What We Looked for in Space Heater Reviews
For the most part, online space heater reviews come from users posting on retail sites such as Amazon and Home Depot. When shopping for a low-cost space heater, consumers place high value on effectiveness, portability, quiet operation, and durability.
Effective Heating.Space heater ratings are no doubt influenced by usersí success in matching their heating needs with the right space heater. Inexpensive electric heaters are intended for targeted warmth in small, enclosed areas. Consumers who try to use even the best small space heater in a large, open space will wind up disappointed and cold. When used as intended, our top picks provide a much-appreciated temperature boost.
An overwhelming majority of users posting reviews on Amazon and the Home Depot website praise the heating ability of the Lasko 754200 (starting at $25), one of the best options we found. Reviewers say it heats entire rooms quickly and effectively, and many express pleasant surprise at the heat output given its size, although a few say the fan could be stronger.
Likewise, the Vornado VH101 (starting at $29) enjoys effusive praise from Amazon, Home Depot, and Best Buy customers who have posted reviews online. Users report that they can use this model on the lower heat setting (350 watts) and still get great heating results while saving on electricity costs. Although reviews of the Vornado VH101 are generally enthusiastic, some users warn it takes a little while to heat a full room. Our other top picks operate at higher wattages.
Portability.If your goal is to control utility costs by turning down the central heating and using a space heater where necessary to keep warm, it helps to have a portable space heater you can carry from room to room. Some expensive space heaters that give off a lot of heat are quite large and basically stationary. Our low-cost picks are small and designed to be portable. Features such as a handle and a long power cord increase convenience and ease of use. (The nonprofit advocacy group Electrical Safety Foundation International warns consumers not to use an extension cord with a space heater.)
All the heaters we researched have carrying handles, although some are no more than a notch at the back. Several consumers reviewing the DeLonghi HVY1030 (starting at $30) challenge Amazonís product description, essentially asking, ďWhat handle?Ē They find it frustrating that such a lightweight unit requires two hands to pick up and move. Users seem to have an easier time with the DeLonghi DCH1030 (starting at $35), which has nearly identical specs. This model was created for the international market and isnít as widely available, but on Amazon it counts hundreds of satisfied customers in the U.S. The Vornado VH101 likewise has more of a handgrip than a handle but is described as highly portable in reviews on the Best Buy website; users have no trouble moving it from room to room. Itís one of the most compact models on our list and weighs less than 2 pounds.
Noise.The fans inside convection space heaters make them effective and versatile but can also up the noise level. These types of heaters may emit whirring or buzzing sounds and be disruptive in a home or office. Some users donít mind white noise from their heaters, and some even enjoy it, but overly loud models draw criticism. Many customers praise the Vornado VH101 for particularly quiet operation. One reviewer writing on Amazon frets that itís so quiet, you can forget itís on and neglect to shut it off when leaving the room.
Durability.Cheap electric space heaters require little maintenance, save for a light dusting from time to time. However, they are not designed to be repaired. There really arenít any disposable or replaceable parts, so when something breaks, you just have to buy a new heater. The models we researched do come with one- or three-year limited warranties. Reviews indicate that the best heaters provide consumers at least a couple of years of service -- four seems to be realistic with fairly heavy use -- although we did read scattered reports stating that some models have given out within weeks.
Relative to the number of reviews posted for each of the space heaters we researched, the most negative comments on durability pertain to the Impress IM-702 (starting at $24) and the Holmes Compact Heater Fan HFH131 (starting at $20). The former seems to lack staying power altogether and the latter has seen reports of the fan breaking after a few weeks or the auto-shutoff feature malfunctioning.
Reviewers were understandably wary if they noted the power cord heating up (which can indicate electrical problems). A warm power cord is considered normal, but if a power cord is hot to the touch or you detect a burning smell, you should discontinue use of the space heater immediately.