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Best electric heater 2024: Get fast, reliable and affordable warmth

Three electric heaters

Get fast, reliable and affordable warmth with the top electric heaters, tried and tested by us

We all know that keeping warm can be expensive. While central heating remains the most cost-effective way to keep your home feeling cosy, the best electric heaters can also quickly warm up a cold room. Of course, not all electric heaters are the same. Some work better in smaller spaces, while some types and models are significantly more effective or economical than others.

Over the last five years I’ve tested a wide range of electric heaters, including old-school fan heaters, ceramic heaters, infrared panel heaters, convector heaters and electric radiators. Along the way, I’ve singled out the best electric heaters in each class, not to mention those that cater to different rooms and budgets.

You’ll find the heaters I recommend in the list below. If you want to know more about the different types of heater and what to look for when you’re making your selection, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the buying guide that follows. If you want to avoid shivering through another winter, read on.

Our expert picks

Best budget fan heater for small rooms: Russell Hobbs RHFH1008

Price when reviewed: ~£40

“It’s tiny and very affordable, but I can assure you this small ceramic heater packs a punch. It will warm up a small room in minutes and its thermostat does a good job of keeping it cosy. Just be aware that it’s a noisy little beast, and not particularly cheap to run.”

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Best for background warmth: Dimplex ECR20 Tie

Price when reviewed: ~£88

“If you’re after more consistent, cost-effective background heat, I think this electric radiator is a better choice. Unlike most, this Dimplex model isn’t filled with oil, and you can set it going on the thermostat and leave it running to keep the room comfortably warm.”

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Best space-saving ceramic heater: DeLonghi Bend Line HFX65V2

Price when reviewed: ~£88

“Ceramic heaters can dish out a surprising amount of heat while taking up barely any space. This DeLonghi model is a great example, with 2kW of power and oscillation to spread the warmth around. I found it easy to use with an eco mode and timer.”

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How we test electric heaters

We test electric heaters during the late autumn and winter in a test room roughly 3m by 6m in size. We first minimise the ambient temperature of the room, then we plug in the heater and turn it up to its maximum setting. We take temperature readings before testing and at 15-minute intervals, for an hour, to check how quickly and effectively the heater warms the test room. During our testing, we make a note of the power consumption at the minimum, medium, and maximum power settings using a passthrough power meter. If the heater produces any kind of noise during its operation, we take readings using a smartphone sound meter app.

Finally, we use the heaters in real-world conditions for a period of up to one week, to check how effectively the onboard thermostat maintains a constant, comfortable temperature, and how well any additional features or settings work.

READ NEXT: Best oil-filled radiator

The best electric heaters you can buy in 2024

1. Swan Horizontal/Vertical Fan Heater: Best low-cost, space-saving heater

Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at Amazon

best electric heater Swan Vertical

  • Great for… compact design and speedy heating
  • Not so great for… noise while the fan is running

With its chrome-effect feet protruding at odd angles, this compact fan heater might look a little strange. They’re there for a reason, however, enabling it to work either sitting horizontally or standing vertically – a definite plus if your room is short on space. Whichever way it’s standing, the simple controls make it easy to operate, and with just two heat settings, a fan setting and a thermostat dial, it couldn’t be much easier to use.

This heater is surprisingly noisy: during testing I measured the maximum sound output at 52.6dB. However, the thermostat does a solid job of only powering the noisy fan up when needed once your room has hit your target temperature.

I measured the maximum power consumption at under the stated 1.9kW; most fan heaters tend to creep over. Yet this tiny terror exceeded my expectations when it came to speedy heating, taking my distinctly chilly living room from 16.5°C to 19.5°C in fifteen minutes, then reaching 20.5°C within half an hour. The icing on the cake is that it’s one of the cheapest heaters I’ve tested, making it a bargain if you just want something compact for some fill-in winter warmth.

