Best Electric Heaters 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

When the cold weather arrives, it can be hard to find the right balance between cranking up the heating to comfortably warm the house but not ending up with an eye-watering bill as a result. Because in the UK, the cold snap is usually pretty lengthy.

If you live in an old house, have a lot of rooms which aren’t in use or don’t have the most efficient boiler, it can cause even more problems.

Indoor electric heaters can warm individual rooms in your household while cutting the need for your central heating to be switched on constantly.

There is a lot to consider before you buy – the size of your room, the running costs and whether you just target the heat towards where you are sitting – so we have carefully researched and picked out ten of the best electric heaters to help you decide.

The Best Electric Heaters – Our Top Picks

Best Overall: DYSON AM09 Hot & Cool
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DYSON AM09 Hot & Cool
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  • Type: Fan
  • Dimensions: H60 x W15 x D11.3cm
  • Weight: 2.7kg
  • Control: Remote Control
  • Power: 2000W
Best Fan Heater: DIMPLEX DXGLO2
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DIMPLEX DXGLO2 GloFan Portable Hot & Cool Fan Heater
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  • Type: Fan
  • Dimensions: H27.8 x W23 x D15.8cm
  • Weight: 1.49kg
  • Control: Buttons
  • Power: 2000W
Best Budget: Challenge Upright
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Argos Challenge Upright Oscillating Fan Heater
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  • Type: Fan
  • Dimensions: H32 x W26 x D18cm
  • Weight: N/A
  • Control: Thermostat
  • Power: 2400W

Best Fan Heaters

DYSON AM09 Hot & Cool

Long gone are the days of those tiny yet bulky heaters which seemed to take hours to heat up and needed to be positioned precisely for you to feel anything.

Just like with the vacuum cleaner market, Dyson has revolutionised electric heaters by producing a range of hot and cold fans which are efficient, intelligent and completely bladeless. The latest, the AM09, can also be used all year round, working as a fan as well as a heater. You can adjust the exact degree you want, and there are 10 speed settings so this can be reached as quickly or calmly as you wish.

To save running costs, it will switch off once the inbuilt thermometer senses the temperature has been met, and no matter how high you set it, there is no burning smell given off. There are no visible elements such as blades, fans, halogen bulbs or wiring, which not only increases safety but also makes it easy to clean and maintain. Great if you have dust allergies.

It will cut out if knocked over, and can also be moved easily from room to room. There is a touch-tilt option so you can direct airflow, and focused mode reaches long-range, so there’s no need to all huddle around. There is also a diffused mode so the room can be heated evenly.

It is a high price, but for the reliability which Dyson offers, as well as its efficiency and all-round use, the technology is worth the investment.

We like

  • Hot and cold ability
  • Safe to use
  • Awarded the Quiet Mark - the only fan heater to have this

We disike

  • Price

Final Verdict

A revolutionary fan heater which gets top marks for safety, efficiency and keeping dust/allergens at bay - a winner by far despite the price!

+ Specifications

  • Type: Fan
  • Dimensions: H60 x W15 x D11.3cm
  • Weight: 2.7kg
  • Control: Remote Control
  • Power: 2000W

+ Downloads

Dyson AM09 Hot + Cool Fan Heater User Manual

Download

Argos Challenge Upright Oscillating Fan Heater

For under £20, we have to admit this fan is a bit of a steal.

It is more powerful than some of the others we have reviewed which are around twice the price, and although power isn’t everything, you can feel it with this model. It is also oscillating, so will provide even heat throughout the area.

A power-on indicator means it won’t be left running by accident, and there is a little handle at the top to make it a bit easier to transport. The safety cut-out switch will help give you peace of mind, especially if you are using it overnight, and there is frost protection, so it won’t let you down when you need it the most, by ticking over and keeping everything just above freezing.

You don’t have to store it away in Summer either – the cool air capability will give the room a bit of a fresh breeze when things get stuffy.

Overall, it is cheap yet effective. If you want something which can heat up the living room for a few weeks to save you putting the heating on prematurely, or need a bit of an extra boost when the snow is building up outside, it surprisingly packs a punch for the price.

