Searching for a space heater? For 2020 we purchased 10 of the highest-ranked models for extensive amounts of hands-on testing. We ran a comprehensive set of experiments to determine which models are the best for a personal space such as a desk, which are better suited for small rooms, which ones are the easiest to use, and which ones are the most efficient. If you're having cold feet about which model is the right choice for you, we have you covered. Read on for our extensive space heater review.
The Best Space Heaters of 2020
Best TowerSpace Heater
When it comes to tower-style space heaters it's going to be hard to top the Lasko 755320. It earned one of our top scores following our assessments — it was a shoo-in for our Editors' Choice award. As soon as you turn the Lasko 755320 on it starts delivering hot air at an expeditious rate. We like the controls and the user interface on both the device itself as well as the remote control. It's tall, but the small footprint allows it to be tucked into small spaces.
The Lasko 755320 also has some shortcomings. First of all, it doesn't have a setting to use the fan without the heating capabilities engaged, so you're gonna be storing this model for the warmer months. It's also lacking a sensor to shut it down if it accidentally gets knocked over by a child or pet.
Read Full Review: Lasko 755320
Best Personal Heater
Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968
If you're searching for a space heater that produces an abundance of warmth but with a more natural feel than ceramic fan-forced versions, we suggest the Dr. Infrared DR-968. Not only is the remote included with this model of an elementary design, but the conveniently located user interface and digital readout on the unit itself are also simple to use. The Dr is powerful and would be a good choice for a shop or larger room.
There are a few drawbacks that come along with the design of this model. The box style does not allow for oscillation and it's a bit bulky — although wheels do help with mobility provided that you are using it in an area that has a wheel-friendly surface. Also, unlike many models, a power button must be depressed to switch the Dr. Infrared from "off" to "standby" mode before the remote control will function.
Read Full Review: Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968
Top Pick for Luxury
Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09
For those that are looking for a unique looking space heater that offers a variety of settings, we recommend the Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09. This heater tilts to be able to aim it right where you want, and we love that it doubles as a fan. The Jet Focus comes with a remote that magnetically sticks to the very top of the body, and we found the remote to be intuitive to use. The digital display on the heater remains hidden until the Dyson is turned on, then it is easy to read from a fairly good distance. This model comes with a variety of settings including 1-degree increments, an oscillation setting, and two different widths of air diffusion.
This device isn't without its flaws — without the remote, you can only adjust the temperature, all other functions are lost. The other big downside to the Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09 is the price. If you're shopping on a budget, this model is not the right choice for you.
Read Full Review: Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09
Best Bang for the Buck
If you like tower-style space heaters, but you don't want a model that's going to break the bank we recommend the Lasko 5775. The second this model is switched on the area surrounding the device becomes noticeably warmer, and the oscillation setting does a fairly good job of distributing air evenly. The Lasko 5775 has an easy to use temperature controller and has a 7-hour timer.
The Lasko 5775 does have a few shortcomings. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of a remote, as this is a feature that much of the competition offers. This model scored decently during our timed temperature change trials, although we had to be very close to this model to really feel the heat.
Read Full Review: Lasko 5775
Best Value for Compact Size
If you're looking for a small, basic personal heating device, we think the AmazonBasics 1500W Ceramic is a great option — especially considering the low price. It's very condensed making it perfect for use under a desk or other small space. An additional bonus feature of the AmazonBasics model is that it doubles as a fan, so it can be used in the summer rather than get stored for the season.
When it comes to bells and whistles, the AmazonBasics 1500W Ceramic falls a bit short. The temperature settings are a dial with no way to select a certain degree. This model also lacks a remote, a timer, as well as an oscillating setting.
Read Full Review: AmazonBasics 1500W
Why You Should Trust Us?
Here at GearLab we buy all of the products that we test at full price from the same retailers as our readers to ensure that we don't have any bias caused by accepting promo or demo models from manufacturers. Our space heater testing team is comprised of Austin Palmer and Ross Patton. 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. In addition to Austin's 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. To verify our results, we consulted our resident mechanical engineer, David Wise who has a background in heat transfer.
