Winter is coming (well, it's pretty much here now to be honest) and for all the good it brings (Christmas sandwiches, snow, mulled wine) there is one big downside: the cold.
Temperatures are already getting low in the UK and it's only going to get colder, making now an excellent time to invest in a heater or two. Portable heaters come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, but they can be an easy and efficient way to heat individual rooms without having to turn on the central heating for the whole house, or heat up cold spots that aren't near radiators.
It might also be worth looking into smart heating systems and thermostats: these often give you granular heating controls from your phone, and can be a great way to make your heating system more energy efficient. Take a look at our guide to the best smart thermostats to find out more.
Electric heater buying advice
There are a few things to consider when buying an electric heater for your home, which mostly comes down to considering what type of heater you want. Here are the main types you'll come across:
Clue's in the name: fan heaters blow air about. In this case, they blow air over a heating element to warm it up, and then blast it around the room. That means they're great for heating a room up quickly, but aren't as good for keeping it warm over extended periods of time. They also tend to be pretty noisy, but are usually both cheap and light - making them ideal to move from room to room.
Many modern fan heaters use a ceramic heating element (as opposed to metal), so you'll often see these described as ceramic heaters instead.
Also known as convector heaters, these have an internal heating element much like fan heaters, but instead of using a fan to blow the air around they rely on the fact that hot air rises, leaving space for the falling cold air to come into contact with the heater.
That makes them a little slower than fan heaters to heat up a whole room, but they tend to do a more thorough job, and are better at keeping a space hot for longer. They're still fairly cheap too, though tend to be a bit bigger and bulkier than fans.
Oil heaters use, well, oil to distribute heat. They use an electric current within oil to heat it up, distributing it around the heater much like water in a regular wall-mounted radiator. These take even longer to heat up than convection heaters, but do the best job at keeping heat - even staying warm for a good while after they're turned off.
The downside is that because of the oil they tend to be heavier and less portable, so you won't want to move it around very often. Just to dispel one concern though: there's no need to replace the oil, so don't worry about that.
Familiar from pub gardens across the land, these radiate heat directly from the glowing heating elements, rather than relying on convection. They work quickly, but will only heat things at short range - so they're suitable for small spaces, but will struggle to heat larger rooms.
They're quick, efficient, and cheap to run, but you do have to put up with the annoying glowing light. They're also becoming less and less common, with few of the major brands manufacturing halogen heaters for the home any more.
Best portable heater reviews
De'Longhi Capsule Ceramic Fan Heater
With a suggested retail price of £44.99/$49.95 the Capsule isn't the cheapest small heater you will find on the market. It is pretty much permanently discounted on Amazon, however, and there is much to like here.
For one thing, it looks good. And that's an important factor in a device that will spend its life on show in your home or office. The cute grid stylings, mixture of metals and ceramics, and Apple-esque curved edges give an overall feeling of classic modernity. This is very definitely tech, but a part of the furniture.
The Capsule feels built to last, and is a great size. Weighing around 1.3 kg, and 192x137x270mm in size, it is perfectly portable. Critically, it is equally at home on the floor or on your desk, which isn't true of all 'compact' heaters. And the 1,800 watts output - although not the most powerful compact heater there is - pumps out plenty of heat, and quickly.
So what's not to like? Noise. The De'Longhi Capsule HFX30C18.IW is compact in all respects bar its audio footprint. Like living near an airport you soon forget the noise, but it is very far from quiet.
Well priced, compact and capable of pumping out heat, we like the Capsule. We just wish it was a little quieter.
Dimplex M2GTS Ceramic Heater
If you need a compact heater than isn't just weedy in performance then the M2GTS will suit. It's less than a foot tall but can kick out 2kW of power, making it perfect for placing under a desk or another small space. It looks stylish with a black and red design, plus has a handy handle at the back for moving it around.
Spending a little more on a heater like this means you get a bunch of features that will come in very useful.
The M2GTS comes with no less than three heat settings and that's just the start. We really like the small LCD screen which shows the temperature you can set. It goes from a 5 degree frost protection all the way up to 30 degrees and the display changes colour as you go.
You also get optional oscillation as well as a timer that goes up to 12 hours.
Dimplex EvoRad 2kW Oil Free Radiator
With an RRP of £114.99, the Dimplex EvoRad is comfortably the most expensive entry in our chart, but there may be enough here to justify the purchase.
The headline feature of the EvoRad 2kW is that it’s completely oil-free, which allows it heats up much quicker than a standard radiator, and can begin to warm a room up to 25m2 within minutes of being turned on. It’s not quite as fast as a fan heater, but we think it creates a more comfortable heat and, most importantly, it’s completely silent.
It has an LCD monitor that allows you to set the ideal room temperature (anything from 5-30 degrees Celsius), and using a built-in thermostat, it’ll turn itself on and off when required to save energy.
You’ve also got access to a runback timer and a delayed start option, though these are a little fiddly to activate and we’d have preferred dedicated buttons on the radiator controls for ease of use.
The lack of oil means that it’s fairly light for a radiator too – not that you’ll need to actually carry it from room-to-room, thanks to the inclusion of built-in castors. They are a little flimsy though, so don’t apply too much force when moving it around.