We like

  • Hot and cool air
  • Oscillate switch
  • Price

We disike

  • Gets dusty quite easily and hard to clean

Final Verdict

For anyone looking for a cost-effective heating and cooling system for smaller rooms, you'll be hard pressed to find a fan which is as good for the price.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Fan
  • Dimensions: H32 x W26 x D18cm
  • Weight: N/A
  • Control: Thermostat
  • Power: 2400W

+ Downloads

Challenge 2.4kW Upright Oscillating Fan Heater User Manual

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De’Longhi Ceramic Capsule Fan Heater

Able to sit comfortably on a desk or side table, this portable ceramic fan heater is perfect for anybody who likes to have a bit of extra targeted spot heat in small form but doesn’t want to forego efficiency and power.

It is fast at providing heat, thanks to the ceramic heating element. There is two heat settings, as well as a ventilation option for when the weather gets hot in Summer again.

It is freestanding and ideal for placing on a table surface but is also perfectly suitable for putting on the floor too. It will heat a room up to 55m² in about half an hour, and the safety cut-out feature means it is safe enough to be left unmonitored for a few minutes if needed.

Despite its size, it is quite powerful. It won’t look unsightly because of the size, and the ergonomic handle and light weight mean carrying it to another room is no trouble. There would also be nothing to stop you taking it on holiday in a caravan or motorhome, as it wouldn’t take up much space at all.

We also liked the design – although it isn’t the sleekest, it is a bit different and looks very modern and clean, with a bit of a retro feel almost. The curved corners make a pleasant change from the often sharp, cubic cuts.

The pilot light lets you know when it is switched on, and the anti-frost function will keep you going even when the mercury is unbearably low.

We like

  • Looks and design
  • Compact
  • Foldable base for storage

We disike

  • Slightly noisy fan

Final Verdict

Small yet mighty and with a fabulous retro design - for anyone who wants that bit more than a simple fan heater

+ Specifications

  • Type: Fan
  • Dimensions: H27.9 x W19.1 x D19.1 cm
  • Weight: 1.3kg
  • Control: Thermostat
  • Power: 1800W

DIMPLEX DXGLO2 GloFan Portable Hot & Cool Fan Heater

Able to give you cool air and heating all year round, this Dimplex is super powerful despite its size.
It is pretty much the same size as the De’Longhi Capsule, but with a few more technological aspects.

When used in heating mode, the Glo-Ring LED light will be red, and when cooling it will be blue, to help make it all a bit clearer and also add to the atmosphere.

The electric climate control thermostat is very sensitive to atmospheric changes in addition to the large amount of control you have. There are variable speed settings, and an LCD screen to let you select the temperature to an exact degree.

There is no way to turn the light off when it is in use, which could be slightly irritating if you want to use it overnight when asleep and require a completely dark room. But there is a safety switch-off, so you can rest easy knowing it will cut out should it fall over or get too hot. It needs to be set on the floor or worktop (cannot be wall-mounted), but the flat base will keep it sturdy.

We like

  • Hot and cold
  • Light adds a bit more atmosphere

We disike

  • Would like to be able to turn the LED light off

Final Verdict

Surprisingly puts out a lot of heat. A great little fan if you are low on space but need a good boost of warmth.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Fan
  • Dimensions: H27.8 x W23 x D15.8cm
  • Weight: 1.49kg
  • Control: Buttons
  • Power: 2000W

+ Downloads

DIMPLEX DXGLO2 GloFan Portable Hot & Cool Fan Heater User Manual

Download

Best Oil Filled Heaters

Silentnight Benross S-Type Oil Filled Radiator

Silentnight Benross S-Type Oil Filled Radiator

Able to warm up your small room quickly without costing the earth to run, this oil radiator from Silentnight is very effective as a backup or additional heater during the cold months.

There are three heat settings – 600W, 900W and 1500W – as well as an adjustable thermometer for temperature control and a timer so it can turn on without you being in the room if you need the house to heat up in preparation ahead of time.

With four castors, it is relatively easy to push and move if needed rather than carrying it around. We like the ‘S’ shape design which makes it a bit different from the others on the market as well, with a more slimline effect at the bottom.

