Central heat is awesome, but it isn’t the be-all-end-all heating option. If you’re dealing with random cold spurts, an icy garage, or a pesky electric bill, you might want to pick up a few space heaters.
All Space Heaters Are Equally Efficient
Companies like to pretend that expensive space heaters are somehow more efficient or powerful than the cheaper alternatives. However, this simply isn’t the case.
Nearly all space heaters, regardless of size or price, run at 1,500 watts in accordance with the National Electric Code. Also, since they all follow the process of resistive heating (where electricity is basically turned into waste), they all operate at nearly 100 percent efficiency.
In other words, all 1,500-watt space heaters produce the same amount of heat. They all have the same impact on your electric bill, and they’re all equally efficient, despite any size or price difference.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should buy a dirt-cheap space heater. There are some situations in which you’ll have to spend a little extra money. Just don’t pay extra for “efficiency.”
The following are the factors you should consider when deciding which space heater to buy:
- Context: Where do you need a space heater and how many do you need? Should they be small, personal space heaters, or one you can use safely around pets and kids? Sometimes, it’s worth spending the extra cash for an outdoor or mountable space heater, an oil-radiator, or a heater with a built-in fan.
- Fans and oscillation: Fans and oscillating motors aren’t necessary. Space heaters with fans put out just as much heat as their fan-less counterparts, they just spread that heat around a room a bit quicker. Think of it as accelerated (not better) heating.
- Safety: All space heaters are safe to use under observation. However, the grills can get hot enough to burn skin. If you have kids or pets, it might be worth the extra money to get an oil-filled radiator. These use oil and their surface area as a sort of “buffer” for surface temperature. They don’t get nearly as hot to the touch as space heaters, but they do take a while to heat up.
- Digital display: Most space heaters have thermostat knobs, which, annoyingly, don’t give you a temperature reading. If you want more control over your space heater, get one with a digital display and a precise thermostat.
Now that you know what you should look for in a space heater, it’s time to get shopping. Here are some of our favorites.
Best Overall: BAYKA Oscillating Space Heater
If you want a cheap oscillating space heater with a built-in fan, the BAYKA is for you! It operates at 1,500 or 900 watts for robust temperature control. It features overheat and tip-over protection, and a manageable 5.9-foot cable.
BAYKA Space Heater, Portable Electric Space Heater for Office and Home, Ceramic Small Heater with Adjustable Thermostat, Tip-Over and Overheat Protection, 900W/1500W
The BAYKA space heater is affordable, safety-oriented, and built with oscillating motors and fans to quickly warm up any room.
Best Budget: Lasko 754200 Space Heater
The Lasko 1,500-watt Space Heater is a great little unit that costs less than a dinner date. It doesn’t oscillate, but it has a built-in fan, a temperature dial, and a six-foot power cable.
It has overheat protection, but no tip-over safety features.
Premium Pick: Lasko 755320 Oscillating Space Heater
If you’re looking for something that offers a little more control, consider the Lasko Oscillating Space Heater. The digital display and remote control allow you to dial in specific temperatures, switch between high or low heat, program timers, and adjust the oscillation frequency and fan speed. It also features overheating protection (but no tip-over safety features), and a manageable, six-foot cable.
Remember, the large, 1,500-watt space heaters put out just as much heat as their smaller counterparts. We chose this model as our premium pick because it offers the extra controls, not more heat.
Lasko 755320 Ceramic Space Heater 8.5 L x 7.25 W x 23 H inches
Unlike some of its peers, the Lasko Oscillating Space Heater features timer and temperature controls. It also has a digital display and comes with a remote control.
Best Oil-Filled Radiator: DeLonghi EW7707CM
If you’re willing to spend more for a heater that’s safe to use around children and pets, consider the DeLonghi Oil-Filled Radiator. This full-size radiator has a built-in thermostat knob, wheels, a six-foot cable, and two temperature controls (Low and High).
While it doesn’t feature any tip-over controls, it does have overheat protection, and it’s a lot cooler to the touch than ceramic space heaters.
This 1,500-watt radiator is just as efficient as any 1,500-watt space heater. However, because it runs heat through an oil “buffer,” it takes a while to heat up a room. With this model, you’re trading acceleration for safety.
De'Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater, Quiet 1500W, Adjustable Thermostat, 3 Heat Settings, Energy Saving, Safety Features, Nice for Home with Pets/Kids, Light Gray, Comfort Temp EW7707CM
It takes a bit longer to heat up, but the DeLonghi Oil-Filled Radiator is cooler to the touch and safer when unsupervised.
Best Personal Heater: Lasko 100 MyHeat
Do you really need a full-size space heater? If you just want to stay warm at your desk, check out the Lasko MyHeat Personal Space Heater. It’s small (6 by 4 inches) and runs at just 200 watts.
It’s also quiet, doesn’t get hot enough to start a raging desk fire (although, it still has overheat protection), and has a six-foot power cable.
Lasko Heating Space Heater, Compact, Black
The Lasko MyHeat is super-small, super-affordable, and powerful enough to keep you warm without tripping the office circuit breaker.
Best for Patios: SURJUNY Remote-Controlled Heater
If you need a space heater that can withstand the elements, take a gander at the SURJUNY 1500-watt Patio Heater. It’s a mountable, remote-controlled heater, with an IP34 water-resistance rating. It has three power modes (Low, Medium, and High), a built-in timer, and exposed halogen heating elements for super-fast heating.
It’s the perfect mountable heater for your patio, deck, garage, or shed.
PATIOBOSS Patio Heater, Electric Wall-Mounted Outdoor Heater with LCD Display, Indoor/Outdoor Infrared Heater, 1500W Adjustable Thermostat, 3 Seconds Instant Warm, Waterproof IP34 Rated, W01
The SURJUNY space heater is mountable, comes with a remote, and features a built-in timer. It's the perfect outdoor heating solution!
Best for Outdoors: AmazonBasics Commercial Patio Heater
Looking for a space heater that can work in the middle of your yard? The AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Patio Heater is perfect if you like to throw outdoor parties and barbecues in painfully cold weather. It uses a 20-pound LP gas cylinder (propane) and puts out 46,000 BTUs (equivalent to 13,481.27 watts) of heat, without any open flames, gas, smoke, or sound. This commercial heater also has a set of wheels for easy mobility and a heat-control knob for low or high heat.
Keep in mind this heater requires a 20-pound LP gas cylinder. You can’t buy propane online, so you’ll have to source it through a hardware store, Walmart, Costco, or similar.
AmazonBasics Outdoor Patio Heater with Wheels, Propane 46,000 BTU, Commercial & Residential - Charcoal Gray
The AmazonBasics Commercial Outdoor Heater is almost 10 times more powerful than a typical space heater. It's perfect for outdoor parties or barbecues in fall or winter.