Quietest Space Heaters From Consumer Reports' Tests

These models are quiet enough to share a room with

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space heater Photo: Getty Images

Of all the appliances that might be in your home, a space heater is probably among the least noisy. Even so, some are quieter than others. That’s important because a space heater may be running constantly, adding to the background noise in your home.

Consumer Reports tests two dozen types of products for noise, from the obviously loud, such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers, to quieter appliances that still produce enough noise to be a bother, such as humidifiers and space heaters.

CR engineers measure sound by positioning a sound meter at a “working distance” from the source of the noise, which varies from product to product.

For space heaters, we clip a microphone to a test dummy and place the appliance 4.5 feet away on the floor. We take two noise measurements with the heater running on its highest setting, says Chris Regan, who oversees our space heating tests. For the 60 models in our ratings, the decibel readings range from about 30 to 56. Most of the space heaters we test have a decibel level in the low- to mid-40s.

“That’s a huge range,” says Les Blomberg, director of Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, a nonprofit that works to reduce noise pollution. By comparison, he says, the level of background noise in a typical house ranges between 25 dBA and 40 dBA. “The quietest heaters fit into that background noise, but anything above that will be the dominant sound of your environment,” he says.

Highlights From Our Tests
Space heaters with fans distribute heat best, but they can be noisy. One of our top-scoring space heaters, the pricey Dyson Pure Hot+Cool HP04, is also one of the noisier models, earning a middling score on that test. Noisier still is the small Honeywell HHF360V, which isn’t nearly as good as the Dyson at either heating a room or directly heating a person.

“Radiator-type space heaters are the quietest because they lack a fan,” says Regan. Although all the radiator-style models in our tests earn an Excellent score for noise, you won’t find any of the oil-filled heaters on our recommended list because they heat up so slowly, missing our benchmark of heating a room in 15 minutes. “Still, if you’re using one in a guest room and can turn it on an hour or two before bedtime, the room will get toasty,” he says.

Here are the five quietest space heaters from our tests that earn at least an Overall Score of Very Good for heating. They’re listed in order of their noise rating. For more advice on choosing a space heater, check out our free Buying Guide. And CR members can access our complete space heater ratings to see how all the models we tested stack up.

Noise rating: Excellent
CR’s take: The Vornado VH10 space heater is a champ at heating a room and almost as good at bathing a person in direct heat. It gets top marks in our fire-safety test but can be a little warm to the touch, so it’s not the best choice if you have young children or pets. It does have a tip-over switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if it’s knocked over—a great safety feature.

Noise rating: Excellent
CR’s take: Whisper-quiet, the Lasko 5307 heats a room and directly heats a person equally well. It performs nicely in our fire-safety test, but the surface can get hot enough to cause a burn when it’s on the highest setting. It lacks a tip-over switch, so there are safer choices, although they may not be as quiet.

Noise rating: Excellent
CR’s take: Though the Vornado VH200 is super-quiet and a good choice for spot-heating, it does have some drawbacks. It doesn’t fare well in our hot-surface test, which means it can be hot enough to cause a burn when on the highest setting. It does have a tip-over switch and, at 4 pounds, is very lightweight.

Noise rating: Very Good
CR’s take: The Vornado VMH600 tops our spot-heating test while falling just a bit short in room heating. It sports smart safety features that help it earn impressive marks in our fire-safety and hot-surface tests. This squat heater is stable and has a tip-over switch, so it’s a good bet for a house with kids or pets. It weighs 10 pounds and has a fan and remote control.

Noise rating: Very Good
CR’s take: The Comfort Zone CZ499R space heater gets top marks for both room heating and spot-heating, and its fire-safety features are top-notch. But it’s another model that doesn’t do well on our hot-surface test, so you may want to look elsewhere if you have young children. It does have a tip-over switch and a handy remote control.

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.