Is It Safe to Use a Space Heater in the Bathroom?

What you need to know, plus models with the right safety features

When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our nonprofit mission. Learn more.

Close up of a space heater. Photo: Getty Images

We all know that water and electricity don’t mix, but we get that it’s also not comfortable to step out of the shower into a frigid bathroom. So if you choose to put a space heater in the bathroom, exercise caution to stay safe.

First, make sure your bathroom has ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets, required in all bathrooms since 1975. To prevent a fatal electric shock, a GFCI outlet constantly monitors current flowing through a circuit—and will automatically shut the power off if it detects even a small amount of stray current. To identify a GFCI outlet, look for two buttons that say “test” and “reset.”

It’s also safest if your heater has an appliance leakage current interrupter (ALCI) plug. Chris Regan, who oversees CR’s space heater tests, says that ALCI plugs also monitor and safeguard against differences in current, adding extra protection.

More on Space Heaters

Five of the 75 space heaters currently in our ratings have GFCI plugs, but three of them lack a tip-over switch—a safety feature that we highly recommend because it shuts off the heater if it gets knocked over. The two models from Soleil featured below have tip-over switches.

Below, listed in alphabetical order, are the five heaters we tested that have GFCI plugs. Their performance as space heaters is middling to poor but, in this case, you have to put safety before performance. If you’re using a space heater for your family room or to spot heat your makeshift office, check out our roster of the best space heaters of the year.

For even more safety information, learn how to find the safest space heater for your home.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the November 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.