The Best Space Heaters of 2019 | News Coverage from USA

The Best Space Heaters of 2019

Delonghi HMP1500Best Overall

Credit: / Jon Chan

The Delonghi HMP1500 is the best spot and room heater

What about safety?

While space heaters are compact and cost efficient, there is need for concern. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters are the leading cause of house fires.

All the space heaters we tested had a mechanism built in to shut the device off if it got too hot. Nevertheless, it’s recommended to always have a 3-foot radius between a space heater and anything even remotely flammable–including blankets and upholstery.

Also, never plug a space heater into an extension cord. Portable heaters draw up to 1500 watts of power, more than enough to cause a dangerous spark.

Finally, be sensible and don’t touch a space heater when it is in operation. Some heaters have a cool exterior when they are running, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. You wouldn’t pick up a toaster when it’s on, you shouldn’t do that with a space heater.

Types of space heaters

Space heaters have various heating methods that can affect the size, weight, and other aspects of the product. Here’s a quick breakdown of the types we reviewed:

Mica: Thin, energy efficient, and frequently wall-mountable, mica heaters are part radiant and part convection. They operate silently.

Ceramic Fan-Forced: Convection heaters that blow warm air out from a fan, ceramic heaters are good for spot heating but not for large rooms. Expect some fan-noise. The plastic shell may be safe to the touch in some models, but the grill is always very hot.

Oil-filled convection: Reminiscent of radiators you find in old homes, oil-filled convection heaters work well for entire rooms. They’re silent, but they’re very hot to the touch on all sides and maybe not the best choice for houses with young children.

Infrared: Sometimes known as “quartz” heaters, these devices don’t actually heat the air so much as beam heat directly at you. This is why infrared heaters are often used outdoors, because they are unaffected by wind. Their tops and sides are usually cool to the touch.

Convection Only: Everyone knows hot air rises. Convection heaters simply have a heating element inside a grate. While they are not good for spot heating, they are virtually silent when in operation.

Things to consider when purchasing a space heater

Before you put a space heater into your virtual or physical shopping cart, make sure that it’s a good fit for you and your home by asking yourself these questions:

Location: Do you have an area in your home that is both three feet away from all flammable objects, and is not in the middle of a walking path? If not, see if you can clear a place in your home where the space heater can be safely operated.

Safety: Does part of the space heater get hot to the touch while in operation? If so, make sure that kids are aware of what areas are safe to touch on the space heater, if any. With little ones in the house, it may be best to choose a space heater with a protective grate covering the heating unit.

Floor plan: What is the layout of the room(s) you’d like to heat? If you have an open floor plan, and you’d like to heat more than one room, chances are that a single space heater won’t cut it. Space heaters operate best in small spaces and rooms; for large open spaces, you may need to safely deploy multiple space heaters in strategic locations throughout your home. If you don’t want to buy multiple space heaters, think about picking a space heater that emphasizes whole-room heating over spot heating.

Outlet location: Is there an electrical outlet located near the spot you want the space heater to live? Most space heater power cords are not very long, and it is strongly recommended that space heaters should not be plugged into extension cords. As a safety precaution, do not plug anything into the same outlet into which the space heater is plugged. These heaters use a lot of electricity, so it’s best not to overload the outlet.

Other Space Heaters We Tested

How we tested

The Testers

Hi, I’m Jon Chan, senior lab technician at Reviewed. The testing team–Kyle, Julia, and I–put all the space heaters through their paces. I first cut my teeth testing heaters on the $600 Dyson Hot+Cool. Playing around with such an expensive heater made me think about what kind of value you can get out of a machine that essentially blows around hot air. My testing philosophy is about finding out which products give the best value.

The Tests

In nutshell, our space heater testing is broken down into two categories: performance and usability. To test performance, we placed each heater into a temperature-controlled room, which stayed at 72°F and 50 percent humidity. We know that’s not the ideal room you’d heat, but that room is the most temperature stable in our entire laboratory. During setup, each heater was placed in the center of a 180-square-foot chamber with a 1,350-cubic-foot volume, and plugged into a watt meter.

We then placed two rings of temperature sensors at varying heights to simulate feet and torsos at different distances. These sensors were used to determine spot heating and overall room temperature changes.

Each heater was placed on its highest settings and left to run for an hour. After that, we gathered the data from the sensors. Heaters that could evenly heat both the inner and outer rings of sensors received the highest ratings.

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