A space heater can keep you comfortable without cranking up the heat throughout your home…or provide warmth when you’re working in an unheated spot such as a garage. Among the best space heaters…
Best overall: Dr. Infrared Original Heater provides both conventional convection heating, which circulates warm air, and infrared heating, which efficiently and almost instantly warms nearby objects and people via invisible infrared light. This 13-x-12.5-x-17-inch unit is solidly built, attractively designed and includes safety features such as tip-over auto-matic shutoff. It is designed to heat areas up to 1,000 square feet. Like most electric space heaters, it consumes 1,500 watts of power, so it costs around 20 cents per hour to operate at full power at typical 13-cent-per-kilowatt-hour rates. But it’s so efficient at delivering warmth—60% more efficient than 1,500-watt heaters that heat only the air, according to the manufacturer—that it won’t have to operate at full power for as long to maintain a desired temperature. $110.
Best for extended operation: De’Longhi Portable Radiator Heater looks like an old-fashioned cast-iron radiator and generates warmth by heating up oil that’s contained inside its metal framework. This 14-x-9-x-25-inch unit is most appropriate for small rooms—perhaps 250 square feet or smaller—that you want to keep warm for several hours or longer. Radiator-style heaters warm up slowly but maintain warmth efficiently. Like most space heaters, it consumes 1,500 watts at full power, but once warm its 700- or 800-watt setting often is sufficient, roughly halving energy costs. De’Longhi is perhaps the most reliable space-heater brand, and this is a particularly safe design—never scalding hot to the touch. $80.
Best for circulating hot air throughout a room: Vornado AVH2 features a powerful fan that is extremely effective at distributing the hot air it generates throughout a room up to perhaps 250 square feet in size. However, the fan makes it a bit louder than many heaters. This 12-x-12-x-9-inch unit consumes 1,500 watts on high power or 750 on low. $82.
Best low-price tabletop heater: Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater with Adjustable Thermostat is tiny—just 9-x-6-x-4-inches—but this 1,500-watt unit is powerful enough to heat small rooms up to 300 square feet. Price: $26. Even smaller: If you want a portable, affordable heater that will warm you as you sit in a chair nearby but not the entire room, the 6-x-6-x-3-inch Brightown Mini Desk Heater can do the job for an even lower price. It consumes just 400 watts of electricity per hour. $20.