Key specs – Heat output: 2,000W; Controls: Heat setting and thermostat dials; Extra features: Overheat cut-out, fan mode; Dimensions: 120 x 240 x 245mm; Weight: 1.3kg

2. Russell Hobbs RHFH1008: Best small heater

Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… fast warming of small rooms and easy storage
  • Not so great for… high noise levels and long-term running costs

It might be tiny, but this compact ceramic heater can’t be beaten for warming up a small room fast. I found that, even on its lowest 1kW power setting, it can still dish out unexpected quantities of heat. Whack it up to the full 2kW and you’re looking at a good, almost scorching, blast.

What’s more, the built-in 60-degree oscillation does a fine job of spreading that heat around. It’s not going to cope with heating larger spaces, but in both small bedrooms and an outside office I found that this little beauty worked a treat, and could be packed away under a shelf once the weather grew warmer.

It does, however, have two downsides. Firstly, it’s pretty noisy, putting out over 50dB while it’s running. That’s louder than you really want in a small room. Secondly, it can use over 2.3kW when running at full power, so it’s not the cheapest option for running over longer periods. However, the thermostat does a decent job of powering the heater down once the room has warmed up and it’s very portable at under 1.5kg. It also has safety features for your peace of mind, including a tip-over switch.

Key specs – Heat output: 2kW; Controls: Heat setting and thermostat dials; Extra features: Overheat safety cut-out, tip-over protection, fan mode; Dimensions: 187 x 160 x 248mm; Weight: 1.35kg

3. Swan SH27030N Horizontal Fan Heater: Best basic fan heater

Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at Amazon

best electric heater Swan Horizontal

  • Great for… simple and effective heating on a budget
  • Not so great for… your energy bills when left running

Let’s not beat around the bush. The Swan 3kW fan heater isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing option, especially compared to the De’Longhi Capsule or Stadler Form Anna. The styling is about as dull as compact fan heaters get. There’s nothing too exciting on the features front either, with two heat settings, a fan setting and a standard dial thermostat to set the required temperature.

Uninspiring design aside, I ended up liking this heater for its thick plastics, solid construction and no-nonsense approach. It operates quietly and is made from durable materials, giving the impression that it can withstand long-term use. Furthermore, it can put out a lot of heat fast, warming my chilly test room by three degrees in 15 minutes, then by another 1.5°C given an extra half an hour.

As with all fan heaters, it needs regular bursts to keep the temperature stable, but it performed well with the thermostat set to 40% and 50%. With power consumption at around 2.6kW at full blast and noise output of up to 48dB, it’s not one to leave running all day long, but it’s a decent option if you need a cheap and cheerful heater to banish the cold from a small room.

Key specs – Heat output: 3,000W; Controls: Heat setting and thermostat dials; Extra features: Overheat cut-out, fan mode; Dimensions: 310 x 250 x 120mm; Weight: 1.3kg

4. De’Longhi Capsule HFX30C18: Best small ceramic heater for style

Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at De’Longhi

  • Great for… compact size, good looks and lower noise levels
  • Not so great for… expensive for a small fan heater

There’s a touch of retro cool in the De’Longhi Capsule’s styling, but its ceramic heating elements can still pump out plenty of heat. The handle at the top makes it easy to move around the house, while the foot folds away for storage in the warmer months. There’s a choice of two power settings and an adjustable thermostat, along with anti-frost and cooling fan functions.

Despite a low-ish 1.8kW rating, I found that this small heater can turn even medium-sized to large rooms toasty within half an hour. It’s also less noisy than your average fan heater, putting out around 40 to 44dB at its maximum fan speed. This little heater isn’t just cute, but versatile and handy.

