The Best Space Heaters
How We Found the Best Space Heaters
2 experts interviewed
13 models tested
3 top picks
The Best Space Heaters
A space heater needs to keep you warm and safe. The best space heaters are easy to move and operate, disperse heat rapidly without wasting energy, and come with safety features like tip-over protection, automatic shut-off timers, and adjustable thermostats. To find our top picks, we consulted firefighters, engineers, and consumer reviews to discover reliable brands, then gathered 13 highly regarded models for testing.
How We Chose the Best Space Heaters
Bill Mace, an Education and Outreach specialist for the Seattle Fire Department, told us that “heating-related fires” are one of the most common incidents his department attends. The United States Consumer Product Safety Committee estimates that about 22,000 residential fires are caused by space heaters annually. Safety features were our first concern and an absolute must-have. We only considered space heaters that automatically shut off if they overheat or are knocked over.
There’s no such thing as a truly “energy efficient” space heater. Energy usage is determined by wattage. If heaters have the same upper wattage limit, they’ll burn the same amount of energy on their highest setting. Models that boast "Eco" modes simply let you adjust your wattage to lower settings, which also lowers your heat output. The key to not running your electricity bill to astronomical heights is ensuring your heater has an adjustable thermostat and can shut off once you’re warm enough.
Heat dispersal method
Our picks had one thing in common: like the vast majority of space heaters, they max out at 1500-1575 watts. Max Robinson, engineer for Turnbull and Scott Heating, explains “when we talk about increases in wattage, we’re talking about the increase in which energy is transferred.” Simply put, space heaters convert watts into heat.
Given enough time, all of the heaters we considered could heat a room to the same temperature. However, the time it took varied based on the heat dispersal methods:
- Convection heaters work by warming the air around them. Because warm air always rises, the heat will circulate up toward the ceiling and gradually spread out.
- Radiant heaters emit heat waves that provide instant warmth to objects in front of them, but they don’t directly warm the air itself. They provide the same type of heat you'd get from sunlight or a campfire.
- Micathermic heaters combine convection and radiant heating, giving off both types of warmth. As a result, the heat will feel less prone to temperature fluctuations than convection alone, and more enveloping than radiant alone.
Surface guard heat
The surface guard is the screen that protects your fingers from coming into direct contact with the heater’s heating element. The convection heaters we tested had surface guards that got warm to the touch, but not unbearably so. But the micathermic heater and radiant heaters didn't fare as well, all becoming hot enough that we were worried about burning ourselves — not an acceptable design if you've got pets or children in the house.
Unlike central heating, a space heater can be carried from room to room. For floor-standing heaters, we prioritized designs that were as lightweight as possible. Several of our convection heaters billed themselves as tabletop “personal” heaters. These had small footprints and were more portable than floor-standing models. For these, we prioritized shapes and handles that were easy to grab.
Heat and thermostat settings came standard on all our space heaters. The heat dial controls the wattage output of the heater, and the thermostat dial lets you tell the heater at which room temperature it should shut off. Unfortunately, models like the Vornado, the Honeywell HeatGenius, and the Crane Convection Heater lacked precision. We loved the digital display panel on models like the Dyson and the Lasko, which let us choose a specific temperature.
The 3 Best Space Heaters
- Lasko AW300 -
Best for Large Rooms
- Honeywell HeatGenius HCE840 -
Best for Small Rooms
- Pelonis HQ-1000 -
Best for Drafty Rooms
Why we chose it
For a floor-standing heater, the Lasko has a small footprint. Its tower shape means it fits easily into the corner of a room, unlike the bulkier design of other heaters that we tested. It’s also light enough to move one-handed.
The Lasko is a convection heater and 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.
It was a close competition between the Dyson AM09 and the Lasko when it came to the convenience of remote controls. Both came with a remote, but the Dyson had the disadvantage of having its extra features — adjustable angle airflow, fan-only, etc.— only accessible via the remote. A real problem if you happen to lose it. All of the Lasko’s controls — setting a target temperature, setting a timer, changing the fan settings, and activating oscillation — were accessible through buttons on the tower itself.
Points to consider
Fan always active
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 want the option of a break from air blowing in your face, we’d suggest the Honeywell UberHeat, below.
Why we chose it
The true strength of the Honeywell comes from this portability. Compared to every other heater we tested, the Honeywell was the most compact: a little larger than an alarm clock with a handle at the top for easy transport. 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 is a portable source of reliable heat.
The Honeywell 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).
Points to consider
The tradeoff with any small heater is that controls tend to be minimal, and the Honeywell 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 Honeywell, 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.
Why we chose it
Quick, targeted heat
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 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.
Larger heating panel
Other radiant heaters like 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.
Points to consider
If we had to name one drawback to the Pelonis, it would be its slightly bulkier design. While the other radiant heaters we compared—the Dr. Infrared and the Lifesmart—were boxier, they had wheels for easy transportation. The Pelonis lacked these wheels, featuring instead a reasonably grippable handle.
Guide to Space Heaters
How to find the right space heater for you
Assess areas that need heating
Knowing the size of the area you’re trying to heat will help when deciding on the right space heater for you. If you’re living in a small studio apartment, you can probably get away with something like the Uberheat. However, if you want to heat a larger area, in a house or townhouse, for example, the Lasko is the better choice.
Focus on safety features
You want a space heater that comes with safety features like auto-off and tipping switches. These features can help prevent a fire in the event that you forget to turn off the heater or it happens to fall over. Each year, tens of thousands of residential fires are caused by heaters. To reduce the risk of fire in your home, it’s important to choose a space heater with safety features, and making sure everyone in the home understands how to safely operate and shut it off (and that children know to only use it with adult supervision).
Look at precision controls
Some space heaters, like the Lasko, have a digital display that makes it easier to set the desired room temperature. Controls with this level of precision are ideal if you want a more exact room temperature and you don’t just want to eyeball it. This way, you aren’t playing around with vague temperature thresholds of hi and low and waiting to see what comes out in the power bill.
Space Heaters FAQ
What’s the burning smell coming from my space heater?
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 the smell should disappear within a few hours. Next time, you can avoid it by wiping down your heater before turning it on. In fact, some manufacturers suggest cleaning it every two weeks when it’s in use. That said, if you smell burning, it’s always worth double-checking to make sure nothing has been placed on or too close to the heater.
Will a space heater save me money on my electricity bill?
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.
For the most part, no single heater will be more energy efficient than another. 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.
Are oil space heaters safe?
As with any space heater, the measure of a heater’s safety is largely dependent on your diligence and responsible use. However, compared to the heaters in our top picks, oil heaters were far more dangerous. In some rare cases, oil heaters have even been known to explode if the thermal fuses fail to shut off.
Can a space heater produce carbon monoxide?
Space heaters that rely on kerosene or natural gas must be vented or else they can produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide or CO is a colorless and odorless gas which can prevent the body from using oxygen properly, leading to CO poisoning. Our top picks are electric-powered and therefore do not burn fuel or produce CO.