This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a list of the best gear for your home. Read the full article at TheSweethome.com
Space heaters are a great way to give your home’s main heating system a little extra help, and most people will be very happy with one (or both) of the two best models we’ve found for small and large rooms. We performed more than 60 hours of research on more than 100 heaters, then had a Ph.D physicist perform head-to-head tests on 37 finalists to find the best for most people.
For Fast Heat in Small Spaces
If you need to quickly warm up small spaces, like a 10 ft. by 11 ft. bedroom or office, nothing beats the $25 Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater. It has a low price, compact size, light 3-pound weight, rapid performance, simple ease of use, and great warranty. Of everything we tested, the Lasko 754200 heated our test areas the fastest. It’s as big as a loaf of bread, and the heater’s outside topped off at 133 degrees Fahrenheit—one of the lowest surface temperatures of any we tested—so it easily travels between rooms and fits anywhere.
The drawbacks? Like all fan-driven heaters, it’s a little loud. We measured 44 decibels from six feet away (roughly the same as a refrigerator when its compressor runs). It has an overheat sensor, but there’s no tip-over switch to ensure that the heater turns off if it’s knocked over. There’s no true temperature control; it just goes hotter and colder. Last, it doesn’t hold on to the heat it produces once it’s been turned off.
But such a good heater at such a low price tends to sell out—if you can’t find it, we suggest the $130 Vornado ATH1 Whole Room Tower Heater. In our heating test, it heated a room nearly as quickly as our top pick. It’s much more expensive, but that nets you extra features like a 9-hour timer, touch sensitive controls, and a 5-year warranty.
For Steady, Long-lasting Heat in Larger Rooms
For a larger space you plan to heat for hours at a time, get Delonghi’s $90 TRD0715T Safeheat 1500 W—it’s a 14.5 by 6.3 by 25.2-inch oil-filled radiator-style unit that efficiently, silently, and steadily puts out plenty of heat (even for another hour after you turn it off). After two hours, it raised the temperature of our test room more than any other heater in our test. Plus, it can maintain a set temperature on a schedule with a built-in thermostat and timer.
The drawbacks? It’s slow to heat up, it weighs a hefty 24 pounds, and it gets pretty hot to the touch, with surface temperatures as high as 225 degrees F. Still, with such reliable performance and impressive long-term heat output, this one can also be unavailable mid-winter—if you can’t find it, look for the $80 Delonghi EW7507EB Radiator. It performed identically to the Safeheat in our tests, but it has a digital timer and controls, so you’ll have reset it every time you unplug it or the power goes out.
Last, we have an option that combines some features of each of these picks: the $80 DeLonghi HMP1500. It holds heat better than the small Lasko model, but heats up faster than the big Safeheat. But it’s a compromise, and we don’t feel it’s as good our picks are at doing what they do best.
How we tested
We hired a physicist to run an extensive lab test in a controlled environment, measuring things like heating rate, temperature consistency, and operation costs for 10 total heaters. It’s too detailed to go into here, but it’s pretty fascinating—check out our primary story for more information.
What to look for
Beyond just finding a heater that works well and isn’t dangerous, here are some key features:
Size: When buying a heater, you’ll need 10 to 15 watts of power per square foot (which varies based on a room’s insulation, windows, and doors).
Safety features: A heat sensor should shut the heater off if it becomes dangerously hot. A tip-over switch turns off a heater that’s fallen on its side—a good feature you find on some products.
Portability: If the hardware’s too heavy to lift, it should have built-in wheels. If it’s small and light enough to carry, it should have a handle that remains cool even if the heater’s been recently used.
Heat settings and timers: A heater should be able to adjust the heat it’s putting out with a built-in thermostat. A timer, which you program to turn on or shut off at a set time, is also nice.
Noise: It should be as quiet as possible.
Oscillation: Having the option to oscillate fan-forced heaters from side to side can spread the heat to a larger area than a stationary fan can.
Cord storage: For easy storage when it’s not needed, many heaters have built-in cord management systems.
If you need quick heat for a small space, you can’t top the $25 Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater, an inexpensive, simple, kinda noisy little heater that raised our test area’s temperature faster than anything else. For larger rooms or any spaces you need to heat for hours at a time, the Delonghi’s $90 TRD0715T Safe Heat 1500 W is an efficient, silent, slow and steady performer that can be set on a timer to crank out a lot of heat (even after it’s turned off). These picks are all popular—so check out our backup options if they sell out when the deep freeze hits.
This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Sweethome.com