Key specs – Heat output: 1.8kW; Controls: Heat setting and thermostat dials; Extra features: Anti-frost, cool fan mode; Dimensions: 192 x 137 x 270mm; Weight: 1.3kg

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5. Russell Hobbs RHRETFH1002B: Best retro heater for small to medium-sized rooms

Price when reviewed: £50 | Check price at B&Q 

  • Great for… retro style and quiet heating
  • Not so great for… fancy features

True, it looks like a prop from a 1960s spy movie, but this is a great little heater even if you ignore its vintage style. It might be just over half a metre high and 16.4cm in depth, but it heats up within seconds and starts blasting out warm air just a few seconds later. Give it a small space to heat and it gets things cosy within a few minutes, but it will also warm up larger rooms given a bit more time.

While there aren’t any timers, displays or fancy features, the two rotary controls are nice and intuitive. The chrome-effect plastic dial switches between off, fan mode and the two power settings, while the black ring behind it handles the thermostat. As a bonus, it’s also surprisingly quiet, putting out under 40dB even when it’s running at full blast. And unlike some cheap heaters, the casing doesn’t get too hot to handle while in use.

Key specs – Heat output: 2kW; Controls: On/off/heat setting dial, thermostat dial; Extra features: Cool air blow, safety cut-out; Dimensions: 184 x 164 x 522mm; Weight: 2.5kg

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6. De’Longhi Bend Line HFX65V20: Best space-saving ceramic heater

Price when reviewed: £88 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… big warmth with a tiny footprint, useful features and remote controls
  • Not so great for… not much. It’s a good all-rounder

If you have a room in need of extra warmth, but can’t stand unnecessary clutter, this ceramic tower heater takes up barely any floor space and only stands 61.2cm high. It puts out 2,000W of heat with the aid of its fans while oscillating left and right on its stand to spread the warm airflow around. I found it effortlessly turned a cold kitchen/dining room into a warm and welcoming spot – and all with a minimal amount of noise or fuss.

While the digital control panel looks complicated, I found it surprisingly easy to use: just set the required temperature with the buttons and you can basically leave it to work. If you need to make any adjustments, you can do so without getting up thanks to the bundled slim remote control. This heater also crams in some useful features, including a timer and an eco mode, and with its light weight and built-in carrying handle, it’s pretty portable. Unobtrusive and effective, this is one of the best compact heaters around.

Key specs – Heat output: 2kW; Controls: 24-hour timer, temperature up and down, eco mode selector, mode selector, oscillation toggle, power; Extra features: Anti-frost, fan mode, safety cut-out, remote control; Dimensions: 182 x 226 x 612mm, Weight: 1.4kg

7. Dimplex ECR20 Tie: Best electric heater for economical background warmth

Price when reviewed: £113 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… quiet and consistent background warmth
  • Not so great for… instant heat

Nothing beats an electric radiator for reliable, consistent background heat. Our usual pick, De’Longhi’s Dragon 4, is hard to find right now, but this Dimplex oil-free model is a great alternative. For a start, it’s nearly 4kg lighter which makes it a lot easier to store or move around the house. While it doesn’t give you the same instant heat as a fan heater, I found it reaches similar levels within half an hour and does a better job of maintaining the same level of warmth. Dial the thermostat to your favoured temperature, and you can set it and forget it while you’re in the room.

This model also has a built-in timer, so you can set it to pre-heat a space and, provided the battery in the timer unit has charged up, it won’t lose your settings if you unplug and move it. It’s also quiet, without too much of the clicking or gurgling noise you hear from oil-filled radiators – not to mention the weird smells.
All in all, the ECR20 Tie makes a great option for an outside home office, or for fill-in heat where you need some extra warmth for extended periods, but don’t want a nasty shock when the bills come through.

Key specs – Heat output: 2kW; Controls: On/off/heat setting dial, thermostat dial, timer programmer with LCD display; Extra features: Timer, tilt protection, overheat protection; Dimensions: 479 x 281 x 630mm; Weight: 10.9kg

8. Dimplex MaxAir Hot and Cold: Best high-tech heater for big rooms

Price when reviewed: £200 | Check price at Air Con Centre

  • Great for… all-year-round cooling and heating, smart controls
  • Not so great for… noise levels on full power

The Dimplex MaxAir Hot and Cold keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, thanks to its clever dual-purpose design. It’s basically a tower fan with a built-in ceramic heating element, three fan settings, low and high heat settings, a thermostat and an Intelligent Eco mode. Turn the heating on and it will do its best to reach and maintain the temperature you set (up to 30°C).

