Best Space Heater Reviews and Ultimate Guide 2019

This Ultimate Space Heater Guide brings together Reviews of the best electric heater and gas heater models plus a comprehensive Buying Guide.

It is the conclusion of a series of space heater reviews and buying guides for all space heater types including Portable, Infrared, Most Efficient, Safest, Garage and Best Small & Best Large room heaters.

First, we review the best space heaters available, and then deliver a Space Heater Buying Guide with all the research you might need.

11 Best Space Heaters

Here’s the list put together by our experts.

Reviews of the models follow with an opportunity to see the current lowest price and buy a space heater.

      Image                    Product

Duraflame 9HM8101-O142

  • 1500W, 5,200 BTUs
  • Overheat Shutoff
  • Remote control, Thermostat

Best Large Room

Comfort Zone Heater

  • 800, 1000 & 1500W
  • overheating & tip-over protection
  • Eco Mode, 8hr Timer, Remote

Best Portable

Pro Breeze Ceramic Heater

  • High (1500W) or Low (750W)
  • overheating & tip-over protection
  • Lightweight and compact design

Affordable Large

AmazonBasics Mini Heater

  • 500W
  • Tip-Over Protection
  • 4 Colors, 1.5lbs

Affordable Small

Pelonis Electric Heater

  • 900 & 1500W + Eco Mode
  • Overheating & Tip-Over Protection
  • 10hr Timer, Remote, Casters

Large Oil-filled

Trustech Mini Heater

  • 700W
  • Overheat Shutoff
  • Light and Quiet

Small Oil-filled

DeLonghi HMP1500

  • High (1500W) or Low (750W)
  • Overheating & Tip-Over Protection
  • Wall Mountable Option

Wall-mounted

Duraflame Fireplace Stove

  • 1500W, 5,200 BTUs
  • Adjustable Flame Color And Brightness
  • Over Heat Protection

Best Fireplace

Lasko CD08200

  • High (1500W) or Low (750W)
  • ALCI plug + safety Features
  • 1 hour of high heat, Quick Warm

Safest Heater

Stanley ST-60HB2-GFA

  • Up to 60, 000 BTUs
  • For Ventilated Spaces
  • Push-Button Piezo Ignitor

Best Propane

Mr. Heater MH18BRV

  • 4, 000-18, 000 BTUs, 450 sq. ft
  • Tip-Over Protection
  • For Ventilated Spaces

Indoor-safe Propane

Best Space Heater Reviews

These reviews explain why each space heater was chosen for our list as one of the best electric heater and best propane heater models.

All ratings are 1-5 with 5 being best. Because these are the best of the best space heaters, most ratings are 4s and 5s.

All get very high overall consumer ratings.

Best Large Room Space Heater

#1 Duraflame 9HM8101-O142 Portable Electric Infrared Quartz Heater

Perfectly safe infrared rays are absorbed by people and objects, so the heating is very direct. This unit is powerful enough for providing heat to people in up to 1,000 square feet.

  • Heat Settings: 1500 watts only
  • Features include: Infrared heat, digital/adjustable thermostat, electronic timer, remote, caster for smooth rolling, furniture-quality cabinet that stays cool.
  • Features Rating: 4.5 | Would be 5 if it had more than one heat setting.
  • Safety Rating: 5 | Cool-touch infrared and all safety features.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 5 | Remote. Simple control panel.
  • Portability: 4.5 |It rolls easily, but is heavier than most electric space heaters.
  • Overall Rating: 4.75

Best Portable Space Heater

#2 Comfort Zone Oscillating Space Heater w/ ECO Mode

The Eco mode adjusts the heat level from 1500W to one of the lower settings when thermostat set point is reached. This is an automatic energy-saving feature.

