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The 10 Very Best Space Heaters

Because you shouldn’t have to wear a coat inside.

A space heater heating a room
Photo: Marcus McDonald
A space heater heating a room
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

When deep winter chill sets in, there’s only so much that wool socks, slippers, and fuzzy fleeces can do — especially if the heating in your building is a little slow to turn on sometimes (in which case, maybe we live in the same building?). A space heater can help take the edge off, whether you’re looking to warm up your home office or boyfriend’s drafty bedroom.

To find the best space heaters, I consulted national heating-safety guidelines, interviewed energy experts, and even asked hot-yoga instructors which brands they trust. Then I tested those recommended products out for myself. An additional note on safety: Although the heaters I’ve listed here come with safety features, be sure to carefully read the safety manual of your heater, and definitely don’t leave it unattended. You’ll want to keep it “at least three feet away from anything that can catch fire — clothing, papers, bedding — and make sure you’re plugging it directly into the wall, never a power strip or extension cord,” says Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It’s key to find a “stable, flat, nonflammable surface — you don’t want it to be knocked over unintentionally.” While you’re here, I’ve also written guides to the best winter boots and gloves for women.

What we’re looking for

Heating style

A ceramic space heater works by heating up a ceramic plate and uses a convection fan to distribute this warmth outward. If you’re sitting close to it, this style of heater will provide a more immediate effect compared with the slower burn of an oil-based one. The trade-off? A noisy fan and higher energy consumption. Oil-based heaters will be far quieter, and eventually succeed in heating up a larger space for longer periods.

Safety features

Although the CPSC offers guidelines for safely utilizing space heaters (as well as an archive of products recalled for safety issues), it does not enforce any mandatory safety features. Instead, Hoehn-Saric explains, “there are voluntary industry standards” that some manufacturers will choose to meet. Two U.S.-based independent laboratories, Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and Intertek (ETL), assess heater safety, and products approved by these labs will be advertised as such. “When you see the markings of an accredited laboratory, you know that that product has been manufactured to those standards,” Hoehn-Saric advises. “So if you’re buying a new space heater, look for those markings.” National Fire Protection Association communications manager Susan McKelvey told me the same thing: “Our only general guideline for buying a space heater is to check that it bears the mark of an independent testing laboratory, which ensures that the product meets established safety standards.”

Efficiency

I’ve noted the output and thermostat settings of our heaters, so you can buy the best one for your particular space. Many of these picks have adjustable thermostats or fan-only settings that will use less power. Just note that while space heaters can provide comfort when central heating systems fail, they likely won’t save you money unless used sparingly. “There’s no such thing as an energy-efficient space heater,” says Michael Thomas, the founder of Carbon Switch. “The only scenario where a space heater is ecofriendly or energy efficient is when it’s used to reduce the amount of energy a central heating system uses. For example, you might want to warm up just one room or a small section of a house. If doing so means turning off the central heating system, then it might save energy.”

Best space heater overall

Heating style: Convection ceramic | Safety features: ETL listed, cool touch, overheat protection, tip switch | Efficiency: 1,500 watt, adjustable thermostat

As I tested out different space heaters, I looked specifically for an affordable model that could heat a small room without fuss and had strong safety features. This little Lasko meets all those criteria and then some. Its highly adjustable thermostat offers 11 temperature settings, and the fan strength is adjustable, too, which allows volume control. The air it emits is warm but ambient; unlike other space heaters I’ve used in the past, I never feel like my skin is being blasted with unnecessarily hot, dry air. If I do start getting too toasty, though, the cooling-fan mode provides immediate relief. This heater has both overheat protection and a tip switch that’s remarkably sensitive — the power shuts off as soon as you lift the hidden handle on top. And being compact in form, it’s less likely to topple than larger models anyway. If you’re looking for a space heater to take the edge off for a few hours when your radiator isn’t doing the trick, this one is safe and efficient. While it won’t win any prizes for looks (if those are a consideration, see a few more aesthetically pleasing options below), it gets the job done and is compact enough to be stored away when not in use.

