What is the Best Small Space Heater?
By “small,” we mean a personal space heater with a low-heat setting of 400-600 watts. Most are 500W space heaters. Some have higher heat settings too which makes them more versatile.
These are also compact space heaters.
Our Best Small Space Heater list has 8 models. Each unit is unique – either in performance, style or both. That’s our approach because there is no reason to put together a list with a bunch of very similar models. This list gives you interesting options – even one that looks like a fireplace – to best suit your heating needs and personal style.
Features the best compact space heaters have in common are:
- 1Good quality
- 2Small capacity for limited space
- 3Compact and light
- 4Safety features
- 5Few performance features: Simple On/Off use is most common
- 6Floor and tabletop use
There are more details in the Small Space Heater Guide that follows the Reviews. It provides research you can use to select the right kind of small heater for your purposes.
Do you need more heat?
The Best Large Room Space Heater Guide includes models that supply supplemental heat to up to 1,000 square feet.
Are you thinking of a portable space heater? That’s why a lot of people search for small space heaters.
Our Best Portable Space Heater Reviews and Guide discusses space heaters that are easily moved from one room to another. Many of them have a 750-watt setting, which many consider a small space heater setting plus a 1500-watt setting.
Small Space Heater Reviews
Before we share our list of the top small heaters, there are two very common consumer complaints against so-called “small” space heaters.
1.They are too small. Hello! These are “small” heaters. Read consumer reviews of 500W space heaters, and you’ll see this complaint in the negative reviews.
By our definition, “small” means they don’t produce a lot of heat. You probably don’t want a 1500-watt heater under your desk, in your cubicle or other tight space.
We equate “small” with wattage. These are 400 to 600 watts, so they can’t be expected to heat a 15×20 bedroom with drafty windows!
You could say they are compact space heaters, but there are 1500W heaters that are compact in size. That’s not the best term.
We’ve stuck with “small space heater.”
Small space heater = small area/personal use/400-600 watts.
2.They break in a few months or sooner. Many do! This is a legitimate complaint. In an effort to make the units compact and light, some manufacturers use cheap parts – as much plastic and as little metal as possible.
Because there is so little space inside, poor design that causes failure is common.
Small heaters also seem to be at greater risk for damage due to poor packaging, a problem magnified during shipping from overseas to local carriers when the package is handled multiple times.
The Best Small Heaters
With those concerns addressed, here are the highest rated small space heaters.
We choose the best compact space heaters available built with quality components and proven to last. If a unit has a high percentage of negative ratings, we eliminate the model from consideration. This helps eliminate the rate of small space heaters arriving to customers in non-working order.
Here are the pros, cons and best use for each of the best 500 watt space heater models.
#1 Nexgadget Mini 500W Portable Ceramic Heater
This is the best space heater in this size range for its quality, performance and durability. It has one heat setting: 500 watts. A fan-only mode that uses just 5 watts moves air and creates white noise for sleep or studying. It’s the quietest space heater in this category.
- Pros: Very quiet (40db). Fast-heating PTC ceramic. Best consumer rating.
- Cons: On/off – No Thermostat. Most small heaters don’t have them.
- Best Use: Personal space – cubicle, small bedroom, dorm room, bathroom, on or beneath a desk or table.
#2 XPRIT Desktop Space Heater Cute Design Ceramic Heater w/Auto Oscillating
This fan sweeps the area in an arch of about 55 degrees. The element is a ceramic PTC, fast-heating system.
Pros: Quiet 45 decibels. Stylish design.
Cons: Warranty is just 6 months.
Best Use: Providing heat for more than one person – perhaps two people watching TV or sleeping. The oscillation spreads the heat.
#3 AmazonBasics 500-Watt Ceramic Personal Mini Heater
Amazon has the large-scale buying/manufacturing ability to produce good-quality products at a cheap price. That’s AmazonBasics. This unit is quite compact and weighs 1.5lbs.
Pros: Works well. Highly rated. Low cost. 4 colors.
Cons: Screen gets very hot. No carrying handle.
Best Use: Under or on a desk, small bathroom or very small bedroom.
Select the link to see the price and choose your favorite color.
#4 Opolar Mini Portable Electric Fireplace Heater
Best 500 Watt Fireplace Style
Your office, cubicle or dorm room will become the center of attention with its own electric fireplace! This unit is about 9 inches by 9 inches, so easily fits on a desk or small table. It gives the option of the flame effect w/o heat for year-round ambience.
Pros: Realistic design. Compact. Portable. Very unique!
Cons: A little pricey.
Best Use: Where it can be enjoyed for its fireplace design, not just its heat. Office, dorm room, bedroom, small den.
#5 500 Watt Ceramic Mini Heater with Adjustable Thermostat
Most space heaters have 1-year warranties, but we’ve seen shorter. This one is backed by Opolar for 5 years! Ratings are excellent too. This is as good as our Best Overall model above.
