10 Best Portable Heater Reviews for 2020

If you are shopping for a portable heater for your car, garage, or maybe workshop, then our buyer’s guide might be able to help you. Today, we want to feature 10 products that we think are the best portable heaters money can buy!

To help you get started with the shopping and better understand our picks, we’ve also prepared an in-depth buyer’s guide.

But first things first, let’s start with our portable heater reviews!

10 Best Portable Heaters Reviewed

Below, you will find our reviews of the 10 best portable heaters out there. We’ve kept our reviews concise to make things simple, but we’ll still cover the key features of each of our picks to help you understand what you have before you.

To ensure that we are truly showcasing the best of the best, we’ve identified and compared dozens of available options. When evaluating our picks, we’ve heavily based our opinion on buyer reviews to deliver a more weighted, more objective point of view. You can see the result of our hard work below!

1. Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy Propane Radiant Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Propane radiant.
  • BTUs: 4,000-9,000.
  • Weight: 10 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 14.25 x 9 x 15 inches (L x W x H).
  • Portability features: Oversized carrying handle.
best portable heater

If you want a compact portable propane heater with high heat output, then consider Mr. Heater’s MH9BX Buddy radiant heater. Powered by propane, this heater is an excellent option if you are going to need heat in an area with no access to electricity.

Of course, propane heaters produce dangerous fumes, but the Buddy heater has a low-oxygen shutoff to keep you safe. Additionally, it shuts off when tipped over or when the pilot light goes out for any reason.

As a radiant heater, MH9BX Buddy also delivers quick, focused heat in up to 225 square feet spaces. With that said, unless you are in the heater’s line of sight, you aren’t going to feel much heat. This is a downside inherent to any radiant heater.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Pretty compact and lightweight for its heat output.
  • Auto-shutoff when tipped over, oxygen is low, or the pilot light goes out.
  • Delivers near-instant radiant heat.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • As all radiant heaters, warms you only if you are in the heater’s line of sight.
  • Safety issues associated with propane/gas heaters.

2. Air Choice 1,500W Space Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric ceramic.
  • Wattage: 1,500.
  • Weight: 3.1 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 7.1 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches.
best portable heater

If you want something really small and inexpensive, then this 1,500W portable heater from Air Choice is an excellent option to consider. Its heat output is a little weak, but if you value space efficiency more than anything else, this won’t be a problem for you.

With a wattage of 1,500W, this thing will probably heat up to 150-200 square feet spaces. This won’t be enough for whole-room heating, but if you want heat in a small space or maybe in the corner of your garage, then this heater should work just fine.

The Air Choice electric heater has a few nice safety features as well – namely, tip-over protection and overheating shutoff. In terms of temperature adjustments, this thing is also pretty solid – it has a thermostat for auto temperature control, 3 fan modes, and 3 heating levels.

As Air Choice advertises, this electric heater additionally delivers heat in just 3 seconds thanks to its ceramic heating technology.

What we don’t really like about this heater is that it doesn’t have any carrying handles. Although this heater is very easy to carry thanks to the weight of a mere 3.1 pounds, a handle would make things much nicer.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Very small and lightweight.
  • Very inexpensive.
  • Integrated thermostat along with fan-assisted heating.
  • Overheat and tip-over protection.
  • ETL-listed.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • No carrying handles.

3. Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968 Portable Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric infrared & PTC ceramic.
  • Wattage: 1,500.
  • Weight: 24 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 13 x 11 x 16 inches.
  • Portability features: Wheels.
portable propane heater

The DR-968 portable heater from Dr. Infrared Heater boasts the benefits of infrared and PTC technology. 

Thanks to infrared elements, this heater can delivery near-instant focused heat to your workspace. However, due to the nature of infrared heating, the air inside the room won’t be heated directly.

PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) comes in to deal with this drawback. Based on more traditional ceramic heating elements, the PTC tech will heat your space while ensuring safety and energy efficiency. 

This electric heater also has a fan to assist with the spread of hot air. At 39 dB, the fan is a little loud though, which is this heater’s main downside.

Weighing at about 24 pounds, this is a rather hefty unit. But thanks to the integrated casters, it’s pretty easy to move around. If it had a carrying handle as well, it would have been a perfect portable heater!

