What are the best types of space heater for warmth and cost efficiency? (2022)

Wondering which are the best types of space heater to create additional warmth in your home? And how effectively they’ll heat the room, and at what cost?

There are a range of different types of space heater available, and they heat a room in different ways, so it pays to look into the details about each type. They vary in efficiency, too, which has implications for how much it costs to run an electric heater, so it’s not just initial purchase price that’s crucial to selecting the best buy.

Our guide will examine the advantages and disadvantages to allow you to narrow down the best types of space heater for your home, and the particular room you want to use it in.

The best types of space heater for warmth and cost efficiency

There are a number of factors that will help determine which are the best types of space heater for your room including the heater’s size (so it fits into the space neatly); how easy it is to move around (which can be important if it’s to be used at different times in different rooms); and how much it might cost to buy.

Use our guide to make the right selection for your house or apartment.

Ceramic space heaters

A ceramic space heater is fuelled by electricity, and uses a ceramic heating element, which conducts heat well. The electricity warms the ceramic plate which radiates heat. Ceramic space heaters are available both with and without fans. The former type distributes heat around the room more quickly.

(Video) What is the best, most money saving space heater? Infrared, ceramic, mica, oil-filled

One of the major advantages of a ceramic space heater is that it will warm a room rapidly. Another plus point of these types of heater is that they’re portable so easy to move to different rooms as needed, and they come in a range of shapes including neat tower versions that won’t hog floor space, as well as compact designs.

Ceramic space heaters are great for spot heating – for example if a room has a cold corner – but a design with oscillation will provide wider coverage for the space. Features such as digital thermostats are useful, and a timer with auto shut-off could prove handy, too.

A ceramic space heater can be an efficient solution for a small room, but if you’re looking to heat a larger room for long hours it may not be the best solution as the electricity needs to remain switched on.

‘Don’t forget that a fan will make a noise, so check you’re happy that the sound level won’t prove too disturbing for the activities that take place in the spaces where you’re planning to use it,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘I don’t use one of these in my home office if I’m taking calls or attending meetings virtually.’

Ceramic heaters are available from around $25 up to around $100 and more (around £30 to over £100).

Fan heaters

An electric fan heater blows air across a heating element so the heated air can warm a room. The biggest benefits of one of these designs include the fact that it’s a cheap space heating option with prices starting from around $15 for versions suitable for an office desk, for example, up to around $100 and more (around £25 to 80).

As it’s light, a fan heater is easily portable from room to room – or home to home if you’re an apartment renter.

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As with a ceramic space heater, heat is instant but, like ceramic heaters, they need to stay switched on all the time you need heat, which will add to electric bills. They won’t heat a large room either and are better for small enclosed spaces. Be aware, too, that careful positioning is needed otherwise objects in the room can block the heat.

Look for a design with a choice of heat settings for better versatility.

Infrared space heaters

Although it uses electricity, an infrared heater works in a different way to a ceramic or a fan heater. Infrared space heaters transfer heat through electromagnetic radiation to a body with a lower temperature – that’s you and the objects in the room rather than the air. Thus, unlike with a fan heater, you won’t have to worry about the items in the room blocking the heat.

Another benefit of this type of heater is that even after it’s turned off the heat will linger. They‘re also a sound choice for larger rooms and basements.

‘Infrared heaters could be a good solution if your home is not perfectly insulated, as they don't work by warming the surrounding air, but produce heat that travels in a wave,’ explains Stephen Hankinson, managing director atElectric Radiators Direct (opens in new tab)

‘Through this, they heat surfaces directly, reducing the chance of warmth being lost to drafts. They are generally of a lower wattage compared to radiators, which means they use less electricity, but may need to run for longer if your home is very spacious or poorly insulated.’

Bear in mind that you will pay more for an infrared space heater than ceramic and fan designs. Expect to pay from around $70 for one of these, up to over $200 (between £200 and £500).

