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Best Oil-filled Radiator Space Heaters

By: Carl Laron on October 04, 2017

Oil-filled radiators provide heat that lasts

Experts note that when it comes to heating up a space in a hurry, oil-filled radiator space heaters lag behind other types, notably ceramic space heaters. That's one big reason why, as a group, they get lower grades than other types of space heaters from ConsumerReports.org, which also declines to give any a recommendation. However, other experts -- and many users -- have a different take.

Oil-filled radiator space heaters do have a couple of advantages. One of those advantages is that oil-filled radiators retain their heat long after power is removed, just like conventional hot-water radiators. That property makes them ideal for certain situations, such in a bedroom or other sleeping area. It's not considered safe to go to sleep with a space heater still on. But an oil-filled radiator can be used to warm up a bedroom before bed time, and will continue to radiate heat for some time after power is turned off and you've hit the sack.

Oil-filled radiators also lack a fan, something that sets them apart from other well-regarded space heaters and that is a black mark in the books of some experts. The issue here is that without a fan to move the warmed air around, radiators are slower to warm a room than other options. But that cloud has a silver lining: Oil-filled radiators are quieter than other space heaters, and by a wide margin.

DeLonghi oil-filled radiators are recommended more often than any other brand, and models with Safeheat features earn the best reviews overall. DeLonghi Safeheat oil-filled electric radiators have "thermal tunnels" designed to direct most of the heat out the top of the unit, rather than the sides. Many owners like this feature because the sides stay cool, keeping children and pets safer, though some dislike it because there is no heat near floor level. The other downside is that the radiator tops can get a bit toasty.

For this year, Best Reviewed honors go to the DeLonghi TRD40615T (Est. $90). It's the runner up model to the DeLonghi EW7507EB (Est. $140) at TheSweethome.com, but the latter space heater, which was also our Best Reviewed pick last year, has become extremely hard to find at retail, at least at a reasonable price. That's not all bad news, however. The TRD40615T is a little cheaper than the EW7507EB (and notably cheaper at current retail pricing), and performs every bit as well. "In our tests, the TRD40615T performed similarly to our current top pick, and easily outperformed our previous runner-up," says Seamus Bellamy.

The big difference is in convenience. The controls are analog, and there's no remote. However, there is a 24-hour timer that lets you program on and off times -- for example automatically turning on the heater a few hours before bedtime. Like nearly all oil-filled radiators, it's about the quietest type of space heater you can buy. "The TRD40615T is dead quiet, with only a soft (and very brief) tick sound when the thermostat cycles the heat on or off," Bellamy says.

User reviews aren't as plentiful as for the EW7507EB, but satisfaction is comparable, including a 4 star rating at Amazon.com based on more than 185 reviews, and a 4.1 star rating at HomeDepot.com based on 50 reviews. Most owners are completely happy, but some express complaints similar to those we see with other oil-filled radiators, primarily centered on the smell those units can sometimes emit, especially when new. Most say that it dissipates over time, a process that can be hastened by operating the unit continuously in an open space for several hours (some say as much as a day) before putting it into service, but a minority complains that the odor persists. Also, like all space heaters, some complain that the heat isn't as ample as expected, and, of course, the odd lemon that arrives DOA or fails in short order is not unheard of.

If you can find it at a reasonable price, the DeLonghi EW7507EB remains a strong pick, too. It is relatively feature rich compared to the TRD40615T, including digital controls and a remote control. However, there's no back up battery, so you'll need to reprogram the heater every time it's unplugged -- something that vexes some owners and experts

When it comes to users, no space heater leaves everyone perfectly happy, but like the TRD40615T, the DeLonghi EW7507EB scores well. We saw the most feedback at Amazon.com, where the EW7507EB earns 4.1 stars following more than 1,000 reviews.

However, we did find some complaints. Some find the display hard to read, and others note a loud clicking noise when cooling down. A few say that the heater doesn't produce as much heat as expected, and a handful say it doesn't work at all. One plus is that comments about oil or other odors seem to be a little less common with the EW7507EB than with other models.

The DeLonghi EW7707CM (Est. $70) is another oil-filled radiator that is worth considering. It's not been reviewed by any credible expert that we spotted, but user feedback is generally good, including a 4.1 star rating at Amazon.com based on more than 1,875 reviews.

This is a lower-priced, more basic model compared with the TRD40615T, let alone EW7507EB. The big thing that's missing is any type of timer, so you'll be on your own as far as turning the heater on or off. It's a good choice for rooms that need constant heat, however, with a ConforTemp feature that maintains warmth at a pre-programmed "ideal" temperature of 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit while consuming the least amount of power. It can also operate in a manual mode, letting you set the temperature and operating power (switchable to either 1,500 watts or 750 watts) to meet your needs.

Like the two models above, it has DeLonghi Safeheat features, with pluses such as an overheat sensor and cool side surface temperatures (for an oil-filled radiator). Again, complaints about oil odors are relatively rare, and those that do note them typically say that they generally dissipate after a day or so of use. Some, however, some say that it takes longer than that for the issue to completely disappear, and a small handful say that theirs never became odor free.

Micathermic space heaters

Not all radiator-type space heaters are oil filled. Some are micathermic flat-panel heaters, which use flat sheets of the mineral mica as their warming element. These radiator-style space heaters can either stand upright or be mounted on a wall.

Micathermic space heaters are not nearly as popular as oil-filled radiators, let alone ceramic space heaters, and generally get only middling feedback from experts and users. In compiling its latest update, TheSweethome.com says that "Long story short: As they don't offer an advantage over other heating technologies and are increasingly difficult to find, we don't really recommend micathermic hardware to anyone."

Be that as it may, at least one micathermic flat-panel heater earns good enough feedback to be a consideration for someone that would prefer its flat, wall-hugging form. It's the DeLonghi HMP1500 (Est. $65) mica panel heater, which earns a solid 4.2 star rating at Amazon.com based on more than 1,680 reviews. Not everyone is happy, of course, and the typical complaints of poor heat and questionable durability are raised by those customers rating it lower. Some also grouse about a low-pitched buzz or whine when the heater is working, especially at its high setting.

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