For added efficiency, the DR-968 electric heater features a 12-hour programmable timer along with an adjustable thermostat. And for safety, you are getting tip-over and overheating protection.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Wheeled for convenient transport.
  • Combines the benefits of infrared and PTC ceramic heaters.
  • Programmable timer & adjustable thermostat.
  • Tip-over and overheating protection.
  • Includes a remote control.
  • UL certification.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • A bit noisy.

4. Air Choice Tower Space Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric ceramic.
  • Wattage: 1,500.
  • Weight: 5.64 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 6 inches.
  • Portability features: Carrying handle.
portable electric heater

This tower-style space heater from Air Choice is a more functional and convenient alternative to the 1,500W Air Choice heater reviewed earlier.

This portable heater has roughly the same heating performance as the previous Air Choice heater but offers more functionality. Most importantly, you are getting a fan plus an oscillation function to allow for more even heat distribution. 

Additionally, this portable heater has a 12-hour timer function, which the previous Air Choice heater lacks. This heater is more convenient in carrying as well thanks to its large carrying handle.

In terms of safety, the Air Choice tower heater retains its counterpart’s features – most importantly, the tip-over shutoff and overheating protection. A rather tall heater, this unit tips easily, so the tip-over protection is a great thing to have.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Not too expensive.
  • Overheating & tip-over shutoff.
  • 12-hour timer function & thermostat.
  • Oscillation function for more even heat distribution.
  • Very easy to carry.
  • Includes a remote.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Flimsy.
  • Tips easily.

5. ISILER 1500W Portable Indoor Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric PTC ceramic.
  • Wattage: 1,500.
  • Weight: 2.425 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 6 x 6.7 x 7 inches.
  • Portability features: Carrying handle.
portable water heater

Next on our top, we have this cute little portable heater from ISILER. 

Priced very pocket-friendly, this heater is great for up to about 108 square feet spaces. Although the heating capacity of this portable heater is limited, its thermostat allows you to manage its energy consumption, while the fan-assisted PTC ceramic technology delivers quick heat into the room.

Interestingly, ISILER includes a supporting stand with this heater to direct the heat upward. This isn’t what we’d consider a must-have feature in a portable heater, but it might make this model more convenient for your needs.

Weighing at a mere 2.42 pounds and boasting a large carrying handle, the ISILER heater is very easy to carry as well.

For safety, this portable heater has overheating protection that triggers when its internal temperature reaches 176 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the ISILER heater lacks a tip-over shutoff (though it is difficult to tip over), and its housing gets hot to the touch.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Affordable.
  • Adjustable thermostat.
  • Overheating shutoff.
  • ETL-certified.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Gets hot to the touch.
  • No tip-over protection.

6. Home Choice 2-Piece 500W Mini Space Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric ceramic.
  • Wattage: 500 x 2.
  • Weight: About 2 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 4.33 x 3.63 x 6.39 inches.
portable water heater

If you want something really simple, then consider this 2-piece space heater set from Home Choice. This heater set is very affordable, has relatively limited functionality, but does a good job of heating small spaces.

Home Choice space heaters employ ceramic heating elements to deliver quick, efficient heat. Given that each heater is powered at 500 watts, we’d say that this set will be good for no more than 100 square feet areas. For the money, this is pretty decent.

When it comes to controls, Home Choice mini space heater only has two modes – power on and off. Unlike what the product description suggests, this unit does not have thermostat controls, so it can only go full power when heating.

Home Choice heaters have no carrying handles, but they are small and light enough for convenient carrying as-is. Their housing doesn’t get too hot to the touch as well, so you should be safe even if carrying the heaters right after shutting them off.

Like all our previous picks, Home Choice portable heaters also have overheating shutoff, but they do not have tip-over protection. Since these heaters are small and light, you should be very careful with them.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Affordable.
  • Overheating protection.
  • ETL-certified.
  • Very light and compact.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • No temp controls – only on or off.
  • Unlike what the product description suggests, has no thermostat.
  • No tip-over protection.

7. ASTERION Ceramic Space Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric PTC ceramic.
  • Wattage: 1,500.
  • Weight: About 3.4 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.8 x 13.3 inches.
  • Portability features: Carry handle.
best portable heater

The ASTERION space heater offers remarkable functionality for a pretty low price. 

