Best Cheap Space Heaters
Published on By Gina Martinez
Lasko Ceramic Heater 754200 Review
(From $25.00 Best)
This portable space heater earns high ratings for efficiency and durability. Users have found it surprisingly effective for its compact size.
Lasko 754200 reviews celebrate this tiny-but-mighty ceramic heater for its performance and efficiency, saying it can heat entire rooms with admirable speed, especially given its small size. One reviewer notes on Amazon that the heater can raise the temperature in a mid-size room a good 10 degrees in less than an hour. It also gets high marks for durability: Several reviews come from enthusiastic, longtime owners, and others have updated their reviews after a few years to remark that the heater is still running well.
The Lasko 754200 (starting at $25, Amazon) is a convection heater that uses electricity to heat ceramic components and a fan to propel the heat into the surrounding air. It has an adjustable thermostat and settings for high heat (1,500 watts), low heat (900 watts), and fan only. Even the low setting spreads comfortable warmth throughout a room, according to users posting on the Home Depot website. Some reviewers are impressed by how their energy bills have gone down since using the device, which is effective enough to let them turn down the house thermostat.
The Lasko 754200 measures about 6 inches deep by 7 inches wide by 9 inches high and weighs less than 4 pounds. The unit has a handle for portability and convenience, although some users find the handle uncomfortably cramped. For safety, this ETL-listed Lasko heater includes an automatic shutoff mechanism, meaning it should be protected from overheating. It comes with a three-year warranty.
Reviewers do cite a few recurring grievances. This model does not have tip-over protection, a common safety feature. It also gets mixed reviews on noise; some say it’s quiet while others dock it a point or two for being annoyingly loud (they note a whirring noise from the fan). On the other hand, many consumers report successfully using this heater in their office cubicles, where excess noise would likely be a deal breaker, and some have taken to the white noise.
We're impressed by accounts of how this tiny space heater takes the chill out of sizable spaces and by its long reported lifespan. Several users mention that they purchased the same unit as a replacement when one gave out or plan to do so when the time comes. Overall, the Lasko 754200 is a powerful and low-priced little heater that rises to the occasion.
Vornado VH101 Review
(From $29.00 Best)
This sleek model has a full slate of safety features and comes from a company that specializes in air circulation. It operates quietly and efficiently.
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.
DeLonghi HVY1030 Review
(From $30.00 Good)
This small but powerful model generates plenty of heat for a small space such as a kids’ room, users say. It includes a novel anti-frost function.
DeLonghi HVY1030 reviews award this heater high marks for effectiveness, style, and safety. This model has so-called SafeHeat Technology, which automatically shuts off the unit if it overheats (say, for instance, a curtain or blanket obstructs the air intake). Many reviewers report on Amazon that the casing doesn’t get too hot to touch, and they use this heater in a nursery or child’s room without any worries. Note, however, that there is no tip-over switch to cut the power if the heater gets knocked over -- a deal breaker for some.
The DeLonghi HVY1030 (starting at $30, Amazon) has high and low heat settings -- 1,500 watts and 750 watts, respectively -- and a fan-only option. Most users consider the heat output generous for a small space. This heater has an adjustable thermostat that automatically maintains a comfortable level. A few reviewers have found it hard to achieve the precise temperature they want, but users generally consider the controls simple to use. Perhaps the most novel feature is an anti-frost setting, which automatically turns on the heater if the temperature in a room such as a garage, basement, or storage space dips below about 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
This heater is compact and lightweight, measuring 6.2 inches long by 9.5 inches wide by 10.1 inches high and weighing 2.5 pounds. It comes in a few color options: gray, orange, or blue, all with a white faceplate. This model has a power indicator light and a handle built in, although several consumers contend that they would hardly call the indentation at the back a handle; you still have to use two hands to transport this heater. The DeLonghi HVY1030 registers some complaints about durability, as well, with some users reporting that it conked out after a very short time. Still, it claims scores of admirers and enjoys mostly positive feedback.
Honeywell HZ-0360 Review
(From $30.00 Good)
The 360-degree design of this heater sends out heat in all directions. It’s praised for heating up small rooms quickly and has a tilt switch for safety.
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.
(From $20.00 Think Twice)
This compact space heater includes features such as automatic overheat protection, but some users report that it breaks quickly and beyond repair.
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
(From $24.00 Think Twice)
Although this model is fully equipped with an adjustable thermostat and three fan settings, reviewers give the impression that it’s unreliable.
