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Space heaters

What's behind our space heater Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 26 models in space heaters to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score is based on a weighted average of safety, temperature control, noise, and ease of use. Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed by precise overall score.
  • Output
    Output is based on the manufacturer's stated wattage rating which was verified during testing.
  • Room heating
    The effectiveness of a heater to heat a standard-sized room, such as a family room, in 15 minutes.
  • Spot heating
    The effectiveness of a heater to directly heat an individual sitting in a room in 15 minutes.
  • Hot surface
    The risk of burn from touching the heat-exhaust outlet. The score is a combination of maximum temperature at the hottest portion of the outlet, the size of the hot area, and the hot area’s accessibility. Models with a Very Good or Excellent are cool enough to safely touch. Heaters rated Fair or Poor can be hot enough to cause a burn when operating at their hottest setting.
  • Fire safety
    The potential for ignition of flammable material such as drapes or clothing. Heaters rated Poor can cause ignition to cotton material when operated at their hottest setting.
  • Ease of use
    Indicates how easy the heater’s controls are to operate and how easy the heater is to move and carry.
  • Noise
    The relative loudness of the heater operating on its highest setting.

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Recommended space heaters

Recommended space heaters are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
Sales of space heaters are sizzling as millions of homeowners buy into the promise of lower-cost heating in an era of soaring utility bills. But there are also important safety issues to consider, especially if you have small children or pets in your home. Newer models tend to be safer. If you're looking for information about space heaters, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ space heater reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our space heater buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and space heater reviews to help you choose the best space heater for your needs.

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Space heater buying guide

Space heater buying guide

The best space heaters can quickly heat you and an average sized room for as little as $40. Electric heaters such as those we test include an array of safety features that reduce the risk of fire. But that doesn't mean all of them are risk-free. Many we tested got hot enough to cause the equivalent of a bad sunburn within a second of contact.

All of the space heaters in Consumer Reports tests will comfortably warm a chilly room. But remember, the only way to potentially save money is to use a heater in one room and leave the rest of the house chillier.

When you shop for an electric space heater, look for a label from a recognized testing laboratory such as UL (Underwriters Laboratory), ETL (Intertek), or CSA (Canadian Standards Association) verifying that the heater's construction and performance meet voluntary U.S. safety standards.

Also, fuel-burning space heaters are more dangerous than electrics. We suggest that you consider them only for emergency use, say, during a winter power outage.

Our experts and the National Fire Protection Association offer the following safety advice:

  • Don't leave an electric heater unattended while it's plugged in. Place the heater on a level, flat surface where children and pets can't reach it and never in a child's room. Use a heater on a tabletop only when specified by the manufacturer. If you place it on furniture, it could fall and be damaged.
  • Don't use a space heater in a damp or wet area unless it's designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms. Moisture could damage it.
  • Keep combustible materials such as furniture, bedding, and curtains at least three feet from the front of the heater and away from its sides and rear. Don't use a heater near paint, gas cans, or matches. Keep the air intake and outlet clear.
  • Run the electric cord on top of area rugs or carpeting so that you can step over it and not abrade it underfoot. Plugging another electrical device into the same outlet or extension cord as the heater could cause overheating.

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