For many homeowners, electric heating is the simplest way to warm spaces where a central heating system might not reach. After all, electricity is readily available, and many electric heaters can simply be plugged in—no hardwiring necessary. Electric heaters used only where they’re truly needed can also save users from turning up their main thermostat, a move that can translate into painful energy bills.
There are several types of electric heating, all with unique pros and cons. We tackle some of... the most common below and recommend a tried-and-true option in each category, but buyers should take pains to pick the best kind of heater or heating system for their space and personal comfort. For instance, a wall panel heater that warms a room slowly and evenly may be a great option for anyone with limited space, but other buyers who want to warm their toes in front of a unit that provides a steady stream of hot air will probably be better served by a ceramic space heater. Use this guide to the seven different types to find the best option for your home.
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Ceramic space heaters are among the most common kind of portable electric heaters. These heaters draw air over a hot ceramic plate before using a fan to blow that air back out into the room. They are typically compact enough to carry from room to room and plug into the wall. Some oscillate to send heated air in different directions. Most are meant only for supplemental heat in smaller rooms, though there are some more powerful units for larger spaces. They can heat a room quickly, but the fans... make them a bit noisy. The blowing air might also irritate allergy sufferers.
Reviewers say the Lasko 6435 Designer Series Space Heater is a great choice for heating up a small living space or bedroom fast. The heater oscillates and has a remote control for easy operation. Its curved stand and crackled, old-world finish also makes it a more striking addition to a room compared to most utilitarian space heaters.
Owners say the 6435 is relatively quiet for a ceramic space heater, and experts agree, giving it high marks for lack of noise. Still, it’s worth noting that ceramic heaters are still louder than most other kinds of electric heaters.
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Buyers who want a smaller, less obtrusive space heater to warm up a smaller space like the Honeywell HCE200B Uberheat, which is compact enough to place in a corner or even on a desk or table. Good for small bedrooms or offices, the Uberheat also has a sleeker, more modern look compared to many clunky space heaters.
The 1500-watt Uberheat has simple, dial-style controls – users can select low for more personal heating or max to warm up the whole room. It also has an adjustable thermostat for more... custom warmth. Reviewers are pleased with how much power this heater has, especially for a smaller unit. Though some are disappointed there’s no remote, most like how simple it is to operate. Some users do find the Uberheat noisy, though some say it’s simply typical fan-based white noise that poses little real bother.
The Uberheat is backed by a three-year limited warranty. Its safety features include cool-touch housing, overheat protection and a sensor that automatically cuts power if the heater is tipped over. There is an integrated handle to make carrying it from room to room easy.
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Panel heaters can be a more efficient alternative to traditional baseboard electric units for individual rooms. Some have a low-profile design similar to traditional baseboard heaters, and it can be difficult to tell them apart. Others look like large panels that can be either free-standing or mounted on a wall and painted to blend in. Both plug-in and hardwired units are available. Though they can provide more even heat than electric baseboards, these heaters don’t usually provide a quick burst... of heat, taking a long time to heat up and cool down.
The Econo-Heat 0603 E-Heater gets great reviews for maintaining an even temperature in formerly chilly rooms. One 23-inch by 23-inch panel is recommended for rooms up to 120 square feet, but more panels can be added in larger rooms or for extra warmth. The panel can be painted, plugs in to the wall and is operated by a simple on-off switch. Owners love the simplicity of these heaters and appreciate the unobtrusive space-saving design.
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Infrared space heaters rely on quartz bulbs to generate heat that is then dispersed via some sort of reflective metal element and a low-powered fan. These plug-in heaters mainly transfer warmth to other objects in the room rather than circulating it through the air. The result is slower, more even heat that many people compare to the sun’s rays. They are typically quieter than ceramic space heaters, but can get quite hot to the touch. Most infrared space heaters are also fairly bulky, so they... aren’t a great pick for anyone short on square footage.
The Lifesmart 6-Element Large Room Infrared Quartz Heater is a good pick for anyone who needs more even warmth in an open living room or a space with high ceilings, and reviewers love that it takes away the chill quietly. A digital thermostat, remote control and 12-hour timer make it convenient to use, too. It’s housed in a wooden cabinet that most owners find attractive, especially those with traditional décor and wood trim. At 24 pounds, it’s not the lightest heater to move around, but the heater does have casters to ease the task.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Also called zone heaters, 220-volt baseboard electric heaters are ideal for heating individual rooms and require no ductwork. That makes them a versatile choice for anyone with rooms not connected to a central heating system. Like radiant heat, baseboard heat is typically quiet and allergy-friendly, too. Though plug-in units are available, the best baseboard electric heaters are typically hard-wired and should be installed by qualified electricians. Prospective buyers should note that baseboard... electric heaters don’t have the best reputation for efficiency and can be costly to run – they may be a better option in rooms that are occupied only sporadically.
The Cadet 2F350W Baseboard Heater is a 2-foot hardwired unit that can squeeze into small spaces that may be left uncovered by central heat; reviewers say it does a good job of quickly heating small offices or bathrooms. Larger units are available for bigger rooms, but some reviewers say it’s easier to double up with smaller units in certain spaces. Like most baseboard heaters, it’s made of white powder-coated steel. Most owners say it’s much more reliable and sturdy than plug-in units. Buyers should note that they’ll need to get a line-voltage thermostat to operate the heater — it does not have its own controls.
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Considered one of the most energy-efficient ways to heat a home, in-floor radiant heating is silent and allergy-friendly since it doesn’t rely on blowers or fans to push heat around. These heating systems are available in whole-home units but can also be used for smaller projects such as bathroom floors. Installing radiant heating does require professionals to take up your floors. That means it’s easiest to put in when a home is being built or remodeled—otherwise, it might not be worth the... trouble.
The Warming Systems Electric Radiant Floor Heating System comes in 18-foot-long, 20-inch mats that can each cover 30 square feet. The mesh backing can be cut to fit different shapes to fit your floor plan. Reviewers say it’s great for making cold bathroom floors toasty, and report that installation is relatively simple. A compatible programmable thermostat comes with the system, too.
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Electric fireplace or stove heaters don’t get the best marks for efficiency, but owners still love them because they provide a pleasant focal point in any room where they can be plugged in. They’re also convenient — most can be operated with a remote control. And they generally come in a range of sizes for different spaces. Smaller units will be easier to move, while larger units with mantels or other features may be realistic enough to fool visitors into thinking that they’re real fireplaces or... stoves.
Buyers who want a robust little fireplace heater like the Duraflame DFI-5010-01 Infrared Quartz Fireplace Stove, which is roughly 24 by 23.5 by 13 inches. It’s best for rooms up to 1,000 square feet (note that reviewers say it’s more effective in smaller spaces, however) and looks like a traditional metal stove. Owners love that they can turn on the artificial glowing logs and embers separately from the heat if they want a little ambiance in a room that’s already toasty – there are five brightness settings. It also stays cool to the touch, which is important for families with pets or small children. The unit comes with a remote control.