Meanwhile, you can turn on oscillation to cover wider areas, with the tower rotating back and forth across 90 degrees. With an output of 2.5kW, I found it perfectly capable of heating larger rooms, and it’s just as speedy as the De’Longhi Bend Line HFX65V20.

Switch to Intelligent Eco mode and the MaxAir will lower power consumption by calculating the most efficient way to reach the desired temperature and reducing the output as it nears that point. It backs up its touch controls with a slimline remote, and you can also control it over Bluetooth using Dimplex’s Remote iOS or Android app. Don’t worry if you find the bright light bars on either side disturbing; you can turn these off with a click on the remote or a tap on the app. The only drawback is the noise levels. Even on low settings, these can get pretty loud, reaching over 58dB when it’s running at full power.

Key specs – Heat output: 2.5kW; Controls: Touch controls for three fan settings, two heat settings, Intelligent Eco mode, oscillation; Extra features: 90-degree oscillation, safety tilt switch, key lock, remote control, Bluetooth connectivity to smartphone app, shutdown timer; Dimensions: 270 x 270 x 690mm; Weight: 5.7kg

Check price at Air Con Centre

9. Vortex Air Cleanse Bladeless Air Purifier: Best multi-function electric heater

Price when reviewed: £180 | Check price at Amazon

best electric heater Vortex Air

  • Great for… heating, cooling and purifying all-year-round
  • Not so great for… maintaining background warmth

Like the Dimplex MaxAir Hot and Cold, this is one appliance you can use throughout the year. In the summer it’ll be your bladeless tower fan, then in the winter it transforms into a fan heater. All it takes is a tap of the touch-sensitive button on the base, which switches between fan mode and the three heat settings. However, like its inspiration – the £450 Dyson Pure Hot+Cool – the Vortex goes one better by adding air purification to its list of talents. In my tests, the fan and HEPA filter weren’t quite as effective at purifying as some dedicated models, but if you want to keep your living room free of pollen, pet dander and other common airborne contaminants, the Vortex will do the job.

It makes an even more effective heater, and you can leave it static and sit dead centre in a blast of warm air, or set it to oscillate to let it heat a wider area. In my tests, it warmed the room by 2.5°C within fifteen minutes and by a further degree within 30. That said, it suffers from the usual problem of all fan heaters – that temperatures dip fast as soon as the heater is inactive – and there’s no way to manually set the thermostat control, which seems to have been preset unusually high. Still, as long as you’re looking for an instant burst of warmth rather than continuous background heat, neither should be a deal breaker.

Key specs – Heat output: 1,950W; Controls: Power, fan speed, oscillation, heat; Extra features: HEPA air purifier, remote control, 1-9 hour timer; Dimensions: 160 x 265 x 855mm; Weight: 4.1kg

10. Princess Glass Smart Panel Heater 1.5kW: Best smart electric heater for style

Price when reviewed: £115 | Check price at Argos

  • Great for… silent and reliable background heating
  • Not so great for… an instant fix of warmth

Princess’s glass-fronted panel heater is an exercise in minimalist design, with subtle touch-sensitive controls built into the surface. When you’re not actively adjusting the settings or the thermostat’s temperature, its display fades to near-invisible. It’s an effective room warmer as well, emitting cosy levels of background heat from the convection ports at the rear.

While it won’t give you quick results – a 1.5°C rise in 30 minutes is nobody’s idea of speedy – I found it still warmed the test room to 20°C within 45 minutes, and kept it there reliably for another hour. What’s more, it did so with no noise and little fuss, while consuming between 350W and 1.5kW of power.

