Who needs an electric room heater?
We are fast approaching winter and it’s the time of year that many people dislike because of the cold weather and darker days it signifies. However, other people think of winter as a time for holidays, an opportunity to spend time at home with family and friends, and a time to get cozy and snuggle up. As long as you’re warm, winter can be a very pleasant season, and while many of us have adequate heating for most of the year, sometimes we need a little extra help for the winter.
In this respect an electric room heater is an obvious answer, whether to supplement your existing central heating or to place in an area you wouldn’t usually need to heat, for example, a spare bedroom when the family is coming to stay. It could also be a good idea if you don’t want to fully heat your home and want to save money by just heating the specific areas you are using. The choice of electric room heaters is vast and there are many factors to consider. One thing to take into account, for instance, is whether you want to heat a large area or just a small room.
We’ve looked at dozens of heaters to try and determine which are the best, and our summary of the best electric room heaters for this winter covers a range of budgets and features. All prices are correct at the time of writing but please note that prices fluctuate at different times of year and tend to become more expensive as the weather gets colder. Therefore if you want an electric room heater, it might be best to purchase one sooner rather than later.
Things we checked when picking an electric room heater
There are many different things to consider when choosing the right room heater for your needs, and features vary across different appliances. One of the main priorities is the safety factor, as it’s no good having a nice warm room if you’re using an appliance that doesn’t meet safety requirements, and some room heaters feature additional safety controls. Other things to think about include portability, in case you want to move it from room to room, cord storage for when it’s not in use, and whether the fan can oscillate when using a fan-led heater. Being able to adjust the heat setting is also useful, as is a timer control that can turn it on and off automatically at times to suit you.
Something that we hadn’t considered much before we started checking these heaters was the noise level they make, and it soon became apparent in our testing that some are much louder than others. A noisy heater could be pretty annoying if you’re using it in a heavily used living area so that’s another factor to think about. In our testing, we also took into account minimum and maximum heat settings, how consistent the heaters were at maintaining heat over time, and whether they heated our room evenly. We recommend a 1,000-watt room heater at the minimum and for best results a 1,500-watt heater.
There are several different types of electric room heaters and we’ll summarize a few of them next. Perhaps the most basic is a fan forced heater, which uses a fan blade blowing across a wire element to produce soft heat. These are usually best suited to small rooms only. Many folks use a ceramic heater as they can pump out a good deal of heat pretty quickly. They use ceramic plates with aluminum baffles to conduct heat and distribute it throughout the room. One of the best points with a ceramic heater is that they usually remain cool to the touch, which is something worth considering if you have little ones in the household. On the other hand, an oil-filled radiator heater warms up oil within the unit, a special type of oil that isn’t burned so doesn’t need replacing.
The benefit of an oil-filled radiator-style heater is that they are economical and quieter than some other types. Yet another type is the micathermic heater, which provides almost instant heat, although these are not so easy to come by. These utilize mica and nickel alloy and heat up extremely fast yet don’t easily overheat. This type of heater might be a good option for those who suffer from allergies or asthma, as unlike most electric room heaters they don’t recirculate particles or dust. As a bonus, they are also usually slimmer and lighter than an oil-filled radiator. For spot warmth you could use a radiant or quartz heater but these only heat a very small area and do not generate warm air much beyond the unit. This does mean however that they are energy efficient, although they might not be the best option for a bedroom because of the red glow they emit which could be a disturbance at night. There have also been concerns about some radiant heaters using wire rather than quartz elements producing temperatures that are simply too high, and with this type of heater, the heat also dissipates the minute it goes off.
So, what are the best electric heater?
WINNER – Honeywell Digital Ceramic Compact Tower
$37.07 – $59.99 (*At the time of publishing)
It’s user-friendly and nicely portable with a recessed carrying handle, and it has a decent design in a black color so won’t look out of place in any room. We found that the Honeywell HCE311V heated our room quickly, and the heater is slim and nicely compact at 8.7 x 6.7 x 12.8-inches weighing in at 3.2 pounds, so it’s suitable even for small rooms.
This heater features digital controls along with an easily readable LCD temperature display that’s nicely positioned for ease of use and enables you to easily adjust the heat. There are two heat settings (Max Heat and Energy Saver) and an energy efficient programmable thermostat, and the heater has 1 to 8-hour timer settings and can also oscillate to target a wide area of space.
