UberHeat's controls are less precise than digital models like the Lasko. You'll have to experiment to find the temperature you want.

The UberHeat does offer one function we didn’t get from the Lasko: You can turn the heater itself on without turning the fan on. We liked this fanless setting as a way to accumulate heat in a more targeted area — your favorite reading chair, for example — and the heater is totally silent in this mode (otherwise, you’ll hear a faint but noticeable background whirr).

Best for Garages and Basements

Pelonis HQ-1000A radiant heater that provides quick and immediate heat for you without warming the air.

If you need temporary warmth in rooms like attics, basements, or garages — spaces where you don’t spend a lot of time, and which tend to be drafty — a radiant heater is your most efficient option. It lets you stay warm without wasting energy heating the surrounding air. And of the radiants we tested, the Pelonis ($45) is our favorite. It was so effective at putting out targeted heat that testers reported it felt uncomfortably warm indoors, but that same heat output will leave you feeling toasty in a cold basement.

Pelonis for Space Heater

The Pelonis is minimal in design: There are just two wattage settings for heat, plus an adjustable thermostat dial. But we weren’t overly bothered by this: Features like a programmable target temperature are important if you’re trying to heat an entire room, but radiant heaters are better suited to targeted, short-term heat.

Other radiant options like the Dr. Infrared heater ($190) came with more extras, including a digital thermostat and built-in humidifier. But we liked the Pelonis because it traded features for a larger heating element. The Dr. Infrared and Lifesmart infrared heaters had smaller heating panels which would only warm up our legs while working in cold environments. The larger heating panel of the Pelonis managed to heat a wider area, with our tester comparing the experience to sitting near a warm fireplace.

Size Comparison for Space Heater

The Pelonis (center) has a larger heating panel than our other infrared finalists.

The Pelonis isn’t perfect. The large heating panel and high heat output aren't a good match for children or pets, but cautious adults will be fine, and the heater’s built-in tip-over switch and auto-off controls add a layer of safety. The heater also lacks the wheels found on the Dr. Infrared and Lifesmart infrared heaters, but these two models are heavier and boxier than the Pelonis, which is light enough to pick up by its handle and move without issue. In short? The Pelonis isn't as versatile as our other picks, but it's a useful companion for garage and basement projects.

Did You Know?

Smell something burning? It might just be dust.

If you smell burning when using your space heater after long periods of inactivity, chances are the heater is simply burning off dust. No need to worry: This is normal and can be avoided by wiping down your heater before turning it on. In fact, if you plan to use your heater constantly through the colder months, some manufacturers suggest cleaning it every two weeks.

Space heaters won’t necessarily save you money on electricity bills.

Using a space heater in place of your central heating can sometimes be an energy efficient choice — but only if you limit yourself to a single room, and turn down the heat in the rest of the house. If you want to keep your entire house warm, placing a space heater in every room can actually use more electricity.

And for the most part, no single heater will be more energy efficient than another. Models that boast "Eco" modes simply let you adjust your wattage to lower settings, which also lowers your heat output. Since all of our heaters have the same 1500-1575 upper wattage range (the highest for most space heaters), they will all use virtually the same amount of energy. There might be small fluctuations, but the differences will be too minor to have any real effect. Any claims of being the “Most energy efficient heater” have more to do with marketing.

Pair your space heater with a humidifier for relief from dry air.

As a space heater warms the air, it will lead to a decrease in relative humidity or the amount of water vapor in a room compared to the amount of vapor the air can hold. Put simply, space heaters won’t take moisture out of the air, but will make rooms feel drier. This is a bigger problem during colder months, because the cold air is already drier — the colder the air, the less moisture capacity the air has. While it may not seem like a big deal, a low relative humidity can lead to dry skin and nosebleeds. We recommend pairing your space heater with a humidifier, which will add moisture to the air and keep the room as comfortable as possible.

The Best Space Heaters, Summed Up