It is slightly quieter than other oil timer radiators we reviewed, with less sound from the oil moving around the metal or from the timer counting down. All you hear is a slight ticking noise like a clock. We think this would be okay to sleep through as long as you aren’t a light sleeper, and the usual safety cut-out features make it great to use overnight if you need to keep the bedroom warm.

We like

  • Looks modern
  • Heats up a small room quickly

We disike

  • Thermostat controls feel a bit slack

Final Verdict

An effective oil radiator which is one of the best options for anyone really bothered about the sound that comes with them.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Oil Radiator Dimensions: H62.5 x W46.1 x D29cm Weight: 11.5kg Control: Thermostat Power: 1500W

VonHaus Oil Filled Radiator

VonHaus Oil Filled Radiator

Ideal for rooms up to 28m2, this oil radiator will heat large rooms as quickly as possible while giving you a great amount of control.

There is a 24-hour timer which lets you choose when the radiator turns on so the room can be warmed before you get home, and there are low/medium/high settings as well as a thermostat to give you exact precision.

Because it is an oil model, it will hold the heat for a while after it is switched off, which is good if you want to switch it off ten minutes before going to bed but don’t want the room becoming too cold until your film has finished.

But there are also negatives to oil, mainly that it is a little bit noisy. You can hear the contents popping and running through the bars regularly, so not great for use overnight or in quieter households.

There are three sizes available. We reviewed the largest 11 Fin version, but there are also 6, 7 and 9 Fin options available for any smaller rooms. You still have the safety cut-out and tip-over switch functions, and there are castors on the bottom so you can wheel it around the house.

We like

  • Heats up quickly
  • Generous settings available

We disike

  • No handle for moving about

Final Verdict

Does exactly as it is meant to do, and heats quickly and efficiently. A good size, and the ability to move it around is a great benefit.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Oil Radiator
  • Dimensions: 48 x 24 x 62.8 cm
  • Weight: 10.9kg
  • Control: Thermostat
  • Power: 2500W

Best Oil Free Heaters

DIMPLEX CDE2Ti Cadiz ECO Portable Radiator

Oil radiators heat up very quickly and hold the heat which is why they are so popular, but if you want something a bit more economical and environmentally friendly, then this oil-free option is just as good. And it can heat around 35% faster than oil versions.

It still has all the major benefits; a thermostat which allows you to select your desired temperature to an exact degree, as well as frost protection to keep it ticking over and a safety cut-out. The 24-hour timer lets you plan ahead for when you need it to kick in, but the manual override also lets you turn it on without disturbing this if required.

The 1.5m power cord is generous, and there is integrated cord storage which allows you to keep everything tidy when it isn’t in use. There is an LED display, so you know the exact settings chosen.

The timer setting isn’t the easiest to set up and keep an eye on, and there is no handle to make it easier to pull or push when it is warm, but there are wheels, so you don’t have to lift and carry it everywhere.

It is big, but this only adds to its efficiency really. It would be the perfect heater for a conservatory or spare room, warming it up quickly but also ensuring the entire space is heated. We also liked that you can choose to turn just one side of the heater on if it is against a wall or you want to keep it on the lowest setting.

We like

  • Flexible regarding heating options
  • Cable storage compartment

We disike

  • Difficult to set the timer

Final Verdict

All the benefits of an oil heater (and more), but without the slight annoyances such as sounds and being too hot to touch.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Radiator
  • Dimensions: 60.5 x 61.4 x 25 cm
  • Weight: 7.9kg
  • Control: Buttons and dial
  • Power: 2000W

+ Downloads

DIMPLEX CDE2Ti Cadiz ECO Portable Dry Radiator User Manual

Download

Best Convection Heaters

DIMPLEX Portable Smart Convector Heater

If you want something that is going to give you similar levels of heat to the central heating radiators fitted in your home, then a convector heater such as this one which can be mounted to the wall is perfect.

There are three heat settings which can be controlled easily from the thermostat at the side, but as it is Bluetooth, it can also be controlled by your smartphone wherever you are with no distance limitations. Through the Dimplex REMO app, you can change the temperature from the comfort of the sofa.