  • Heat Settings: 800, 1000 & 1500 watts
  • Features include: 70-degree oscillation, Eco mode, digital thermostat, 8hr timer, remote.
  • Features Rating: 5 | All the bells & whistles.
  • Safety Rating: 5 | Tested by ETL for safety. Cool-touch housing.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 5 | Remote, LED display is easy to read and use.
  • Portability Rating: 5 | Weighs just 8 pounds and has nice carrying handles. Delivers room-wide heat wherever it is placed.
  • Overall Rating: 5

Best Affordable Large Space Heater

#3 Pro Breeze 1500W Mini Ceramic Space Heater with 3 Operating Modes and Thermostat

This unit provides plenty of heating and excellent quality for the money. A great value.

  • Heat Settings: 750 & 1500 watts
  • Features include: Fan-only mode, non-digital thermostat, compact size.
  • Features Rating: 3.5 | Very simple design with few performance features.
  • Safety Rating: 4 | Basic safety features. No mention whether it has been safety-tested.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 4 | No remote
  • Portability: 5 | Weighs about 3 pounds and is ideal for floor or desktop. Goes wherever you do.
  • Overall Rating: 4.125

Best Affordable Small Space Heater

#4 AmazonBasics 500-Watt Ceramic Small Space Personal Mini Heater

This compact, highly rated heater combines good quality with low cost.

Heat Settings: 500 watts only

Features include: On/Off – Very basic design. Available in 4 colors.

Features Rating: 3 On or off. No thermostat.

Safety Rating: 4.5 | Tip-over switch. Doesn’t get extremely hot.

Ease of Use Rating: 4 | No remote, but it’s a personal heater and should be kept near you.

Portability: 5 | Weighs about 1.5 pounds. Fits in a backpack.

Overall Rating: 4.125

Best Large Oil-filled Heater

#5 Pelonis Electric, 1500W Portable Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater

This is one of the most efficient space heaters available, and its ratings are excellent.

  • Heat Settings: 900 & 1500 watts + Eco
  • Features include: Eco mode will switch to lower heat setting when room is warm, 5 temperatures from 65F to 85F, LCD display, 10hr timer, remote, casters.
  • Features Rating: 5 | Everything you expect from the best electric heater in the oil-filled category.
  • Safety Rating: 5 | Tip protection, doesn’t get very hot.
  • Portability: 4 | Even with casters, oil heaters are a little heavy. This one is 16lbs. Not bad. 
  • Ease of Use Rating: 5 | Easy onboard panel plus remote.
  • Overall Rating: 4.75

Best Small Oil-filled Heater

#6 Trustech 700W Portable Compac Mini Radiator Oil Heater

This little heater is ideal for beneath a desk or keeping a small office or very small bedroom very comfortable.

  • Heat Settings: 700 watts only
  • Features include: Low to High dial (no numbers), carrying handle. No casters, but it is light enough to easily carry. No fan, so very quiet.
  • Features Rating: 3.5 | Very basic performance keeps the cost low.
  • Safety Rating: 5 | Overheat  protection. Warm to the touch – not hot.
  • Portability: 4 | At 8lbs, it is lighter than most oil-filled electric space heaters.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 4 | On/Off, temperature dial. No remote.
  • Overall Rating: 4

Best Wall-mounted Space Heater

#7 DeLonghi HMP1500 Mica Panel Heater

This wall-mounted electric heater is thin, light and easy to mount with the included kit.

This slim, innovative and very quiet heater packs 1500 watts of heat. Wall kit and optional feet included for versatile use.

  • Pros: Space-saving design. Kit included. Efficient micathermic heat. Installs on wall, not in wall.
  • Cons: No fan, so heat takes longer to radiate to furthest part of the room.
  • Best Use: Anywhere you want quiet heating – bedroom, TV room, office, etc.
  • Heat Settings: 750 & 1500 watts
  • Features include: Manually adjustable thermostat, optional feet with casters included, quiet operation,
  • Features Rating: 4 | About what you can expect from most electric wall heaters.
  • Safety Rating: 5 | All necessary safety features and it doesn’t get hot enough to burn.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 4.5 | No remote.
  • Portability: 4 | Not portable if fixed to wall, but if you use the feet, it is easy to move.
  • Overall Rating: 4.375

Best Fireplace Style Space Heater

#8 Duraflame Electric Infrared Quartz Fireplace Stove with 3D Flame Effect

This attractive electric heater adds charm and a pretty realistic fireplace ambience to any room. It has a flame-only mode for when you don’t want heat.

