The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Space Heaters

Tuesday September 15, 2020

Before we purchased our space heaters we began by spending days on end scouring the web for user reviews and studying manufacturers' specification claims. We then bought the top models on the market for an in-depth hands-on analysis in order to determine which one is truly the best. We looked into every aspect of their performance and design beginning with their heating capabilities and then got down to tiny details like the clarity of the instructions and diagrams on the buttons. After running dozens of assessments we grouped our findings into four different metrics, each individually weighted as a percent of the total score. Read below to find out what our testing process specifically entailed.


Personal Heat


The great thing about these devices is that they're able to warm up a small area so that you aren't wasting money and energy heating up a whole house or building when it's unnecessary.

For many people, their primary source of heat in their home or office is simply inadequate so a space heater is necessary to supplement warmth in order to be comfortable or concentrate. Considering these factors we decided to dedicate 40% of the total score to this metric.

The 5775 does OK in larger rooms  but you need to be close to the device to feel the warmth.
The 5775 does OK in larger rooms, but you need to be close to the device to feel the warmth.

To test personal heating in an open space we set the heaters to high and then subjectively assessed how they worked in two different situations — under a desk and five feet away from a piece of furniture.

The Dr. Infrared is the perfect choice for larger areas such as a family room or a workshop.
The Dr. Infrared is the perfect choice for larger areas such as a family room or a workshop.

For the desk experiment, we measured how much cubic space each model took up as well as its footprint. We then rotated each heater around the lab to each one of our team members works spaces to judge how long it took each model to heat up and the intensity of warmth that each one produced.

For our living room testing, we used each heater in a multitude of living rooms with varying amounts of cubic footage, different types of flooring, and different types of furniture. We carefully noted where the hot air was directed by each heater — we judged whether the air was more concentrated on your legs or if the warmth reached higher.

The Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Force may not be the best choice for an office setting.
The Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Force may not be the best choice for an office setting.

Convenience


This metric is another one that's rather subjective by nature, so to measure each model's convenience we looked at several factors. Space heaters come with a variety of options and features — some oscillate, some have timers, and some come with a remote control. The remotes themselves display a large degree of variance when it comes to their functionality and design. Some have ways to store the remote on the unit, some of the buttons have words while others have symbols, and certain models remotes can't control the heater until a switch has been turned on on the actual device itself beforehand. We carefully documented all of these subtleties.

Space heater remotes come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Space heater remotes come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Certain models show words for the controls, while others show pictures or diagrams. Every model in our review has a temperature selector, but only certain ones have digital readouts. Finally, only a few of the models we've seen have an option to use the fan without the heating element being activated.

Some space heaters have a setting to run the blower without the heating element engaged.
Some space heaters have a setting to run the blower without the heating element engaged.

Small Room


To acquire some numeric data we ran each space heater in the same 161 square foot room to measure the temperature change that they were able to cause in a given amount of time. We were careful to make sure that the outside temperature was within a few degrees for each trial, as well as the temperature of the adjacent rooms. We set each model to high, then checked the temperature change produced after 20 mins, 40 mins, and 60 minutes.

We used a data logging laboratory-grade thermometer to track the heat produced by each model.
We used a data logging laboratory-grade thermometer to track the heat produced by each model.

Power Consumption


In our opinion, the biggest downside to running an electric space heater is the added costs to your power bill. Unfortunately, these machines are high-wattage so we decided to take some measurements in order to determine the actual dollar amount that you could end up forking out to have your rooms or workspace be a few degrees warmer. To determine power consumption we used an in-line kilowatt energy consumption meter to measure the energy burned up by each space heater in a two hour period.

We used a wattmeter to measure kilowatts per hour of consumption for each space heater.
We used a wattmeter to measure kilowatts per hour of consumption for each space heater.

From these readings, we were able to calculate kilowatt per hour (kWh) of use. We then calculated the estimated power used by each model over a period of 10 hours, 1 day, 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, and 1 year then cross-reference them with current power prices to establish how much each unit actually costs to run.

Conclusion


Our goal is to prove to our readers that we are a trustworthy source that provides you with accurate results from our extensive testing. We hope that having read this article you will now have the knowledge and the confidence to purchase the space heater that is perfect for you.