High heating capacity
Doubles as an end table
Large and heavy
Since 2007, LifeSmart has specialized in infrared heaters for the home. The LifeSmart Infrared Quartz Fireplace Heater is a larger, fireplace-style heater that can warm large rooms and even entire small houses at a small initial purchase cost. We put the popular electric heater, with its furniture-like mantel design, to the test to see if it could successfully heat our Colorado home on chilly, late winter days.
Setup: No setup, but challenging size
The LifeSmart Infrared Quartz Fireplace Heater doesn’t require any setup. All parts, including the caster wheels, come attached and assembled, meaning no effort on our part. We did think it was a shame that the caster wheels aren’t removable; since the heating elements are at the top, we could have safely set the unit directly on the floor.
Site selection is the hardest part because of the size of the unit (almost 3 feet wide), not to mention the weight (55 pounds), though the wheels help with moving. With its wooden exterior, this heater looks like a piece of furniture, so it’s not surprising that many buyers use theirs as such. Several online reviewers made their heater double as a TV stand, and we employed it in our testing as a sort of end table.
It’s a shame that the caster wheels aren’t removable; since the heating elements are at the top, we could have safely set the unit directly on the floor.
While the user manual suggests keeping objects 3 feet from the back, sides, and front of the unit, the top is fair game and only gets a little warm. You might not want to set a stick of butter on there, but in our experience, the unit didn’t get hot enough to damage knick-knacks and picture frames in any way.
Safety Features: Auto shut-off and child lock
The LifeSmart has several welcome safety features that helped us feel comfortable running the unit for longer periods of time. First is a tip-over feature that automatically shuts the unit down when it senses it has fallen over. Given the weight and sturdiness of the heater, this hardly seems like a concern, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
Second is an overheat safety feature common to most space heaters. When the LifeSmart senses its components have reached a certain temperature, it automatically shuts down. To resume use once it’s cooled down, you’ll need to reset by unplugging the unit.
The third and most unique safety mechanism is a digital child lock button. We were able to lock the unit, rendering the control panel and remote useless until the procedure was reversed. We still wouldn’t want to leave a young child unattended with the unit, which can get very hot in certain spots, this feature offers another layer of peace of mind.
Design: Honey oak and large size not for everyone
The LifeSmart has the look of one of those old-fashioned TVs consisting of a screen set into a wooden box with legs. The oak surround is heavy-duty and responsible for the unit’s weight, but it also gives it a substantial feel and pushes it into the furniture category as well.
This particular wood and stain combination does look like it was brought forward from a bygone era, probably the ’90s.
The light-stained oak is not a veneer on particle board, and that was obvious the first time we tried to move it. However, this particular wood and stain combination does look like it was brought forward from a bygone era, probably the ‘90s. While it may fit in just fine in some households, it will likely stick out among a more modern aesthetic or even in a home with more contemporary wood stains.
As we mentioned, it would be nice if the wheels were removable, but thankfully they’re slightly recessed and small enough that we really had to work to see them when the unit was on the ground.
Operation: Intuitive control panel and remote
We found the controls simple enough to understand without even opening up the user manual. A six-button remote and the built-in control panel makes the heater really easy to operate.
We were able to toggle between high, low, and eco modes, but it wasn’t obvious at first what those modes did. Eventually, we learned that the high setting uses 1,500 watts of power and the low 1,000; the eco mode attempts to maintain an ambient temperature of 68 degrees.
You can also set a specific temperature using the up and down arrows. We selected 68 degrees, and the unit ran until it sensed it had reached that number. We did find that, because the thermometer is inside the unit, it often stopped heating before the whole room reached that temperature. We ended up compensating by setting the temperature on the unit higher than we actually wanted the room.
The LifeSmart has several welcome safety features that helped us feel comfortable running the unit for longer periods of time.
The timer settings allowed us to program the unit to run for anywhere from one to 12 hours, in one-hour increments. However, it would have been nice to have a built-in clock and the ability to set the unit to turn on at a specific time of day.
The flame control simply rotates the flame effect between high, medium, low, and off. Having the “off” setting was nice for when we wanted to run the unit, say, in our room when going to bed.
Performance: Effective supplemental heat in small rooms
We found the LifeSmart heater most useful in short sprints, either warming our bodies directly as we would with a real fire or heating a small room quickly. As a result, we didn’t use the low or eco modes very often. The eco mode also had the same skewing of the thermostat as we found with the temperature set mode.
On high, the three-bulb heater worked surprisingly well for small rooms; however, the unit struggled to heat up our larger common spaces. In those cases, it was most useful when we directed it at ourselves to soak up the infrared heat waves versus just waiting for it to warm the room.
Price: On par with competitors
The LifeSmart costs between $160 and $180 and is comparable in size, heating capacity, and features to other infrared fireplace-style heaters in its category. The LifeSmart sets itself apart by being more of a fixture than a heater. If you have the space for it and need a supplemental heat source in a living area or bedroom, the LifeSmart can serve as a cornerstone piece of furniture that just happens to heat your space.
LifeSmart Infrared Quartz Fireplace Heater vs. Duraflame Infrared Fireplace Stove
The Duraflame starts around the same price range as the LifeSmart and boasts similar features including a remote control, timer options, and several extra safety features.
The most noticeable difference is the aesthetic, with the Duraflame imitating the look of a cast-iron wood-burning stove. The top of the Duraflame gets much warmer than the LifeSmart, so if you like the idea of using your infrared heater as an end table or TV stand, it’s best to go with the LifeSmart. Those looking for a smaller footprint than the LifeSmart would do better with the Duraflame.
Yes, if it fits your house
The LifeSmart Infrared Quartz Fireplace Heater delivers the heating performance we expected, and it has a number of nice features that make it an attractive supplemental heat option. Just be aware that you’re buying something more akin to a piece of furniture than a small space heater you can tuck away in a corner of a room.
- Product Name Infrared Quartz Fireplace Heater
- Product Brand LifeSmart
- Price $180
- Product Dimensions 31 x 11.2 x 22.6 in.
- Max. BTUs 5,100
- Warranty 1 year limited