  • Heat Settings: 1500 watts only
  • Features include: 3D logs and flame, remote control, cool-touch, infrared heat, adjustable thermostat.
  • Features Rating: 5 | The controls give you customized comfort performance.
  • Safety Rating: 5 | All standard features plus an overheat sensor in the plug. If you’ve ever had a space heater plug melt or burn out your outlet, you know this is valuable.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 5 | Adjust with the remote or on the heater panel.
  • Portability: 4 | It weighs 28 pounds, so not ideal for moving from room to room.
  • Overall Rating: 4.75

Safest Space Heater

#9 Lasko CD08200 Bathroom Heater

Most space heaters are pretty safe. This one takes safety to the next level with an ALCI plug that will interrupt the electrical current, immediately shutting off the heater if it contacts water. This prevents electric shock.

  • Heat Settings: 750 & 1500 watts
  • Features include: 1hr high-heat button, low & high settings and the safety plug.
  • Features Rating: 4 | No timer, thermostat or remote. Built for safe use in a bathroom, kitchen, laundry or other location where there might be water.
  • Safety Rating: 5 | Standard features plus the ALCI plug.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 4 | No remote.
  • Portability: 5 | Weighs less than 4lbs and is very compact for carrying or placing on a tabletop or under a desk.
  • Overall Rating: 4.5

Best Overall Propane Space Heater

#10 Stanley ST-60HB2-GFA Gas Forced Air Heater 60K BTU

Designed for ventilated spaces including garages, decks/patios, hunting/camping and worksites, this large propane heater delivers 60,000 BTUs of heat – as much as a small furnace.

  • Heat Settings: Adjustable up to 60,000 BTU
  • Features include: Hose and regulator included, Piezo button light, carrying handle.
  • Features Rating: 4.5
  • Safety Rating: 4 |Remember, the space must have some ventilation. Read and follow the Use and Safety operating instructions.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 5 | Very easy to light and adjust the heat level.
  • Portability: 4 | Must be used with a propane cylinder rather than a small bottle.
  • Overall Rating: 4.375

Best Indoor-safe Propane Space Heater

#11 Mr. Heater MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Heater

This clean-burning, low-emission propane heater is perfect for a range of indoor, garage, pole-building and outdoor uses. It can be fueled by 2 bottles or with a hose, regulator and propane cylinder or tank.

  • Heat Settings: 4,000, 9,000 and 18,000 BTUs.
  • Features include: Near 100% combustion, oxygen depletion sensor (ODS), tip-over switch, knob for 3 heat settings.
  • Features Rating: 5 | All the best safety, performance and convenience features.
  • Safety Rating: 4.5 | While safe, propane heaters can cause burns.
  • Ease of Use Rating: 5 |Piezo spark makes it easy to light. One knob for heat adjustment.
  • Portability: 4.5 | Very portable when using 1lb bottles. Not quite as portable when attached to a 20lb or 30lb cylinder.
  • Overall Rating: 4.75
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Guide Section

There is general information here and very specific and detailed info too. It might not all be of use to you. 

When Should a Space Heater Be Used?

It is generally understood that a space heater is designed for temporary, supplemental heat. A space heater shouldn’t be the only source of heat in a home or room.

Constant use as the only source of heat is a major factor in the many space heater every year. Some of them are deadly.

We’re not trying to scare you away from space heaters. When used properly, they are generally safe. But it is wise to have a healthy respect for their danger.

See the section Space Heater Safety below for details.

The best uses for space heating are:

1. Supplemental Heat

There are two reasons to need supplemental heat:

You turn down the central heat thermostat to save money.

This is the most economical reason for space heating. It is explored in detail in the section below How to Use a Space Heater Efficiently.

Your space isn’t adequately warmed by central heat.

Many homes and apartments have rooms that are colder than others. It’s usually the result of an undersized or old central heat source or ductwork that is insufficient or leaky.

