Lasko 754200
Lasko 754200

Best ceramic space heater

The diminutive Lasko 754200 delivers big-time performance, warming up a small room or office in no time flat. Value is appreciated by owners and experts, and helps the Lasko 754200 edge out other, pricier and more feature-rich ceramic space heaters in reviews. The lack of a tip-over sensor is a concern, but this space heater has other crucial safety features including an overheat cut-off and a case that stays cool to the touch even while the space heater is blasting out BTUs.
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Lasko 6462
Lasko 6462

Oscillating ceramic space heater

The Lasko 6462 is packed with features including oscillation, which some experts hold is most effective in uniformly distributing heat. The 6462 has three, selectable oscillation sweeps: a full 360 degrees, 170 degrees (for placement against a wall), and 90 degrees (for placement in a corner). Controls are simple and intuitive, and a remote control lets you operate the Lasko 6462 from your easy chair. This is a tower heater, making tip-over a concern in light of the lack of a tip-over sensor, but other safety features, including overheat cut off, are present and accounted for.
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Crane EE8075O
Crane EE8075O

Decorative ceramic space heater

No one will confuse the Crane EE8075O mini fireplace ceramic heater with a real fireplace, not even if you squint real hard, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't impart a nice aesthetic anyway. Users appreciate the warm glow that the mini ceramic fireplace gives off. Some like that you can use the fireplace effect without also bringing up the heat. However, some grouse that you can't turn off the effect if you want heat but not light. Aesthetics aside, it's an impressive performer heating-wise according to tests and user reviews. Controls are simple -- maybe too simple as you only have the choice of two heating levels (750 watts or 1,500 watts) and on or off -- there's no timer, thermostat or remote control, so when your room gets warm enough, you need to physically turn off the heat. There's overheat protection, but no tip-over switch. Reports add that it's cool to the touch when running. The Crane EE8075O comes in an orange plastic case, but red and white versions are also available.

DeLonghi TRD0715T
DeLonghi TRD0715T

Best oil-filled radiator space heater

If you want heat that lasts, even hours after the space heater is turned off, the DeLonghi TRD0715T oil-filled radiator is your best bet. But while it's a great choice for a large room or a bedroom, where experts recommend against having an operating space heater while you sleep, it's a poor choice for spot heating, or for getting a room warm in a hurry. Because there's no fan, those who want heat without noise will cheer. The TRD0715T has wheels, but it's heavy -- something to keep in mind if you'll want to be rolling it from place to place on carpet.
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Vornado TVH500
Vornado TVH500

Forced-air space heater

The Vornado TVH500 is an all-metal, space heater that can warm large or small rooms, according to reviewers. It's not as effective as a personal heater or for warming a smaller space within a room, and it doesn't always distribute heat evenly. Users praise the remote, thermostat and timer and, for the most part, say they work very effectively. However, the Vornado TVH500 is pricey, and reliability complaints are noted. Available in a silver tone, Vornado also offers this modern-looking unit in a more stylish gloss black or gloss white finish with chrome accents at the same price, but without the remote.

Honeywell HZ-980
Honeywell HZ-980

Best infrared space heater

Most space heaters work by heating up the air, but infrared space heaters like the Honeywell HZ-980 work by heating up people and objects in the room. Many infrared heaters are cheap, lower power affairs, but the HZ-980 is neither. With a rated power of 1,500 watts, and aided by a powerful fan, this Honeywell infrared heater is judged by reviewers to do a great job of heating up an area, and a very good job in heating up a standard room. It's pricy however.
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Dr. Heater DR-968
Dr. Heater DR-968

Infrared space heater

Despite some marketing that may overpromise what this infrared space heater can deliver under typical conditions, feedback reveals that the Dr. Heater DR-968 is a capable infrared heater. With its attractive wood housing, it's an especially good alternate choice to the Best Reviewed Honeywell HZ-980's if that infrared heater's stark black plastic case leaves you cold. We spotted no expert reviews, but user reviews -- at least those who kept expectations reasonable -- are largely positive. The DR-968 doesn't have the Honeywell's energy use monitor or timer, but is otherwise similarly feature rich.

