Available in 4 different color options. An affordable, compact heater that offers energy-efficient operation. It's small, but provides plenty of heat. Isn't very loud and the casing of the ceramic heater doesn't get hot to the touch. Warms up rapidly, and features overheat protection.
Heat doesn't travel very far, so you'll need to have it close to provide warmth. No tip-over safety feature.
Provides plenty of warmth despite its small size. Device is fairly quiet. Features tipping and overheating protection for your safety. It's also energy efficient and very easy to transport thanks to its miniature design. Nice budget pricing.
Handful of users complained of an unpleasant burning plastic smell upon first use. Though the heater says it features a cool-to-touch exterior, some report that it gets quite hot.
Three options in size – 600, 950, or 1,200 watts. Safety features include: overheat and tip-over protection. Heats up rapidly (2 seconds) and provides plenty of warmth. Runs quietly. 90º oscillation option. Simple touch on and off.
Reports of lemons or of units no longer working after only a few uses.
Multiple settings allow users to select between different wattage modes to adjust amount of heat projected. There's also a handy fan mode for when the office gets a bit too warm. Has a safety feature to prevent overheating and has a handle for transport. Oscillation mode helps distribute heat.
Tip-over protection sensor is low-quality. A little louder than other models.
Streamlined aesthetic is paired with a positive temperature coefficient ceramic heating element for fast results. Shuts off immediately if it happens to tip over. There's an option to have the fan oscillate and the heater runs fairly quietly (no louder than 45 decibels). It's lightweight, so it's easy to move from room to room.
Single setting offers no option for low heat or cooling fan.
If you’ve got a cold spot in your home or office, a desktop heater is a cost-effective way to make that space warm and cozy. It gets up to temperature more quickly than an oil-filled radiator and is easier to move around and more compact. Or perhaps you have one of those electric bar heaters that are roasting hot up close but don’t seem to spread that warmth at all. Their impact on your utility bill can be pretty shocking, too. It’s time to get an energy-efficient desktop heater.
The popularity of desktop heaters is underlined by the variety available. Having a wide choice is great from a buyer’s point of view as long as you understand what you’re getting for your money.
Here at BestReviews, we’ve been looking at the technical specifications so we can help you find the right desktop heater for your small space. Our recommendations highlight the performance and prices available, and they might include just what you’re looking for. If you’d like a bit more detail, take a look at our comprehensive buying guide.
All heaters are one of two types: radiant or convection.
Radiant heaters warm people and objects, so you might think that one would be ideal for a small space. It heats you while you’re there but not when the room is empty. The real benefits of radiant heat are usually felt in rooms used by several people at the same time (a TV room, for example) or outdoors. Radiant patio heaters are very efficient.
There are a couple of disadvantages to radiant heaters. First, unless you keep turning the heater off every time you leave the room, it will continue to consume energy. Second, this type of heater is relatively large. Office heaters are usually flat-panel radiators designed to fit under a desk.
Convection heaters warm the air. They have a heating element inside the device, and a fan to blow that heat into the room. Most desktop heaters use convection heat. In the past, the element was coiled wire — like those bar heaters mentioned above. Today, they’re most often a ceramic plate that heats up almost instantly, retains heat better, and uses less energy.
The amount of power a desktop heater generates is measured in watts. While the following gives you an approximate guide, different models can vary considerably, so you still want to check the heater’s dimensions before ordering.
The simplest (and cheapest) desktop heaters are either on or off, but they may still offer various safety features.
Overheating protection is common: the heater will shut down if it gets too hot. Overheating might happen in the case of a fault (though these devices are usually very reliable), but it can also happen if the heater outlet gets covered accidentally or the air vents get blocked.
Tip-over safety is another great feature that automatically turns the desktop heater off if it gets knocked over.
ETL or UL listing is also reassuring from a safety point of view. Both are independent testing agencies, and products must meet national standards for approval.
Temperature: More advanced desktop heaters are likely to have two or more temperature settings. These should be thermostatically controlled so the heater turns off at the desired level. You might also have a fan-only mode, so you can use it to cool you in the summer.
Oscillation: Some people find heat blowing on them uncomfortable after a while, so another feature worth looking for on larger desktop heaters is an oscillating function. The fan sweeps back and forth so you’re not constantly in the path of the hot air. It also helps spread the heat more evenly across an area.
It’s worth checking the noise the desktop heater makes, too. A lot of them aren’t particularly quiet. Fifty decibels (dB) is about the same as human conversation. That might not sound much, but it could get annoying if it’s droning away next to you all day. It can be difficult to find an indication of the noise level of these heaters, so it’s worth checking owner feedback for opinions from people who have used these devices.
Most of the time, a desktop heater will be in a position where it gets adequate airflow. Vents that allow cool air into the machine are frequently in the front. However, if you’re thinking about buying a floor-standing model to go under your desk, be careful that there is sufficient space for the heater to operate safely. You also need to be aware of the spaghetti of computer, printer, and other cables that might be under there.
A carry handle isn’t particularly important, but it is a convenient extra.
It is not recommended that you use an extension cord with electric heaters because of the high current (amps) they use. However, desktop heaters have much lower demands. Even 1,000-watt models use 10 amps or less, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Check the cord rating just to be sure and use one that’s as short as possible for maximum efficiency.
Inexpensive: With good-quality desktop heaters available for as little as $20, there’s really no reason not to be snug in your workspace.
Mid-range: There’s enormous choice between $25 and $40, including desktop heaters with multiple power settings and a full range of safety features. We expect the majority of buyers will find what they need in this bracket.
Expensive: If you pay more than $40, you can either get a dual-function model that can heat and cool or something big enough to heat a whole room. These tend to push the “desktop” moniker to the limit and are often called personal space heaters.
A. These devices are very popular in home offices, so it’s not unusual for young kids to be in the same space. The heater can get very hot where the warm air is expelled, so care is needed. If it’s out of reach on a table or other surface, it shouldn’t be a problem. We’d suggest looking for a model that shuts off if it’s accidentally tipped over. A heater with a cool-touch exterior is also a good idea. However, we wouldn’t recommend that you use a desktop heater in a child’s bedroom. Though the risk may be small, there are too many potential hazards.
A. It’s not recommended, and many manufacturers caution against it. Though they’re designed to heat small spaces, it’s never a good idea to have an electric heater in an environment where there’s water or high humidity. A better option is a dedicated bathroom heater or a towel warmer that serves two purposes.
A. When assessing a primary heat source for a room, it’s usually suggested that you need 10 watts per square foot of floor space. However, desktop heaters are generally used as more direct heat, either close to you on a table or desk or down by your feet, which means less power is required. Models in the range of 200 to 600 watts are usually adequate for personal heaters.
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