Office space is notorious for being cold due to penny-pinching owners/managers or bad building mechanicals.

In these instances, a space heater can boost the temperature to a comfortable level.

Boost of up to 10 degrees: You’ll need about 10 watts per square foot when using an electric space heater.

 As we detailed in our Most Efficient Space Heater Guide:

  • 500 watts: Up to 50 square feet (5x10, 7x7) – Bathroom, cubicle, door room, desktop and similar
  • 750 watts: Up to 75 square feet (7.5x10, 8x9) – Bathroom, small office or small bedroom
  • 1000 watts: Up to 100 square feet (10x10, 12x8) – Large bathroom, office, small bedroom, galley kitchen
  • 1500 watts: Up to 150 square feet (10x15, 12x12) – Bedroom, office, kitchen, den

Boost of 11-15 degrees: This will take up to 20 watts per square foot. For example, you’ll need a 1000-watt heater for a 50-square foot space, and so forth.

More than 15 degrees? It’s very difficult to raise the temperature of cold space more than 15 degrees with a space heater. This is especially true if the space is poorly insulated and/or it is very cold outside.

When this is attempted, the risk of fire goes up exponentially.

2. Emergency Heat

In Northern climates, a winter power outage is more than an inconvenience. Even if you have a warm place to go, your pipes do not. And freezing temperatures cause water in pipes to freeze, which will burst the pipes and potentially cause flooding. The damage can be extremely costly.

What are the best space heaters for emergency heat?

Propane heaters are the best type for emergency heat.

They are the right choice for 2 reasons.

  • Many do not need electricity to operate, or they can run on battery power (so the power outage doesn’t affect them)
  • They produce much more heat than electric space heaters, and that’s what you need in an emergency.

Tips for Using a Propane Heater for Emergencies

Be sure the propane space heater you choose does not need to be plugged into an outlet to work – or consider buying a generator to power it.  

And open a nearby window for ventilation unless the heater is specially rated for safe indoor use. The Mr. Heater model in our Best Space Heater list above is rated for indoors. There are others available too. 

Space Heater Types: Pros, Cons, Costs

If you have shopped for space heaters, the variety and types can be confusing.

This section sorts out your options.

Electric vs Combustion

These are the two broad categories.

Space heaters are either:

  • Electric: Powered by your home’s electrical system.
  • Combustion: Powered by a fossil fuel – propane is the most common, but there are kerosene and natural gas heaters too.

When to Choose an Electric Heater

Electric space heaters are far more practical and popular than combustion heaters because they are:

  • Simple to use. Plug it into an outlet, and turn it on.
  • Equipped with excellent features like timers, thermostats, multiple heat settings, fan-only mode, safety features and remotes. Not all features are available on all models. See the section below Space Heater Features to Consider for full details.
  • Available in the many varieties detailed next.
  • Safe to use without ventilation.

When to Choose a Combustion Heater

Combustion space heaters do have their place. Consider a propane or similar heater for these reasons:

  • Fast, large-capacity heating. A 1500W electric heater gives off about 5,100 BTUs of heat. Propane heaters start at 4,000 BTUs, but most produce a maximum of 18K to 60K BTUs. Some are even larger.
  • Emergency heating in freezing weather. We noted this earlier. Most propane heaters do not require electricity. A few have a fan that can be powered with batteries. They’re ideal for use during power outages.
  • Outdoor use. There are a few electric infrared heaters designed for decks, patios and other outdoor locations. A few are even waterproof. But the best heaters for outdoor recreation are combustion space heaters.  

Both/And? It doesn’t have to be either/or. Many households have both electric and combustion heaters and use them for differing purposes.

Types of Electric Heaters

If you decide, as most consumers do, that an electric heater would be useful, you have several options.

The basic distinction is convection vs infrared.

How do they heat?

  • Convection heaters warm the air like an electric stove element.
  • Infrared heaters warm people, pets and objects that absorb the infrared rays.

How much space do they heat?

  • A 1500W convection heater is designed for up to 400 square feet.
  • A 1500W infrared heater is designed for up to 1,000 square feet.

