Radiant heat gently warms objects directly
Doesn’t dry out the air
Lightweight and on casters, so easy to move
Furniture-like wood cabinet
Bulky and boxy
Works best as a heat source supplement
Infrared heaters are often compared to the warmth of a sunbeam, because the heat works in much the same way: They emit a constant stream of electromagnetic radiation that gets absorbed by objects and warms them up, rather than warming the air around them. The radiant warmth feels direct and gentle, even when the heaters, like the LifeSmart 6-Element Infrared Heater, have fans to help push the heat around. This type of electric heater is ideal for insulated rooms, particularly those already warmed by central heat.
However, in unheated basements or garages, especially anything surrounded in concrete, they’ll barely make a dent unless you sit or stand right in front of them. Instead, think of them as a way to add concentrated warmth to your body and furnishings, or to supplement the heat from a furnace.
We tested LifeSmart’s beloved space heater, which is enclosed in a wooden cabinet, in three different rooms for hours on end to see if it performed as promised.
Performance: Get ready to be cozy
The 1500-watt LifeSmart 6-Element Infrared Heater has a temperature range of 50 to 90 degrees and uses quartz elements, which heat up quickly and are incredibly energy-efficient; almost all of the electricity used to power them gets converted to infrared heat.
We plugged the heater into a standard 120-volt grounded electrical outlet in a small- to average-sized furnished den. The heater had the outlet to itself, as recommended; according to the manual, these heaters pull “high amperage.” We flipped the switch at the back of the heater to turn on the power and digital display. The heater has three modes: low (1,000 watts/3,412 BTUs), high (1,500 watts/5,118 BTUs) and eco, which has an automatic temperature setting of 68 degrees. When in this mode, the heater will cycle on and off at a lower wattage (500) to keep the room at 68 degrees.
We tested in a room that opens to an adjoining area, but it took only 65 minutes for the heater to sufficiently heat the space to a toasty 70 degrees.
Unlike some heaters that automatically read the temperature of the room, we had to press the ambient temperature button to find out that the room was already at 68 degrees. We wanted to increase the temperature to 70 degrees, so we set the mode to high and pressed the “up” arrow keys. The element immediately began heating and glowing red, and the heater’s fan turned on. The fan wasn’t the quietest we’ve heard, but it wasn’t too loud.
We tested in a room that opens to an adjoining area, but it took only 65 minutes for the heater to sufficiently heat the space to 70 degrees and automatically shut off. The room felt toasty in its warmth, with no cold spots, likely because all the furnishings had absorbed the heat. Unlike other options, we loved that this heater didn’t dry out the air in the room.
The heater is advertised to warm a room up to 1,000 square feet, but we wouldn’t rely on it as the only heat source. Think of it as a supplement, or a way to keep the thermostat on your furnace from getting too active.
Take a look at some of the other best space heaters you can buy.
Design: Squarely in the traditional camp
Since it’s built like a square, 1.5-foot-tall wood cabinet, the LifeSmart 6-Element Infrared Heater goes best with traditional décor heavy on dark wood furnishings. Rooms with lots of bright clean lines and modern touches will likely clash with its boxy exterior.
But if wood is your thing, the heater blends in nicely, looking almost like an old-fashioned cabinet radio. Though made of wood with a veneer, it’s still light enough to pick up and move without trouble, particularly with the handles inset on the sides and rolling casters on the bottom. The cabinet doesn’t get hot while it’s in use, so you can roll it right in front of your recliner and feel warm and cozy in no time.
Rooms with lots of bright clean lines and modern touches will likely clash with its boxy exterior.
The digital display is pleasantly simple, though it is bright and there’s no dimmer—something to be aware of if using in a bedroom.
Setup Process: Just plug it in
The heater needs no assembly. Just plug it into a dedicated outlet and flip the switch. When first plugged in, the heater will display Fahrenheit, but if you’d rather have readings in Celsius, just press and hold the ambient temperature button for five seconds. The heater comes with a remote, but the two AAA batteries it needs aren’t included.
Controls: A bit problematic
The controls on the heater and on the remote aren’t very intuitive. Pressing the mode key, which looks like a sun (why not simply print the word mode?) supposedly toggles between “high,” “low,” and “eco.” In our minds, those words should appear as you toggle, but they don’t.
However, if you press the arrow keys up or down to select a temperature, you might catch the word “low” or “high” lighting up. It’s not clear why this is the case. It’s almost like the modes are automatically selected depending on the temperature you choose, even though that’s not how it’s supposed to work according to the manual. Maybe the control panel is screwy? It’s hard to say. But in a way, it didn’t matter. We were able to set the temp to 70 degrees even though we couldn’t tell what mode we were in, and it still worked to heat up the room just fine.
The controls on the heater and on the remote aren’t very intuitive.
What actually is intuitive is the safety lock feature. Simply press and hold the button with a lock symbol on it. However, we had to wonder whether or not this would be just as intuitive to a child. If the purpose is to make sure kids can’t mess with the controls, perhaps the lock feature should have been a combination of buttons.
Cleaning: Washable filter
Since the heater draws in air for the fan, there’s a filter to keep dust and hair out of the unit. It’s removable, and the manual advises to wash it every three months. However, you’ll have to unscrew the screen to get to it.
Safety Features: The good and the bad
The wood cabinet of the LifeSmart 6-Element Infrared Heater stays cool on the outside, so you don’t have to worry about burns. And the unit features automatic shut-off in case of overheating, plus an emergency tip-over switch that shuts the heater off if it gets knocked over. That’s the good stuff.
But now for the potentially bad. The manual makes it very clear that it’s vitally important the unit gets its own dedicated circuit that’s at least 15 amps. Nothing else can share the circuit “at the risk of fire, damage to property, or injury.” Some other reviewers around the web have reported that the heater does trip their breaker, perhaps because it’s not on a dedicated circuit. One even said his outlet overheated and started to melt. Another concern: Some customers have experienced the fan failing while the heating element is on, which caused it to overheat, burn, and start to smoke.
Price: A little much
Usually priced around $50, the LifeSmart 6-Element Infrared Heater is among the cheaper options for indoor space heaters of its kind. Most infrared indoor heaters cost upwards of $60, and those that are all dressed up like mini fireplaces cost closer to $150.
Competition: Several lookalikes
It seems wooden cabinets are the go-to style for infrared quartz heaters. There are several other brands that look almost identical to the LifeSmart and offer the same features, but usually for a higher price. One of the more popular is the Dr Infrared DR968 Original Heater, which looks nearly the same and has the same features but an MSRP of $189.99. The main difference is it’s advertised as having a high-efficiency blower for better heat transfer, yet it’s still quiet at 39 decibels. However, we found its black front with the large digital display less attractive than the LifeSmart.
The Duraflame 9HM9126-O142 Portable Electric Infrared Quartz Heater is another option that looks nearly identical and offers similar features as the LifeSmart, but it’s usually more expensive, and some reviewers report an annoying vibration noise.
Cozy and efficient
Both smaller insulated rooms and larger areas can benefit from the LifeSmart 6-Element Infrared Heater. It works well at heating objects in a space and creating an overall cozy warmth. The digital display could use some refining, and the wood cabinet won’t work with every interior design, but overall this is an efficient heater right out of the box.
- Product Name 6-Element Infrared Heater
- Product Brand LifeSmart
- Price $50
- Weight 26 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 14 x 17.6 x 12.7 in.
- Color Oak-stained wood
- Warranty Limited 1-year
- Model Number LS-1000X-6W-IN