The highlight of this portable heater is the 5 modes, including ECO, fan-only, and 3 heating settings. After the on/off functionality of the Home Choice heaters, this looks amazing.

To distribute heat more evenly, this heater also has 72-degree oscillation. At the same time, the fan-assisted PTC ceramic elements will deliver quick and even heat into your room.

The ASTERION heater has a large and easy to read display to let you know what settings the heater is on. ASTERION includes a remote control with this heater too for added convenience.

For energy efficiency, this portable electric heater has an integrated thermostat as well, but it can be 5-10 degrees off at times. It does its job, but not as well as it should.

Notably, this heater is one of the few models out there that are compliant with CA 65 standards. Besides, its overall safety is very nice – unlike previous budget options, the ASTERION heater has overheating shutoff AND tip-over protection.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Includes plenty of features for a low price.
  • 5 modes, thermostat, 24-hour timer.
  • 72-degree oscillation.
  • Clear digital display and remote control for convenience.
  • Overheating and tip-over protection.
  • ETL- and CA 65-approved.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Easy to tip.
  • The thermostat isn’t very accurate – it may sometimes be 5-10 degrees off.

8. Lasko Ceramic Tower Heater 2-Pack

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric ceramic.
  • Wattage: 1,500.
  • Weight: 8.6 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 7.25 x 23 inches (L x W x H).
  • Portability features: Molded-in carrying handle.
best portable heater

The Lasko model 755320 ceramic heater is a nice option if you want something functional and convenient. This particular product listing also includes 2 portable Lasko heaters, so you will be able to heat larger spaces.

At the heart of this Lasko model is a ceramic heating element that provides a fairly quick influx of heat. Thanks to the 2 heat levels plus an auto thermostat mode, Lasko heaters will deliver as much heat as you need while conserving energy. Plus, you get an 8-hour programmable timer.

Adjusting the heating modes and timer is very easy thanks to the oversized digital display and convenient remote control. 

Unlike previous electric heaters, this heater has no fans, so it may not be as quick in heat delivery. On the other hand, it will be way quieter too, which may be a big upside for some buyers.

For portability, Lasko heaters have a small molded-in handle in the rear. This handle isn’t the best we’ve seen, but it’s better than nothing.

The safety in this heater model is also nice, but if it had overheating protection, it would have been perfect. 

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Functional – has a thermostat, 8-hour timer, and oscillation.
  • Large, easy to view digital display.
  • Comes with a convenient remote control.
  • Overheat protection and cool-to-the-touch body.
  • Quiet operation thanks to the fan-less design.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Doesn’t have tip-over shutoff.
  • Tippy.

9. AmazonBasics Indoor Portable Radiator Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric with oil-filled fins.
  • Wattage: 1,500.
  • Weight: About 23.4 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 13.8 x 24.8 x 5.9 inches (L x W x H).
  • Portability features: Casters.
portable car heater

This portable radiator heater from AmazonBasics is an all-around solid option if you want something quality and durable. Made of rust-resistant steel, this heater is tough and will easily withstand abuse.

This radiator heater is not only durable but offers solid heating performance. It can heat up to 144 square feet spaces, and for added energy efficiency, it boasts 3 heat settings and a thermostat.

The safety features in the AmazonBasics radiator heater are pretty interesting as well. This heater has not only overheating but also freezing protection. In extreme cold, this unit turns on automatically to keep itself and you warm.

The AmazonBasics radiator heater doesn’t have tip-over protection, but this isn’t a big deal since it’s not that easy to tip.

One thing to keep in mind with this heater is that it gets hot to the touch, which is a downside of all radiator heaters. With that, it can be difficult to move around when on or right after shutdown.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • 3 heat settings plus a thermostat.
  • Tough, rust-resistant steel build.
  • Great portability thanks to the wheels.
  • Quiet no-fan operation.
  • Anti-freeze mode, overheating shutoff, and non-slip base.
  • ETL-listed.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Gets hot to the touch.
  • No tip-over protection (though it’s not easy to tip in the first place).