With those important differences in mind, here is a closer look at each.

1. Ceramic Convection Heaters

These electric space heaters are some of the most affordable and most common.

Most have a ceramic positive temperature coefficient, or PTC, heating element like the one shown in the image. PTC elements run cooler than traditional coil elements, so they are safer and last longer.

Most ceramic electric heaters have fans to disperse the heat. For this reason, they are sometimes called fan-forced or forced-air heaters.

Pros

  • These heaters heat up quickly. They are affordable and have the most features of any heater type. Features are discussed in a moment.
  • Ceramic space heaters are produced in two main styles. Small, compact heaters are ideal for under-desk and tabletop use. They are light and portable, so moving them from room to room or taking a heater to the office is easy.
  • Oscillating towers spread heat in a range that varies from about 55 degrees to more than 70 degrees. Many have at least two heat settings with 750W and 1500W the most common. Personal-size heaters are single-heat models, usually 500W, but 400W and 600W units are made too. Most do not oscillate.

Cons

  • Fans can be loud. These heaters often give off a light odor when turned on. The smell is caused by dust burning on the element. Cheap ceramic heaters often fail quickly.

Best Locations

These heaters are ideal for bedrooms, offices, dorms and living areas. Many are used in bathrooms, but as with any electric heaters, never place it near the tub or shower to reduce electric shock potential.

Buying Tips

Check out the user ratings and reviews of any ceramic heater you’re considering. While that is true for any type, as noted, some are very cheap and don’t offer longevity. It’s not surprising to read reviews that say things like, “Worked for a month and then quit.”

Our Best Electric Heater list above gives you several good options for ceramic PTC space heaters. They have positive ratings of 85% and higher.

Cost

Prices start at about $15. Most cost $25-$70 with a few costing more than $100.

2. Oil Convection Heaters

Oil filled space heaters have one or two elements in a radiator-style tank that is filled with oil. Heat evenly radiates out of the heater and is dispersed through convection – natural airflow in the room.

Pros

  • They are quiet because there is no fan. They get quite warm, but generally not hot enough to cause burns. Some have multiple heat settings up to 1500W. We found one compact model with 700W heating that is ideal for small rooms and under-desk use. See it in the list above of the Best Electric Heaters.
  • Most have a thermostat. Some have advanced features like multiple heat settings, Eco (economy mode), timer and remote.

Cons

  • They take longer to get warm, so they’re not good when instant heat is needed. Oil convection heaters are heavy (18-30 pounds), so moving them isn’t as easy. Most have casters, though, but rolling them on carpet can be difficult.

Best Locations

Bedrooms, offices and other locations where the heater will be on for a longer period of time. Many users turn the heater on in the bedroom an hour or two before bedtime to give the heater time to get warm and heat the room.

Buying Tips

Consider whether you prefer a fast-heating unit with a noise-making fan or an oil heater with quieter operation but longer warm-up time. The two types really are very different in performance.

Cost

Prices start at about $25. Most cost $40-$100. As with any other product, you can always find those that cost a lot more too (and are likely overpriced).

3. Infrared Heaters / Radiant Heaters

Sunlight is infrared radiation. It warms the objects it hits to a greater degree than it warms the air. On a winter day, you might be comfortable standing in sunlight, but cold in the shade.

Infrared or radiant heaters act the same way.

According to one description, “The main advantage of radiant heaters is that infrared radiation is absorbed directly by clothing and skin, without first heating the air in a space.”

Many infrared heaters are housed in cabinets. A few are made of furniture-grade wood and are quite attractive. However, there are tower, wall and cheap portable models too.

Pros

  • They provide immediate heat. A 1500W infrared heater is rated for up to 1,000 square feet while a 1500W convection heater is rated for 400 square feet. A fan isn’t required, and those without fans are quiet. Infrared electric heaters remain cool to the touch, so are ideal for use around kids and pets.

Cons

  • Cost for most is higher than ceramic fans. You must be in front of the heater to get warm. The large units are heavy, but do have wheels. Still, they’re not easily portable.

