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10 portable space heaters that keep you warm without breaking the bank

As the summer gives way to crisp autumn air, it's time to prepare for the winter months ahead. While modern homes are tightly sealed and feature reliable heating, people with older houses or those who just want to work in their garage or shed in spite of the cold often use portable space heaters. Whether you want to extend how long you can enjoy a seasonal room or just want to warm up a cold area of your home, these appliances will keep you toasty without blowing your budget.  

In this article: Amazon Basics Indoor Portable Radiator HeaterLasko Oscillating Tower Heater and Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Heater

Portable space heater types

There are three main types of portable space heaters. Each has its pros and cons, so carefully consider the area you need to warm to choose the right option for the job.

  • Convection heaters work by moving cold air over heated elements or coils with a fan. Convection heaters are ideal for warming big rooms quickly, as their resulting air circulation can travel across large spaces.
  • Radiant heaters emit warmth but do not push air. They're best suited for small rooms or situations where you'll be able to place yourself directly in front of your heater. Because they don’t include a fan or motor, radiant heaters are quieter than convection options.
  • Combustion heaters burn propane gas or oil to generate heat. Because this process releases fumes into the air and requires an actual flame, these portable heaters are only acceptable in large, ventilated garages or work sites and are not for use indoors.

Power considerations

When choosing a heater, make sure that it will be powerful enough to suit your needs. An electric space heater’s power is measured in watts with each square foot of space requiring around 10 watts to heat. A 1,000-watt heater, for example, should be able to warm up a 100 square foot room.

Supplemental heat provided from your furnace, ceiling height, room insulation and other factors also come into play, however, so this equation is not set in stone. Avoid compensating for this by choosing an overpowered heater, as it will waste a lot of energy and won't be cost-effective.

Safety features

Portable space heaters can be hazardous. Look for the following safety features to limit any risk of fire or burns while you use your appliance:

  • Tip-over protection automatically turns the heater off if it falls on its side. This is especially important in locations where pets or children reside.
  • Bathroom-friendly heaters are built with humid environments in mind. If you want to warm up your bathroom while you shower, choose a heater that's specifically built with that use in mind.
  • Cool-to-the-touch heaters prevent any external surfaces from getting hot enough to burn you or any nearby surfaces or items.
  • Certification labels associated with a nationally recognized testing laboratory mean that your heater is made with reliable components that are rigorously tested to ensure their quality.
  • Overheat protection turns your appliance off automatically if it reaches an unsafe temperature.

Best portable convection heaters

Lasko Oscillating Tower Heater 

This heater has both 900-watt and 1,500-watt settings, allowing you to tailor it to your location and comfort. Its oscillation spreads heat throughout the room, and its slim design, cool-to-the-touch carrying handle and safety features make it a great option for indoor living spaces and offices.

Sold by Amazon 

Amazon Basics Oscillating Ceramic Heater 

This small heater allows you to customize its fan speed and power with both 750-watt and 1,500-watt options. It can also be used as a fan without any heat output, making it usable all year long.

Sold by Amazon 

Pelonis Portable Space Heater 

This heater has two temperature settings as well as one that allows you to use it as a fan. It has simple control dials and features overheating and tip-over protection. It heats up to full temperature in three seconds. 

Sold by Amazon 

Stanley Heavy-Duty Portable Space Heater 

With its utilitarian design, this heater is the No. 1 choice for anyone wanting to warm up a workspace without resorting to a combustion option. Thick plastic construction and a rubberized handle make this heater the perfect job site companion. 

Sold by Home Depot

Best portable radiant heaters

Amazon Basics Indoor Portable Radiator Heater 

This oil-filled radiant heater is noiseless, making it great for bedrooms or in situations where you don’t want to hear a fan running. It won’t dry out the air in the room, and its overheating protection prevents it from becoming dangerously hot. 

Sold by Amazon 

Comfort Zone Oscillating Radiant Heater 

Basic controls allow you to select from two temperature and oscillation settings. This appliance’s thin profile makes it easy to fit into small spaces, and it turns off automatically if tilted. 

Sold by Amazon 

DeLonghi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater 

This radiant heater has a modern design and comes in black or gray. Simple control dials and robust safety features make this premium-looking appliance great for medium-size rooms. 

Sold by Amazon

Best combustion space heaters

Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Heater 

Available in two colors, this durable combustion heater is great for sheds, porches or other well-ventilated areas. It connects to a small propane canister and features a carrying handle for easy transport. 

Sold by Amazon

Mr. Heater Little Buddy Propane Heater 

The ultimate in portable combustion heaters, the Little Buddy screws directly onto a propane canister to deliver heat in small spaces. While not great for heating a room, this heater is perfect for situations where you want to keep your hands warm while working in a cold environment. 

Sold by Amazon

DynaGlow Portable Propane Cabinet Heater 

This heater connects to a standard propane tank and lets you choose from three heat settings. Powerful enough to warm spaces up to 600 square feet, this heater is the best choice for large garages or work areas. 

Sold by Home Depot


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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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