10. NUMIFUN Ceramic Space Heater

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Type: Electric ceramic.
  • Wattage: 500.
  • Weight: About 2.14 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 5.1 x 4.7 x 7.1 inches.
portable propane heater

Finally, we have this extremely inexpensive ceramic space heater from NUMIFUN. This heater is a very small unit, so it’s only going to work for small spaces, e.g. as a portable car heater or maybe a desk heater.

Despite its cheapness and size, this heater offers great safety features and functionality. It has tip-over & overheating protection, a cool-to-the-touch housing, and even an integrated thermostat (though no temperature settings). It also features fan-forced ceramic heating – pretty much like in our previous picks.

One dislike we have with this heater is the plastic smell out of the box, but it quickly goes away and doesn’t seem to be anything critical.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Inexpensive – the cheapest heater on our top.
  • Has tip-over and overheating shutoffs.
  • Integrated thermostat for energy efficiency.
  • Stays cool to the touch.
  • ETL-approved.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Smelly when new.

What To Look For When Shopping For The Best Portable Heater

Let’s now have a good look at the most important features to consider in portable heaters. Once you are done with this section, you will hopefully have a clear idea of what matters in portable heaters.

  • Thermal Output– 

    Needless to say, the very first thing to consider in a portable heater is the thermal output. In the US, thermal output typically measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs.

    How many BTUs your heater should produce depends on the size of the space that needs heating. In northern areas of the US, 50-60 BTUs per square foot is a good place to start. In contrast, in hotter southern climates, 30-35 BTUs per square foot would be more optimal. These figures assume a ceiling height of 8-9 feet.

    To determine how many BTUs you need, calculate the area of the space (length x width in feet) and multiply it by the number of BTUs you want per square foot. 

    For example, if your room is sized 12 by 12 feet, then the area will be 144 square feet and the required BTUs will be from 4,320 (for 30 BTUs per square feet) to 8,640 (for 60 BTUs per square feet).

    If you want an electric heater, then an alternative way to size your heater is to multiply the area of the room by 10. This will give you the wattage required to heat your space. Generally, every square foot of area requires 10 watts of heating power.

  • Heater Type- 

    As you could have noticed from our reviews, portable space heaters come in various types. Below, let’s overview the most common heater types to hopefully help you better understand which one would be ideal for you.

  • Gas/Propane Heaters

    These portable heaters rely on gas or propane to create heat. In most areas, running this type of heater is going to be more cost-effective than electric heaters due to the high cost of electricity. With that said, there are some downsides to gas and propane heaters:

    • Fume and CO emissions.

    • High demands on ventilation in the room.

    • More difficult setup because these heaters require venting.

    Gas/propane heaters are in their turn divided into two classes – direct-vent (or vented) and vent-free. Vent-free space heaters do not require any ductwork thanks to their low emissions, but they do require ventilation since harmful fumes are still being emitted into your space.

    Which fuel type to choose – gas or propane? For most people, the right choice will be gas because many US households have gas lines installed. If you have propane instead, then go for a propane heater.

    Note that there are many other, subtler differences between propane and gas heaters, as well as vented & ventless heaters. These are beyond the scope of this post – we only wanted to give you an idea of what you are dealing with. Do more research if necessary.

  • Electric- 

    Electric portable heaters rely on electricity to produce heat. 

    Modern electric heaters usually have ceramic heating elements, though some models may have oil-filled fins for heating as well. Ceramic heaters are all-in-all the best choice since they provide quick heat, long service life, and little maintenance.

    For most people, we think that electric heaters (no matter the heating mechanism) are ideal because they don’t produce any fumes and are thus safer for indoor use. No venting is required either, and electric heaters may be used at night.

    Electricity is also an efficient and eco-friendly source of energy in home use. With that said, keep in mind that the fossil fuel plants where electricity is produced emit combustion products into the air. So although the electricity is by itself is green, its production methods are not.

    Note that you will also need to consider wattage with electric heaters. A heater that has higher heating performance also likely consumes more power. In the long term, this may translate to a hefty energy bill.

    To find out roughly how much you will have to spend annually, try this handy calculator from the US Department of Energy. Select “Space heater” under “My appliance” and enter the required data to get an estimate. Keep in mind that this will be just an approximation because energy rates change over time.
  • Infrared
    Infrared (also called radiant) space heaters can be powered by electricity, gas, or propane. However, they deliver a very different type of heat into your home.