Pros: Best warranty. Affordable. Thermostat control. Heats fast.
Cons: A bit loud (50db).
Best Use: A daily space heater for any small space from under your desk to a very small bedroom or the bathroom.
#6 Optimus H-8013 Infrared Quartz Heater with Remote and LED Display
Most Versatile Small Space Heater
Do you want a single heater that will heat your large bedroom but won’t scorch your shins when it’s under your desk? Get one w/ multiple heat levels that is easy to move. This highly rated, feature-rich model fits the bill.
Pros: 500/1000/1500 watt settings. Comfortable infrared heat. Digital thermostat.
Cons: No fan (so it’s silent). It radiates heat.
Best Use: When you want one space heater for small spaces and larger rooms too.
Note: If you’re unfamiliar with infrared heaters or are concerned about that name (there’s no need to be), see our Best Infrared Heater Reviews and Guide. An explanation of the technology and the top models are included.
#7 Opolar Ceramic Heater, 600 Watt Personal Mini Heater with Smart Infrared Body Sensor
Most Advanced Technology
The sensor keeps the unit running when you’re within 6 feet of it. Walk away for more than 2 minutes, and the sensor shuts down the unit for efficient heating. Come back, and the heater turns on.
- Pros: Efficiency. 600W size. Less than 50db. 3 color choices.
- Cons: Not waterproof, so not for a steamy bathroom.
- Best Use: Under desk, in front of easy chair, desktop or tabletop.
#8 400-Watt Portable-Mini Heater Personal Ceramic Space Heater
Best Small & Stylish
Tired of silver and black space heaters? We added this to the list for its shape and snappy orange color that give it lots of style. The 400W makes it unique and efficient for very small areas too.
- Pros: 400W. Stylish design. Super-light. Efficient.
- Cons: Not designed for bathrooms.
- Best Use: Beneath a desk, in a small, well-insulated bedroom or office. Kids rooms and dorm rooms.
The research topics in this guide should assist your buying decision. That’s our goal. Feel free to leave comments below that will help us tailor this information to our readers’ questions.
What is a Small Space Heater – and What is it Not?
Here are the features that most small-capacity space heaters have. There are a few exceptions, and we try to point them out. In the list above, you can review the list of the best small heaters with these features.
What should you look for/expect in a small space heater?
1. Good quality
Quality varies more than with medium and large space heaters.
Too many small heaters arrive in a non-working condition or quit working in just a few months. Customer reviews bear this out. We pay particular attention to bad reviews and weed out models prone to these problems. It’s not hard to find models with 25% to 33% worst reviews!
Read what users say about the heater. Some heaters are much better quality and will last a lot longer too.
2. Small Capacity for Small Space
These units offer a personal level of heating. What does that mean?
Occasionally you’ll see a comment that says something like, “My 500 watt heater keeps my 12×18 bedroom very toasty.”
There are probably three factors missing from the claim:
- The person is using the space heater to raise the heat by just 2-4 degrees
- The heater is turned on at least an hour before the person goes to bed
- The room is well insulated, so will hold in the heat created
In other words, that is not the norm for heaters this size.
You may also like: Heater Room Size Calculator
Personal heating means these common uses:
- Directly in front of you
- Under or on top of a desk, table or workbench
- Cubicle heating
- Well-insulated offices and bedrooms up to about 150 square feet (15×10)
- RVs 14 feet and shorter
- Small bathrooms (see the next section for safe bathroom use)
What about a tent? We get that question quite a bit. We do not recommend space heaters for tents. Why?
Tents, obviously, are poorly insulated. A 400-600 watt heater isn’t going to make much difference. That’s the big reason. Why bother?
Also, when its cold and the tent isn’t insulated, it’s tempting to put the small space heater very close to feel any benefit from the watts of heat. That’s a recipe for catching a sleeping bag on fire.
A much better option for a tent is to use a warmer sleeping bag.
3. Compact and Light
They are small and easy to move from room to room – if they are cool. Look for one with handles if you intend to move it often or while it is still warm. Handles reduce risk of burn.
4. Safety Features
Tip-over switch: Almost all have a button on the bottom that must be depressed for the heater to work. Set it on any hard floor to depress it. If the heater falls over, the button pops out and shuts off the unit. These switches might not work on thick carpet. Put something rigid on top of the carpet as a base for the small heater.
Overheat sensor: Small space heaters shouldn’t overheat. But if they do, the sensor will shut them down before they get hot enough to catch fire.
If your heater ever stops heating – the fan might continue to run – before it fully heats your space, this is probably the cause. A few have overly sensitive sensors. The heating element should warm again once it cools down. Look for comments in user reviews related to the heater shutting off prematurely.
What about bathrooms? If you’re shopping for a bathroom heater, make sure it is equipped with a plug that will shut off the unit immediately if it comes in contact with a large amount of water. Look for these terms:
- GFCI – ground fault circuit interrupter
- GFI – ground fault interrupter
- ALCI – appliance leakage circuit interrupter
The first two mean the same thing and the third is like it. The basic idea is that the heater will shut off in about 1/30th of a second if the internal wiring contacts water.
