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Best Forced Air Space Heaters

By: Carl Laron on October 04, 2017

These space heaters do double duty

Strictly speaking, most ceramic space heaters are forced air heaters as they use a fan to drive air over their heating element. However, there's another class of space heater that combines a powerful fan with a non-ceramic heating element to warm larger spaces. These devices can also serve double duty as a powerful fan in the warmer months.

For this update, we saw the best feedback overall for the Vornado VH10 (Est. $80). This is among the most basic models in a line of somewhat similar Vornado space heaters, but in this case, simplicity may be a blessing. It scores well in expert testing, earning Recommended status from ConsumerReports.org. They also give this 1,500 watt heater an Excellent score for warming up a room, and a Very Good when it comes to just warming up a spot, or a person. It's among the safer space heaters, too, with both overheat and tip-over sensors. The case stays cool to the touch, and even when operating at full blast, the exhaust does not become excessively hot. At five years, the warranty is excellent.

Users like it, too. The VH10 doesn't get as much feedback as some other space heaters, but what there is indicates that most are pleased. It earns a 4.3 star rating based on more than 120 reviews at Amazon.com. Feedback is skinnier elsewhere, but scores are largely as good if not a touch better.

That said, there are some complaints, of course. A small handful gripe about an odor, and like any appliance, the occasional lemon crops up.

If your hankering for more "features" from your forced air space heater, the Vornado TVH600 (Est. $170) has everything that the VH10 is missing -- and maybe then some. It's the second highest rated space heater for small rooms at ConsumerReports.org, trailing an even pricier Dyson unit (profiled below) by just a few skinny points. It's rated just as well as the VH10 when it comes to warming up a room, and just a notch below it in spot heating.

But where the VH10 is simple, the TVH600 is loaded to the gills. There's a timer, touch control screen, remote control, and more. The remote has its own thermostat so the temperature can be set so the heat is at the right level for where you are sitting, instead of at the unit itself. It's backed by the same five year warranty.

Two factors are keeping it out of our Best Reviewed lineup, however. One is that it is more than twice the price of VH10, yet in testing, does not perform any better (and is a touch worse when it comes to spot heating). The other is that user feedback is not nearly as impressive -- including a 3.5 star rating at Amazon.com based on around 125 reviews. Durability, especially with the remote control, seems to be a sore spot -- a strong argument, it would seem, for keeping things simple when it comes to space heaters.

Dyson space heaters: effective but pricey

Most forced air space heaters use a traditional fan to circulate air. Dyson space heaters hide the blades inside the base -- just like the company's standard "bladeless" fans -- and take advantage of the physics of air flow to move air at higher speeds than most fans are capable of replicating.

All reviews of Dyson space heaters, such as the Dyson AM09 Fan Heater (Est. $400) largely agree on three points: The technology works, the appliance has a nifty look, and the price is tough to justify. Though CNET rarely reviews space heaters, the site's Ry Crist had this to say about the AM09: "The Dyson AM09 Hot+Cool performed very well in our tests, and offers a distinctive, functional, feature-rich design."

Among experts that look at a lot of space heaters, we found a split decision. It's the highest-rated space heater of any kind at ConsumerReports.org. Performance when heating a person or a room are all judged to be Excellent. However, TheSweethome.com doesn't think as highly of it, saying that while the AM09 does a terrific job of directing heat to a specific spot, it's slower to heat up a room in general than other space heaters -- including the site's top-rated Lasko 754200 (Est. $25) (discussed in more detail in our discussion of the best space heaters overall), which costs a fraction of the price.

Functionality on the Dyson AM09 is excellent. The fan does a great job blowing both hot and cold air, and you can select whether to focus the air on one spot or opt for more diverse whole-room coverage. A remote is included, but don't lose it as it's needed to access some functions, such as a timer.

In terms of style, the AM09 certainly looks different than any other space heater that lacks the Dyson name. The bladeless ring sits upon a pedestal base giving the appliance a "futuristic" vibe, most reviewers say. Color combinations include blue/iron, white/silver and black/nickel.

Value is the rub; it's more than 14 times pricier than the Lasko 754200, for example. "Though very solid, the AM09 doesn't outperform much cheaper competitors by a wide enough margin to justify the price difference," CNET says.

But value is in the eye of the buyer, and judging by user reviews, most seem satisfied with their purchase. It earns a 4.5-star rating at BestBuy.com, for example, based on nearly 450 user reviews. At Amazon.com, it earns a 4 star rating based on more than 300 reviews. Many say it's expensive, to be sure, but worth it for an effective product that's also a conversation piece. That's in line with what CNET's Crist says: "Like the rest of Dyson's air multiplier lineup, the AM09 is a pretty obvious design play. If you're buying it because you think it's hundreds of dollars better at heating and cooling than the competition, you're doing it wrong."

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