The Best Portable Heaters (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Consider these portable heaters to keep you warm and comfortable in the event of an equipment malfunction or breakdown
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Zach Faulds / LAST UPDATED ON November 1, 2020
Few things in this world are worse than being too cold. Whether it’s due to a power failure, equipment malfunction or breakdown, or just poor preparation, being cold and not having enough heat to get properly warmed up isn’t just uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous. That’s why having a good, reliable, and powerful portable heater is a smart idea.
Portability of heat sources is key to comfort and survival in many situations. With recent advances in technology, more and more options are becoming available for portable heaters in the marketplace. Here, we’ve come up with a comprehensive list of some of the best portable heaters currently available. Take a look to see if any of them are ideal for you or a friend or family member.
Sleek and cleverly designed ceramic space heater is self-regulating and reliable. Can quickly heat up to 300 square feet with 1,500 watts of power.
- Oscillating mechanism spreads heat to all corners of a room
- Heating element is safely protected behind a substantial heat-safe grid
- Automated overheat-protection mode
- Not as durable as other options
- Motor and fan have been known to stop working sooner than expected
Offered in black, white, or gray and comes equipped with three heating modes: High delivers 1,500 watts, low delivers 750 watts, and fan mode is for cooling.
- Ceramic heating element can provide quick and sustained warmth
- Measures only 6.2 x 4.74 x 8.3 inches
- Convenient carrying handle
- Trouble distributing heat evenly at times, even in smaller areas
Propane-powered heater quickly and effectively heats up to 225 square feet of space. It provides an impressive range of 4,000 to 9,000 BTU of radiant heat.
- Auto shut-off feature in case the heater gets tipped over, low oxygen levels are detected, or the pilot light goes out
- At altitudes of over 7,000 feet above sea level, the heater may shut off due to its low-oxygen sensor
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Portable Heaters
- Easy installation: Most portable heaters are extremely easy to use, unlike other types of heaters available on the market. Simply plug in your heater and it should start working immediately.
- Efficient: Portable heaters are known for their efficiency and are an environmentally friendly option. Electric portable heaters are 100 percent energy efficient, meaning that all the electricity used is converted directly into heat.
- Versatile: Portable heaters are an extremely versatile product. They’re great to use in a variety of situations and in several different areas of your home. Electric heaters can be used for emergencies, but they can also be used to heat up small rooms like your office, basement, den, garage, or shed.
Types of Portable Heaters
Fan portable heaters feature electric coils that are used to generate heat. The warm air is then blown across the room via a fan. This type of portable heater is ideal for small rooms such as offices, bedrooms, dens, basements, sheds, and garages. One downside of this type is that the heat can easily be lost if you open a door or let a draft into the room.
Convector portable heaters, also known as convection heaters, feature an internal heating element similar to fan heaters. But instead of circulating the warm air via a fan, they wait for hot air to rise and be replaced by cool air, which then gets heated. They’re much slower to heat up than fan heaters, but convector units distribute heat more thoroughly.
Oil-filled portable heaters use an electrical current with thermal oil, heating the oil and circulating it around the heater, similar to water in a radiator. Oil-filled units are heavier than other types of heaters, so they’re probably the least portable of the three types. But overall, they’re the most reliable portable heaters and stay warm for the longest time, even after they’re turned off.
Lasko is an extremely reputable company, founded more than 100 years ago in Philadelphia, Pa. It specializes in manufacturing a variety of home products that are distributed all over the world. In addition to heaters, Lasko makes fans, air purifiers, humidifiers, and more.
Founded in 1957 and based in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Heater has been an innovator in infrared combustion technology for more than 60 years. The company specializes in consumer heating products as well as heavy-duty commercial and construction heating products. In addition to portable heaters, Mr. Heater makes burners, fans, camping accessories, and more.
Pelonis Technologies has more than 25 years of experience in product development and manufacturing. It has developed long-term partnerships with customers across the globe. In addition to portable heaters, the company sells blowers, motors, and other heating and cooling products.