As far as safety is concerned the manufacturer has exceeded Industry Safety Standards. Safety features include a cool touch handle and housing and a 360-degree auto-off switch if the appliance tips over, although that’s not likely as it has a nice sturdy feel. The appliance has protection against overheating to give you reassurance, and a permanent filter will guard against too much dust getting inside the heater. This is a 1,500-watt heater and comes with a 3-year limited warranty, and Honeywell recommends you clean it at least once a month and again before it gets put away off-season.
We noted user reviews of this appliance were fairly glowing, with nobody pointing out any major issues, although some mentioned that the temperature sensor wasn’t altogether accurate. However, we found no such issues with the temperature sensor in our look at the appliance as it worked reliably. In fact, in our usage of the Honeywell HCE311V we didn’t encounter any problems. It worked smoothly, efficiently, and economically, and was fairly quiet on a low heat setting, and as such has to be our star choice.
RUNNER-UP – Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater with Adjustable Thermostat
Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater
$31.99 (*At the time of publishing)
It’s a maximum 1500-watt heater and it’s fairly compact at 6 x 7 x 9.2-inches, but still, generates plenty of heat to warm a small to medium sized room. It has automatic overheat protection as a safety feature and also has a self-regulating ceramic element as an additional safety measure, along with a cool-touch exterior. The adjustable thermometer enables you to choose your desired temperature, or you can select from three heat settings, high heat, low heat, and fan only.
It’s not too noisy (although not the quietest either), comes in a silver color, and like our top pick, this one also has a 3-year limited warranty. We found the Lasko 754200 did a good job but it was our second choice simply because unlike the Honeywell HCE311V it does not feature a tip-over shut off switch, and we preferred the design of the Honeywell heater. Another thing worth noting is the fixed angle of this one means it only heats in one direction.
BUDGET PICK – DeLonghi HVY1030 Fan Heater
$29.99 (*At the time of publishing)
Our overall winner and runner-up are both very reasonably priced electric room heaters and the DeLonghi HVY1030 Fan Heater at under $30 is only a little cheaper, but is worth mentioning. It has an adjustable thermostat with two heat settings and an anti-freeze setting that will switch on the unit automatically as soon as the temperature reaches 44-degree Fahrenheit. We found this heater to be nicely stable and it has a convenient carry handle. Other things to consider is that this can be used in the summer by simply using the fan with no heat, but the direction of the fan blades cannot be adjusted. It measures 6.2 x 9.5 x 10.1-inches and comes in a gray and white color, and customer ratings are on the whole positive.
MORE EXPENSIVE BUT STYLISH – Lasko 5588 Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote
Lasko 5588 Tower Heater
$70.99 (*At the time of publishing)
This 1,500-watt heater really looks the part and wouldn’t look out of place in any room with its sleek, stylish casing. It uses a ceramic heating element and has an easy-to-read top-mounted digital thermostat, and in addition, it comes with a Logic electronic remote control that has a digital display panel. It oscillates so can spread the heat across a wide area, features an 8-hour timer, and it has varying heat settings as well as an auto setting that is thermostat controlled. This heater measures 7.3 x 9.2 x 34-inches and has a convenient carry handle, and it comes with a 3-year limited warranty. In general, we’d say this one not only looks good but performs well too.
OIL-FILLED RADIATOR STYLE – DeLonghi EW7707CB Safe Heat
$66.63 (*At the time of publishing)
We liked the DeLonghi EW7707CB Safe Heat ComforTemp Oil-filled Radiator at a very good price. The appliance is sealed with pure diathermic oil that doesn’t need refilling, and thermal slots to maximise heat flow but keep the surface temperature low enough. It’s a larger heater with a durable metal build, and it takes a while to heat up but then provides a consistent and continual stream of heat that can be emitted for quite a while after you’ve turned it off.
It’s a 1,500-watt heater that comes in a black color and it has three heat settings, an anti-freeze setting, and uses Comfort Temp technology to automatically maintain power settings and optimum temperature. As this is a radiator-style appliance it’s larger than many electric room heaters at 25 x 13.75 x 10.75-inches, but handily this one has patented smart-snap wheels so that you can easily move it from room to room. Other features include patented thermal slots and auto-thermal cutoff, and as it doesn’t use a fan it’s a quieter alternative apart from the odd clicking noises when it first heats up.
