Central heating can be expensive, especially if you only need to heat a single room rather than an entire house. The best portable heaters are safe, reliable, and won’t wreak havoc on your electric bill.

In this article, we review several of our favorite portable heaters. We explain setup, features, and we even measure how much power each draws to operate.

5 Best Portable Heaters

Modern electric infrared heater at home.

  1. Editor’s Pick: Dr. Infrared Heater Space Heater
  2. Runner-Up: Vornado Vortex Heater
  3. Best Gas-Powered: Mr. Heater Portable Buddy
  4. Best For Large Rooms: De’Longhi Comfort Temp
  5. Budget Pick: Andily Ceramic Heater

#1 Editor’s Pick: Dr. Infrared Heater Space Heater

Dr. Infrared Heater Space Heater Studio Image

Check Price

The Dr. Infrared Heater Space Heater is our top pick because it is both efficient and powerful. It features a hybrid (PTC and infrared) dual heating system that is effective and low-energy. This heater has tip-over and overheat protection and even includes a remote control for easy operation.

Pros Powerful Useful safety features Energy efficient Case stays cool while in use
Cons Bright digital display lights cannot be dimmed
CostAbout $95
Power1,500.0 Watts
Power SourceCorded electric
Heating MethodRadiant and forced air

Our Experience

Dr. Infrared Heater Space Heater plugged into outdoor outlet.

This heater is a simple plug-and-play operation. There are useful eco and night modes, which help conserve power. Eco mode adjusts output temperature based on the room, and night mode reduces heating power once the unit detects that there is no light.

When turned on, the Dr. Infrared Heater takes little time to warm up, generating noticeably high heat almost immediately. While forcing out hot air, the case remains cool to the touch, which is a nice feature if you have small children or pets.

Running on eco mode, Dr. Heater drew 0.84 kWh in an hour, making it the most efficient heater that we tested.

This heater does not have a space to tuck away the cable when stored. Though this is not a major drawback, it is a convenient feature that other heaters typically have.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Heating Power4 out of 5
Efficiency4.5 out of 5
Portability5 out of 5
Extra Features4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

With over 1,600 Amazon reviews, the Dr. Heater infrared space heater has an average Amazon review score of 4.5 stars out of 5. A total of 88 percent of reviews rate this portable heater 4 or more stars.

The majority of reviewers seem to agree that this is a powerful heater given its size and cost. Many appreciate the safety features and are comfortable leaving it on while they sleep or are away at work.

At least one person complained about receiving a faulty product and said that customer service was poor to respond (though they were able to get a refund through Amazon). A few people complain the light emitted by the display is too bright and cannot be dimmed.

#2 Runner-Up: Vornado Vortex Heater

Vornado Vortex Heater studio image.

Check Price

The Vornado Electric Space Heater uses forced air to quickly raise the temperature. This heating method also makes the heater box cool to the touch, even while in use. The Vornado has two heat settings and a fan mode to help regulate energy consumption. It’s also backed by an exceptionally-long five-year warranty.

Pros Includes five-year warranty Heats very quickly
Cons Some complain of plastic smell when new
CostAbout $100
Power1,500.0 Watts
Power SourceCorded electric
Heating MethodForced air

Our Experience

Vornado Vortex Heater plugged into outdoor outlet.

The Vornado heats up very quickly. In a matter of seconds, it was noticeably warm, especially directly in front of the fan. We appreciate the safety features such as the tip-over switch and automatic shutoff.

In an hour, the Vornado used 1.12 kWh during our test. This made it slightly less efficient than Dr. Infrared Heater, but on the whole quite efficient. This fan heater is excellent for heating small rooms without jacking up your energy bill.

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Heating Power4 out of 5
Efficiency4 out of 5
Portability4.5 out of 5
Extra Features3.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

With almost 4,600 ratings, the Vornado heater has an average Amazon review score of 4.3 stars. A total of 82 percent of reviews give this heater 4 or more stars.

