Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
Searching for a space heater? After researching over 100 models, we purchased 12 of the top performers for extensive amounts of hands-on testing. For our recent update, we ran a comprehensive set of experiments to determine which models are best for a personal space, such as under a desk. We also set out to discover which products are better suited for small rooms, which are the easiest to use, and which are the most efficient. If you're having cold feet about which space heater is the right choice for you, we have you covered.
Staying cozy and comfortable is very important to us. While space heaters will keep you toasty inside, an outdoor heater will ensure you're warm when spending time outside.
Editor's Note: This review was updated on March 2, 2022, and now provides more information on our in-depth testing process. We've also included a new award winner, which offers built-in fall protection.
Dimensions: 7.2" x 8.6" x 23" | Remote Control: Yes
Fantastic heating performance
Nice remote control
Lacks fall-over protection
Doesn't double as a fan
The Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower rules the roost for tower-style space heaters. This model promptly produces heated air as soon as you power it up. The controls and user interface are intuitive, and the remote control is ergonomic and easy to use. Even though the unit is tall, it is easy to place in out-of-the-way spaces thanks to the small base.
This model has some limitations, however. There is no way to use the fan without the heating unit on, so it won't be useful in the warmer months. It also lacks a sensor to power it off if it accidentally gets knocked over. Still, all in all, we like this design the best for the majority of our space heating needs.
Dimensions: 10.3" x 9.7" x 23.3" | Remote Control: Yes
Tip over protection
Great heat output
Slow to warm up
The Comfort Zone Oscillating Digital Tower is a user-friendly and straightforward space heater that gets the job done. Standing at 23.3 inches high, it is a little on the tall side but still fits underneath most standard-sized desks. It has a powerful fan that can easily blow warm air up to six feet away, making it an excellent personal heater whether it's tucked up under your desk or pointed at your chair from across the room. This device is remote control equipped and has built-in fall protection.
While this model is a little slow to warm up, it cranks out some serious heat when it does come up to temperature. Its operational costs are slightly on the high side but nothing too extreme. Its excellent heat output and convenient controls earn this space heater our highest award.
Dimensions: 5.12" x 30" x 9.8" | Remote Control: Yes
Built in air purifier
Excellent at heating small spaces
Heats up quickly
Relies on external remote
The Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool is not only a highly capable space heater, but it also functions as a top-of-the-line air purifier and fan. As a space heater, it was one of the absolute best options for heating a small room. Over 20 minutes, it raised our test room temperature by 8.4 degrees and a full 13 degrees over an hour. The heat this machine generates is a pleasant radiant heat that isn't overpowering, even when you're sitting up close.
This model has two significant drawbacks, the first being that almost all of the functions are controlled with a remote. If you lose the remote, you're pretty much out of luck. The next is this unit's high energy consumption. It's not the worst offender, but it is above average when it comes to operating costs. If you're in the market for an air purifier and space heater, having a machine that can do both certainly saves a lot of floor space.
Dimensions: 7.5" x 6.3" x 9.4" | Remote Control: No
Also works as a fan
Unclear temperature settings
Lacks oscillation capabilities
If you're looking for a small, basic personal heating device, the Amazon Basics 1500W is a great option, especially considering how low the price is. It's very compact, making it perfect for use under an office desk or any other small space. A bonus feature of the Amazon Basics model is that it doubles as a fan, so it can be used all year long.
When it comes to bells and whistles, the Amazon Basics 1500W Ceramic falls a bit short and is about as basic as they come. The temperature settings are controlled by a dial, with no way to select an exact target temperature. This model also lacks a remote and a timer, and it does not oscillate.
At GearLab, we purchase all of the products that we test at full price from the same retailers as our readers. This ensures that we don't have any bias caused by accepting promo or demo models from manufacturers. Our testing team is comprised of Austin Palmer, Ross Patton, and Buck Yedor. Having spent his entire life in the snowy mountains, Ross is no stranger to the various ways that people keep their living and workspaces warm. That, coupled with his formal training in environmental science and more than 15 years of product testing experience, has honed his skills for creating in-depth side-by-side tests. Austin has extensive experience performing hands-on tests for more than 500 products, he spent time working on an oil rig where the crew would huddle around a space heater when temps were so low that running water would freeze. Buck not only brings a background in product testing but has lived in more than one freezing apartment with no central heat and knows all too well how crucial a good space heater can be. To verify our results, we consulted our resident mechanical engineer, David Wise, who has a background in heat transfer.
