Best Cheap Space Heaters
This buying guide recommends the best inexpensive electric space heaters on the market.
What We Considered
For the most part, online space heater reviews come from users posting on retail sites such as Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Target, and Walmart. We also considered the outcomes of product testing by Consumer Reports and The Sweethome. Some of our picks appear in roundups of the best space heaters by TopTenReviews and Digital Trends, which also test products they review, although it's not clear whether their recommendations in this category reflect hands-on experience.
We Looked At
Space heater ratings are no doubt influenced by users’ 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. In space heater reviews, many users express pleasant surprise at the heat output of these models given their compact size. Some warn that it can take a little while to heat an entire room.
If your goal is to control utility costs by turning down the central heating and using a space heater to warm only the room you're occupying, 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.)
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 aren’t 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-, three-, or five-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.
Users and consumer product experts vouch for the Honeywell HCE311V as one of the best cheap ceramic heaters on the market. The oscillating design and features such as the digital, programmable thermostat and timer are uncommon at this price.
Oscillating fan warms up sizeable rooms quickly, reviewers say.
Easy-to-use controls, including a digital thermostat and 1- to 8-hour timer.
Quiet operation, according to users.
Overheat and tip-over protection; cool-touch housing and handle.
A few reports of malfunctions (within the 3-year warranty period).
No fan-only setting.
This Vornado space heater is an excellent choice for a workspace. It's small enough to sit on a tabletop and stays cool to the touch. It also uses considerably less power than most cheap electric heaters and doubles as a standard fan. An updated version, the VH203, has few reviews but identical specs, so we expect that model to perform just as well.
Quickly and effectively heats small spaces, according to online reviews, with less than half the energy of other cheap space heaters (750 watts vs. 1,500 watts).
Tip-over protection and cool-touch case.
Fan-only mode for use in the summer.
Lightweight -- only about 2 pounds -- and less than 8 inches square.
Some users wish it generated a little more heat.
Mixed reviews for noise.
Some reviewers say the heater stopped working after a few months.
This Lasko space heater is one of the cheapest and most popular models around. With an adjustable thermostat, high and low heat settings, and a fan-only mode, this unobtrusive and portable heater keeps small rooms comfortable.
Heats up small spaces quickly, experts say.
Overheat protection and low operating temperature in testing.
Compact design with carrying handle.
Fan-only setting makes it useful in summer, as well.
The Sweethome's top pick for small rooms.
No.1 best seller on Amazon with an average of 4 out of 5 stars and more than 13,000 reviews.
Mixed reviews for fan noise; not the quietest appliance.
Some buyers report that the heater broke down after about a year of use, but it has reliably served others through several winters.
Some users have detected a burning smell.
In addition to standard features such as thermal cut-off to prevent overheating, this DeLonghi space heater offers an anti-freeze setting, which automatically turns on the unit when the temperature falls below a certain level, and three color options. Only a short warranty period and a handful of reviewer complaints cool our fervor.
Designed to be portable, with a carrying handle on the back and weight of less than 3 pounds.
Effectively heats small rooms, users report.
Overheat protection and power indicator light for safety.
Available in blue, orange, or gray.
Mixed reviews for fan noise.
Some buyers say the heater broke down in short order or generally isn't very durable.
A handful of reports (among hundreds of reviews) of a smell like burning plastic that goes away after a while.
A handle on top would be easier to grasp than the notch at the back.
1-year warranty vs. 3 years for our other picks.
Vornado's portable space heaters are generally well-liked, but the SRTH seems like a miss from this company. Although it does come with a five-year warranty and some buyers like it well enough, we saw too many complaints about the heater breaking down or clattering noisily while it's running.
Generates a good amount of heat considering its small size and 900 watts of power, according to some buyers.
Tip-over protection and cool-touch exterior.
4-hour automatic shut-off timer.
Several buyers report that the heater broke down.
Some complain it's too loud or makes a rattling noise.
Some reviewers say it's fine for spot heating but not sufficient to warm up even a small room.