Portable Heater Pricing
- Under $30: Portable heaters in this price range are an excellent value purchase. They are often a small, compact size, but will deliver a sufficient amount of heat for small rooms like offices, bedrooms, dens, sheds, garages, and more.
- Between $30 and $70: This is the most common price point for portable space heaters. Products in this price range usually have enough heat to warm small to medium-sized rooms. They often come with additional features like remote controls and safety modes.
- Over $70: Portable heaters in this premium price range are of the highest quality. They typically can heat larger rooms or areas, and feature high BTU. These heaters contain a number of safety features and LED indicators, and can be used in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Heating capacity is one of the most important considerations when shopping for a portable heater. It’s important to know the size of the space that the heater will cover before making your purchase. In general, the higher the wattage rating, the greater the heating power. This is not true of all models, so make sure to check the specifications before buying if you’re looking to use it in a certain area of your home.
Although many portable heaters are quite energy efficient, it’s important to check and compare efficiency ratings before making your final purchase. It's necessary to choose the proper heater for your home and space so that you don't see a spike in your electric bills. Some models are even available with special features such as energy-saving modes, adjustable thermostats, low wattage, and programmable timers.
If left unwatched, portable heaters can be a fire hazard. Many heaters feature cool-to-touch surfaces and include automatic shut-off modes in case the heater is accidentally tipped over. Overheat-protection mode is another important feature that’s included with many portable heaters. Always read your product's instruction manual and make sure you take all safety precautions before using it.
- Warranty: The type of warranty is an important consideration when purchasing a portable heater. A longer warranty shows that the manufacturer has faith in its product and stands behind its services. Most portable heaters come with some type of warranty. It’s recommended to at least have a limited warranty, but make sure to double-check the warranty information before buying.
- Noise Level: As with most electrical appliances, portable heaters will emit some type of noise while in use. But some models will be much louder than others. Take into consideration the reviews and ratings before making your purchase. If you’ll be using it in your bedroom or office, you may want to opt for one of the quieter options available. Some portable heaters include quiet modes that can be switched on with the touch of a button.
- Size: If you’re going to be transporting your portable heater to various rooms around your home, then size is an important consideration. You want to make sure to buy a model with wheels, or one of the lightweight options with convenient carrying handles, if you’ll be moving it often.
Best Portable Heaters Review & Recommendations 2021
- To avoid fire hazards, always make sure to unplug your portable heater and store it away when not in use.
- It’s recommended to avoid plugging any other electrical devices into the same outlet as your portable heater, in order to avoid overheating.
- Many portable heaters are meant for use in small rooms or areas of your home. If you need to heat a larger area, consider a model with a higher BTU rating.
- Always keep anything that can burn—like beds, furniture, rugs, and curtains—at least 3 feet away from the portable heater as a safety precaution.
- Make sure to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly to ensure they’re working as an added precaution when using a portable heater in your home.
Do portable car heaters really work?
A: Yes, portable car heaters work by providing heat in poorly insulated areas. Keep in mind that these heaters can be dangerous to use in confined spaces, so never leave your heater unattended.
Can a portable heater cause a fire?
A: Yes, portable heaters can be a fire hazard if not used properly. They can ignite flammable objects like furniture, rugs, and curtains within a 3-foot radius if left unattended.
Are portable heaters dangerous?
A: Portable heaters can be dangerous if left unattended or used improperly. Always follow your instruction manual and follow all safety precautions when using your heater to avoid any type of fire hazard or damage.
Can I leave my ceramic heater on overnight?
A: You should never leave your ceramic heater on overnight while sleeping. Leaving your heater unattended is a safety risk and can result in electrical fires.
For a high-quality portable heater, consider the Lasko 5538 Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote Control to quickly heat up to 300 square feet with 1,500 watts of power, or the andily Electric Heater for Home and Office, an excellent compact option.