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.
Smart bargain hunters can save some money on energy bills this winter with a little help from a strategically placed electric heater. A cheap space heater is just the right size to keep a small room toasty, letting you comfortably lower the central heating -- and your energy costs along with it. The budget segment is full of portable, effective space heaters that can warm up the room you’re in without putting your budget on ice. Lasko, Vornado, DeLonghi, Honeywell, and Holmes dominate the low end of the market with a bevy of choices for less than $35.
Cheap Space Heater Buying Guide
Our frontrunners for best space heater in the budget price range are the Lasko 754200 (starting at $25) and Vornado VH101 (starting at $30). We also like two other models: the small but mighty DeLonghi HVY1030 (starting at $30) and the Honeywell HZ-0360 (starting at $30), with its 360-degree heat delivery. We aren’t so hot for the Holmes HFH131 (starting at $20) or the Impress IM-702 (starting at $24). Reviews of both models report problems with heat output and durability.
The same brands offer showier, pricier, more powerful space heaters with fancy features such as digital displays, programmable settings, and remote controls. Some of the most expensive heaters boast ultra-efficient infrared quartz heating elements, air filters, and settings that can be customized to the size of the space. Generally, high-end space heaters are also powerful enough to heat large rooms and open interior spaces. Among the pricier models are oil-burning heaters built to look like radiators; some of these have worrisome safety reports. If you’re on a budget, you’ll find that a no-frills model does a fine job of safely heating up a relatively small room or warming an office cubicle.
Electric space heaters come in two basic types -- convection and radiant -- based on how they deliver heat. Convection space heaters generate heat by forcing the surrounding air across a heating element and circulating the newly heated air. The heat builds slowly and lasts a long time. Products labeled “ceramic heaters” are usually convection models with ceramic heating elements. Cheap convection heaters are recommended for small, enclosed rooms. The second type, radiant space heaters, radiate heat around them like a campfire, warming nearby objects and people rather than moving air. They can be put to good use in very small spaces, such as warming feet under a desk, but the heat doesn’t last long or spread out around a room very well, because there’s no circulation component. The cheap heaters recommended here are all convection heaters; radiant space heaters are less prevalent and we found few reviews of cheap models.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
What We Looked for in the Specs
Fan.A fan circulates the air warmed by a convection space heater, helping it disperse more quickly. Convection heaters designed without whirring fans may be quieter, but they take longer to make a room feel cozy and generally cost more. All of our top picks rely on fans for heat distribution. They also have fan-only settings for unheated air circulation. This adds value by letting consumers use the appliance as a portable fan during warm weather (and potentially lower cooling costs) or simply circulate the air in a stuffy room.
Temperature Control.Most of our top picks have two knobs: one for the power and one for the thermostat. Users can choose a high or low heat setting (which draws more or less power, measured in watts) or set the dial to fan-only mode. Models with adjustable thermostats turn on and off automatically to maintain a relatively constant temperature. These heaters save energy by ceasing to run when the desired level has been reached. Although the Vornado VH101 does not have this type of heat regulation, it draws less energy than the others -- a maximum of 750 watts vs. 1,500 watts. At the same time, most reviewers find it plenty powerful even on the low setting. It heats air to 93 degrees on low and 115 degrees on high. The Lasko 5812 (starting at $40) has a thermostat but no manual control for the heat settings. Instead, it automatically adjusts the wattage to save energy when extra power isn’t needed. The DeLonghi HVY1030 features an antifreeze function that automatically turns on the unit if the temperature falls below about 41 degrees.
Safety Features.A space heater can be a safety hazard, so be sure to choose one that includes critical safety features, no matter which type you buy. The first thing to look for is a label certifying that the product meets voluntary safety standards set by the U.S. government. Perhaps the most common label is ETL, from an outfit called Interek. Others are UL (from the Underwriters Laboratory) and CSA (Canadian Standards Association), which likewise indicate that the product has been tested and meets accepted standards. A safe space heater should also have an automatic shutoff or overheat protection feature, which turns off the heating element if it gets too hot. Most electric space heaters, including all those on our list, have this capability. Another key safety feature -- especially for taller, more top-heavy models -- is a tilt switch that shuts off the unit if it tips over. The tower-shaped Honeywell HZ-0360 incorporates this safety measure, as does the squattier Vornado VH101. The Vornado model also has “cool touch” housing that’s designed to be safe to handle even on the high heat setting.
