Shorter days, longer nights and freezing temperatures are here. To keep the chill at bay, space heaters provide a great and economical way to stay warm in a single room without having to heat up the whole house (or apartment). Not all space heaters, however, are built the same. Some may help heat up a large room while some are just good for keeping your personal space toasty. And then there are some that just feel like you're using a public bathroom's hand dryer. We tested and researched a number of space heaters to find eight units tailored for different needs. The best part? Most come in at under $100.
The Best Space Heaters
- Best Small-Room Space Heater: Vornado MVH Vortex Heater
- Best Large-Room Space Heater: Lasko AW300 Bladeless Heater
- Best Personal Space Heater: Honeywell UberHeat
- Best-Looking Space Heater: Vornado VHEAT Vintage Heater
- Best Programmable Space Heater: De’Longhi Dragon4 Programmable Portable Radiator Heater
The Short List
Best Overall Space Heater: Vornado AVH10 Vortex Heater
After a while all of the Vornado space heaters look the same. The AVH10 differentiates itself from the other heaters in Vornado's lineup thanks to its large-number digital display and noticeably stronger fan. The AVH10 has two heat settings with the option for fan only, so you're set for winter heating and summer cooling. A big bonus to the AVH10 is you can set the unit to a specific temperature. Rather than using a dial to set it to some arbitrary level, you can ensure you're setting the device to the temperature you want.
The wrap-around cord storage lets you hide away excess wires, which is a minor touch that provides major convenience. Many testers give props to the space heater for being quiet despite its powerful heating abilities. And along with the typical safety features, the digital display counts down to exhaust any remaining heat. This timer ensures you don't touch the device or move it before it actually shuts off. In short, expect super quick heating and a fairly decent distribution of heat across a room.
Best Upgrade Space Heater: Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP01
When you're shopping for a small home appliance, there is a guarantee that Dyson will enter the conversation. One of our biggest hesitations about recommending the HP01 is you're effectively paying for more than you may be wanting — it's a fan, a space heater and an air purifier. While it does an exceptional job at each of these, the huge price can be a turnoff if you have a fan or an air purifier already.
The HP01 is a space heater, so don't expect it to heat more than a room. However, many have noted that if your home is small enough, say a one-bedroom apartment, the Dyson can probably do an effective job at heating up your whole space. And with the option to pick from long-range heating or personal heating, you can use the HP10 as a personal space heater (but again, $499 for a personal space heater is a lot.) It can oscillate and tilt, which is something that many space heaters lack, and a remote control is always nice so you don't have to get up to change fan speeds, settings or timer.
Best Budget Space Heater: Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater
If you're just looking for something to warm you up without any extraneous features (and you're not looking for something winning any design awards), the Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater offers huge bang for your buck. Our tester used the heater in lieu of his home's furnace and found that it provided ample heat in whatever room he needed it in despite the compact size. "Most days I’ve been pointing it at my feet while working from home, which has been a nice creature comfort," our tester says. "At other times I’ll use it to warm up my bedroom. Normally I’ll use it for an hour or so at a time, but I’ve let it run all night before with no problems."
You have three heating options and a dial thermostat that's typical on most space heaters in this price point. You won't get precise control on choosing the temperature, but over time you'll get used to how heat each setting is. Unfortunately the device lacks tip-over protection, a safety feature that's pretty universal in even the cheapest space heater. While that could be worrisome, unless your home shakes while you're out and the device is on, we can't imagine the heater falling over on its own. It does, however, have an overheat detector, so it'll shut off if it registers itself getting too hot.
Space Heaters 101
What is a space heater?
Space heaters are devices that help keep spaces, rooms or individual places warm. Rather than heating up an entire house or apartment, space heaters help to bring heat only to the places where you need it. They're usually portable, which means one unit may be all you need to stay warm throughout your entire living area.
Who needs a space heater?
Anyone trying to combat winter chill should get a space heater. Space heaters can help those looking to heat up areas that are particularly drafty or don't get warm even when you have your main HVAC system on. Space heaters come in a variety of options from those that can heat small or large rooms to those that can keep a tiny portion of your room warm, like if you're sitting at a desk and you want to keep your feet warm.
How much electricity does a space heater use?
Most heaters max out at 1,500 watts, while some allow users to toggle between different watts, which will relate to how strong the space heater heats up. To calculate how much money your space heater is going to rack up, you can do some simple math.
Say you'll be maxing out your space heater, which will use 1,500 watts of electricity per hour, for eight hours. In those eight hours, you'll be using 12,000 watts of electricity. Multiply that by your electricity rate per kilowatt hour, which on average is around 13 cents, according to Electric Choice, which in this example will equal 1,560. Then divide that by 1,000, in our case giving us $1.56, the cost of running a space heater on max almost all day.
Are space heaters more efficient than central heat?
Yes, because space heaters are only heating up single rooms rather than entire living spaces, space heaters will use drastically less energy. If you're only going to be spending your time in your bedroom, just use your space heater so you're not heating up the rooms you're not in.
Can’t I use my oven to heat my home?