Katherine testing the Lasko space heater in her apartment. Photo: Katherine Gillespie

Best tower space heater

Heating style: Convection ceramic | Safety features: ETL listed, cool touch, motion detection timer, tip switch | Efficiency: 1,500 watt, adjustable thermostat, timer

I also looked for an affordable oscillating tower heater that offered smart features, and found this one that can be controlled three different ways: via its front-panel LED touchscreen, Lasko’s Aria phone app, or by using a voice-controlled smart-home device like Google Home or Alexa. When playing around with my test unit, I mostly used the Aria app, which is simple to install via a QR code found in the quick-start manual. The app’s interface is simple and intuitive, allowing the user to turn the heater on and off, switch between three different heating modes, adjust the thermostat, and set a timer or target temperature for the room you’re heating. You can also toggle a motion-detector timer on and off, which will tell the heater to automatically power down after a certain number of minutes without moving bodies in the room. The other safety features are also great: The heater remains cool to the touch during use, its tip switch is super sensitive, and the touchscreen buttons also turn off automatically if the heater isn’t standing completely upright. The 45-degree oscillation is effective at heating up my large living room, and it’s whisper-quiet. I did find myself wishing for a cooling fan mode, but this heater does otherwise offer an extremely fine degree of temperature control.

Best quieter space heater

Heating style: Convection ceramic | Safety features: UL listed, overheat protection, tip switch | Efficiency: 1,500 watt, adjustable thermostat, timer

On a quest for a more compact and powerful heater that looked slightly less like a robot, I found this Vornado that comes recommended by Lyons Den Power Yoga founder Bethany Lyons. Compared with those by other brands she’s tried, she says, Vornados are longer lasting, quieter, and even more aesthetically pleasing. And while some people doing hot yoga at home will use several small heaters at once, this one is powerful enough to heat up your whole room.

Best compact space heater

$17

Heating style: Convection ceramic | Safety features: ETL listed, cool touch, overheat protection | Efficiency: 200 watt

I also tested this cute little under-the-desk buddy that’s essentially a smaller and more colorful version of the best overall space heater above. While it definitely won’t warm up the room, it’s great for keeping your feet or hands toasty and is very quiet. I have been keeping a test unit on my desk and moving it around as needed for the past month, and have found it to be a great stopgap on chilly days. There’s no temperature or fan adjustability, but the air it blasts is warm without becoming uncomfortably hot or dry. Safety-wise, I’ve left the room and accidentally kept mine running for hours, and the casing never even became warm to the touch.

Best stylish space heater

Heating style: Ceramic | Safety features: Cool-touch, overheat protection, tip-switch | Efficiency: 15, 000 watt, low and high settings

My editor Simone Kitchens owns two of these “slightly retro” Honeywell heaters, which will suit those who are design-minded yet unwilling to invest in a pricey Vornado. This heater doesn’t forgo safety for style either — with its cool-touch housing, overheat protection, and a tip-switch for peace of mind. Kitchens says these heaters do their best work in the bathroom, and she places one under a kitchen bench for use on chilly mornings. Two rubber feet, as well as a sturdy stand at the back, also make them ideal for tabletop use.

Best stand space heater

Heating style: Convection ceramic | Safety features: ETL listed, overheat protection, cool-touch | Efficiency: 15,00 watt, adjustable thermostat

Or, if you’re sick of mid-century-modern aesthetics, this heater offers a pleasingly elegant Mediterranean-inspired look. Strategist junior writer Brenley Goertzen uses hers to heat a large (and occasionally drafty) sunroom in chilly Minnesota. “It gets our space warm in about ten minutes,” she says. “In winter, we use it nearly every morning.” She likes that this heater, with its unusual coiled stand, “blends with the surrounding décor,” looking right at home alongside a floor lamp and plant stand. The heater comes with its own remote, and its temperature and oscillating fan are both adjustable, including two “quiet comfort” settings that prioritize warmth while limiting fan noise.

