Staying toasty during the winter can be a struggle, especially if you live in a cold climate. You can turn up the thermostat, but heating costs are expensive, and sometimes even your furnace can’t adequately do the job. A space heater is a great alternative for those who want a little extra warmth without the big electric bill that comes with running your furnace constantly. Here’s a brief guide to help you choose the right space heater for your home, as well as our top three recommendations for the best space heaters on the market.
Considerations when choosing space heaters
Space heaters come in two main types: electric and non-electric. Non-electric models are powered by propane, kerosene, or some other type of gas. They don’t need to be plugged into an outlet, but they do need to be kept in an open space for ventilation so that carbon monoxide doesn’t build up.
Electric space heaters are the best choice for indoor use because they are generally safer. They have to be plugged into an outlet and kept away from flammable objects, but apart from that, you don’t have to worry too much with an electric model. Most of these units have built-in safety features to prevent them from starting a fire.
Once you know what type of space heater you’re looking for, it’s time to compare different models and evaluate their features. Here are the most important features to consider.
This is arguably the most important concern when choosing a space heater. Make sure the model you choose has overheating protection at a minimum. The best models will also automatically shut off if the unit is tipped over.
Make sure that the space heater you choose is powerful enough to heat the area you need it to. You can get a good idea of a unit’s heating capability by reading customer reviews and checking the manufacturer’s description.
A large space heater may not be a good choice if you don’t have a lot of room in your home.
While cheaper than running a furnace, electric space heaters will still add to your electricity bill. If this is a concern for you, look for a model that doesn’t use a lot of power.
Some space heaters come with multiple heat settings and programmable controls, so you can set the unit to turn on at certain times or when the temperature in the room gets below a certain point.
Q. Are space heaters safe to use?
A. Yes, most space heaters employ a number of safety features, including an auto shutoff function when the unit gets too hot or tips over. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and don’t place the space heater near anything that can catch on fire, it should be safe to use.
Q. Can I use a space heater indoors and outdoors?
A. There are space heaters that can be used both indoors and outdoors, but not all models work this way. Think about where you need the space heater the most, and choose a unit that works in this area.
Space heaters we recommend
Best of the best: Mr. Heater Portable Propane Radiant Heater
Our take: A powerful little heater for indoor and outdoor use, with reassuring safety features.
What we like: Ideal for camping and other outdoor settings, or the garage. Also works well indoors. Built-in safety features means it shuts off if knocked over, etc. Two color choices.
What we dislike: More expensive than other units of this size, but owners are more than happy with pay more for quality.