We tested our space heaters during a winter cold spell at Lake Tahoe, a place 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, in the lab, and in our homes.
Related: How We Tested Space Heaters
Analysis and Test Results
In order to prove which space heater is truly the best, we conducted dozens of hours of research to ascertain the specifications and details of more than 50 models. After much deliberation, we narrowed it down to a select group of models, then purchased them to be put through a gauntlet of uncompromising tests. After a long list of experiments and measurements, we were able to group our results into four individually weighted metrics — personal heat, convenience, small room heating, and power consumption.
Related: Buying Advice for Space Heaters
Space heaters vary greatly in price and performance, and a higher cost doesn't necessarily mean a better product, especially for certain applications. If all you need is a bare-bones, compact heater and you aren't looking to invest much, the AmazonBasics 1500W Ceramic is a great choice. If you'd like an oscillating style tower heater, but you don't need extra features like a remote, the Lasko 5775 would make a good fit. Another Lasko model, the Lasko 755320 was our highest scoring space heater but it costs much less than 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 Jet Focus AM09 might be the one for you — but be prepared to drop a lot more cash for the sleek looks and extra features.
The primary purpose of a space heater is to raise the temperature in a small area, so we allotted 40% of our total score to this metric. In order to test the performance of each model's personal heating capabilities, we first put each heater under an office desk to see how they fit, and then subjectively decided which ones were the best at making the work area warmer and more comfortable. Next, we sat in various pieces of furniture in several living rooms with each heater 5 feet away to see how they function in a larger area.
Scoring a 9 out of 10 for this metric, the Lasko 755320 warmed up the area under the desk noticeably faster than the other models, in fact, it's actually a bit intense. The airflow feels a little more directed than some models, but the oscillation setting helps disperse the heat if need be.
When we moved to the living room the Lasko 755320 was even more impressive than the office — this model produces a warm breeze better than any other model in our review.
Close behind the Lasko 755320 for personal heating was the Comfort Zone CZ523RBK which earned an 8 out of 10 for this assessment. The Comfort Zone is fairly tall, and the controls are on top of the unit so they're a bit difficult to reach if your desk is shorter, but the remote takes care of that problem.
The oscillation is a bit slow for underneath a desk if you want constant hot air blowing on you, but the Comfort Zone does a fantastic job of quickly producing heat. When we tried the CZ523RBK 5 feet away from a piece of furniture we could really feel the heat, but the breeze wasn't quite as strong as the Lasko 755320.
Several models were awarded a 6 out of 10 for this metric. Both the Lasko 5775 and the Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus have small footprints which helps them fit nicely under a desk.
The Lasko 5775 and the AmazonBasics 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.
Even though it takes the Dyson a little longer to warm up than some models, it's still great for use near living room furniture thanks to its oblong design and tilt option that directs air in a greater vertical gradient than the other models in our review.
Many people in the market for a space heater are looking for a model that has some features that make the device easier to use such as temperature displays, remote controls, or the option to turn the heating element off and just use the unit as a fan. Here at GearLab we love bells and whistles, so we dedicated 30% of the total score to convenience.
It's hard to beat the Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09 in the convenience department — it earned an 8 out of 10 for this metric. The Dyson comes with a number of innovative features including tilt, a remote that magnetically attaches to the top of the unit, and a "focused" mode which allows for the diffusion of the air to be narrowed to a more direct path.
The timer on the Jet Focus goes up to 9 hours, but the first hour increases in increments of 15 minutes. The thermostat on this model goes up to 99 °F, and the digital readout is invisible until the Dyson is turned on.
This space heater also has the option to run a "cold" mode in which the heat is turned off so that it may function as a normal fan. The Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09 also comes with an oscillation setting and has an internal sensor that shuts the power off in case the device ever gets knocked over.
The Lasko 755320, Comfort Zone CZ523RBK, Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968 and COSTWAY HT1195 were all given a score of 7 out of 10 for the convenience metric. Each one of these space heaters comes equipped with a digital readout and a thermostat that goes up and down in 1-degree increments.
