Electric Space Heater – How to Buy the Best Portable Electric Space Heater

portable electric space heater

What’s the best portable electric space heater to use?

Most people find that using an electric space heater is not only a good way to save some money on fuel costs but also a great way to quickly heat a room.  Finding the right portable electric space heater takes more than just grabbing the cheapest one off the shelf, or even the one with the highest BTU, it takes knowing how you’ll use the electric space heater, and knowing which of the four different types is best for your particular situation.  In this article I’ll go over the different types of portable space heaters you’ll encounter as well as go over some of the tech jargon and features they’ll have and finally I’ll link some of the highest rated space heaters available today in each of the four types.

What are the different types of electric space heaters available?

The different types of electric space heaters vary in the way that they deliver the heat, either they use radiant heat, or convection heat.  In addition they can be fan forced or even a hybrid portable electric space heater that uses both types of technology.

  • First off we have the simple convection space heater, sometimes referred to as a baseboard heater.  This type simply warms the air around it and doesn’t use a fan to spread the warmth.  Most commonly these look and act like baseboard heaters and are great to use in a room that requires constant heat over a long period.  Generally you’ll turn this space heater on and leave it on for hours at a time.  This type also uses much less power than any other type and is absolutely silent.  Often times these are oil filled space heaters.
  • Next up is the fan forced convection space heater.  This type warms the air around it but also uses a fan to spread the heated air around. This type is louder than the baseboard heater, but will heat a room much quicker.  Again, this type is great for heating an entire room quickly.  Generally you’ll find these to use ceramic heating elements.
  • Next we come to the radiant space heater.  This type uses infrared radiation to heat whatever is directly in front of it.  This type is NOT suited for heating an entire room, but rather the person(s) in front of it.  This is well suited for when you will only be in a room for a short while and would like to stay warm, or, when the room is much to large to efficiently heat the whole room.
  • And the final type is a hybrid convection/radiant portable electric space heater.  This type is well is good when you need to use a room that’s cold.  At first the radiant heat will keep you warm, but eventually the convection heat will warm the entire room.  Another use for this type is when you’ll use the portable space heater in many different rooms, each requiring a different heating profile.

As you can see finding the right electric space heater requires you to understand exactly how you’ll be using it.

What features will I find on the best electric space heaters?

portable space heater

This radiant space heater is just amazing!

Luckily the features themselves are rather basic and simple, after all, they really are just heaters.

  • All space heaters are rated for BTU (British Thermal Unit), this is simply a representation of how much heat it gives off.  The larger the room, the more BTUs you’ll want.  The exception here is with radiant heaters, you can go with less BTUs since you really only want to heat yourself.
  • Without a doubt you’ll want high and low settings.  Keep in mind that this works in tandem with the thermostat settings and basically if a heater is set to low, it’ll just take longer to get to your target temperature.  This is a good way to save some money on electric.
  • All good electric space heaters should have a good thermostat where you can set your target temperature.
  • For safety you’ll want the portable electric space heater to have an auto off if it tips over as well as an auto off if it overheats.
  • For heavier space heaters look for wheels, this is especially true if you’ll be moving it around quite a bit.  It should also have carry handles, after all it’s supposed to be portable.
  • One thing I like to find on the more expensive space heaters is a programmable timer, this is great if you want the heater to start an hour or two before you get up in the morning or come home from work.  You can get past this by using an outlet timer, but some of those are quite difficult to program and you’ll have to move it with the heater.

Now let’s go over some scenarios where you’ll see how different types of portable space heaters are better suited, I’ll use personal examples.

First off I use a baseboard space heater in my bedroom, why?  It’s quite and efficient and I can start it an hour before bed and the room will be toasty warm by the time I go to bed.  A fan forced space heater wouldn’t be good here because they can be quite loud.

baseboard space heater

This is a fantastic baseboard space heater

Next up I actually do have a fan forced space heater, it’s in my bathroom and is quite small.  The room is small and heats quickly.  A radiant space heater wouldn’t be good here because I’m not in line of sight of the heater.

Finally, I use a radiant heater in my porch.  In the morning before work I like to sit there and check my email while I have my coffee.  A convection heater would take to long to heat the room, and would be inefficient anyway because I’ll only be in there for about an hour.  A radiant space heater on the other hand is perfect because I’ll be nice and toasty for the time that I’m actually in the room.

For my uses owning a single radiant/convection hybrid space heater wouldn’t work because of room size difference as well as heating requirements.

Now I’m going to link some of the best examples of portable electric space heaters available.  Of course there are many sub-categories such as decorative space heaters or outdoor electric heaters but using the points above you should be able to determine which of these is best for you.

Honeywell HZ519 Digital Low Profile Silent Comfort Heater
Lasko 755320 Ceramic Tower Heater with Digital Display and Remote Control
Optimus H-5210 Infrared Quartz Radiant Heater
Soleus HGW308 Electric Space Heater Economic Energy Saving Function

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About the Author

Hi there!, My name is Norm. I am a college grad, a veteran, a pet owner and a family man. I started writing articles both to make a little extra money, and to share my knowledge with others. I currently work in the IT department of a major NY hospital.
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