Other Products We Reviewed
Vornado VH101 Review
Vornado VH101 reviews have high praise for this compact personal heater on retail sites such as Home Depot. The Vornado VH101 (starting at $29, Amazon) has a few features in particular that distinguish it from the other space heaters we looked at. First, it’s more energy efficient than most. While competitors tend to operate at a maximum of 1,500 watts, the Vornado VH101 has heat settings of 375 watts and 750 watts, meaning it uses less energy and saves users money. Although that might suggest that the heat output doesn’t measure up, many reviewers say even the low setting is sufficient.
Vornado touts the heater’s “vortex” circulation as a superior method for distributing heated air throughout a space. While many reviewers enthuse about its ability to heat small spaces, others gripe about weak airflow, saying it takes a little while to heat a full room. The Vornado VH101 also boasts “whisper quiet” operation, and many users bear witness. One reviewer mentions on Amazon that the heater is too quiet; she sometimes forgets that it’s turned on. It does have an indicator light on the back, so a quick glance can tell you whether or not it’s running.
Unlike most manufacturers, Vornado seems to have taken style into account when designing this space heater. The sleek Vornado VH101 comes in black, jade, and orange color options. It doesn’t have much of a handle to speak of, but it’s compact and weighs only about 2 pounds. The surface is designed to be cool to the touch. For safety, the unit will shut off if it overheats or faces an obstruction, such as an object penetrating the front grill. It’s also one of the relatively few cheap models with tip-over protection, which powers off a toppled heater automatically. Overall, the Vornado VH101 is an excellent choice that garners overwhelming praise among users. It comes with a three-year warranty.
Honeywell HZ-0360 Review
The Honeywell HZ-0360 (starting at $30, Amazon) has a lighthouse-style design that disperses heat 360 degrees, in contrast to the forward-facing output of most other cheap, compact space heaters. In Honeywell HZ-0360 reviews on retail sites such as Walmart.com, consumers generally seem impressed by how fast this model heats up. With the circular heat emanation, they say, you can sit anywhere around the heater and feel its warmth. You can also set it to emit heat in only one direction. Users have found that the design works well in small rooms (including bathrooms, despite Honeywell's warning to avoid them).
This heater reportedly makes a light humming sound, as fan-forced models tend to do, but reviewers writing on Amazon don’t complain that it’s overly noisy. Users describe this heater as sturdy, and a tilt switch automatically shuts off the power if it tips over -- a crucial safety feature for a vertically oriented model like this one. The Honeywell HZ-0360 also has overheat protection, a standard safety measure. This fan-forced heater features an adjustable thermostat, two heat settings (up to 1,500 watts), and a fan-only setting. The appliance comes in multiple colors and measures 9.7 inches wide by 9 inches deep by 12.4 inches high. It weighs a bit more than 5 pounds and includes a carrying handle.
This heater does not have cool-to-touch housing, and reviewers warn that it can, indeed, get very hot. We saw a couple of reviews that reported a burning smell coming from the heater, or even signs of warped or melted casing, although the heater is purportedly built from flame-resistant material. Nonetheless, this Honeywell heater boasts a lot of safety features, impressive heating power, and a three-year warranty. Based on the reviews we read, this low-cost space heater merits one thumb up.
The Holmes HFH131 (starting at $20, Amazon) is a compact, highly portable model with cool-to-touch housing and an integrated carrying handle. It weighs in at only 2.2 pounds. However, Holmes HFH131 reviews express disappointment with its heating capability. Some users say it produces adequate heat if you’re very close to it, but many others find its performance lacking; it simply generates too little heat to be useful. This heater has only one setting (1,500 watts) while almost all other models have at least two heat settings plus a fan-only setting. It does have an adjustable thermostat to provide some control over the temperature.
This Holmes model has built-in overheat protection, a common safety feature that automatically shuts off the heater if it gets too hot. However, it doesn’t have tip-over protection, meaning it could be knocked over and still keep running, so it’s probably not a safe bet around kids or pets or in a high-traffic area. Several reviewers posting on Amazon note the small surface area on the bottom, which makes the heater prone to tipping over. For some less top-heavy models, a tilt switch isn’t vital, but in this case, we’re less willing to forgive that missing safety feature.