This heater is most commonly praised for its quiet operation. It runs nearly noiselessly. The five-year warranty is appreciated, as it’s longer than most competitors.

Some users report a strong plastic smell. While this was not the case with the unit we tested, many claim to have received heaters that need to be “broken in.” The plastic smell goes away after the heater runs for several hours outside.

#3 Best Gas-Powered: Mr. Heater Portable Buddy

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy studio image.

Check Price

The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy uses propane gas to generate heat and does not require an outlet. This lightweight heater is easy to carry and set up, and offers up to 9,000.0 BTU of heat. Many portable heaters are designed for indoor use only, so this is a good pick if you need something you want to use outside, at a job site or campground.

Pros High heat output Suitable for outdoor use One-year warranty
Cons Emits gas odor Requires propane
CostAbout $95
Power9,000.0 BTU
Power SourcePropane
Heating MethodRadiant

Our Experience

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy with fuel canister installed.

To use this heater, you need to purchase a propane tank. Setup is simple: Screw in the propane tank and flip the on switch. It throws a good amount of heat, comparable to the other space heaters that we tested, though it takes a little to warm up.

Because it doesn’t use electricity, we weren’t able to measure the power draw of the Portable Buddy. Even a small tank of propane should last for six or more hours. We ran a 1.0-pound canister for 2.5 hours and used less than half of the tank.

Overall Rating3.9 out of 5
Heating Power3.5 out of 5
Efficiency4 out of 5
Portability5 out of 5
Extra Features3 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

This portable heater has an Amazon’s Choice designation, and an average score of 4.7 based on more than 450 ratings. A total of 95 percent of reviewers give this heater 4 or more stars.

Many praise this heater as very reliable. It works well in especially cold conditions where some electric heaters can fail.

Some complain about the smell produced by the heater. Any gas heater will have an odor. While we found the fumes to be mild, we wouldn’t recommend running this heater in a small indoor space.

#4 Best For Large Rooms: De’Longhi Comfort Temp

De’Longhi Comfort Temp studio image.

Check Price

This small radiator is designed to be as easy and maintenance-free as possible. The oil system is completely sealed, meaning the user never needs to maintain the oil supply. It comes with foldable casters for easy maneuvering and the cord can be coiled and stowed when not in use.

This room heater also has an adjustable thermostat to measure room temperature and only provide as much heating power as needed.

Pros Energy efficient Easy set up Three-year warranty
Cons Slow heat cycle Relatively heavy
CostAbout $90
Power1,500.0 Watts
Power SourceCorded electric
Heating MethodRadiant

Our Experience

De’Longhi Comfort Temp plugged into outside outlet.

The De’Longhi requires virtually no setup. The casters are already attached and can be unfolded if needed. Once plugged in, there are two switches to adjust the temperature and a comfort mode that conserves energy. You can set the temperature, and the De’Longhi will operate as efficiently as possible.

This heater offers a decent heat output, helped by its relatively larger size compared to other portable heaters. However, it takes longer to get warm than smaller units. You won’t get instant heat from the De’Longhi, but it is a good choice for heating large spaces.

Overall Rating3.5 out of 5
Heating Power3.5 out of 5
Efficiency4 out of 5
Portability3.5 out of 5
Extra Features3 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The De’Longhi also has an Amazon’s Choice designation, having earned a 4.4 average rating based on more than 8,400 reviews. A total of 85 percent of reviews rate the heater 4 or more stars.

While many note that it does take some time for the De’Longhi to heat up, once going it is quite effective. Because of the temperature monitoring, the Comfort Temp can run optimally, drawing as little power as needed to heat your space. Many feel this is a safe, hassle-free heating source. Some claim to have used this heater for several years with no issues.

Some note that for a portable heater, the De’Longhi is on the heavy side (it weighs about 25.0 pounds). Another issue some have noted is that the power cord is short, though this can be remedied with an extension cord.

#5 Budget Pick: Andily Ceramic Heater

Andily Ceramic Heater studio image.

Check Price

The Andily ceramic heater is a reliable and small space heater at a low price point. It includes important safety features such as overheat protection and a tip-over switch and heats up quickly.