It is very powerful, so will heat your room in a relatively short time. There is a screen on the side to show the temperature selected if you don’t have your phone to hand, and a 24-hour timer function will give you plenty of scope to plan ahead and make the room warm before you’re even home or out of bed.

You can set the desired heat between 5 and 30 degrees, and when the room reaches this, it will turn off automatically, turning on when it dips lower again.

It doesn’t have to act like an ordinary radiator, though – it is fully transportable, coming with feet to keep it steady when on the floor and integrated handles. There is an Eco mode as well, which still gives out sufficient heat while keeping your energy usage low.

We like

  • Bluetooth control
  • Freestanding or wall mountable
  • Eco setting

We disike

  • Heavy to carry

Final Verdict

Quiet, heats up a room quickly, and able to be controlled from your phone - what is not to love.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Convector
  • Dimensions: H39.3 x W73.3 x D12.7cm
  • Weight: 5.1kg
  • Control: Smartphone/Buttons
  • Power: 3000W

+ Downloads

DIMPLEX 403BTB Portable Smart Convector Heater User Manual

Download

Best Halogen Heaters

Prolectrix EH0197 Halogen Heater

Halogen heaters have come along way since the overly-bright, noisy-when-oscillating models of a few years ago.

There are three heat settings so you can select the right level to make your room nicely comfortable, and the wide oscillating function will evenly spread the heat, so the full room receives attention.

Infrared technology focuses the heat, to ensure you aren’t warming areas which don’t need to be warmed. The base is sturdy so it won’t start wobbling when it is turning, and if it does happen to fall over or overheat, then the safety cut-out and tip over switch will ensure it turns off immediately.

A good thing about halogen heaters is that the tubes can often be replaced, like with this model, so even if one stops working you aren’t left with an unusable product. There is a carry handle to make positioning and moving it easier, and the outer plastic casing doesn’t get hot when in use.

As a bonus, it is quiet when in operation. Older models were notorious for making a constant whirring and clicking sound when oscillating, but this one is smooth and a lot less noisy. There is also a good chance that you will only need to keep one bar on to maintain the heat after the initial three-bar maximum heating, so it is good at keeping costs as low as possible.

We like

  • Cost
  • Sturdy and reliable
  • Heating tubes are replaceable

We disike

  • Tubes don’t last very long
  • Gets very bright when on three bars

Final Verdict

Halogen heaters are incredibly effective at what they do but aren't the most reliable heaters. This one takes some of the stress out of the bars stopping working and the appliance becoming completely redundant, which alone puts it miles ahead of the competition.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Halogen
  • Dimensions: 31 x 10 x 51.5cm
  • Weight: 2.2kg
  • Control: Buttons
  • Power: 1200W

Best Panel Heaters

Futura Eco Electric Panel Heater

With the ability to set your desired temperature between 5°C and 35°C, and cover a 17m2 room, the Futuro Eco is a perfect solution to your heating needs.

The thermostat is exact to within half a degree, and it will turn on and off when needed. There is also a 24-hour timer, which is easy to use and set. It is rated safe to use in a bathroom or other wet area thanks to the new splash-proof design, and there is Eco open window detection so if there is a sudden drop in temperature around 5 degrees, it will turn off to save energy.

Although it is primarily a mounted panel heater, there are feet supplied so you can use it as a freestanding radiator too should you not have the wall space.

It is slimline and unobtrusive, so would also suit any hallways or spaces which can’t really house a sizeable radiator but still need the efficiency. It is available in three power categories – 1000W, 1500W and 2000W – and although we only reviewed the middle one, we do not doubt that each is powerful and provides ample heat.

The control panel is really easy to use, and indicator lights tell you what settings are currently in play.

We like

  • Slimline design
  • Clear LCD display
  • Economical running

We disike

  • Timer can take a little while to set as it isn’t a dial

Final Verdict

A panel which is really easy to control and manage, as well as being suitable for the bathroom. The best electric wall mounted heater we could find by quite a range - and for a steal of a price.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Panel
  • Dimensions: L66 x D8 x H40cm
  • Weight: 4kg
  • Control: Buttons
  • Power: 1500W

Help and Resources

Fridge Freezer Buying Guide

Types of Electric Heater

Electric Fan Heater

These blow air created by a fan over a heated element, essentially providing the space around the heater with hot air.