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Oil-filled space heaters

An oil-filled design could prove one of the best types of space heater to select for medium to large room. Another advantage of one of these is that, unlike a space heater with a fan, it’s not going to disturb you, so it could be used in a bedroom, for example.

In design, one of these looks like the original radiators in some homes, but bear in mind that they aren’t compact and can be weighty. Look for a design with castors to make moving the unit around an easier task.

Although it’s oil-filled, the radiator is fuelled by electricity: the oil inside the heater is heated via elements and the heater radiates heat from its surface. Because of its design, even after the heater is switched off, it will continue to provide heat for a while. This can mean lower running costs as you don’t need to keep the electricity on constantly for heat.

On the other hand, one of these will be a bigger investment buy with prices typically starting from around $60 for smaller models and going up to $1,000 and more (£45 to over £250).

‘Note that these aren’t an ideal choice for home with young kids as the surface gets hot and takes time to cool down,’ cautions Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘Wait until they’re older to invest if you don’t want to have to supervise when the heater is on.’

Oil-filled space heaters also take time to heat up; they’re not instant space heaters unlike some others we’ve featured.

Panel space heaters

Panel space heaters can be a sleek way to heat a room using electricity, and one of these won’t take up much space on the floor, or can be wall mounted. There’s not currently a wide choice of these available, but if you opt for one, expect to pay around $120 or over (around £100 and more).

(Video) Most Efficient Space Heater (2021 Reviews & Buying Guide) Top Energy Efficient Electric Heaters

Which type of space heater is best, infrared or ceramic?

Whether an infrared or ceramic space heater is best depends on your requirements in terms of the noise of the heater, whether it creates a hot surface, and how much it costs to buy.

The two heat a space in different ways. Ceramic heaters heat the air in the room. Infrared heaters provide radiant heat from their hot surface and heat objects directly, including the occupants of a room.

If you need quiet, an infrared heater will be better than a ceramic heater that works with a fan. It’s also a better choice for a poorly insulated room. These heaters are also very energy efficient and you can end up spending less on electricity.

On the other hand, a ceramic heater can be less expensive to buy in the first place, and they’re also easy to move around the home as needed. They provide instant heat, too.

What is the safest style of space heater?

Electric space heaters avoid the problems associated with combustion small space heaters. However, there are still considerations to be aware of for maximum home safety, including both burn and fire hazards.

‘Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet,’ caution the experts from Energy Saver (opens in new tab), the US Department of Energy's (DOE) consumer resource on saving energy and using renewable energy technologies at home. ‘If an extension cord is necessary, usethe shortest possibleheavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger. Always check and follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.’

They also advise, ‘Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.’

(Video) ✅ TOP 5 Best Space Heater | Infrared & Ceramic 2022 Review

FAQs

What type of electric heater is most cost effective? ›

There is only one way to get more heat using electricity than using electric resistance heat and that is a heat pump. A heat pump is about one-third the cost of running one of these electric heaters.

Which heater is best for energy saving? ›

These are some of the best/most energy efficient heaters from these brands:
  • Rinnai Titan Unflued Natural Gas Radiant Heater.
  • Dimplex Electric Fire Heater.
  • DeLonghi Tower Ceramic Heater.
  • Dyson Hot+Cool Fan Heater.
25 Apr 2022

Which is better infrared or ceramic heaters? ›

Quartz infrared heaters offer very fast heat-up and cool down times. Ceramic heaters, however, require more time to heat circulating air and warm up the room via convection. Quartz heaters can be used to create quieter heating equipment as in most cases air movement from noisy convection blowers is not needed.

What's the cheapest way to heat a room? ›

Once you have made sure that heat loss from a room is kept to a minimum, gas central heating is generally your cheapest option. If that's not possible, then consider using an oil-filled heater for larger rooms or an electric heater for small areas if you're willing to use it in short bursts.

