Best Space Heaters of 2021

CR's tests reveal the speediest and safest models

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Space heaters being tested by Consumer Reports
Project leader Chris Regan measures how hot the surface of a space heater gets when in use.
CR

Space heaters provide that extra warmth you may want in a drafty room or chilly office. It’s a product category that hasn’t seen much innovation over the past few years, but in Consumer Reports’ space heater tests, we found some nonboxy models that look good and work well. And you’ll find many good choices in our ratings that cost $100 or less.

First question: What do you want the space heater to do? Heat just you—or warm up your family room? Our tests have found that not all models do both well.

Another thing space heaters don’t do well? Save you money.

Most models are unlikely to produce the cost savings that some manufacturers claim. In fact, they’re less efficient than central heating systems. So while a space heater is relatively small, it can leave you with a big utility bill if you don’t use it wisely.

More on Space Heaters

Think twice about turning down your thermostat and using a space heater to strategically warm certain areas. You may see modest savings by supplementing the heat in just one room and keeping the others cooler, but that may be impractical.

Safety is another consideration. It’s safest to keep space heaters on the floor rather than on a table. That means a remote control can come in handy, especially if the knobs and dials are on the bottom of the unit (less stooping over and squinting at the settings). Then there’s noise. A machine that makes a racket can be annoying if you’re running the heater while trying to watch TV. Most of the space heaters in our ratings earn a Very Good or Excellent rating in our noise test, and those that did worse typically had other shortcomings.

How We Test Space Heaters

We test space heaters for heating a standard-sized room in 15 minutes and directly heating a person—spot heating—in the same amount of time. “Our spot-heating test uses a mannequin wired with sensors,” says test engineer Chris Regan, who oversees our space heater lab. “We want to know how your body will feel when you’re sitting within 4 feet of the appliance."

We also test space heaters for safety, including how hot the surface gets (so that you don’t burn your fingers) and whether they get so hot that they can ignite a piece of fabric (imagine your curtains). In the past, we’ve called out space heaters that did poorly on our fire-safety test.

Below, grouped alphabetically by task, are ratings and reviews of space heaters that excel at both heating a room and directly heating a person, as well as models that aced either one task or the other. For more choices, see our full space heater ratings.

Space Heaters for Overall Heating

Space Heaters That Heat a Room Quickly

Space Heaters for Direct Heating


Mary H.J. Farrell

Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.