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Convection space heaters versus radiant space heaters

When the weather outside is frightful, a fire certainly would be delightful -- but not everyone is lucky enough to have a fireplace. Instead, a space heater can offer a supplemental heat source in your home or office. It's important to note that space heaters aren't recommended as your only heat source, but they can be a great way to increase a room's temperature a few degrees or provide warmth in a drafty space without overheating the entire home. Some owners say they also use portable heaters to lower utility bills, but this depends on many factors, like your heating costs, insulation, how often your heater is used and more.

Note that this report covers electric space heaters intended for use inside the home. You can also find space heaters fueled by kerosene, natural gas and other combustible fuels. However, those are generally not recommended for use inside the home unless some type of venting to the outside is provided, and many states have banned unvented kerosene heaters for indoor use. For more information, see the section on space heater safety.

Types of space heaters

There are two basic types of electric space heaters: radiant and convection. Convection heaters -- like convection ovens -- move hot air around to create warmth. A fan blows air across internal heating elements and out into the room. This makes convection units especially effective for warming entire rooms or many people.

Ceramic space heaters are the most popular type of convection space heater. Electricity flowing through wires heats a ceramic element, which in turn heats the air. Almost all ceramic heaters include a fan to distribute the warmed air most effectively.

Some forced air heaters use a non-ceramic heating element to warm the air, and then use a larger, more powerful fan to spread that warmed air over a large area. Their fans can also pull double-duty to help cool rooms in the warmer months.

Convection also comes into play when liquid moves across a heating element. That's why, while it might seem counter-intuitive, oil-filled radiator style space heaters are considered to be convection heaters, even though they lack a fan. Oil filled radiators are slow to warm up, but they keep giving off heat long after they are turned off, making them a good choice for sleeping areas. Some radiator-style heaters use mica panels instead of heated oil to produce heat. These warm up faster than oil-filled designs, are lighter, and are flat enough to mount on a wall. However, they also cool down quickly, losing one of the key advantages of oil-filled radiators.

Radiant heaters, on the other hand, warm people or objects, not the air around them. The heat from these heaters doesn't circulate well and can't be used to warm a whole room, but for fast heat for a short time, they're more efficient than convection heaters. Traditional radiant space heaters are a bit more "old-school" than convection heaters and seem to be falling out of vogue. However, infrared space heaters with quartz elements still have a place where the primary goal is heating a person or a smaller area, and some can do a lot more.

Finding the best space heaters

To find the best space heaters, editors considered professional tests, expert reviews and user feedback. ConsumerReports.org has the most comprehensive coverage. Though not completely up-to-date, most of the space heaters covered there remain either current or available at retail. TheSweethome.com's coverage is a little more limited, but it looks at popular and well-reviewed space heaters, then tests to find a couple of top choices. Because some space heaters have been around for years, or have been updated only modestly, some older reviews by The New York Times and Good Housekeeping provide some help. We also rely heavily on user reviews, looking at feedback posted at Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Walmart.com and elsewhere. These reviews provide the most up-to-date snapshot of how space heaters perform, and touch on long-term factors, such as the reliability of a specific model, that are beyond the scope of most expert testing. Using this feedback, we consider performance, safety and reliability to name the very best space heaters, along with some choices that could be worth considering for some buyers.

Elsewhere in this Report:

Space Heater Safety: Don't become a statistic. Follow these tips and guidelines for safe, effective use of your electric space heater.

Best Ceramic Space Heaters: Ceramic space heaters are popular for indoor use. These are the top choices, along with some good alternatives that are worth considering.

Best Oil-filled Radiator Space Heaters: Oil-filled radiators heat up slowly, but stay warm longer. That makes them a great option for some uses, and a not-so-hot one for others. We discuss the particulars and name the top performers.

Best Forced Air Space Heaters: These combine a powerful fan and a heater in one package. They are great choices for warming up large spaces quickly, but the best models can get costly.

Best Infrared Space Heaters: The benefits and drawbacks of infrared space heaters generates some heated debate. We look at these and other radiant heaters and tell you which ones are worth considering.

Buying Guide: Want to stay warm without burning a hole in your wallet? We run down the things to consider to find the right space heater for you home and your needs.

Our Sources: These are the expert and user reviews we used to find the best space heaters. They are ranked in order of their expertise and helpfulness.

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