Housewarming: The 10 Best Space Heaters

Like it or not – and believe that we certainly don’t – it is getting more expensive every year to heat your home. Utility bills are rising, gas costs are going up, even using a wood burning stove isn’t nearly as cost effective as it used to be. Meanwhile, cold nights are getting colder and blistering hot summers are giving way to sub-zero winters. You can combat this one of two ways: Either invest in full arctic gear and stay wrapped up 24/7 or get a space heater.

These little devices are an inexpensive way to increase the heat in your home just where you need it rather than using a thermostat to warm up a whole house when you are only using a few rooms. They come in styles large and small for every different kind of room. There’s small ceramic ones for getting a small home office toasty warm, beasts that can quickly get your ballroom ready for the winter cotillion, baseboard heaters that target the low areas and will make your army of cats love you forever, and radiators that can be left on for days and yet be safe around kids and pets. However your home is constructed, one of the 10 best space heaters can help you save some cash when the snow flies.

Lasko 754200

Lasko 754200

Pro: Quickly heats small rooms
Con: Fan noise can be annoying

Tiny but Fierce: It may be small, but for small spaces it packs a wallop. It can heat a guest room, small office, home studio, shed, or workshop quickly and effectively. It is a ceramic heater with a heated plate and fan set behind a nice grill that prevents accidents. The body is only a few pounds so you can take it with you wherever you go. The controls are basic knobs with two heat settings along with a graduated thermostat that you turn until the unit shuts off once you have hit your desired temperature. You can also set it to just work as a fan when the cold has gone and the heat is beating down, though it won’t cool much space. The exterior doesn’t get very hot even after extended use which limits danger to kids and pets. The small size means it draws very little power even when pumped to the max which will help keep your heating bills to a minimum. The lack of any frills and the fan noise can be turn-offs, but for performance on the most basic budget this is a hard heater to beat. [Purchase: $25]

Holmes HFH436

Holmes HFH436

Pro: Safe to use in damp environments
Con: Small

Wet Worker: One of the rooms in any home that needs a one of these tiny heaters is the bathroom, where cold tile or linoleum will wake you up with a jolt as you sprint to the shower or spend a few moments resting on your laurels. Sadly, not many space heaters can safely operate in the wet environment safely. The HFH436 has an ALCI (Appliance Leakage Current Interrupter) plug with ground-fault interruption so if it gets wet, it cuts off automatically. The built-in digital timer allows you to set it to get your bathroom or kitchen warm just before you need it, no waiting required. It only has two heat settings, and isn’t very big, so trying to make it work in larger rooms will lead to potential frostbite, but for your john, your head, and your loo, it’s a dream come true. After a couple of days waking up to a warm bathroom, you’ll write some poetry about it too. [Purchase: $39]

Lasko 6435

Lasko 6435

Pro: Remote controlled
Con: Heavy

Sit N Spin: The 6435 is one of the more appealing space heaters we found thanks in part to the decorative base that also serves to help stabilize the heater so it won’t tip over, though it does add some weight to the already heavy unit. It has a 7-hour timer and remote as well as on-base controls so it is easy to set and forget or operate from across the room, because standing and walking are for suckers. It oscillates to help better circulate heat throughout medium-sized rooms, or can work static if you are trying to spot heat a small area. An on board thermostat coupled with two heat settings let you decide how hot you want a room and how fast you need it warmed up. The ceramic heating element is buried inside the body and keeps the exterior fairly cool. It works very quietly and won’t interfere with viewing a television or polite conversation. The only major flaw is the low setting doesn’t get along well with the thermostat. If you want a similar model for larger rooms, Lasko’s 6462 has you covered. [Purchase: $54]

Lasko 5624

Lasko 5624

Pro: Only needs to be set once
Con: Slightly elevated power draw

The Lowdown: Baseboard space heaters are usually not very good. They tend to be cumbersome and dangerous, since putting them away from walls creates a tripping hazard while putting them too far to the side limits their efficiency and can be a fire danger. Among these models, Lasko has again blessed the market with a baseboard that is about as good as it gets. It has overheating and tip-over safety features and can easily heat a room of about 400 square feet or less with a minimum of noise. It only has one heat setting because it is meant to work as a convection heater. The digital thermostat is easy to set and forget permanently. You’ll never need to change the settings or make too many changes once it is good to go. It draws a fair amount of power, though still much less than standard baseboard heaters that are found in older homes. [Purchase: $59]

Ambia ACH-120

Ambia ACH-120

Pro: Excellent spot heater
Con: Plastic body

Rapid Response: The portable ACH-120 is the most versatile and fastest-acting of the mid-range choices. It looks more like a wireless speaker than a heater because it is actually two heating units that can be removed and placed 6 feet apart so that they can spot heat specific areas or combine their powers to push more warmth over a bigger area. The ceramic heating units are fan driven which causes some noise, but not an overbearing amount. The front grill heats up like a fiend so leaving it on the floor where there are drapes, kids, or pets is not wise. Sadly, the thermostat only has one setting, so each individual part can’t be put to different temperatures. It doesn’t have a tip-over safety feature and will keep going even if it falls on its face. The plastic housing is a final flaw in that extreme heating will cause some warping or melting. Despite those drawbacks, it warms a room very quickly and is able to spot heat like a pro. The idea is brilliant, now all they need to do is work out the kinks. [Purchase: $60]