Best infrared space heater

Heating style: Infrared | Safety features: UL listed, overheat protection, tip switch, 12-hour automatic shut-off | Efficiency: 1,500 watt, low and high settings

I am a big sauna-head, and the idea of going infrared at home really appeals. Hot-yoga instructor Nicole Katz is also a fan and stands by infrared heaters as more effective at warming up entire spaces than ceramic ones. She says this under-$200 one is a “solid choice” that even has a built-in humidifier, which will keep your skin from drying out and add a dose of extra-cozy comfort.

Best oil space heater

Heating style: Oil | Safety features: ETL-listed, overheat protection, tip-over switch | Efficiency: 1,500 watt, three thermostat settings

My fellow Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa has “very toasty, cozy memories” associated with this affordable oil heater that’s lighter and more compact than the DeLonghi above. When the heat in his apartment was broken for a few days, and no amount of sweaters or blankets alone could make it warm enough to focus when working from home, this Pelonis was able to warm up his Brooklyn apartment bedroom within 20 minutes. “It’s super quiet,” Rellosa adds. “The subtle ticking of the oil heating up is actually quite soothing.”

Best combination heater, fan, and air purifier

Heating style: Convection | Safety features: ETL Listed, UL Listed | Efficiency: Adjustable thermostat and airflow

We here at the Strategist love Dyson’s products. Though pricey, the brand is known for quality and innovative heating and cooling technology, from vacuum cleaners to TikTok-hyped hair styling tools to heaters like this one, which purifies the air and utilizes that iconic oscillating fan to cool things down in the summer. Blasting HEPA-purified warm air, this heater can warm up a medium-size room with ease and minimal noise. Controllable via remote or smartphone app, it has an impeccable safety pedigree, being both ETL and UL listed. Kitchens, as well as fellow Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio, have invested in a Hot + Cool and are happy with the purchase. “It heats really well,” says Trolio of hers, which she uses to heat a small home office. “There are better air purifiers out there for the cost, but for the design and the all-in-one product in a reasonably compact footprint, I like it a lot.” And a final underrated feature, she adds, is the remote that’s “nicely designed to magnetically attach to the top of the unit.”

Best outdoor and RV heater

Heating style: Propane | Safety features: Tip-switch | Efficiency: 9,000 BTUs

For cozy evenings on the porch or stoop or even cold nights in the RV, I don’t think you can beat a Mr. Heater. I relied on one during an eight-month van-life trip that included a fair bit of frosty wintertime camping, and the brand is also beloved by experts like Taylor Kalsey, a community manager for camping platform the Dyrt, who agrees that its heaters are a must-have for cold-weather RV life. If run on high, a one-pound propane canister can power the Buddy for up to three hours; on a lower setting, you’ll get more like five. Michael Dean, an outdoor-living consultant and the founder of Pool Research, says it has “a nice carrying handle and can easily heat up a patio or be placed on a tabletop. It’s plenty warm if you have three or four folks around it.” The heater comes with an automatic safety shutoff function should it accidentally tip over or detect low-oxygen levels, which is great if you’re using it to work in a cold garage or heat up an RV (but be sure to ventilate the space either way).

Some more Strategist-approved stuff for staying warm

Our experts

• Maxine Builder, editor, the Strategist
• Michael Dean, outdoor-living consultant and founder of Pool Research
• Brenley Goertzen, junior writer, the Strategist
• Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Nicole Katz, hot-yoga instructor
• Simone Kitchens, senior editor, the Strategist
• Bethany Lyons, founder, Lyons Den Power Yoga
• Susan McKelvey, communications manager, National Fire Protection Association
• Jeremy Rellosa, writer, the Strategist
• Michael Thomas, founder, Carbon Switch
• Jen Trolio, senior editor, the Strategist

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The 10 Very Best Space Heaters