How do I Choose the Best Portable Electric Space Heater?

Dan Cavallari

The most important consideration when choosing a portable electric space heater is safety: some portable electric space heater models feature hot coils that can start a fire if the unit is too close to something flammable or if it tips over. Be sure the portable electric space heater you choose has safety features that will help prevent fires from occurring accidentally. The size of your portable heater will also be important, as small heaters are efficient at heating small spaces but will be ineffective in much larger spaces. Space heaters tend to use a lot of energy, so try to find a model with energy-saving features as well.

A halogen space heater.
A halogen space heater.

Many portable electric space heater models feature an automatic shut-off that will kill the heater's power source if the heater tips over. This is done to prevent the coils inside the heater from causing a fire should the heat be directed at carpet or other flammable items beneath the heater. These auto shut-off features will also sometimes kill power if the heater senses that heat is being bounced back at the heater itself. This may occur, for example, if a curtain moves and blocks the front of the heater. This is an indispensable safety feature that you should consider on any model you choose.

A portable electric space heater.
A portable electric space heater.

Many manufacturers now feature informational material printed on the box regarding the energy-saving features of their portable electric space heater models. Consider this information carefully, as it can affect the environment as well as your wallet. Some heaters feature a high temperature limit; when the unit reaches the limit, it will shut off automatically to prevent the heater from using excess energy and potentially causing a fire. Some units are also designed to use less energy by nature, so be sure to find out what features the heaters you are considering will feature in this regard.

Another consideration that will impact the portable electric space heater model's efficiency is its size. If you plan on using the heater for a large space such as a garage, be sure to choose a heater designed for such purposes. Portable does not always mean small: some larger heaters are mounted on casters to make moving the unit manageable, while others feature convenient handles that make carrying the unit simple. Choosing a unit that is too small for a space because you want it to be portable is a mistake. The small unit will end up costing you more money, since it is likely it will never reach the temperature setting you choose, and it will not heat the space as you would like it to do.

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