Pros: Cheap, fast to heat, often have cooling settings too

Cons: Often struggle to heat the room over a long period, can be noisy

Convection/ Convector Electric Heater

Like a more powerful fan, these circulate air around the body of the heater and then release it into the room. It is passed over a heating element to make it warm first.

Pros: Provide an even heat to the room, usually quite quiet

Cons: Can take a while to heat a space, recirculating air can be bad for allergies

Halogen Heater

Use heating bars and filaments to provide warmth, mainly focusing on the immediate area and close proximity surrounding the heater rather than the entire room.

Pros: Heat they give off is quite powerful, have a warm glow, direct heat provided

Cons: Not the most suitable for large rooms, the light they give off may be too bright

Radiators

An electric element heats up the oil or water inside the heater, which provides warmth. Often made from steel, aluminium or cast iron for better heating.

Pros: Hold heat for longer, good for constant background warmth

Cons: Can be noisy as they heat, can take a while to heat

Price

Electric heaters can start at as little as around £10 and go upwards of £400. Those at the higher end of the scale probably have more technology, such as timers or the ability to be controlled remotely through an app.

A £200 2kW fan won’t necessarily provide more heat than one at £20. What matters is the efficiency and how good it is at getting the heat around the room, as well as the size of your room and whether it has an internal thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Safety Features

There are a few features which a heater must have in place to keep you and your household safe, and you shouldn’t buy any that don’t.

Tilt protection will turn the heater off should it fall over or be knocked. This is usually in the form of a switch on the base of the heater, which is activated when it tips. For this reason, most heaters can’t be placed on high-pile carpets or rugs. If a heater were to fall over and not turn off, it could start a fire.

Safety cut out will prevent the heater from overheating. It is a problem which all electricals can face, but due to the nature of heaters, they could be more prone to overheating.

These features are particularly important if the heater will be left alone for any period of time, such as if you will be making use of the timer feature before you get home from work or if you will be using it overnight when asleep. Although no electricals should be left unsupervised, these features could give you peace of mind if they are.

Power

All heaters have a power specification, measured in W or kW, and the amount of energy that goes into the radiator is usually relative to the amount it releases.

A small room which only needs a heater on top of the central heating may only need about 1000W, whereas for a larger room or one where there is no main heating at the moment, one upwards of 2000W may be best.

There are other factors to look at as well, such as size, type or the temperature range, to see if it would be suitable for your room.

FAQs

Which is the cheapest type of radiator to run?

This depends on a couple of factors, such as how much your electricity is as well as how powerful the radiator is and which setting it is on.

If you pay 50p per kW per hour, a 1000W heater will cost you 50p for the hour if it is on full all that time. A 2.5kW heater will be £1.25, and so on.

Which radiator is the most efficient?

If you are looking at keeping energy costs and usage down, a heater with a thermostat could be the key. Just as a smart central heating meter can turn your heating off when the room or house reaches a certain temperature, an electric heater with a thermostat can do the same.

You can set your perfect heat, so you don’t get any more than you needed, but it will turn on again if it senses it is getting a bit cold.

Also, think about the size of your room and home. A small fan heater which is only suitable for an area around 10m2 will not be effective in your 20m2 room but through no fault of its own.

What is frost protection?

A few of the radiators featured have frost protection, which basically means that if it senses the room is near freezing, it will stay on low even if a temperature isn’t set. This keeps your room at the right side of zero and could be especially handy in garages, utility rooms or conservatories which are slightly separate from the main house.

Do I need a timer?

Should your room take a while to heat up, or you simply hate waiting for it to do so, a timer could be a really great way to set your heater to warm the room before you need it. If you only need it in the evening, say that is the only time you use the living room, it could make life easier.

Do I need a hot and cold fan?

If you are settled on a fan, you may have seen that the majority have a hot and cold feature, so can be used all year round.

This is great if you need both products, but they are usually slightly better at the heating than they are at the cooling. Fans aren’t the best for keeping a room cool – you may be better investing in a good air conditioner as well – but it is a great back-up to have even just to give your room some fresh air if it is too cold to open the windows.