This is a good choice for those looking for a cheap option for fast and easy heat. We wouldn’t recommend this unit for heavy use (continual daily use), however, as it lacks the energy efficiency provided by other options.

Pros Affordable Lightweight Tip-over safety switch and overheating protection
Cons Less powerful than larger heaters
CostAbout $40
Power1,500.0 Watts
Power SourceCorded electric
Heating MethodForced air

Our Experience

Andily Ceramic Heater powered on in garage.

As with many of the best portable heaters, operating the Andily is simple. Plug it in and adjust the dials to the desired settings. It warms very quickly, though it doesn’t provide a ton of power.

In an hour, this ceramic space heater used 1.57 kWh of energy, making it the least efficient of the heaters that we tested. Still, running this heater occasionally shouldn’t break the bank.

Overall Rating3.5 out of 5
Heating Power3 out of 5
Efficiency3.5 out of 5
Portability4.5 out of 5
Extra Features3 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The Andily ceramic heater has more than 29,000 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.5 stars. A total of 88 percent of reviewers give this heater 4 or more stars.

Reviewers claim that this heater is good at keeping well-insulated rooms toasty. It works well for its size but isn’t miraculous. Don’t expect it to throw heat more than about 10.0 feet.

Some complain that this heater is loud when set to high. We tested the heater on this setting and didn’t notice a loud noise, but we only tested it for a couple of hours. This heater can get noisy if run for an extended time.

When Should I Use A Portable Heater? 

If you’re seeking to use a small format heater, the best way to utilize it is a compliment to your home’s heating system. Although great for dealing with a drafty room, even the best portable heater doesn’t have the power to heat an entire house. 

Because of their size, portable heaters work well in places like bedrooms and office spaces, and some more powerful units can even heat larger rooms. Of course, if you’re out camping or just enjoying time outside, a non-electric heater can also be useful.

Which Heaters Are The Most Energy Efficient?

Radiant heaters are naturally more energy efficient due to their design, although they do a poor job of circulating warm air to an entire room. The best space heaters are similar to window-mounted air conditioners: good for individual rooms or small spaces.

What Is The Cheapest Way To Heat A Room?

The cheapest way to heat a whole room is to first make sure that it is well insulated. Keeping a room insulated will reduce the amount of energy needed to get warm and stay warm. Rugs and insulated curtains can help.

If you only need to warm yourself a good blanket is cheap and effective. If you must warm the entire room a small, radiant space heater can keep a small living room warm with only a little energy. However, if a room isn’t well-insulated to begin with, a portable space heater can only do so much.

Are Portable Heaters Dangerous? 

Portable heaters are involved in approximately 1,700 fires each year, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Those fires result in about 80 deaths per year and over 150 injuries, per CPSC findings. 

Portable heaters that rely on electricity to operate are best suited for indoor use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, unvented combustion space heaters shouldn’t be used inside since they can release toxic chemicals like carbon monoxide. The agency also recommends having vented space heaters professionally inspected annually.

Portable Heater Buyers Guide

When shopping for the best portable heater, you’ll want to consider cost, efficiency, size, and heating power. Evaluate the space that you’re trying to heat and choose a heater able to effectively warm that area.

Power

Whether you are using an electric heater or one powered by propane, there are a few metrics shoppers should know when it comes to buying the best space heater: 

  • BTUs: British Thermal Units, or BTUs, measure the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature. The main thing to know is the higher the BTU rating the greater the heat output. 
  • Watts/kilowatts: Watts is another measurement of power that can convey heat output.
  • CFM: Cubic feet-per-minute (CFM) measures the amount of air volume, or fan power, a device can produce.

Larger rooms require more powerful heaters. The rule of thumb is that you’ll need 10.0 Watts or 35.0 BTU of heating power per square foot that you want to heat.

Most household outlets are 120.0 volts, and you shouldn’t connect a heater more powerful than 1,500.0 Watts to such a circuit. Stronger heaters will require special, dedicated connections.

