A portable space heater can heat individual rooms in your home or office, sparing you the need to turn on the furnace that heats the whole building, which can trim electricity or fuel costs. Space heaters also come in handy if you have a room in your home or office that lacks heating ductwork, is poorly insulated or is otherwise difficult to heat. Your garage, outside shed or basement can get especially chilly in winter, and a space heater works well to keep you comfortable in case you need to work in those areas. There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you get a safe space heater, but if you shop carefully and use a few basic safety measures, you can stay warm and cozy without worrying about fire risks.
Best for Living Room, Bedroom & Den
In a den, front room or bedroom where you and your family congregate, safety is a key issue. Yes, you want the room to be comfortably warm, but keeping the people you love secure is of paramount importance. Besides the previously mentioned safety capabilities, a great space heater for this area would be an electric portable heater with a timer. This guards against overheating while still keeping the room warm.
We found the DeLonghi DCH7093ER, with its tip-over sensor, automatic shut-off, timer and cool-touch exterior, to be an excellent choice for rooms such as these. With this space heater, you can boost the temperature in a room in less than 15 minutes. You also get four different heat settings, which is a feature that only one other heater on our lineup has, and three fan speeds, a timer and a handle to carry it from one spot to another. Carrying it shouldn't be difficult anyway, since it weighs a mere 4.9 pounds. You can store the cord for this space heater on its base to prevent it tripping people or cluttering the heater's storage space.
You also want quiet operation if you are resting, watching TV, working on crafts, reading or just relaxing. The compact and fast-acting Vornado VH200 operates quietly, but it is efficient. It can warm a room substantially within about 30 minutes and circulates the warm air nicely. It automatically shuts off if it gets near the stage of overheating, and the tip-over sensor can also shut the machine off. With the smooth and comfortable handle, it is easy to move this portable electric heater to a different position or even another location.
Best for Home Offices & Commercial Offices
You probably would love to have a space heater in your office, especially if it's drafty. Clearly, you don't want to turn on the furnace to heat the entire building if you own your own business, because you would be unnecessarily hiking your own heating bills, and you probably cannot operate any furnace controls if you are an employee.
The Dyson AM05 is a sleek and modernistic device that would enhance any office decor and still keep you comfortably warm. You can stash it under a desk if your feet and legs get cold, but its attractive design would let you display it proudly on top of a desk. You will not have any trouble moving it or picking it up with one hand, since it weighs only 5.5 pounds. It also turns off by itself once the room temperature gets to the level you want, which again saves energy costs. You also get a cool-touch exterior, which dramatically reduces the possibility that anyone could get burned if they touch this heater accidentally.
Another great-looking and versatile space heater that could help in an office is the Optimus H-7328. This space heater can warm up a small room in just 15 minutes, and it is great at spot heating, so you can heat the area around your workspace. You can bask in its comfort without annoying any warm-blooded co-workers. It has a timer, tip-over sensor and cool-touch exterior, and it weighs 7 pounds, which would not be a problem for most people when moving or repositioning it.
In case you work in an environment where you need a quiet atmosphere, the Honeywell HZ-860 has a fan that operates softly so it does not distract you or your co-workers. It can warm a room in a half hour, and you can set the thermostat to keep the temperature at a particular level. Once the space heater accomplishes that, it turns off automatically. Conversely, once the heater recognizes that the room temperature has dropped, it gets back to heating the room. It also sports an 80-inch power cord, so you can move this space heater nearly any place in a typical office and still reach an outlet.
Best for Workshop, Garage & Basement
These areas are often big, drafty and open, so it would help to have a space heater that spreads warm air around a fairly large area. If your hands are busy with your projects and you don't want to leave a worktable, a remote control for your space heater is helpful. The Holmes Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo gives you that benefit. You can use your smartphone or other wireless device to operate this heater without getting up from your seat. You can also schedule when you want the heater to run, so when you head off to a work area, it will be toasty warm for you, and if you think you forgot to turn it off, you can quickly check its status on your mobile device and turn it off if need be. This is a good-sized, sturdy space heater that offers three heat settings.
The Sunpentown SPT SH-1508 operates with a 120-degree oscillating fan that spreads its warmth over a good-sized area. It helpfully turns itself off if it gets too hot and offers a timer. You can set it to operate for up to 7.5 hours, with the option of adjusting the heat in 30-minute intervals. This heater weighs in at 9 pounds, which makes it the second-heaviest space heater in our lineup. However, that does not prevent it from being easily portable.
The Lasko 6462 sports a fan that oscillates an impressive 360 degrees, so it can heat quite a large area and is great for spot heating. This heater would be a real boon for that cold basement work area when you are handling projects in winter. You also get welcome versatility with this space heater, since you can use it as a fan for cooling in summer. The cool-touch exterior, even when the fan is running as a space heater, lets you pick it up to move it even when it is in operation. You can also set the digital thermostat to a particular temperature and this space heater will turn itself off or on depending on the room temperature, keeping you comfortable.