Regardless, make sure to follow general safety guidelines:
- Read the owner’s manual.
- Never plug a space heater into an extension cord.
- Keep a space heater 3 feet away from combustible materials such as drapes, bedding, and furniture.
- Keep a space heater on a flat surface where children and pets can’t reach it.
- Don’t use a space heater around water, paint, chemicals, gas cans, or matches.
- Unplug a space heater when it’s not in use and unattended.
- Keep the cord out of the way but visible, so you don’t trip and knock over the unit.
- Discontinue use if you notice overheating or burning smells.
What We Ignored
Energy Efficiency.The federal government does not include space heaters in the Energy Star labeling program, and the Environmental Protection Agency states that it does not plan to label them. Thus, it’s difficult to declare any space heater more efficient than another. Convection space heaters generally use a lot of energy and can run up your electric bill, but if you use one for spot heating or supplemental heating -- while also turning down your home thermostat -- you may realize some overall savings. Using the space heater’s lowest heat setting and/or adjustable thermostat can help decrease energy use and reduce costs. Ultimately, the trick is to use the space heater only where and when you need it and keep the temperature down in the rooms you’re not occupying.
Space Heater Reviews
For the most part, online space heater reviews come from users posting on retail sites such as Amazon and Home Depot. When shopping for a low-cost space heater, consumers place high value on effectiveness, portability, quiet operation, and durability. They want a space heater that generates heat quickly and spreads it throughout the room, maintaining a comfortable temperature. Most users want the option of easily moving a space heater from room to room at home or transporting it to a workspace. Reviewers frequently bring up noise level as a factor in their overall satisfaction. The fans in convection models, in particular, can be bothersome. While maintenance is easy for this product category, consumers often comment on durability, because once a part breaks, the model must be replaced.
Effective Heating.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.
An overwhelming majority of users posting reviews on Amazon and the Home Depot website praise the heating ability of the Lasko 754200 (starting at $25), one of the best options we found. Reviewers say it heats entire rooms quickly and effectively, and many express pleasant surprise at the heat output given its size, although a few say the fan could be stronger.
Likewise, the Vornado VH101 (starting at $29) enjoys effusive praise from Amazon, Home Depot, and Best Buy customers who have posted reviews online. Users report that they can use this model on the lower heat setting (350 watts) and still get great heating results while saving on electricity costs. Although reviews of the Vornado VH101 are generally enthusiastic, some users warn it takes a little while to heat a full room. Our other top picks operate at higher wattages.
Portability.If your goal is to control utility costs by turning down the central heating and using a space heater where necessary to keep warm, 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.)
All the heaters we researched have carrying handles, although some are no more than a notch at the back. Several consumers reviewing the DeLonghi HVY1030 (starting at $30) challenge Amazon’s product description, essentially asking, “What handle?” They find it frustrating that such a lightweight unit requires two hands to pick up and move. Users seem to have an easier time with the DeLonghi DCH1030 (starting at $35), which has nearly identical specs. This model was created for the international market and isn’t as widely available, but on Amazon it counts hundreds of satisfied customers in the U.S. The Vornado VH101 likewise has more of a handgrip than a handle but is described as highly portable in reviews on the Best Buy website; users have no trouble moving it from room to room. It’s one of the most compact models on our list and weighs less than 2 pounds.
Noise.The fans inside convection space heaters make them effective and versatile but can also up the noise level. These types of heaters may emit whirring or buzzing sounds and be disruptive in a home or office. Some users don’t mind white noise from their heaters, and some even enjoy it, but overly loud models draw criticism. Many customers praise the Vornado VH101 for particularly quiet operation. One reviewer writing on Amazon frets that it’s so quiet, you can forget it’s on and neglect to shut it off when leaving the room.
Durability.Cheap 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- or three-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.
Relative to the number of reviews posted for each of the space heaters we researched, the most negative comments on durability pertain to the Impress IM-702 (starting at $24) and the Holmes Compact Heater Fan HFH131 (starting at $20). The former seems to lack staying power altogether and the latter has seen reports of the fan breaking after a few weeks or the auto-shutoff feature malfunctioning.
Reviewers were understandably wary if they noted the power cord heating up (which can indicate electrical problems). A warm power cord is considered normal, but if a power cord is hot to the touch or you detect a burning smell, you should discontinue use of the space heater immediately.
Additional Products We Considered
DeLonghi DCH1030 Review
(From $35.00 )
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
(From $40.00 )
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.