    Infrared heaters provide heat in the form of infrared radiation – the same kind of heat emitted by the sun. The unique thing about infrared heat is that it requires no medium between two bodies for heat transfer. Traditional space heaters do require such a medium, which is air.

    Standard heaters first heat the air – then, the heat is transferred from the air to bodies that are in contact with it. The transfer of heat from the heater to the air and then you takes some amount of time.

    In contrast, infrared heaters heat objects directly without heating the air. Thanks to this, infrared heaters deliver near-instant warmth.

    With that said, there are two important caveats with infrared heaters:

    • They are great for spot heating, but they aren’t as good for zone heating. Unless you are directly in the heater’s line of sight, you won’t feel warmth. You can heat the air in the entire room with an infrared heater, but this will take time. This is because the heat will need to be transferred from you and objects in the room to the air (which is opposite of what happens with standard heaters).

    • Infrared heaters deliver focused heat to a small area. If the heater is powerful enough, this may result in burns, combustion, and even fire. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s still possible.

    All in all, infrared heaters are excellent if you want quick heat in a small area. But do remember that you need to be standing directly in front of the heater.

  • Features,Controls,and Adjustments-
    Consider what kind of features & adjustments you are getting with your portable heater too. Portable heaters can have the following handy features:
    • Fan-forced operation with multiple fan speeds. Some heaters use fans to speed up the heating, but these fans, needless to say, make the heater noisier. Note that some heaters may only have one fan speed, as well as have fans that can’t be turned off.

    • Energy-saving mode.

    • Multiple temperature settings.

    • Integrated thermostats for improved energy efficiency.

    • Air exhaust oscillation for directional heat.

    • Remote controls.

    • Smart home integrations.

  • Safety Features- 
    No matter what kind of heater you get – electric, gas, or propane – you will have to face safety hazards. For example, electric heaters pose the risk of fire and electrocution, while gas/propane heaters also produce dangerous fumes.

    A good heater will have safety features to combat these risks. Among the things that you may want to look for are:

    • Overheat protection. With this feature, a heater will automatically shut off upon crossing some temperature threshold.

    • Tip-over protection. This feature is very important for small heaters that are easy to tip. As you might have guessed, tip-over protection shuts the heater down if it gets tipped.

    • Cool-to-the-touch body. You may come in contact with the heater when carrying it, so your heater should at least have handles that stay cool to the touch. For added safety, the outer housing should stay cool as well – this would protect pets and children from burns.

    • Oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). This feature is a must in gas or propane heaters – what it does is shut off the heater if oxygen levels in the room drop too low. 

    Note that although an ODS can literally be a life-saving feature, many heaters have subpar sensors. Most often, ODSs are placed at floor level, whereas CO and toxic fumes tend to raise in the air.

  • Wheels & Handles- 
    Handles are a great thing to have in a portable heater because they make carrying more convenient. As for wheels, they can make your life very easy with heavy heaters that are difficult to lift off the floor. You can just drag a wheeled heater when you want to move.

    In the end, strongly consider getting a heater with convenient carrying handles. As for wheels, if you feel that the heater is light enough for carrying, you probably don’t need them.

  • Weight & Size- 
    Finally, consider weight and size. When it comes to portable heaters, these two specs are more important than in other space heater types.

    With weight, things are pretty clear – a heavier heater is more difficult to carry and thus less portable. If your heating demands allow it, try to get a smaller and lighter heater. If you need a powerful and large heater, then be sure to get a wheeled portable heater.

    As with size, a bulky heater is more difficult to carry. Due to this, a large heater should also probably be wheeled (even if it’s not that heavy). Additionally, if you want a heater for your car, then it should be small enough to fit inside comfortably.

    But again, if you can, buy a compact portable heater.

Final Words

When shopping for the best portable heater, we think that the most important thing to consider is safety. Portable heaters are typically delicate and easy to tip, so it would be great if you purchased a heater packed with safety features.

Don’t forget everything else we’ve talked about earlier too. Thermal output, convenience, efficiency – all these things matter in portable heaters. And, of course, remember what you are buying a portable heater for – this will help you identify the right heater quicker!

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