Note: For such plugs to work, your bathroom must be equipped with a GFCI/GFI outlet. They look like the image below. The presence of the Test and Reset buttons are strong clues that you have one of these safety outlets. If you do not have a GFCI/GFI outlet in bathroom, laundry room or other location where water is possible, do not use a space heater in the room.
5. Simple On/Off Use
Most units in this range don’t have many features. Some have an On/Off button, and that is all.
A few have upgraded features. The Nexgadget Mini Heater in the list above is our Best Overall Small Space Heater. It has a fan-only mode. Fan without heat is nice for personal cooling in warm weather. A lot of people like it as “white noise” while studying in a noisy dorm or letting a baby sleep while there is noise in the house.
6. Floor and Tabletop Use
These units are ideal for under a desk, in front of your favorite easy chair or on top of a table or workbench.
Generally, elevating a larger space heater isn’t recommended due to risk of burns or causing a fire. But units about 500 watts are safe for this purpose.
How to Safely Use a Small Space Heater
There are a few risks when using a compact space heater, but they can be avoided with common-sense precautions.
1. Read the operating instructions.
Yes, that’s boring. But a quick once-over of the Safety Precautions might prevent trouble.
2. Turn it off when you plan to be gone for… 2 minutes? 15 minutes? Anytime?
How long you’re willing to leave it running when you’re gone is up to you, of course. Most manufacturers recommend turning it off every time you leave the room. You should certainly turn of a heater if you leave the house or building.
Are you concerned about leaving the heater on when you leave? Consider the Opolar Ceramic Heater, 600 Watt Personal Mini Heater with Smart Infrared Body Sensor. It will sense you’ve left and turn itself off. Really. Here’s how.
This unit will stay on when you are within 6 feet of it. Leave, and the sensor senses it. The heater will turn off after 2 minutes. Return to within 6 feet, and your presence is sensed. The space heater turns on. That’s convenience and peace of mind for forgetful space heater users of any age.
3. Don’t fall asleep in front of it.
In a chilly or drafty room, you have to get close to a 500 watt heater to feel its heat. That’s the risk.
Think about it. Fall asleep with it on the floor in front of your favorite chair, and you could wake up with very hot feet or ankles.
Fall asleep with your head down on the desk – something students in dorm rooms throughout North America are doing right now! – and you could wake up to your hair on fire or your forehead burned.
4. How close is too close? Keep 1.5 feet away from a 500 watt heater. Stay 3 feet away from a 1000 watt or 1,500 watt heater. Ditto for anything that can melt of burn.
5. Keep children and pets safe.
Ceramic heaters and the wire grids that cover them get hot. If you can’t keep kids and pets away from the heater, then these aren’t your best options.
Infrared space heaters burn cooler. Many are marketed as “cool to the touch.”
In the list above, the Optimus H-8013 Infrared Quartz Heater with Remote and LED Display is a good choice for rooms roamed by kids, cats and pooches.
In addition to what we said above, don’t ever put any heater on the bathroom tub ledge, a shower chair or a countertop very near the tub. Again, the temptation arises to do these things because most people get quite close to small heaters to feel the warmth.
7. Vibrating Heaters
Huh? What does that mean?
When fan motors start to go bad or they have bent blades, they vibrate.
The vibration can cause one of these lightweight heaters to “walk” as vibrations cause them to move across the floor or tabletop.
It’s best just to throw out a heater with this issue or return it if it is under warranty. You don’t want the space heater “walking” into your blanket at night or off the countertop and onto the cat.
There are just a few tips to remember when shopping for the best space heater model for your purposes.
Have Accurate Size Expectations
A 500-watt space heater produces enough heat for small spaces and personal right-in-front-of-you use.
As long as you don’t expect a small space heater to heat larger areas, you won’t be disappointed.
Review the Safety Precautions in the instructions that come with the heater. Review our section called The Opolar 500 Watt Ceramic Mini Heater, and follow the tips.
Choose Features and Style you Want
In most cases, these compact space heaters have basic On/Off performance.
These compact space heaters offer a limited number of features. A few have a thermostat for more precise heating. The Opolar 500 Watt Ceramic Mini Heater is one of the few with a thermostat.
Oscillation is most useful when the heater is serving two or more people. Swinging side to side, it disperses heat in a wide arch. That’s not something you want in a personal heater – you’d probably prefer to have the heat directed at you all the time.
Ceramic PTC heating elements are found on affordable models including the AmazonBasics 500-Watt Ceramic Small Space Personal Mini Heater. The benefit is fast heat. Most are aided by a fan for heat distribution.
Your other option in heaters this size is infrared heat. The Optimus H-8013 Infrared Quartz Heater with Remote and LED Display is the best small infrared space heater available. The heat is slightly more efficient than ceramic models.