Best Locations

Any living space. They also work well in poorly insulated or drafty areas, even outdoors, since the radiant infrared heat is absorbed directly.

Buying Tips

Consider where you want to use the heater to determine which style is best. For directing at a fixed location such as a bed or small area where kids play, a cabinet-style heater is nice. Where floorspace is limited, a wall unit is ideal. Oscillating infrared heaters sweep the room to heat people in various locations.

Cost

Cheap ones are $20-$40. The most popular cabinet-style models are $75-$300. There are very good values in the $80-$135 range.

4. Micathermic Heaters

Also mica-thermic, these are a combination of 80% convection and 20% radiant/infrared heat. They are sometimes called panel heaters because of their thin, compact design.

This is a newer style and growing in popularity, but your options are limited at present.

Pros

  • Combination heating – mostly convection but supplying a heat boost to anyone directly in the path of the rays. Lightweight. Most come with attachable feet for floor use and a kit for mounting on the wall. No fan – so they are quiet.

Cons

  • Not portable when wall-mounted. Can be hot to the touch.

Best Locations

Office, bathroom, small bedroom.

Buying Tips

Capacity ranges from 150W to 1500W, so buy a heater that is suitable to where it will be placed. Consider about 10 watts per square foot.

Cost

Prices begin at about $50 for 150W models. 1500W micathermic space heaters cost $65-$150 for most. 

Types of Combustion Heaters

Propane is by far the most popular fuel, but kerosene (K-1) heaters have advantages too.

1. Propane Space Heaters

A few propane heaters are rated for indoor use because they burn cleanly without giving off dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide. Some are called “blue flame” heaters after the color of a clean-burning flame.

Those not rated for indoors are used in well-ventilated areas like a garage with a window open or the door up a couple inches. They are popular in hunting blinds, fishing shanties and on the deck or porch.

There are several styles. Small, portable cabinets are most common. The most affordable are heaters that fit directly on a propane cylinder. Ceiling-mount propane heaters are preferred for garages and outbuildings. Blue-flame wall-mounted and units with feet are used indoors.

Pros

  • A lot of heat is created quickly. Capacity ranges from 4,000 BTUs to 60,000 BTU models and higher. Those with fans and those without fans are available to suit your heating purposes. Most have thermostat control, tip-over shutoff and an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) that will turn off the unit if the combustion is causing low levels of oxygen.

Cons

  • Potential for burns and for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Best Locations

If the unit is indoor safe, then it is ideal large and/or poorly insulated areas. They make excellent emergency-heat units during winter power outages. Propane heaters are nice for the garage, outdoor recreational purposes and jobsites.

Buying Tips

Be sure the unit is indoor-safe if that’s where you plan to use it. Read and follow operating directions, of course. Smaller propane heaters work with the 1lb bottles popular for camping.

Most of these models can also work from a cylinder, but a hose and regulator are required. The unit may come with its own, or you’ll have to purchase one separately. Larger units work from a cylinder or can run from a propane line connected to a tank/pig. In short, look at your options to determine what heat capacity and fuel sources is right for your purpose.

Cost

Prices for 4K-10K BTU models are $80-$125. Larger units start at about $100 and cost up to $275, sometimes more, depending on capacity and features.

2. Kerosene Space Heaters

We’ll make this brief, since most people aren’t in the market for a kerosene heater.

Kerosene, or K-1, heaters give off a lot of heat. Small units start at 10,000 BTU. Most are about 24,000 BTU heaters. The largest have the capacity of a gas furnace with 100,000+ BTU heating, larger than most people want in a space heater.

The advantage of these heaters is the large amount of heat given off by kerosene. It’s an efficient fuel, but somewhat costly, though prices vary by region.

The disadvantage is having to fill the heater, which can be messy and smelly if there’s a spill.

Space Heater Features to Consider

Here’s a brief summary of electric heater features and their advantages. As we noted, not all heaters have all features.

Multiple heat settings: Most with two or more heat settings are 750 and 1500 watts, though some models are different. The first advantage is versatility. Use the lower heat setting in a smaller space, the larger in bigger rooms. Secondly, it makes the heater efficient because you’re not using a higher heat setting and more energy than needed.