MICATHERMIC CONSOLE HEATER – Bionaire Silent Micathermic
Bionaire Silent Heater
$99 (*At the time of publishing)
MICATHERMIC CONSOLE HEATER – The Bionaire Silent Micathermic Console Heater could be good for larger rooms. It features durable micathermic heating panels, uses the convection process with reflective heat, and makes almost no noise at all during operation apart from a slight click when cycling on or off. Wheels on the heater mean it can easily be moved, and it features two heat settings and an adjustable thermostat control, as well as a convenient carry handle. This one is backed by a lengthy 5-year warranty for peace of mind and it measures 21.6 x 6.3 x 25.5-inches.
RADIANT HEATER – Holmes HQH341-NUM Quartz Radiant Tower
$59.51 (*At the time of publishing)
The Holmes HQH341-NUM Quartz Radiant Tower Heater comes in a black color and produces instant heat that’s much like the warmth of the sun. It features a MaxFlow heating system with two quartz tubes and offers two heat settings (750 and 1,500-watts). Further features include a comfort control thermostat, tip-over protection, and auto-safety shut-off, and it has a useful carry handle for portability. The heater comes in a black color and measures 14 x 24.7 x 10-inches.
From all of the types of room heaters available we feel that a ceramic heater is the best for most users. The Honeywell HCE311V Digital Ceramic Compact Tower Heater was the best ceramic heater that we looked at considering price, the excellent safety features, performance, and the fact that it’s great for all room sizes. The Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater was our runner-up, and almost as good in our opinion, except for the lack of a tip-over shut off switch.
Those looking for a basic fan heater should be satisfied by the cheap and cheerful DeLonghi HVY1080 Fan Heater, while those looking for a nice quiet heating alternative might be swayed by either the DeLonghi EW7707CB Safe Heat ComforTemp Oil-filled Radiator or the Bionaire Silent Micathermic Console Heater. If you want an extra touch of comfort, for example at work where you might want to heat your desk area but not generate the heat elsewhere, the Holmes HQH341-NUM Quartz Radiant Tower Heater, could be a good option. However, if you don’t mind spending more for a great heater with a ton of features that looks as good as it performs, we’d recommend the Lasko 5588 Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote Control.
Remember the points you should always consider when purchasing a new electric room heater include the area you want to heat, the safety features of an appliance, the size and design of the heater, and of course the price. In our selection of the best electric room heaters for this winter, we’ve tried to come up with something to suit a variety of requirements and pockets.
Tips for care and maintenance
We’d advise against buying a used portable heater as you can never be too sure if it is a fire hazard, and bear in mind that when buying a new one it should be CSA or UL-certified. Although most heaters these days come full of safety features that protect them from overheating, or for example have an automatic shut-off if the appliance tips over, we’d still recommend taking some care. For instance, never place a heater too close to items of furniture or soft furnishings such as curtains and cushions (we recommend at least a 3-foot distance).
If there are kids in the house you can never be too careful, so take into account little fingers. As well as this, young skin is usually more sensitive to heat than that of an adult, and some heaters (for example radiant heaters with wire elements) are hotter to the touch than others. You might want to bear in mind that much of this advice also applies to pets. Also, you want to ensure that the appliance isn’t positioned where it could be a trip hazard and never run cables under a carpet. For safety reasons, you should also avoid using an extension cord.
The vast majority of electric room heaters require very little maintenance. However, many manufacturers recommend you clean the appliance regularly (at least once a month) with a quick wipe down, and again before putting it away for any amount of time, or if it’s coming out of storage to be used again. Check the manufacturer manual for your new heater for specific maintenance instructions and advice on safe usage.
When we were testing appliances for our best electric room heaters for this winter list, we selected from products that were already recommended by various experts and retailers and also took user reviews into account. We narrowed these down by considering only those with good performance, reliability, good build quality, and decent safety features, and also discarded those that we found to have any issues or were exorbitantly expensive.
All of the electric heaters that we’ve mentioned above met our tough requirements, and we’d like to think we’ve suggested something for everyone. In conclusion, we’d like to wish you a warm and cozy winter!