Best Wall Heaters

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
241 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best wall heaters

Last Updated August 2019

Are you looking for a convenient way to deliver extra heat to your home? Some households rely on a wall heater for supplemental heat. Wall heaters offer several important advantages. When there’s a chill in the air, you can heat a single room rather than turning up the heat for the whole house. The heat is nearly instant, whereas underfloor heating and HVAC systems take time to warm up. And, of course, a wall heater doesn’t consume valuable floor space.

Most wall heaters have a built-in thermostat that you can use to fine-tune the warmth in the room or rooms of your choice. Bathrooms and bedrooms are common locations. So how do they work? Inside the wall heater casing is a heating element. As soon as you hit the switch, you get heat. To spread the heat around the room as quickly as possible, a fan is included. The fan blows cold air across the element and warm air into the room.

Wall heaters are simple, reliable, and fast. Keep the following considerations in mind when selecting one.

An inset wall heater make less of a physical impact in a room, but it is a much more permanent fixture. A surface-mounted wall heater with plug-in power can be moved easily, leaving just a few small holes to patch up.

Wall heater considerations

Before making your purchase, you must decide how you will mount the wall heater: will it be an inset or surface-mounted appliance? Furthermore, you’ll want to decide how to power your wall heater — via hardwiring or plug-in electricity.

Inset vs. surface-mounted wall heaters

Inset wall heaters are usually sized to fit standard gaps in the framework of partitioned walls, so installation is relatively easy. Having said that, an inset heater requires you to make a hole in your wall if there isn’t one already. If you don’t like that idea, choose a surface-mounted wall heater, which only requires a few fixing screws.

A few inset models offer the option of surface mounting, though additional hardware may be required. However, we’re unable to see why you would want to do that. It’s better, in our opinion, to buy a model designed for surface mounting in the first place if that’s what you want.

Hardwiring vs. wall plug

Inset heaters are invariably hardwired. Some people have the skills to do this themselves, but it’s always advisable to call a qualified electrician. Surface-mounted models usually — though not always — plug into a convenient outlet.

Quick, quiet warmth

Stiebel Eltron has an international reputation for engineering excellence. The downdraft design of this wall heater counteracts the fact that heat rises, providing rapid warming from the floor up rather than from the ceiling down. At under 50 decibels, it’s among the quieter fan heaters. Its frost protection is a particularly useful feature, and its consistent performance is backed by a three-year warranty.

Wall heater features

Built-in thermostat: Most wall heaters have built-in thermostats. The drawback is that some measure the temperature of the unit itself, so if they’re fitted too close to one end of a large room, you might need to set them higher than expected to warm the other end. Mounting your wall heater near the center of the room can help combat this problem.

Boost controls: Boost controls are available on some models, allowing you to use maximum heat for a predetermined amount of time. After that time elapses, the heater settles at a temperature set by the thermostat.

Temperature control: Temperature control is usually a question of “hotter” or “colder” rather than a precise degree value, though some digital units offer this level of accuracy.

Frost setting: A frost setting can be used to minimize energy use while ensuring the room never drops below freezing.

EXPERT TIP

Many wall heaters give off an unusual odor when first used. This is usually the result of the manufacturing and packing processes. If you give it a couple of days, the odor should wear off.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you’re replacing an existing hardwired wall heater with a more powerful one, check first to make sure the circuit can cope with the additional load. If it can’t, you’ll just keep tripping your circuit breakers.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Though some wall heaters can be mounted to a surface, most are designed to be inset. If you have stud wall, this should be relatively simple, but installation on a solid wall could prove difficult.


Staff  | BestReviews

Wall heater prices

As we’ve seen, there’s not a great deal of complexity with wall-mounted heaters, so prices tend to reflect the quality of manufacture, power, and the few possible extras.

Most of the lower-priced wall-mounted heaters we would recommend fall in the $60 to $100 range. You’ll find a variety of power outputs, from 750W to 1,500W, that can provide a cost-effective heating solution.

