Best Space Heaters

Updated November 2020
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Pros
Cons

Buying guide for best space heaters

A reliable space heater should put out a decent amount of heat while performing safely. For warming up a cold spot in your home or office, a space heater is a handy device to have around.

Space heaters are generally designed for either indoor or outdoor use but not both, so you should have an idea of where the heater will primarily be used before you purchase. Some models are gas- or oil-powered, which makes them handy when camping or when you’re without electricity. Electric models are more common and tend to be safer, though they are restricted by their cord length. Some models have a built-in fan, which increases their heating efficiency and can help reduce electricity costs. Many space heaters have built-in safety features, but they should still be used carefully and far from any clutter that could ignite.

If you think you are ready to pick out a space heater, take a look at our top recommendations. To learn more about the variety of heaters available and common features, continue reading.

Consider a space heater to warm your outdoor space, so you can enjoy your patio even as the leaves change colors.

Why use a space heater?

Some rooms in the home or workplace aren’t adequately covered by the central heating system

If you have a pesky room in your home that doesn't seem to get or stay warm, you may want to consider a space heater. It can help you to efficiently warm up space without having to turn your thermostat way up or overheat other areas.

Prolong the use of covered outdoor spaces

If you have an outdoor space you frequently use even in the cooler fall months, a space heater may be a good choice to help you get the most out of that area of your home.

Some heaters are specially designed for this type of outdoor use and will allow you to take advantage of your covered patio long after the summer is over.

Did you know?
Some space heaters include remote control, allowing you to adjust the temperature from afar.
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Camping can be cold

Sure, you can build a fire, but that requires wood fuel, and some people don't enjoy the smoke that comes with real flames.

A compact space heater is a good choice for campers who want to keep warm without relying on a fire.

Caution
Proper venting is extremely important when it comes to models that require gas as fuel. Using this kind of space heater without adequate venting and air circulation can be very dangerous.
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Types of space heaters

Gas or oil

These types of space heaters require some kind of fossil fuel (propane, natural gas, or kerosene) for power. There's no need to plug the unit in, but you'll need to pay attention to placement since these models need to ventilate.

They are a good option for when the power goes out.

Expert Tip
Clutterbugs, be sure to place your space heater far from your flammable items. Fires can start quickly and spread beyond your control in minutes.
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Indoor vs. outdoor

There are great options for heating both indoor and outdoor spaces. Indoor space heaters tend to be larger, and sometimes allow the user the option to mount the unit somewhere in the home.

Outdoor models are usually more compact and can easily be moved around; some are even small enough to fit on a patio table.

Electric

You'll need to make sure that the location where you plan to use this type of heater has a conveniently placed outlet.

Another consideration is that these types of heaters may increase your electricity bills.

Electric models do tend to be quite safe, though.

For your safety
An auto shut-off switch is a great safety feature to have in a space heater. If the heater reaches a preset maximum temperature, it will turn itself off.
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Other space heater considerations

Energy efficiency

More efficient space heaters will work to quickly and evenly distribute heat in whatever space they're placed.

Heaters with fans or forced-air construction are among the most efficient.

Units that require some sort of fuel (like oil or gas) take a lot longer to produce and distribute heat, but the warmth resulting from these models tends to be long-lasting.

Did you know?
Used properly, a space heater can save you money! Turn the thermostat down and warm the immediate vicinity to help reduce heating costs.
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Safety

This is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind when deciding on the right space heater.

Find out whether the models you're looking at have modern safety features that work to protect you, like automatic shut-off in the event of overheating, or tip-over sensors should the unit topple over when you're not around.

Caution
Carbon monoxide poisoning is difficult to detect. Make sure you have a proper detector set up in your home when using a gas-powered space heater.
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Footprint

Consider the space you'd like to use a space heater for, and where you're likely to put it.

Accounting for a heater’s size is important if you only have limited room, or, in the case of an electric heater, limited outlets.

Space heater safety tips

Space heaters are a great way to warm up a room without having to crank up the thermostat and waste energy heating the rest of your home. Unfortunately, fire is a potential hazard if you act carelessly, or don't handle your heating unit with care. As with any kind of appliance, especially one that emits heat, you should take precautions when using one in your home or workplace.

  • Be careful when placing electric heaters. Keep them away from anything that might be easily flammable, like curtains.

  • If you're leaving the house and have pets, unplug the heater, or situate it such that it cannot be knocked over while running. Most modern options feature safety shut-offs to eliminate this kind of danger, but better safe than sorry.

  • Don't turn it on and leave it to run. You're not doing yourself any favors since you'll be heating an unused space!

  • Buying a heater second-hand is generally unadvised. Avoid older models that lack safety features.

  • If you're going to use a fuel-burning heater, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed. Check it frequently to ensure it's functional.

For your safety
Don’t get lazy when it comes to safety! Did you know the winter months are the most common months for home fires?
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Space heater prices

Most basic personal heaters start at $40, but the price can quickly climb when you factor in construction quality, features, and aesthetics.

Don't forget to consider operating costs when choosing a model; these costs vary depending on the type of heater you buy and how often you use it.

Did you know?
A space heater is a great option for office workers who constantly feel like they’re in a war with co-workers over the thermostat.
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Advantages and disadvantages of space heaters

Advantages

  • Efficient and cost-effective

A space heater allows you to warm up a room fast, and it’s generally more cost-effective than trying to heat that smaller space by cranking up your thermostat.

  • Quiet operation

Most space heaters won’t emit much noise, so you won’t need to worry about being bothered by loud whirring or buzzes while you work or enjoy your favorite show.

  • Portability

Many of these types of devices can be moved easily from room to room, thanks to their compact size. Some units even come with easy-to-grip handles to help with transport.

Disadvantages

  • Inefficient for large homes

A space heater probably isn’t suitable for warming a very large room in a bigger house and isn’t for use as a whole-house heater.

  • Can increase electric bills

If you don’t use the space heater efficiently, you might inadvertently spike your power bill.

  • Proximity

Smaller heaters, and those that use technology like infrared heating, require you to get up close to feel any kind of warmth.

  • Suitability for children or animals

Some space heaters do not have a cool-touch exterior, which means they can get very hot. These are not ideal for homes with youngsters or pets.

Warm your toes up while you watch TV with a compact, affordable, mini space heater.

FAQ

Q. Is a space heater really a safe choice for heating?

A. Yes! As long as you take the appropriate precautions when placing it, and you don’t leave it turned on without supervision. Make sure the heater has a wide berth and is far away from potentially flammable materials.

Q. Where should I put my new space heater?

A. If you have chosen a space heater that requires ventilation, make sure you do not block its vents. Check the instruction manual for your new heater for manufacturer suggestions.

Q. Can I use a space heater as my only source of heating?

A. A space heater is meant to supplement heating in a home. It’s not likely to produce enough warmth to ensure comfort throughout a house, especially in the winter months.

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