Eco mode: Economy mode is found on some space heaters with two heat settings. In Eco mode, the heater will use high heat until the thermostat is satisfied, and then adjust to the lower heat setting. If the temperature falls, it will boost to higher heat again.

Thermostat: Most units have a thermostat. Some are simple dials with hash marks or numbers. These are on affordable space heaters. Costlier models have digital/programable thermostats that are more accurate.

Timer: Timers are 1-8, 1-10 or 1-12 hours. Most are not programable. Rather, you can select a time, e.g., 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours. Obviously, the more options, the more effective the timer. Using the timer means you can “set it and forget it,” which offers convenience and efficiency – the heater won’t run for very long with nobody using its heat.

Remote control: This adds convenience. Most have the same range of functions as the control panel on the heater.

Fan-only mode: Only a few models have this. It’s a nice feature. Fan-only can be used for cooling in warm weather. Some users like it as “white noise” when sleeping or studying or when a baby is napping.

Current-interruption plugs: These are labeled GFCI, GFI, ALCI or AFCI. The “I” means “interrupt.” If water contacts the wiring so as to affect the current, meaning there is a shock risk, the unit will shut off automatically. Of course, these units are ideal for bathrooms.

Casters: These wheels make it easier to roll a large heater. They don’t always work well on plush carpet though.

How to Choose the Right Space Heater for You

Much of this information is found throughout this guide, but we’ll make a few brief points.

1. Sizing your Space Heater

As we said above, you’ll need about 10 watts per square foot to boost heat up to 10 degrees. 20 watts per square foot are preferred for raising the temperature 11-15 degrees.

Room Size (Sq. Feet)

Watts

BTUs

50

500

1705

75

750

2557

100

1000

3410

125

1250

4262

155

1550

5115

160

1600

5456

200

2000

6820

250

2500

8525

300

3000

10230

400

4000

13640

 Examples are:

  • 500 watts: Up to 50 square feet (5x10, 7x7) – Bathroom, cubicle, door room, desktop and similar
  • 750 watts: Up to 75 square feet (7.5x10, 8x9) – Bathroom, small office or small bedroom
  • 1000 watts: Up to 100 square feet (10x10, 12x8) – Large bathroom, office, small bedroom, galley kitchen
  • 1500 watts: Up to 150 square feet (10x15, 12x12) – Bedroom, office, kitchen, den

For larger spaces, electric space heaters are made that produce 2,000 to 4,000. Some require a 220V outlet, so keep that in mind.

An indoor-safe propane space heater is another option for large spaces, as discussed above.

2. Choosing your Style

What is the best electric heater for your uses?

Tower

They have a small footprint, so are ideal for areas with limited floorspace. Most are oscillating. They sweep the room with heat. This makes them a good choice when people are moving around or seated in various parts of the room.

An oscillating tower isn’t best for single-person use. Also, the small base makes them prone to tipping from big dogs and rambunctious kids.

Cabinet

These are mostly infrared heaters. They are best for stationary positions where they can be directed right at people, e.g., on a couch, in a bed or seated on a bench on the deck.

They have casters, so are portable, but you might not want to carry one of these 25-pound+ units up and down stairs.

Portable

Many ceramic heaters are compact and light. Best uses are under desks or on a desktop, workbench, in small bathrooms, offices, dorm rooms or bedrooms. Some are small and light enough to fit in a backpack to take from home to work.

The compact size can be a danger. Small space heaters are not easy to see when set on the ground, and this presents a trip & fall hazard, especially to anyone with mobility challenges.

Wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted

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These are mostly infrared or micathermic infrared/convection hybrids. Units for indoor use often come with optional attachable feet and wall-mountable. Large units for the garage are often mounted to the ceiling.

Outdoor infrared heaters are waterproof and perfect for heating those beneath them on a deck or patio. These are heaters with very specific uses, so not as popular as portable space heaters.

