Which space heater is best?

How to be the best consumer you can be.
Feb. 10 2009 7:05 AM

Heated Debate

Which space heater is best?

(Continued from Page 1)
Honeywell HZ-7200 Cool Touch Oscillating Heater With Smart Energy Digital Control Plus, $58.63

Honeywell HZ-7200 Cool Touch Oscillating Heater With Smart Energy Digital Control Plus, $58.63 For the money, this thing cooks. It's the only one of the smaller convection heaters I tested with a frost-watch setting that will kick the heater on if the room temperature reaches close to freezing. The major drawback of this black, oval-shaped model—which looks like a squished, miniature Death Star—is its short, 22-inch power cord. If you don't have a lot of outlets in your house or they are not conveniently located, this could present a problem. (Also note that only heavy-duty extension cords should be used with space heaters.) Safety features include tip-over shut-off and overheating protection.

Warm Up: 6
Noise: 2
Safety: 2 (reduced due to short power cord)
Bells and Whistles: 6
Total: 16

DeLonghi HHP1500 Mica Panel Radiator, $89.99
Advertisement

DeLonghi HHP1500 Mica Panel Radiator, $89.99 This was the best heater for instant, silent, blazing toastiness. While the large panel—which looks somewhat like a flat-screen television on wheels—fires up quickly and emits a strong radiant heat, there's no fan to circulate the air, so it's a bit slow on room warm-up time. A ceiling fan or a small stand-up fan would work well in tandem with this unit.

What prevents this perfectly good heater from being a really great one is that it's a little skimpy when it comes to features—no timer, no thermostat readout. It also seems odd and somewhat frightening that it doesn't have a tip-over safety shut-off, as its height and slender shape makes it really easy to topple.

Warm Up: 5
Noise: 5
Safety: 2
Bells and Whistles: 6
Total: 18

Delonghi Safe Heat Ceramic Tower, $90.20

Delonghi Safe Heat Ceramic Tower, $90.20
At the highest setting, the Delonghi Tower seemed to crank out a bit more powerfully than other ceramic heaters. It's also nicely tricked out, with a remote control, 24-hour timer, automatic overheat protection, and a tip-over safety mechanism—which, considering its height (28 inches from the base), is definitely a wise addition. But the interface was the least user-friendly of the bunch. (If your father regularly asks you how to turn on a computer, don't buy him this heater.) And like the Vornado fan, this heater makes an annoying beeping sound when you change the temperature.

Warm Up: 9
Noise: 2
Safety: 4
Bells and Whistles: 8
Total: 23

Honeywell HZ-385BP Safety Sentinel Electronic Ceramic Tower Heater, $78.99

Honeywell HZ-385BP Safety Sentinel Electronic Ceramic Tower Heater, $78.99
This model has the most safety features of the bunch: automatic tip-over shut-off, overheating shut-off, and a power cutoff if something—child, pet, strewn clothing—gets too close to the infrared sensor mounted on the bottom front of the unit. It's also the only model I tested that has the option of displaying temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. (My Scottish girlfriend speaks only Celsius, so I found this particularly useful.) Some Amazon users complained of a beeping noise when changing the temperature settings, but Honeywell must have heard their cries—this model worked without beeps.

Warm Up: 9
Noise: 2
Safety: 6
Bells and Whistles: 8
Total: 25

Conclusion
Finding the best heater depends on what you're using it for—how big is the room you are heating? How cold is it? In general, electric convection (oil-filled heaters or heat panels) seemed best for heating a room slowly but surely while fan-forced convection heaters are best for quickly raising the temperature. 

As for me, I'm not sure I found the best heater. My ideal machine would've been some Frankenstein version of the Delonghi Mica Panel with an internal fan like the Vornado's, a simple digital readout, a multi-hour programmable timer (so I could set it to turn on early in the morning and before bedtime), and all the safety features.

It's 2009—how hard can this be?

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 29 2014 10:00 PM “Everything Must Change in Italy” An interview with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 29 2014 1:52 PM Do Not Fear California’s New Affirmative Consent Law
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 29 2014 12:01 PM This Is Your MOM’s Mars
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.