The Holmes HFH131 is one of the cheapest space heaters we examined closely, and the negative performance reviews trump the low price tag. Some also call into question this model’s durability, reporting that it breaks down within days or even hours (and space heaters are not built to be repaired). There are better options out there at a fractionally higher price point.
Impress IM-702 Review
The Impress-IM 702 (starting at $24, Amazon) is a small, fan-forced space heater with a low price -- and a lot of caveats. In terms of safety, this model is designed to operate only on a hard, flat surface; it shuts off if the device leans too far to the side or tips over. It also boasts an overheat protection circuit. However, many Impress-IM 702 reviews posted on Amazon call into question the effectiveness of these safety features. Some say the heater doesn’t actually shut off when tipped (which could make it a potential fire hazard around kids and pets) and others say it gets way too hot without showing any sign of switching off, which makes them nervous.
This model features three fan settings -- low heat (750 watts), high heat (1,500 watts), and fan-only -- along with an adjustable thermostat. On the front is a red light to indicate when the heater is running. The Impress IM-702 is compact and lightweight, with a handle for portability, so it’s easy to carry around and store away unobtrusively. Users report using it under their desks at work without any trouble.
According to many other reviews, however, the Impress IM-702 fails to live up to its name. The heater can warm up only tight quarters; its heat doesn’t radiate throughout a whole room unless the space is very small, reviewers say. Still, that’s the case with many cheap space heaters, and we might be willing to overlook it if the heater appeared more reliable. Too many reviews report that the Impress IM-702 stops working altogether after a very short period of time. It comes with a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer, so it may be possible to get a replacement. The hassle of replacing a brand-new heater, though, and questionable safety features make this heater an unappealing choice.
DeLonghi DCH1030 Review
Reviewers are quick to compliment this convection space heater. One HVAC contractor who posted a review on Amazon says he stocks up on these units to lend out to customers having problems with their central heating. He considers them safe and reliable, and a good source of temporary warmth. Other DeLonghi DCH1030 reviews on Amazon concur about the effectiveness of this model. Many users report bringing one to the office (one woman says she's back to wearing skirts) and others place them in bathrooms and bedrooms to ward off the chill. Despite a few complaints about noise from the fan, users commenting on Newegg say they're satisfied with this budget space heater. One review expresses surprise at how quickly it heats up a room, while another praises its durability and says he would buy another. We did come across a few reports of a short lifespan.
The DeLonghi DCH1030 (starting at $30, Amazon) heater is a small, easily portable ceramic space heater that relies on electricity to heat ceramic elements and a fan to disperse the heat into a room. It has an adjustable thermostat, two heat settings (1500 watts and 825 watts), and a fan-only option. Its special feature is an anti-freeze function that automatically turns on the unit when the temperature dips below 40 degrees. Safety wise, the DCH1030 has automatic shutoff. It measures 6 inches long by 8 inches wide by 9 inches high and weighs 3.2 pounds.
This very inexpensive space heater is a good choice for the office or small/medium rooms in the home. In fact, specs say it can heat rooms up to 55 square feet. Users like the heat and the compact size. We say it's a cheap, safe bet.
Lasko 5812 Review
The Lasko 5812 (starting at $40, Amazon) is an impressive model that’s slightly pricier than the options in our Cheapism price range. This heater draws a maximum of 750 watts, but instead of a manual knob for switching between high and low power, it has an automatic regulator that adjusts the heating power as needed. Lasko 5812 reviews credit this feature with maintaining a pretty constant, comfortable temperature while saving energy.
This Lasko model is larger and less portable than the cheaper space heaters featured in this buying guide. It measures 11.5 inches tall and weighs 6.8 pounds. Nonetheless, users admire the design of this space heater. It’s slim, with a flat back that hugs the wall to keep the unit out of the way. It takes in air through a top vent and releases heated air at floor level, warming up chilly feet and rising to fill the room. For safety, it has automatic overheat protection and a tip-over safety switch, which turns off the heater if it falls over. Reviewers indicate that the heater and cord stay cool to the touch.