3. Multiple Room, Multiple Setting & Portability

If you plan to move the heater, a model with more than one setting is nice. This allows you to be comfortable without overheating the space. For example, 750W is perfect for a small bathroom, but 1500W is better for a bedroom or office. A portable ceramic space heater makes a great choice for this kind of use.

Two or more heat settings also give you options for how much supplemental heat a room needs.

In spring and fall, you might only need a few extra degrees of heat. The low setting might do the job, and using a space heater in the room you’re occupying might mean you won’t have to turn on your central heat source.

In winter, the higher heat setting might be required in the same room to bring it up to a comfortable temperature.

Space Heater Safety

According to widely reported statistics, “the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care annually for burn injuries associated with room heaters.”

The key is safe use, which we covered at length in our Best Small Space Heater Guide​​​​.

Here is a recap of the information found there.

1. Read and follow the operating instructions.

2. Turn it off when you leave the area for more than a few minutes.

3. Don’t fall asleep with a space heater on the table or desk in front of you.

4. Stay 1.5 feet for 500W heaters and 3 feet for 1000W and 1500W heaters.

5. Keep children and pets safe from getting too close. Or buy a cool-touch infrared heater.

6. In the bathroom, use a heater with a GFCI/AFCI plug, and keep the heater away from water sources.

7. Throw away damaged heaters (frayed cord, heat/burn marks on the plug, vibrating fan blades, unknown odor or “hot” smell).

How to Use a Space Heater Efficiently

We’ve completed an entire guide on this subject – The Most Efficient Space Heater Reviews and Guide. It is full of detail with depth you probably won’t find anywhere else.

Here is the summary, but we really do recommend reading the guide if you want to maximize heating efficiency.

1. Turn Down the Central Heat & Use a Space heater for One Room at a Time

2. Use for Supplemental and Emergency Heat Only

3. Choose a Space Heater with Efficiency Features

These include multiple heat settings, Eco mode, digital thermostat and a timer. A few WiFi space heaters are available. You can turn them off from the phone app if you forget to do so when you leave home.

4. Match Heater Size to Room Size

5. Make your Home Energy Efficient

The materials to do this include:

  • Attic insulation
  • Weather-stripping for doors and windows
  • Caulk for door and window frames
  • Tape and mastic for sealing ducts
  • Insulated windows and blinds
  • Major upgrades when renovating your home: Insulated doors, windows with Energy Star glass, Energy Star certified roofing and an energy-efficient HVAC system

Noise Levels of Space Heaters

Most space heaters have very few moving parts, therefore, the amount of noise they are going to create is minimal. However, there is one big exception to that rule, and that is those convection space heaters which use fans to blow out hot air.

Space heaters which will normally have fans include propane heaters, ceramic heaters, and electric baseboard heaters. With each of these, the amount of noise they generate can be difficult to predict, given that you wouldn’t normally see or hear one in operation before you buy it.

One option is to read the reviews for each product to see what those who are already using one are saying about the noise levels. One caveat here though is that what might be loud to one person, may not be loud to another, so even this is not a perfect way to assess it.

Overall, the fans in ceramic and baseboard heaters not going to be that loud that you cannot carry on a conversation while sitting next to one. The fans on propane gas heaters can be a bit louder but bear in mind these are not normally designed for use in the home, but rather they are mostly for heating garages and for outdoor use.

Wandering which space heater is the quietest one? We've already selected them for you! Read our 6 Most Quiet Space Heater Reviews and Buying Guide.

Everyone Buys a Space Heater Sometime

There is a lot more to choosing the right space heater than many consumers ever think about.

When you follow the buying tips found here and in our other Space Heater Guides, you will likely choose a space heater that fits your heating needs.

Are you looking for heater suggestions? If so, our overall Best Electric Space Heater list begins this page.

Each of the other Guides each has a list too –

See those guides for space heater recommendations, reviews and complete buying guides.

Just about everyone buys a space heater at some time..

Most of use by many of them over the years. Perhaps your friends would appreciate this comprehensive guide complete with a list of the best electric heater models.

If you think they would, please pass it along using the social media buttons on this page!

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