All of these models come with remote controls but we found the Dr. Infrared to be the most straightforward to use because unlike the remotes for other models the Dr. uses words rather than symbols to label each button. Out of the remotes that use symbols, the Lasko 755320 controls were the most intuitive to decipher and this model's controller fits comfortably in your hand.
Both the Infrared and the COSTWAY HT1195 have timers that go all the way up to 12 hours with one-hour increments for those that need to feel the heat for extended periods of time.
Of the models that scored a 7 out of 10 for convenience, the COSTWAY is the only one that comes with the option to turn the heat off and use the unit as a fan.
The Lasko 5775 has similar controls to its cousin, the Lasko 755320, but because of its lack of a remote, we were only able to give it a score of 5 out of 10 for this metric. Coming in near the back of the pack is the AmazonBasics 1500W with a score of 4 out of 10 — this model has minimal settings and features, although we like that it can be used as a fan without the heating element engaged.
For the next 20% of the total score, we opted to establish some objective results — we ran each space heater in the same room for a given amount of time at its highest setting and then measured how much each model was able to raise the temperature in 20-minute intervals up to an hour. To ensure accuracy we made sure the inside temperature of the room was within a degree or two of 64 degrees Fahrenheit at the beginning of the test, and we only ran this experiment in the morning when outside temps were in the low 30s.
Some of the heaters did fairly well, but because we feel as though there is vast room for future improvement in the overall performance of space heaters we didn't give out any high scores for this assessment. Our three highest-scoring models, tying for a 6 out of 10, are the Lasko 755320, Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09, and Vornado VH200. The Lasko 755320 was able to raise the temperature in the room 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 temperature of the room 11.2 degrees with a 7.5-degree increase in the first 20-minute interval, a 2-degree jump in the second interval, and 1.7 degrees in the third.
The Dyson was the most impressive in the first 20 minutes where it was able to get the room temp to rise by 7.8 degrees. During the second and third intervals, the room temp increased 2.3 and then 2 degrees. This model produced the greatest warmth upsurge over the entire hour at 12.1 degrees.
Each earning a 5 out of 10 for this test were the Lasko 5775 and the AmazonBasics 1500W. The AmazonBasics was able to increase the temperature by 10.1 degrees after an hour while the Lasko 5775 was able to raise it 9.9 degrees in the same amount of time.
In a world of seemingly always increasing utility bills, it's important to consider how much it will cost to run a space heater. These are high-powered devices, and although they are all 1500 watts, they consume vastly different amounts of power. If you aren't cautious with your usage, you could see quite the spike in your power bill. We dedicated the final 10% of our total score to our evaluation of power consumption. We set up a wattmeter in-line with the plug for each heater and ran them on high for two hours in order to get a reading.
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 were then able to calculate the cost of running each device for ten hours, 1 day, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and a year.
None of these models were especially efficient, and we feel as though there will be a vast improvement in space heater efficiency in years to come. That said, we concluded that four of the models in our review earned a 6 out of 10 for this metric. The COSTWAY HT1195 will run you $4.05 per day at its highest setting, as it uses 30.72 kWh in 24 hours.
The Vornado VH200 and the Lasko 754200 will both 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 Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09 is the most efficient space heater that we've reviewed to date — it consumes 30 kWh in 24 hours, which correlates to a cost of $3.95.
The Lasko 5775 earned a 5 out of 10 for this metric — it costs $4.20 to run for around the clock for a day. Bringing up the rear for this assessment are the Lasko 755320 and the AmazonBasics 1500W which each earned a 4 out of 10 thanks to their high power consumption. The Lasko 755320 costs $4.30 to run for 24 hours, while the AmazonBasics costs $4.39.
Our goal at TechGearLab is to provide our readers with the most in-depth, accurate reviews possible. We hope that having read this article you will now trust in our reviewing process and that now you will feel confident that you are purchasing the best space heater for your individual application.
— Ross Patton and Austin Palmer