These models were tested during a winter cold spell at Lake Tahoe, where the record low temperatures are below -20 degrees Fahrenheit. We tested the heaters inside the lab but wouldn't run any experiments if the outside temperature reached more than 38 degrees. We came up with four different sets of experiments to determine how well each heater worked under a desk, in a living room, what kinds of extra features are included with each model, how much heat they could add to a small room, and how much each one costs to run. We ran each model for several weeks in the office, the lab, and in our homes.
To determine which units are truly the best, we conducted dozens of hours of research to ascertain the specifications and details of more than 100 models. After much deliberation, we narrowed it down to a select group of models, then purchased them to be put through a gauntlet of stringent tests. After a long list of experiments and measurements, we grouped our results into four individually weighted metrics — personal heat, convenience, small room heating, and power consumption.
Space heaters vary significantly in price and performance, and a higher cost doesn't necessarily equate to a better product, especially for specific applications. The Amazon Basics 1500W Ceramic is an excellent choice if you aren't looking to spend much and all you need is a compact heater with basic heating functions. If you'd like an oscillating style tower heater, but you don't need extra features like a remote, the Lasko Ceramic Tower would make a good fit. Another Lasko model, the Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower, was our highest scoring machine, but it costs much less than the models it outperformed. The Dr. Infrared is a bit more expensive than many heaters in our review but is affordable for this heater type. Finally, if you want all of the bells and whistles you can get out of a heater from a designer brand, the Dyson Hot+Cool might be the one for you — but be prepared to drop a lot more cash for the sleek looks and extra features.
A heater's ability to add a degree of comfort to a living space is its primary purpose. Accordingly, we allocated 40% of the overall score for this metric. For personal heat, we began by putting each heater under a standard-sized office desk to see how they fit; then, we judged which models were the best at making the office space cozier and more comfortable. We used each heater in a living room and employed a panel of judges to poll the overall feel of how well each model was performing.
The Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower warmed up the underside of a desk noticeably much faster than any other model. This speedy heat-up earned it a top score; in fact, its heat was a bit intense. The airflow feels a little more direct than some models, but the oscillation setting helps disperse the heat if needed.
When we moved to the living room, the Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower impressed us even more than at the office — this model produces a warm breeze better than any other model in our review.
Not too far behind the Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower for personal heating is the Comfort Zone Oscillating Digital Tower. The Comfort Zone is fairly tall, and the controls are on top of the unit, so if your desk is a bit shorter, they can be difficult to reach — but the remote takes care of that problem.
The Comfort Zone Oscillating Digital Tower does a fantastic job of quickly producing heat, but the oscillation is a bit slow for underneath a desk, especially if you want constant hot air blowing on you. When we tested the Oscillating Digital Tower five feet away from a piece of furniture, we could feel the heat, but the breeze wasn't quite as strong as the Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower.
Both the Lasko Ceramic Tower and the Amazon Basics have small footprints, which helps them fit nicely under a desk.
The Lasko Ceramic Tower and the Amazon Basics 1500W both heat a desk area up very quickly, but unfortunately, their blowers aren't quite strong enough to be practical for use in a living room.
The Dyson heats up fast and is excellent for living room use near furniture thanks to its oblong design and tilt option that directs air in a greater vertical gradient than the other models in our review.
The overall convenience of using a home appliance, such as a space heater, can be a deciding factor when it comes time to purchase. These devices have various controls, temperature displays, remotes, and even the option to use the heater as a fan with the heating element disengaged. Here at GearLab, we can appreciate bells and whistles, so we dedicated 30% of the total score to convenience.
It's hard to beat the Dyson Hot+Cool in the convenience department. This model comes with several innovative features, including 350 degrees of oscillation and a remote that magnetically attaches to the top of the unit. Most impressively, it is also a fully functional air purifier and fan.
The timer on the Dyson goes up to eight hours, with options to set it for 30 mins, one hour, two hours, four hours, or eight hours. The digital thermometer had one of the widest readings, ranging from 33 to 99 degrees. The Dyson is also smartphone compatible. Due to federal regulations, you can't control the heat via your phone, but you can control and monitor the air purifier.
