Best Electric Heaters: Top 3 Most Efficient Portable Heating Solutions
An electric heater isn’t cheap to operate, therefore, investing in the most energy-efficient appliance possible will save you a great deal of cash in the long run.
Our guide will focus on the most efficient electric heater of each type on the market. We’ll explain the different kinds of electric heaters, what running costs you can expect, and will tell you what’s the best heater we found after reviewing more than 15 models.
Types of Electric Heaters
Remember, the cheapest electric heater for one person might not be economical for another. And that’s because a space heater’s efficiency depends on the type of space you’re trying to heat. There are other variables, too — like the quality of your home’s insulation and its airtightness.
Below we’ve briefly covered the different types of electric portable heaters.
Convection electric heaters aren’t the quickest to heat a room, but they’re ideal for small-medium-sized spaces that you want to heat for a few hours or more.
Typically, these heaters are quite large. So, not only do they take up space, but they can be more cumbersome to move than a small fan or halogen heater. That said, a typical convection space heater only weighs around 4-5kg.
In our opinion, the Dimplex 403TSFTie offers the best value for money in this category.
Electric fan heaters are perfect for small rooms that you want to heat for short periods of time. They’ll warm air and distribute heat quickly and efficiently. These small electric heaters are also lightweight, meaning they’re portable.
However, they’re not the best heating system for large rooms with high ceilings, or spaces you’re planning to heat over a long period of time.
If we’re buying a fan heater, we’re buying the Dimplex DXFF30TSN.
An electric halogen heater is one of the best heating methods for outside spaces or those that are particularly draughty (such as an old building without good insulation). And that’s because halogen space heaters direct infrared heat at specific objects (or people), rather than trying to heat the surrounding air.
If you often feel like the whole room is cold and it’s a struggle to heat due to draughts or lack of insulation, this is the best heater type for you.
The Warmlite WL42005N gets our vote for the best electric heater in the halogen category.
You’ve probably come across storage heaters if you’re on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff. They resemble electric radiators, and can store heat while you’re on your evening tariff, then let you use it in the day.
This might sound like the cheapest heater to run. However, storage heaters are certainly not our top pick.
That’s because they’re ridiculously expensive. So much so that it would be cheaper to upgrade your entire heating system, both in terms of the initial investment and the running costs, than to fit your property with storage heaters.
That’s not to mention that these electric wall heaters are heavy, and often mounted to a wall, so they’re not easy to move from room to room or pack away into storage.
That’s why we won’t be recommending any storage heaters below. The best electric heating units (depending on your space and heat requirement) that are the cheapest to run and buy are convection, fan, and halogen.
1. Dimplex 403TSFTie | Best Electric Convector Heater
Type: Freestanding convector | Output: 3 kW | Programmable: Yes | Turbo: Yes | Warranty: 3yrs
We’re heading for the Dimplex 403TSFTie as our top electric convector heater, and here’s why. If you browse any online store offering convection heaters, you’ll see plenty of cheap, or no-name brands. And generally, you’ll find that the highest-rated products aren’t always the best; they’re simply the cheapest.
Dimplex is a well-known brand in the heating industry, so this is where I’d be looking. For their lower-end Dimplex 403TSFTie, you’ll pay only around £10 more than you would for a no-name equivalent, so it’s no brainer in our opinion.
The question is: what size space heater do you really need? There are plenty of small electric heaters putting out 1kW, but it’s much better to go 2kW or bigger and reduce the temperature on the thermostat if needed.
Doing so will reduce the kWh you use, but you still have the option of getting that heat boost by cranking it to the full 3kW output.
The 403TSFTie is a 3 kW heater, but setting it at half power means you’ll only use around 1.5 kWh of electricity.
If you’re looking for a portable heating solution, convection (or fan heaters, for that matter) are ideal.
The Dimplex 403TSFTie, for instance, weighs just 4.75kg. This light weight makes it easy to move from room to room, or to pack it away into storage during the summer months.
Unlike most convection heaters, the Dimplex 403TSFTie was designed to be portable and its two carry handles make it extremely easy to move.
Not only can you change the temperature on the Dimplex, but you’ll also be able to program it using the 24-hr programmer. This way, you can set the space heater to come on just before you wake up and click off right after you go to sleep.
One thing worth looking at when buying an electric heater is the cord length. If you’re short on sockets, you might have trouble keeping your heater close to you unless the cord is relatively long. And unfortunately, even the best electric heaters come with a short cord.
The Dimplex has a reasonable cord length of 1.2m.
There are hundreds of reviews of the Dimplex 403TSFTie heater online, most positive. Of all the reviews I found, most negative ones referenced a bad smell — typical of new electric heaters. After an hour or two of running, this smell should dissipate.
Should you buy it?
In terms of longevity, Dimplex are a well-known brand, so, including purchase costs, the Dimplex 403TSFTie is likely to be the cheapest space heater to run.
Compared with no-name brands, it offers extras, such as a 24hr thermostat and a frost setting. And that’s why we’ve made this our pick for the best electric convection heater.
