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If you're one of those people who is always cold (no matter if the heat is on or not), a space heater might be your new best friend.
To learn more about space heaters — and get recommendations for the best models for every home —we turned to Lou Manfredini, TODAY contributor and host of “HouseSmarts,” and Randy Light and Chad Hyland, portable heating merchants at Home Depot.
What is a space heater?
"A space heater is an appliance used for heating an enclosed place. There are many styles and types of portable space heaters to choose from including floor heaters, personal space heaters, baseboard heaters and wall heaters," Hyland told TODAY.
The 7 best space heaters
These are the 7 best space heaters we found, according to guidance from our experts.
- Lasko Ceramic Heater with Adjustable Thermostat
- Lasko Low Profile Silent Room Heater
- Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Heater
- Lasko Air Logic Bladeless Electric Tower Space Heater with Remote
- Crane Fireplace Heater
- Pelonis Oil Filled Heater
- Hunter Oscillating Ceramic Tower Heater
What does a space heater do?
At a base level, all space heaters heat the space they are placed in. However, each type will help heat the space in a different way, Hyland said. He broke down the four different types and how they work.
- Ceramic space heaters: "A type of convection heater, ceramic space heaters warm the air as it blows over a hot ceramic plate or coils inside the unit. The body of the heater stays cool to the touch, which makes it popular for homes with kids and pets," said Hyland.
- Forced-air heaters: "Also called fan-forced heaters, these convection heaters warm the air and circulate it around the room by fan. The fan allows the heat to be distributed quickly. Forced-air heaters are popular in offices or small workspaces," said Hyland.
- Radiant heaters: "Radiant heaters are directional and heat the objects near it or in its path. These are ideal for a living room, bedroom or den and tend to retain heat for longer, even when the power is turned off," said Hyland.
- Infrared heaters: "A type of radiant heater, infrared space heaters are generally more effective in warming a person or a small area, rather than a larger space. You might see these in a bedroom or even under your desk, if you’re always cold in the office," said Hyland.
What are the benefits of a space heater?
Hyland shared that "a space heater can save you money and energy, because it heats only the room or the space that is being used."
How do you choose a safe space heater?
Now that you know all about what space heaters are and what they do, how do you pick a safe yet powerful space heater? Manfredini, Light and Hyland outlined a few of the most important things to look for when picking a space heater.
- Think about what type of room you're trying to heat. Light and Hyland explained that space heaters come in a variety of sizes for different spaces — including large room heaters, desk heaters and outdoor heaters. Narrow your options down for the space you're looking to heat to find a product specifically for your needs.
- Consider the amount of energy it uses. Look for a heater that uses 750 to 1,000 watts. “All heaters claim to be the most efficient, but most all use the same amount of energy,” Manfredini cautioned.
- Settle on a style for your heater. Do you want the heater to fit in nicely with the room's decor, or are you buying it purely as a functional appliance? Light said style has become more important as a decision-making factor in the past few years and many heater brands have updated their looks.
- Choose which extra features you must have. Certain units come with remote controls, thermostats and the ability to oscillate, Hyland said.
- Keep fire safety in mind. If used incorrectly, heaters can pose a fire-safety risk. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises to always keep heaters at least three feet away from flammable objects, such as curtains or bedding and to refrain from plugging portable heaters into an extension cord or power strip, to reduce fire risks. Also, make sure units have either a safety rating from UL or ETL, Manfredini said.
Here are a few of the best indoor and outdoor space heaters, according to the experts.
1. Best small space heater
With self-regulating thermostat controls, three settings (high heat, low heat and fan) and safety features such as automatic overheat protection, Light and Hyland suggested this nine-inch-tall heater for small rooms or a desk area.
2. Best baseboard heater
“Electric baseboard heaters are great supplemental units that can be placed under windows where the heat loss is the highest,” Manfredini said.
3. Best propane heater
Although most propane heaters are made to be used outside, this is one of the only gas heaters that is safe to use indoors, Hyland and Light said.
It doesn't require electricity because it runs on a one-pound propane tank, so it's ideal for someone who has an indoor area to heat that doesn't have electricity. It can also serve as personal heating during outdoor fall and winter activities.
4. Best designed space heater
“I actually have (this heater) in my master bedroom. I think it’s the best-looking heater that we carry,” Hyland said. Not only is this heater stylish, it also oscillates to evenly distribute heat throughout the room.
5. Best electric fireplace heater
“Crane Fireplace Heater offers electric space heat but with the realistic look of a small fireplace. The best of both worlds and can take the chill out of a living room, bedroom or family room,” Manfredini said.
6. Best oil-filled space heater
“Oil-filled space heaters offer residual heat and can actually cost less to run. They use the same wattage as most other heaters, but once the oil heats up and the temperature is reached, the unit shuts down but the heater oil in the unit continues to give off heat,” Manfredini said.
7. Best value heater
This tower heater may not look as pretty as some others, but it easily heats medium-to-large rooms for a fraction of the cost, Light and Hyland said.
For more winter recommendations, check out:
- The 7 best weighted blankets
- The 8 best humidifiers to buy in 2019
- 27 must-have winter skin care products
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