Reviews of this model on sites such as Home Depot are largely positive, with praise for its speed and efficiency. Less impressed users complain that, despite the heat regulator, this model requires a bit of babysitting -- i.e., manual adjustment of the thermostat -- to keep the temperature comfortable. A few users have found it rather noisy. For reference, one user describes it as not quite as loud as a microwave.
Overall, a majority of the 200-plus reviews posted on Amazon rave about the consistent and automated heat control and air flow, as well as the overall performance and durability of this model. Some say it functions as well as or better than models priced closer to $100. The Lasko 5812 is ETL listed and comes with a three-year limited warranty.
The DeLonghi DCH7093ER goes beyond the basics. Not only does this ceramic heater effectively warm small spaces, it's loaded with more bells and whistles than just about any other model we checked out, including a remote control.
Heats up a small room very quickly, reviewers say.
Digital thermostat displays and maintains a set temperature.
Eco-Plus function automatically sets the power level for energy savings of up to 40 percent, according to the company.
3 heat settings plus a fan-only function, anti-freeze setting, and timer.
Overheat protection, tip-over switch, and power indicator light.
Removable, washable dust filter.
A few users report that the fan stopped working after a while.
Some buyers opine that the unit is a little too noisy.
Crane EE-6490 Review
The Crane Personal Heater is a basic but design-conscious choice for a small space such as a cubicle at work. Be warned, though, that the exterior can get pretty hot. The Vornado VH202 is similarly cheap and compact and features a cool-touch case.
Provides a lot of heat for a small area such as a desktop or bathroom.
Stylish, compact design with brushed-aluminum housing and a black or white face plate.
Quiet operation, according to users.
Housing can get very warm -- too hot to touch comfortably, reviewers say.
This Honeywell space heater costs a bit more than the HCE311V but covers more ground. The oscillating tower stands almost 2 feet high and sends heat around a large room. It also has a slew of features, including a digital temperature display and an auto-off timer with eight settings.
Designed with an oscillating fan to heat an entire room.
Quiet operation, users say.
Programmable thermostat with digital temperature control and LCD display.
Overheat and tip-over protection; cool-touch exterior.
Timer automatically shuts off the heater after 1 to 8 hours.
A few buyers report breakdowns within a year of purchase.
Some reviews assert that this model doesn't put out enough heat to sufficiently warm a large room on its own.
For consumers who need to heat larger rooms on a budget, the Vornado VH200 is our top choice. This popular space heater turns off automatically if tipped over, or if something blocks the airflow, and stays cool to the touch even when the heater is running. A five-year warranty also provides peace of mind.
Powerful enough to heat an entire room or a garage.
3 heat settings.
Very little fan noise, according to reviews.
Overheat and tip-over protection; cool-touch case.
A few buyers say it doesn't generate enough heat for their needs.
DeLonghi TRD4-0615T Review
Radiator-style, oil-filled space heaters are not as popular as ceramic models, but some users prefer them for energy efficiency. The DeLonghi TRD4-0615T is a good choice for heating a whole room while saving a few bucks on your electric bill.
Heats up an entire room efficiently.
3 power settings, anti-frost function, and timer.
Very quiet operation, users say.
Built-in handle, wheels, and cord storage make it easy to move around.
Can take a while to heat up a small room, some reviewers note.
Controls aren't very user-friendly.
Many buyers say a strong smell persists even after several days of use.
Some consumers prefer infrared heaters like the Dr. Infrared DR968 because they don't dry out the air like other heating technologies do. The Dr. Infrared Heater can warm up a room quickly and includes desirable extras such as a remote control.
Quickly warms an entire room (up to 1,000 square feet) and effectively maintains the temperature, users say.
Very quiet; rated only 39 dB by the manufacturer.
Overheat and tip-over protection.
12-hour automatic shut-off timer.
A lot heavier than most portable space heaters, at 25 pounds, but does include wheels.
A few buyers say it broke down after a year or so.