2. Dimplex DXFF30TSN | Best Electric Fan Heater
Type: Fan | Output: 3 kW | Controls: Thermostat | Cool Air: Yes | Warranty: 3yrs
There’s a chance you’ve already guessed we’re a fan of Dimplex, as the Dimplex DXFF30TSN is an electric fan heater we can recommend without reservation.
That’s not to say there aren’t other options. For instance, there are small heater fan units likes this one for around half the price. But if it were me, I’d invest in something that will stand the test of time.
Keep in mind, too, that the cheaper brands aren’t likely to come with a warranty, compared with Dimplex’s 3-year warranty offering.
We’re sticking with the 3kW output model as our pick for the best heater because it allows you to heat up a larger space, too.
The 3kW DXFF30TSN space heater from Dimplex is more than big enough to heat a small room, a compact space such as a campervan, or even a converted-into-office garage or a small home gym.
Typically, an electric fan heater is much smaller than a convection heater, and that’s certainly the case here. It measures 24.5 x 25.3 x 11.4 cm and weighs just over 1kg.
So, if you want a portable heater, the Dimplex DXFF30TSN fan heater should be at the top of your shortlist.
Like with the convection heater, you’ll get a range of heat settings which can be controlled via the thermostat, including a cool air setting for hot summer days.
Like other Dimplex electric heaters, you’ll find a tonne of reviews online. As with any product, it’s worth reading through these reviews, to see what buyers say about things like heat settings and noise.
Should you buy it?
The difference in price between the cheap brands and Dimplex is much higher for a small heater fan than it is, for say, convection heaters. You’re looking about twice the price for a Dimplex fan heater compared to the cheapest ones available.
However, a 3-year warranty is something not offered with cheap products, and combined with its efficiency, we consider the Dimplex DXFF30TSN to be a great small heater. It’s also one of the cheapest to run when you factor in purchase costs and its lifespan.
3. Warmlite WL42005N | Best Electric Halogen Heater
Type: Halogen | Output: 1.2 kW | Wide-angle Oscillation: Yes | Warranty: 2yrs
For particularly draughty buildings, a halogen heater is the best heating appliance you can get. Its infrared heat focuses on heating objects rather than the surrounding air. And that’s perfect when you’re in a building with a constant flow of cold air — a small heater would struggle to keep the entire air mass at the desired temperature.
Our pick for the best heater in this category is the well-priced Warmlite WL42005N.
You’ll notice the Warmlite is a little lower in output compared to our two space heaters above, being just 1.2kW. Typically, this is a big enough heater to heat a small space.
For days when you just want to take off the chill, you’ll be able to set the heater to 400W or 800W. And, for the cooler days and nights, you’ll be able to max out the heater on its 1.2kW setting.
In terms of weight, electric halogen heaters typically sit somewhere in between convection and fan heaters.
In the case of the Warmlite WL42005N, it’s just 1.81kg. So, that means it’s portable – it’s easy to move from room to room, or pack away for storage.
As we’ve mentioned, you’ll have three heat settings: 400W, 800W, and 1200W.
Built into the controls is a safety mechanism that cuts out the power automatically if the heater is knocked over. This is a must-have safety feature that will come on all the best plug-in heaters.
For such a low price, you’d expect the reviews of the Warmlite to be reasonable at best. But, that’s not the case. There are tonnes of positive online reviews from happy customers, and they’re certainly worth a read.
Should you buy it?
After comparing multiple halogen heaters’ specifications, reviews, and prices back-to-back, the Warmlite WL42005N stands out as the best (and cheapest) halogen heater for the money.
Electric Heater Running Costs
How much does it cost to run an electric heater?
Working out the cost to run your new heater isn’t particularly difficult. You’ll need two things:
- Your kWh (kilowatt hour) electricity rate on your current energy tariff (for instance, 13p)
- The kW output of your heater.
As an example, let’s just assume you’re on 13p per kWh for electricity on your current tariff and you have a 1kW heater.
The calculation based on the above is simply 1 (kW output from your heater) x 13p (kWh charge from your electricity supplier) = 13p per hour.
A few different scenarios to work out costs might be:
- 6.5p for 30 minutes running time
- £1.30 for 10 hours running time
- £2.60 for 10 hours running time using a bigger 2 kW heater
- A 2kW heater, only being used at half capacity (1kW on the thermostat) will use 13p per hour, but 26p per hour on its maximum 2kW setting.
As we’ve said: kW output of your heater x cost of your tariff (per kWh) = the cost to run your heater per hour.
Which type of heater is the cheapest to run?
Before picking a specific heater, you need to determine which type of heater is going to be the most economical to run. Different types of heaters are designed for different scenarios and spaces.
Typically, the most popular electric heaters in the UK are:
Fan heaters are probably the ones you want if you’re on a budget and you expect good results.
Which is the cheapest electric heater to run?
Best Electric Heater: Conclusion
Hopefully, our guide to the best electric heaters not only helps you understand which type of heater you need but also, which one is the cheapest to run based on your heating requirements.
Get in touch via our contact page and we’ll drop you a line as soon as possible.