Do oil filled heaters use a lot of electricity? ›

Energy Saving

All the electricity used by an oil filled radiator is used to generate heat; namely by warming the oil inside. There is no electricity wasted. This makes the oil filled radiator one of the most energy efficient ways of heating any room. It is also surprisingly cheap to run!

Are infrared space heaters more energy efficient? ›

Compared to electric storage heaters or electric radiators, infrared panel heaters convert almost 100% of the electricity to heat, therefore are more energy efficient and need to operate for less time for a better output.

Are oil filled heaters more efficient? ›

Oil heaters are more energy-efficient than electric heaters. They retain heat very well and once they hit the desired temperatures, they switch off automatically. This, in turn, can save you a ton of energy, using low power to maintain the warmth.

Are ceramic heaters more efficient? ›

The construction of a ceramic heater includes ceramic plates that produce heat and allow for greater levels of energy efficiency when compared to an electric heater, helping to cut down on your energy bills. On average, the efficiency of a ceramic radiator varies between 85%-90%.

Is it cheaper to run space heaters or central heat? ›

Space heaters do use less energy as compared to using central heat. However, they are not as efficient as space heaters. As such, having a space heater in every room in the home and turning them all on at the same will only cost you more, not less.

Is a ceramic heater cheap to run? ›

Ceramic heating elements offer more resistance than traditional metal units, so they will generate more heat per watt. This means they're cheaper to run than most other heaters, while also offering improved performance.

What is the cheapest most efficient way to heat a house? ›

As a general rule, heating your home with a natural gas furnace is the cheapest way to keep warm through the winter months. Electricity is usually significantly more expensive than gas, so even the most efficient heaters will be a bigger drain on your pocketbook than a traditional furnace.

Are infrared heaters cheap to run? ›

Infrared heaters are very cost effective to run because their long-lasting heat allows them to keep spaces warm using less energy. This is, in fact, key to why their running costs are so low.

Does space heater save electricity? ›

Space heaters generally run on electricity, which can reduce heating cost if you're only using one. However, if you're using space heaters in several areas of your home, you could be wasting money, instead of saving it. It's a common misconception that space heaters will always save you money.

What is the difference between a space heater and a ceramic heater? ›

A fan space heater is very similar to a ceramic heater. In fact, it operates in almost every single way except for the heating element. Instead of using ceramic plates, these types of space heaters heat up a metal coil, and that coil is what transfers heat into the air.

What is better quartz or ceramic heaters? ›

Although they cost around the same price to buy, it's important to bear in mind, quartz heaters are more efficient than ceramic heating elements. They convert more electrical energy into heat. Less heat is lost and therefore – generally speaking – they are cheaper to run.

What is better infrared or radiant heat? ›

The truth is Infrared heaters and radiant heaters are in fact the same. The term “radiant heater” specifies that the heater is generating heat using radiation while the term “infrared heater” indicates the primary type of radiation being used by the heater to transmit that heat.

What are the disadvantages of infrared heating? ›

The Cons of Infrared Heaters
  • Safety. The coils of infrared heaters get extremely hot so they can be dangerous to use around children and pets. ...
  • Limited Warming. For some, zone warming may not be ideal, and it could feel very limited if you're moving around a room a lot. ...
  • Stops Heating When Off.
1 May 2019

How can I heat my room for free? ›

10 step guide to keep your house warm without heating
  1. Rejig your furniture. ...
  2. Use a terracotta heater. ...
  3. Invest in insulation. ...
  4. Think about your habits. ...
  5. Put a shelf above a radiator. ...
  6. Bleed your radiators. ...
  7. Analyse any draughts. ...
  8. Block your chimney up.
26 Aug 2022

What form of heating is cheapest? ›

What's the Cheapest Way to Heat Your Home?
  • ✔ A gas boiler with solar thermal panels is the cheapest way to heat your home.
  • ✔ But electric combi boilers will take top spot in the next decade.
  • ✔ Ground source heat pumps are the most expensive heating system.
10 Oct 2022

Are infrared space heaters more energy efficient? ›

Compared to electric storage heaters or electric radiators, infrared panel heaters convert almost 100% of the electricity to heat, therefore are more energy efficient and need to operate for less time for a better output.