Tempting as it may be to use your oven to stay warm, don't do it. You risk carbon monoxide poisoning, and it's just not an effective way to stay warm. Think about it: ovens are meant to contain heat, not spread it throughout your home.
Can you leave a space heater on all night?
Yes, it's perfectly safe to keep your space heater on all night. Most space heaters will have built-in safety features to ensure you don't hurt yourself or burn your place down. These safety features include auto-off functions if the unit is tipped over or overheats as well as cool-touch exteriors so you don't burn yourself if you touch the space heater when it's on
Is it OK to leave my space heater on while unattended?
For the same reasons you can leave a space heater on all night, you can leave a space heater on while you're not watching it. But doing so wouldn't make sense — why would you want to heat up a room that you're not currently in?
The Best Space Heaters
Best Small-Room Space Heater: Vornado MVH Vortex Heater
For $40 less than our Just Get This space heater, the Vornado MVH is comparable to the AVH10 with fewer features but similar heating capabilities. There are three three fan speeds and a seven-setting thermostat dial. Some people who have used the MVH recommend blasting the device on high speed with the highest heat setting, then dropping the thermostat and fan speed so you're at your desired comfort level. This space heater is good for light sleepers because of its quiet fan, and if your room is small enough, you'll be cozy all night long.
Best Large-Room Space Heater: Lasko AW300 Bladeless Heater
The Lasko AW300 has more of a presence than other space heaters, but luckily it looks good and it works. It uses trademarked Exclusive Heat Channels that offer long-range heat projection. Since it oscillates, the heater can ensure every corner of your room gets ample heat. Our tester also gave it points for being intuitive to use and having slight upgrades from cheaper options. "It was easy to use, with a digital temperature display and automatic climate control instead of more primitive space heaters that only offer simple choices like low, medium and high."
There are no visible heating elements, which makes it safe to have around the accident prone. Additional features include an eight-hour timer, an air filter and remote control. Our tester said the Lasko AW300 never quite hit the level of heat he hoped — " I like a space heater that feels like an afterburner," he says — but it did effectively heat up his space and looked good doing it.
Best Personal Space Heater: Honeywell UberHeat
Honeywell's UberHeat offers excellent personal space heating in a simple little device. Easy to mistake for a portable speaker, the UberHeat has two fan speeds and a dial to adjust the temperature. It can keep your body warm or make a small frigid room tolerable. You can' ttell the exact temperature you're setting the thermostat to, but it's not hard to play around with it so you hit your desired warmth level. Our tester knocked the UbertHeat's fairly loud fan, but notes that it wouldn't register on a Zoom meeting or a phone call. While it's not deafening, the fan takes a minute or two to get used to before you forget it's even there. Its small size and simple design helps it blend into any room, and with a bevy of safety features — such as a tip-over switch and cool-to-touch exterior — it's safe to keep around pets and kids.
Best-Looking Space Heater: Vornado VHEAT Vintage Heater
If looks are the priority when shopping for a space heater, the vintage-inspired VHEAT from Vornado is the clear winner. The VHEAT nixes the typical plastic construction of other Vornado space heaters for a substantial metal body. It's heavy, but it also gives it some heft so it won't easily topple over. Don't worry if it does tip over because it'll automatically shut off it does. While the exterior does get hot when in use, it's still bearable to touch. Don't let its looks deceive you because the VHEAT is not all about looks; it works well, too. Flip a switch to toggle between low or high heat and use the dial to set the thermostat. You can't set the space heater to a specific temperature, but having clear markers on the thermostat helps you achieve the right heat level every time. Vornado's Vortex Action helps to circulate hot air across the room, and while it won't evenly and quickly heat up even a small- or middle-sized room, it will warm up a room so that it's comfortable to be in. And as a personal space heater, the VHEAT will definitely keep you toasty.
Best Programmable Space Heater: De’Longhi Dragon4 Programmable Portable Radiator Heater
People may recognize De'Longhi more for its espresso makers than home appliances, but its Dragon4 space heater is one of the best on the market. The 1500w unit delivers three heat settings with an easy-to-use timer that exemplifies the saying "set it and forget it." While it's not easy to use off the bat, setting aside five minutes to read the manual will clear everything up. Using the turn dial, you can set the Dragon4 to turn on when you know it's going to be especially cold, say the mornings and nights, but have it off during the afternoon or when you're out. There's also a slightly more expensive version of the Dragon4 model that offers a digital display, which may or may not justify the extra price, depending on who you are.
Our tester out in California found the Dragon4 to work especially well in a particularly drafty part of his home. Set on max, our reviewer was able to comfortably sit at home in a tee and jeans with an outside temperature in the 40s. "Unlike with some radiators or ceramic fan-forced heaters, I didn’t feel like the heat was unbearably dry or that it was roasting me alive," he notes. "Also, it was completely silent which is something you don’t appreciate until you’re stuck in a room with a roaring little fan heater."
One thing our tester noticed is how hot the unit can get when set to max. While avoiding a hot radiator is as common sense as avoiding a hot stove, those with handsy children or nosy pets may wish to put extra safety precautions to prevent burns.