Honeywell Surround Select

Honeywell Surround Select

Pro: Heats evenly in every direction
Con: Does not spot heat

Every Which Way: The majority of space heaters are directional and will only heat one way. Some oscillate to help moderate this design, but it still doesn’t really work if you need heat heading out to every corner of a room. For that, you’ll want a 360 degree heater like the Surround. It is compact but puts out plenty of warmth for small to medium spaces. The heat emanates from it so you don’t have obnoxious fan noise as with any blower style heater. It’ll take extra time to get a room up to par, but also won’t force you to crank the volume on your TV or interfere with a meeting around the conference table. If you want a more directed heat, you can set it up to only go 180 degrees, though it will still seep out everywhere. Terrible for spot heating but ideal for rooms where people are gathered. [Purchase: $64]

DeLonghi TRD0715T

DeLonghi TRD0715T

Pro: Very quiet
Con: Slow to heat

Safe and Silent: If you’ve never used an oil radiator before, there are a few things to know. First, it needs to spend a day in a garage or basement turned on full-bore to burn off the treatment used on the exterior during storage, otherwise it is going to smell wretched until the day you throw it away. Secondly, it takes a couple of hours to get a room toasty warm and it needs to be set and then left on, not switched on and off like other standard offerings on the market. If you do these things, this, and similar offerings from DeLonghi will keep you warm and happy. It doesn’t use a fan so runs very quietly, making it great for offices or bedrooms where silence is golden. You can bump it and brush it without burning yourself on hot coils, but it is still relatively hot. The built in thermostat and timer have a total of 96 settings, so you’ll never run out of options. Caster wheels make it easy to move and easy to store. Overheat and tip sensor shut the unit off if it gets too warm or falls to the floor. [Purchase: $90]

Crane EE8075O

Crane EE8075O

Pro: Provides warm glow
Con: Can’t turn off the light

Pretty Boy: Space heaters don’t need to look like little functional boxes that you have to hide during a party. They can be attractive, interesting, and, dare we say, romantic. Sure, the EE8075O isn’t as good as curling up in front of a roaring fire but it’s as close as you’re going to get when you live in a 5th floor apartment. It provides a nice ambient glow as well as very respectable room heat for larger living rooms or dining rooms. You can even turn on the red glow by itself if you want light but no heat. Sadly, the inverse is not true since anytime you want heat, you also get the glow, which can be irritating. It is cool to the touch and will shut off if overheated, but it doesn’t have an automatic stop if it gets tipped over. The controls are simple with only on/off combined with two heating levels, so options are limited. A lack of a timer or remote make this great for Luddites, but limits its convenience. [Purchase: $93]

Honeywell HZ-980

Honeywell HZ-980

Pro: Works in large spaces
Con: Unattractive body

Infrared: If you’ve never had an infrared heater, then prepare for a knowledge deposit. Rather than trying to heat the air, infrared heaters work by heating up objects and people in a room. This makes them good for places with lots of furniture that are often occupied, but pretty weak when used in large, empty spaces. Since they work with the overall feng shui of a place, they are especially adept at spot heating, and the HZ-980 is among the best for this reason. They are also good at using a minimum of power to accomplish their tasks which lowers energy draw significantly over even energy-efficient space heaters that employ the standard 1500 watt heating style. The HZ-980 will work a little slower than other options, but is also safer to use since it not only has auto-shut off when tipped over, but the case stays cool to the touch and it has almost zero risk of starting fires making it ideal for homes with children or nosy pets. Works in large rooms with furniture and has easy controls for a safe, simple, heating solution. If you hate the mechanical look, you can also try the Dr. Infrared, though some of their claims of heating ability are outlandish. [Purchase: $177]

Dyson Hot and Cool

Dyson Hot + Cool

Pro: Works in any season
Con: Very costly

Premium Grade: Ready to kiss all that hard-earned money goodbye and get a whole heating and cooling system that looks like a piece of modern art? Then you are prepared for the Dyson Hot + Cool. It has a brushless motor that works like a fan without being a fan, blowing air throughout the room. The body is made of acrylontrode butadiene styrene, a type of thermoplastic that can work to produce both hot and cold temperatures in one of the most “science is magic” ways possible. It stays cool to the touch and is perfectly safe in almost any environment. The air-multiplier technology developed by Dyson helps to make cool air colder and warm air warmer for a more energy efficient method of changing the temperature. The intuitive remote control works well, and the thermostat is great for changing the environment of any room. Numerous settings and options make it great for any purpose. The only real downside is the cost. [Purchase: $399]

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