While many designs remain quite basic, you don’t really pay a premium for those that are more attractive. Models of 2,000W from respected manufacturers are around $150, and the most powerful models of 4,000W seldom top $250.

Effective low-cost heating

While this model looks basic, it’s a reliable, durable, and efficient solution for heating small spaces. Rated for 1,000W at 120V, it can be converted to either 500W on the same voltage or 1,000W at 240V. It has built-in overload protection and can be inset or surface-mounted with the purchase of an additional kit.

Tips

  • Beware of putting items too close to your wall heater. Surrounding items can get very hot if they are in the path of the warm air. Take note of the manufacturer-suggested safe zone, and be aware that if you place items too close, there’s a risk of fire.

  • If you’re installing a hardwired wall heater, make absolutely sure you know what you’re doing. If you’re not comfortable with the instructions, call a suitably qualified professional.

  • If you’re buying a plug-in wall heater, think about adding a plug-in timer. You can then set the heater to come on before you get home, before you get up in the morning, or whenever you want to set it.

Other products we considered

The Heatstorm Deluxe Infrared Wall Heater takes an interesting approach, providing 1,000W output, a digital temperature display, and remote control. It’s a plug-in unit that can hide the cord neatly away so it looks like it’s hardwired. If you’ve got a relatively large space to heat — a workshop or home office above the garage, for example — the Dimplex RFI840D21 4000W Commercial Wall Heater might fit the bill. It comes from a well-respected manufacturer and is quiet and efficient. The range has power options from 1,500W to 4,800W.

Before making your purchase, don’t forget to check the sound level. The fans in some cheaper wall heaters can be surprisingly noisy.

FAQ

Q. How do I know what size wall heater I need?

A. This is a tough question, because it depends on how well-insulated your room is and how efficient the heater is. HVAC systems generally use BTU (British Thermal Unit) ratings, but unfortunately, few wall heater makers supply figures. Manufacturers often make their own recommendations. A particular wall heater might heat a 100 sq.ft. room, for example.

Having looked at numerous products, we’ve found most wall heaters range from 750W to 2,000W. If you take an average of the figures provided, you get the following:

  • 750W may heat a room of 50 to 100 sq.ft.

  • 1,000W may heat a room of 100 to 125 sq.ft.

  • 1,500W may heat a room of 120 to 170 sq.ft.

  • 2,000W may heat a room of 60 to 240 sq.ft.

There’s a lot of inconsistency in those figures, and they don’t provide a linear progression. This is a reflection of how different manufacturers rate their equipment and, as they often say in the small print, it should only be used as a guide.

In addition to room size, it’s a good idea to take price into account. If you’re caught between two sizes and can afford the more powerful model, that’s the one we would choose.

Q. Are wall heaters expensive to run?

A. It can be argued that wall heaters are not as efficient as whole-home HVAC or underfloor heating. Furthermore, they don’t provide the residual warmth that radiators do; as soon as it’s off, a wall heater stops delivering heat.

However, as a solution for warming modest spaces, this option is tough to beat. Wall heaters themselves are relatively inexpensive to buy and install. A wall heater with a built-in thermostat helps conserve energy, and other features (such as timers and other control devices) can be attached. You enjoy the ability to heat one or two rooms rather than the whole house — and that will save you money.

Q. What’s the difference between a radiant heater and a convection heater?

A. Radiant heaters heat objects, including people, whereas convection heaters heat the air. For instance, an outdoor patio heater that works with radiant heat is a good idea because if you stand near it, it’s like heating yourself in front of a fireplace. But radiant heat is not such a good way to heat an enclosed space, because if there’s a chair between you and the heat source, the chair will absorb much of the warmth.

Almost all wall heaters use convection heat to warm the whole room evenly. There are no cold spots. The convection effect doesn’t absolutely require a fan, though a fan can help speed up air circulation and thus warm the room more quickly.

The team that worked on this review
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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