Leaves are falling, the nights are drawing in. Now is a good time to get ahead and buy a portable heater, so it’s ready to plug in when the temperature really drops.
There are several types of portable heater available: fan, ceramic, halogen, oil filled and more. If you’re not sure which sort would be best for your situation, have a look at our guide outlining the different types and their advantages and disadvantages.
If you want more control over individual radiators, check out our guide on the best smart radiator valves, and if you’re ready to take the leap and buy a whole smart home heating system, read our round-up of the best smart thermostats available.
Before you buy, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is safety. Never cover your portable heater or use it to dry clothes.
Second, be aware of cost. A portable heater can save you from needlessly cranking up the central heating but if you run a plug-in heater all day, it'll consume a lot of power. A portable fan heater running for 24 hours continuously on a standard electricity tariff could cost you up to £7 per day.
The best portable heaters
De'Longhi Capsule Ceramic Fan Heater - Best fan heater
The Capsule isn't the cheapest small heater you'll find on the market but there's much to like in its compact form.
For one thing, it looks good. 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 metal and ceramic, and its modern, curved edges set it apart from many heaters that are built for service but not for display. This is a piece of tech that'll fit into your home and quickly become part of the furniture.
The Capsule feels built to last, and is a great size. Weighing around 1.3kg, and 192 x 137 x 270mm in size, it's perfectly portable. Critically, it's equally at home on the floor or on your desk, which isn't true of all 'compact' heaters. And, although it's not the most powerful heater available, its 1,800 watt output pumps out plenty of heat, and quickly.
So what's not to like? Noise. The Capsule is compact in all respects except for its audio footprint. After a while, you'll tune out its sound but if you're hoping for a silent heater, this is not it.
Attractive, compact and capable of pumping out heat, we like the Capsule a lot. We just wish it could be a little quieter.
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool - Best all-rounder
First things first: obviously, the Pure Hot + Cool is extremely expensive when compared to most heaters, but it's genuinely packed with great tech. It's a heater, an air purifier and a cooling fan in one appliance.
Not only that, but the Pure Hot + Cool is very good at all of these things. So, you're not only getting a three-in-one appliance, you're getting the best of all worlds.
It's a device that will be useful all year round, so there's no need to go chucking it in the loft and dragging it out for chunks of the year.
The Pure Hot+Cool is filled with features, including an LCD screen that can give you real-time information about your air quality, as well as basics such as temperature and fan speed.
You can set it on diffuse mode if you don't want air blasting out of the front and make use of the night mode for quiet operation.
There's a useful remote control and you can choose to control the device from your phone using an app - even when you're not at home.
Dimplex M2GTS Ceramic Heater - Best ceramic heater
The Dimplex M2GTS might be relatively expensive for its size, but this ceramic heater packs a punch.
If you need a compact heater with genuine power, 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 in another small space. Its black and red design is stylish, plus it has a useful 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 handy.
The M2GTS has three power settings. We really like the small LCD screen which shows the temperature you can set. It goes from a 5 degree Celsius 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 12-hour timer.
Dimplex EvoRad 2kW Oil Free Radiator - Quietest heater
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, although 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 as well – not that you’ll need to carry it from room-to-room, thanks to the inclusion of built-in castors. They are a little flimsy however, so don’t apply too much force when moving it around.
How we test our heaters
Rather than performing a series of tests in lab-style conditions, we take the heaters home and try them out. We keep products for several weeks and use all of their functions in as many situations as we can think of, so we can give you an honest evaluation of how well they'll work in your life.