Best Whole Room Space Heaters

Many space heaters are advertised as “whole room heaters” – but exactly how big is a whole room? One possible answer can be found in the Vornado heater manual which describes a whole room, relative to the heater’s capacity, as 16′ x 16′ with an 8′ ceiling. These dimensions work out to 256 sq. ft. and 2048 cu. ft. respectively – easily the size of most family rooms, kitchens, or living/dining spaces.

Over the last year a major shift in space heater technology has re-shaped consumers’ taste in whole room space heaters. Among the winners are those that employ ceramic or quartz infrared heating elements.

Among whole room heater manufacturers, Lasko holds the number two spot for bestselling heaters with its model 755320 tower heater with digital display ($45). (Number one is Lasko’s 754200 compact heater $20).

Ceramic heaters have gained wide spread popularity for a number of good reasons. One is reliability. Speaking from personal experience, our Lasko 5141, no longer available, refuses to give up the ghost after 6 or 7 birthdays – or approximately 52.4 space heater years.

A few more reasons behind the popularity of ceramics for heating are quick heat-up and safe operation. Ceramic heaters are also relatively quiet and produce an even heat which is often described as “soft.”

Radiator Space Heaters
A radiator will always be a radiator so there isn’t much you can do with it. Despite the lack of any game changing technology, the radiator type heater remains one of the safest. Among radiator heater makers, Delonghi dominates the market with its model D0715T Safe Heat Oil-Filled Radiator ($55).

Micathermic Heaters
Micathermic heaters are basically radiator heaters enclosed by mica panels for enhanced heat distribution. Since they depend on convection for heat distribution they are fan-less and noise-free. Designed for versatility, they can be mounted on casters or hung on a wall, and are said to be a good bathroom heater – which I don’t recommend for any portable electric heater.

Once all the rage, micathermic heaters have all but fallen by the wayside. Maybe it had something to do with a customer complaining about sparks shooting from his DeLonghi HHP1500 Mica Panel Radiator. So it’s interesting to note that the Kenwood HHP 1500, also made by Delonghi and strongly resembling the original, is one of Consumer Reports’ highest rated heaters.

However, all is not lost. The Bionaire BH3950-U micathermic heater ($85) rates 4 out of 5 stars from its users for silent operation, portability, and whole room, non-drying heat.

Convection Heaters With Fans
Fan-forced convection heat is the M.O. of most whole room space heaters. The top rated heater makers in this category are Lasko and Delonghi, mentioned previously, along with Holmes, Honeywell, and Vornado.

New from Vornado this heating season is the PVH, or Panel Vortex Heater ($60). This heater is a departure both in price and design from Vornado’s most popular heater, the round cornered EH1-0034-06 AVH2 Vortex Full-Room Electric Heater ($97). The new, easy to operate flat panel design houses the same technology used in their more expensive models.

The secret to harnessing Vornado’s vortex of heat is to locate the heater at one end of the room with a clear path to the opposite wall. When the air hits the opposing wall it splits and is deflected back around the perimeter of the room to heat every square inch of space.

From Holmes, sold under the Patton brand name, is the new PQH307-UM Tower Quartz Heater with Adjustable Thermostat ($45). This fan equipped unit is on the smaller end (150 sq. ft.) of whole room heaters and offers two heat settings corresponding to the number of quartz tubes turned on.

This year Honeywell has the distinction of a recommendation from Consumer Reports for its model HZ-817 Electric Convection Heater ($70). The 30″ long, baseboard type heater has no fan and relies solely on convection for heat distribution.

Unfortunately, this heater is a victim of its own success and is either unavailable, back ordered, or sold at highly inflated prices resulting from scarce supply. Kaz USA Inc., the manufacturer of Honeywell, is aware of the problem and suggests the HZ-617 Whole Room 2-in-1 Heater ($70) as an alternative. The main difference is the addition of a fan to the HZ-617 which can be turned on or off at your pleasure.

Without a doubt, the biggest shift in consumer preferences for electric space heaters has been to furniture style quartz infrared heaters. The introduction of EdenPure a few years ago was followed by an onslaught of competing makes and models.

Infrared Quartz Heaters
The newest of these is the Dr Heater infrared heater. Dr Heater features a dual quartz/ceramic heating system, gets food reviews, and costs $150 – $200 less than its competitors.

Finding the best whole room space heater is easy once you know the size of the space you want to heat, how fast you want it heated (heaters w/fans are 3x faster), and your budget.