How much does it cost to run a 1500 watt heater for 24 hours? ›

Running a 1500-watt heater for 24 hours will cost $4.80. $11.20 to run per week (8h/day).

Are oil filled space heaters more efficient? ›

Oil heaters are more energy-efficient than electric heaters. They retain heat very well and once they hit the desired temperatures, they switch off automatically. This, in turn, can save you a ton of energy, using low power to maintain the warmth.

Do oil filled heaters use a lot of electricity? ›

Energy Saving

All the electricity used by an oil filled radiator is used to generate heat; namely by warming the oil inside. There is no electricity wasted. This makes the oil filled radiator one of the most energy efficient ways of heating any room. It is also surprisingly cheap to run!

What are the disadvantages of Infrared heating? ›

The Cons of Infrared Heaters
  • Safety. The coils of infrared heaters get extremely hot so they can be dangerous to use around children and pets. ...
  • Limited Warming. For some, zone warming may not be ideal, and it could feel very limited if you're moving around a room a lot. ...
  • Stops Heating When Off.
1 May 2019

What is the difference between an infrared heater and a space heater? ›

Ceramic space heaters provide heat based on a strong heat conducting element and generally use convection to carry the heat forward. Infrared heaters rely on radiation and to provide heat and also do not require a fan as it is directly absorbed into our skin and clothes.

Do infrared heaters raise your electric bill? ›

Used in conjunction with your current heating system, stand-alone infrared heaters can reduce your home heating bills by as much as 50 percent because you can turn down the thermostat for the whole house, then supplement as needed with infrared.

Is it cheaper to use a space heater than electric heat? ›

Space heaters do use less energy as compared to using central heat. However, they are not as efficient as space heaters. As such, having a space heater in every room in the home and turning them all on at the same will only cost you more, not less. When you purchased your heater is also a factor.

Is it cheaper to turn up the thermostat or use a space heater? ›

"If you turn your central heating system down a few degrees and supplement the heat in a small area with a space heater, you will probably save money. If you do not turn the thermostat down and add more heat with the electric space heater, you will increase your total bill."

Is it better to use a space heater or central heat? ›

While space heaters consume less energy than central heating systems, they are not as efficient if you are trying to heat up an entire floor of your home, for example. It is also important to consider how long you need to keep the space(s) warm.

Which is better oil or convection heater? ›

If you just want a quick burst of heat to get yourself warm then a convector heater would be ideal for you, but for periods of longer use, an oil filled radiator might be more preferable for heat retention.

What is more efficient a ceramic heater or an oil heater? ›

Ceramic heaters are energy efficient and require much less energy to produce heat.

Which is cheaper to run a fan heater or oil filled radiator? ›

The majority of oil-filled radiators are rated at less than 1 kWh, which makes them cheaper to operate than a fan heater on an hourly basis.

Is it cheaper to run an electric heater or an oil heater? ›

Oil-filled heaters are generally cheaper to run due to better heat retention. Though they take longer to heat up, the can then change to 'low' power and use much less energy to maintain a warm temperature. Electric fan heaters lose their heat quickly, so need to stay on a higher power to keep the temperature high.

Can I leave my oil heater on all the time? ›

In general, oil heaters are quite safe to leave on overnight. The main reason is they do not have an exposed heating element. They are constructed so that the surface doesn't get too hot. Also, they have tip-over switches and built-in timers that will shut off the heater in certain circumstances, reducing fire risk.

What size room will an oil heater heat? ›

A Pelonis oil-filled heater is designed to heat small rooms such as a bedroom or study. It will put out a maximum 5,200 British thermal units of heat. This is enough to heat up to 150 square feet, which is equivalent to a room 12 feet by 12.5 feet, or 10 feet by 15 feet, having a standard 8-foot ceiling height.

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