One of the principal design factors that differentiates the Holmes Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo from other portable electric space heaters is its size. Weighing nearly 30 pounds and standing more than 20 inches tall, it looks like a piece of furniture. However, the Holmes space heater has several characteristics, including safe space heater features, that make up for its limited portability.
Best for Camping & Ice Fishing
When it comes to propane heaters, it's difficult to beat the popular Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy. This radiant heater can operate safely indoors or out, so you can place it in any room or take it with you on an excursion to stay snug and warm inside a tent, hunting blind, or ice-fishing enclosure.
Some consumers are wary of propane heaters, since they use a pilot light and fuel. They can be risky if they are handled carelessly, but if you operate them correctly, you should have no difficulties. The Mr. Heater is equipped with a number of features designed to avoid safety problems. Among other things, it provides automatic shut-off if it tilts past a certain degree and monitors the oxygen in an area, turning itself off automatically if the oxygen level is low.
Mr. Heater F3200 MH9BX Portable Buddy is a popular winter item for campers, hunters, ice fishermen, and people who need to keep a cold and drafty workshop in the garage or basement warm. Some consumers are leery about using a propane-fueled space heater – and they do pose risks if they are handled carelessly. However, if you follow the directions and take sensible precautions, this propane space heater can save you money and be a handy addition to your artillery against the cold.
Space Heaters: All Different Kinds
Space heaters come in a variety of sizes and styles and use different methods to emit heat. Convection is the method of a space heater with a blower that circulates warm air throughout a room. Often, an oscillator assists with circulation by rotating the heater to provide more even distribution. The other most common method is radiant heating, which emits infrared heat and is better for use in close quarters because there is no fan blower. Other space heaters operate simply by plugging into a wall socket or run on fuels such as propane.
The matter of which is the best space heater for your needs depends on a number of factors, including where you plan to use it, how frequently, and how useful extra features like a remote control and carrying handles would be to you. For more information, read our articles about space heaters.
In keeping with our emphasis on safe space heaters, you also might want to check some of our other home protection sites. If safety is a significant matter in your household, check our sites for smoke detectors and fire alarm systems.
As far as dealing with the overall environment in your house, we have a generous amount of worthwhile sites that you might find informative, including programmable thermostats, tower fans and ceiling fans.
Electric Space Heater Safety: Concerns & Risks
The nature of an electric space heater makes it a slightly higher risk for fire than a standard home furnace. Portable electric space heaters are designed to sit on a flat surface, but their lightweight designs make them likely to fall over and possibly come into contact with flammable materials. For this reason, we strongly recommend seeking out a space heater that has a tip-over sensor, which shuts off the heating function if the heater is knocked over.
Another consideration for safety with an electric space heater is an overheat shutdown, which detects if the unit is reaching dangerously high temperatures. Additional safety features such as a cool-touch exterior can also prevent injury. Timers ensure a space heater shuts down after a certain length of time, which can also greatly reduce the risk of fire.
Whether you opt for an electric or propane heater, you should not leave it operating unattended while you pop out to buy groceries or run an errand. If you use it in a bedroom where a youngster plays, be extremely watchful, as it is impossible to definitively characterize any of these devices as child-safe space heaters if adult supervision is lacking. Another useful feature, especially if there are children in your household, is a cool-touch exterior to prevent burns if someone accidentally touches the heater.
Propane Space Heater Safety: Concerns & Risks
Propane-fueled space heaters pose all the same risks for space heater safety as electric space heaters do and a few more. However, if handled carefully, these heating devices will not burn down your house or injure anyone – you just need to invest in a safe space heater with certain built-in safety characteristics and then use it responsibly. With proper care, you will have no problems with either type of heater.
With propane space heaters, it is important to get one with a tip-over sensor. The best space heaters turn off if they simply tilt past a certain angle, instead of only when they are completely knocked over. Even with these safety features, you need to position the heater somewhere away from flammable items before turning it on, because even if it does tip over and shuts itself off, it could still be hot enough to ignite a fire.
Another excellent feature is an oxygen monitor, which you will find on the best propane space heaters. These monitors note the oxygen level in the room and turn the machine off if the level gets low. Even with this great feature, you need to be sure that you use a propane heater in a well-ventilated area just to be careful. Some of the best heaters also have an automatic shut-off capability for when the pilot light goes out, which is a possibility with propane space heaters.
Our Suggestions: Which Space Heater Works Well in What Setting?
The portable electric space heaters in our product lineup can work in any of the indoor environments listed below. Of course, the propane-operated heater would be the only selection for camping and ice fishing, but you can easily use one for indoor heating as well. Some of these heaters appear to lend themselves a bit better to certain environments than others. However, you might have personal preferences that indicate otherwise.
All the space heaters in our lineup offer a variety of features to keep an area warm and also provide important safety characteristics. However, each is somewhat different from the next, so you have a healthy selection of heaters to make just the right choice for your home, office, outdoor adventures, or anywhere you would like to keep warm while you go about the important tasks in your life.
No matter what your heating needs, you can keep comfortably warm in any structure or outdoors using a high-quality space heater. Whether you prefer an electric or propane space heater, you can ward off the cold, stay safe and save money on utility bills all at the same time by choosing the best space heater for your environment.