The Comfort Zone Ceramic Oscillating Digital and Oscillating Digital, Lasko Bladeless, and Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968 all scored well in the convenience metric. These space heaters come equipped with a digital readout and a thermostat that goes up and down in one-degree increments.
These models come with remote controls, but we found the Dr. Infrared is one of the most straightforward to use. Unlike the remotes for other models, the buttons on the Dr. Infrared are labeled with words instead of symbols.
Out of the remotes that use symbols, the Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower controls were the most intuitive to decipher, and this model's controller fits comfortably in your hand. The Infrared is great for those that need to feel the heat for extended periods, as it has a timer that goes all the way up to 12 hours with one-hour increments.
The Lasko Ceramic Tower has similar controls to its cousin, the Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower. Still, since it lacks a remote, we could only give it a mediocre score for this metric.
Coming in near the back of the pack is the Amazon Basics 1500W; this barebones model has minimal settings and features, although we like that it can be used as a fan without the heating element engaged. While some enjoy bells and whistles, others may prefer a basic model that is straightforward and does what it's meant to do.
We ran each device in the same room for a set amount of time at the highest setting and then measured how much of a positive temperature change each heater was able to cause. Over the course of an hour, we took readings every 20 minutes.
At the start of each trial, to ensure that our data was accurate, we made sure the inside temperature of the test room was as close to 64 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. We even took it a step further and only ran the assessment when the outside temperature was in the low 30s. We dedicated 20% of the total score to this metric. Some of the heaters did fairly well, but because we feel there is vast room for future improvement in space heaters' overall performance, we didn't give out any high scores for this assessment.
Our highest scoring models are the Dyson Hot+Cool, the Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower, the Comfort Zone Ceramic Oscillating Digital, the Lasko Bladeless, Honeywell Digital Ceramic, and the Vornado VH200.
The Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower was able to raise the temperature in the room by 6.4 degrees in the first 20 minutes, 2.2 degrees in the second 20, and another 2.2 degrees in the third for a total of 10.8 degrees after an hour. After an hour, the Vornado increased the room's temperature 11.2 degrees with a 7.5-degree increase in the first 20-minute interval, a two-degree jump in the second interval, and 1.7 degrees in the third.
The Dyson was the most impressive — it was able to get the room temp to rise by 8.4 degrees in the first 20 minutes. During the second and third intervals, the room temp increased 2.4 and then 2.2 degrees. This model produced the greatest warmth upsurge over the entire hour at 13 degrees.
The Amazon Basics was able to increase the temperature by 10.1 degrees after an hour, while the Lasko Ceramic Tower raised it 9.9 degrees in the same amount of time.
For the final 10% of our total score, we assessed power consumption. Even though each of the devices in our review is 1500 watts, they use surprisingly different amounts of energy. You could easily drive your power bill through the roof if you aren't careful. We ran each heater on high for two hours and took readings with a wattmeter to assess this metric.
From this data, we were able to see the power consumed by each model in kilowatt per hour (kWh). We looked up the current national average of cents per kWh and then calculated the cost of running each device for ten hours, one day, one month, three months, six months, and a year.
Depending on the price of electricity as well as the climate in your area, the results of this assessment could largely differ for various locations. If you know your power costs are high, we recommend placing more weight on this metric.
By far, the best performing model for this metric during our assessment was the Lasko Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat. Running at full blast, this device costs $1.67 to run for 10 hours. It will cost $723 to run over six months, which is similar to the Vornado VH200cost.
Many models are not incredibly efficient. The Lasko Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat will burn through 30.48 kWh in a 24 hour period, which translates to a forecasted cost of $4 per day with the heater running around the clock. The Dyson consumes 32.16 kWh in 24 hours, which correlates to a cost of $4.24. The Lasko Ceramic Tower costs $4.20 to run around the clock for a day.
Bringing up the rear for this assessment are the Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower and the Amazon Basics 1500W, which earned a low score due to their high power consumption. The Lasko Ceramic Digital Tower costs $4.30 to run for 24 hours, while the Amazon Basics costs $4.39.
After reading this review, we hope that you will be confident enough in our processes to purchase the best space heater for your individual needs. Stay warm out there.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.