If you need a portable heater for an indoor space, be sure the space is well-insulated. It’s no use heating an uninsulated room – you’ll end up wasting a lot of power to little effect.

Indoor Vs. Outdoor

Many portable heaters are not rated for outdoor use. If you plan to use your heater outside, make sure you select an appropriate option. If you’re outside, you may not have access to an outlet, so in this case, a gas-powered heater is likely your best bet.

Type Of Heat

When it comes to keeping spaces warm, there are three types of heating methods: radiant heat, convection heat, and forced-air heating.

  • Radiant heat: Radiant heaters employ infrared radiation to warm the area around them. Typically, radiant heaters are more energy-efficient but aren’t as good at warming large areas. Propane heaters are an example of this method.
  • Convection heat: Usually used as a baseboard heater, convection heat turns cool air into warm air and circulates it back into the room. Portable electric space heaters are another example of this method.
  • Forced-air: Commonly used in homes, forced air heaters vent warm air outwards via ducts and work well to heat a large area. You may have installed a forced-air system in a home improvement project.

Safety Features

If you plan to use your heater indoors, especially if you plan to sleep while it is in use or plan to leave it unattended, it’s a good idea to look for heaters with safety features like tip-over switches and overheat protection.

Many models, whether it be a garage heater or a patio heater, have auto shut-off features in the event of a malfunction. Grills that cover the heating element can also help prevent injuries if the unit is touched directly.

Safety Tips

If you do find yourself using a personal heater, keep a few of these safety tips provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in mind: 

  • Don’t use a portable heater with an extension cord, power strip, or smart plug
  • Never leave a space heater unattended 
  • Place the heater on the ground and ideally 3 feet away from other objects, especially anything flammable
  • Carefully review any instructions from the manufacturer

Portable Heaters: How We Tested

The portable heaters in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon for top products, looking at factors like Prime shipping eligibility, customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices.

The portable heaters that best met these standards were ordered by our team for testing. A team member tried each heater, taking note of ease of use, efficiency, and heating power. We also tried and noted each of the features (such as a remote or eco mode). Each portable was given a rating out of 5 stars based on the following criteria:

  • Heating Power: Heaters that warm quickly and throw a lot of heat score best in this category.
  • Efficiency: We used an energy meter to measure the power draw of each heater over an hour. Those that used the least amount of energy to run score best in this category.
  • Portability: A portable heater needs to be portable. Heaters that are easiest to carry, maneuver, and position score best in this category.
  • Extra Features: Many heaters have useful extra features such as remotes, safety shut-off switches, and programmable timers. Portable heaters with the most useful extra features score highest in this category.

Portable Heater Testing Process

To test the portable heaters for this review a member of our testing team set up each heater according to the included directions. We ran each heater at roughly equivalent settings for at least 15 minutes. If a heater had any special features or functions, these were also tested.

Any electric heaters that we tested were connected to a power monitor to measure power draw.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. A team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more.

Portable Heaters: The Bottom Line

Finding a portable heater that meets your needs involves can be a judgment call. Choosing smaller, lightweight options means you may give up on things like oscillation and power output. Most electric heaters are already fairly portable, but it just depends on the level of warmth you needs and safety features appropriate for the room you are heating. 

One thing consumers definitely shouldn’t skimp on is features like auto-shutoff and tip-over protection. Shoppers should also brush up on general safety tips, which we’ve included above, to make sure you’re not using the heater improperly.

Other Portable Heater Recommendations

Below are a few portable space heaters that we did not test in person, but did stand out to us during the research phase.

Dreo Portable Space Heater

Check Price

The Dreo Portable Oscillating Heater has four different heating modes and an incredibly compact design. It also has similar safety features that make it comparable with our other picks.

GiveBest Ceramic Heater

Check Price

With two settings between 1500 watts and 750 watts, the GiveBest Ceramic Heater claims to warm up to 200 square feet. It also claims to have quiet components and operates at less than 45 decibels.

Best Portable Heater: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.