The other big plus with the Princess is that it works with the same HomeWizard Climate app as Princess’s air purifiers, dehumidifiers and fans. The smart features are basic – you can only control the thermostat and set a timer for your heating to turn on – but still come in handy if you don’t want to get up and make your own adjustments. I also like the fact that you can stand the panel up on the included feet or mount it to a wall; it’s perfectly safe and happy either way.

Key specs – Heat output: 1.5kW; Controls: Thermostat plus and minus, power, heat level, timer, child safety locks; Extra features: Overheat protection, smart app support, timer; Dimensions: 760 x 92 x 430mm; Weight: 7.4kg

Check price at Argos

11. Aeno Premium Eco Smart Heater: Best electric heater for good looks and low running costs

Price when reviewed: £240 | Check price at B&Q

best electric heater Aeno Premium Eco Smart Heater

  • Great for… maintaining a comfortable level of warmth for less
  • Not so great for… instant heat or families. The panel surface can get really hot

Are you looking for steady background heat without sky-high running costs? This efficient, slimline panel heater uses infrared tech to warm its glass surface and the room beyond. It uses around 779W when running at full tilt and as little as 160W if you leave it ticking over. Moreover, it looks stylish, either mounted on your wall using the bundled brackets or freestanding on its anodised aluminium feet.

You can turn it on continuously or switch it to its smart setting, which allows you to set your required temperature and it gets to work automatically. Alternatively, you can connect the heater to your home Wi-Fi network and control it using Aeno’s smartphone app. I’m not always convinced by smart appliances and apps, but this one provided a user-friendly platform for setting schedules and keeping an eye on the panel’s energy consumption.

As with any heater that’s reliant on radiation and convection, you’re not going to get instant warmth, but the Aeno worked fast enough to take my test room from 17°C to 18.5°C in fifteen minutes and then to 19.5°C within thirty. After that, it kept the temperature steady at around 19.5 to 20°C without any noise or further bother. Be careful if you have any children around, as the surface can get burning hot while the heater’s in use, but it’s one of the more cost-effective options for maintaining warmth within a room.

Key specs – Heat output: 700W; Controls: Power, temperature + and -, smart; Extra features: Wi-Fi, Smart App, tilt/fall over protection, ambient temperature sensor; Dimensions: 1,000 x 165 x 365mm; Weight: 8.9kg

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How to choose the best electric heater for you

Heaters come in different types and with a range of power ratings, some suiting different scenarios and coming with different short- and long-term costs. Before you buy, think about what you want from your heater. Are you looking to keep a room warm throughout the day or evening, or do you just need a quick blast of heat here and there? Are you looking for something that can warm up a whole room or something to keep you warm while you’re sitting on the sofa? What kind of running costs are you willing to put up with? All of these things will help determine the kind of heater you need to buy.

Should I go for a fan heater, convector heater, radiator or halogen heater?

There are four main types of electric heater, and each has its pros and cons:

  • Fan heaters: These blow air across a heated element, which means they can fill up a small room really quickly. However, they tend to be noisy and aren’t always great for keeping a room warm over longer periods as the heater needs to keep kicking in every time the temperature drops. In many modern fan heaters, a positive temperature coefficient (PTC) ceramic element is used rather than the old-style heated metal element, which is why you’ll often see these listed as ceramic heaters.
  • Convection (or convector) heaters: These designs channel air currents through the body of the heater and out into the room. They may take longer to warm the space, but they’re not as noisy and often provide a more even heat around the room.
  • Radiators: An electric element heats up oil or another substance inside the body of the heater. They have similar pros and cons to convection heaters, but tend to hold the heat for longer, making them great for constant background warmth.
  • Halogen heaters: These are the descendants of the old two-bar electrics, radiating heat directly on the objects in front of the glowing element. They’re good for warming one or two people at fairly close proximity, but not so ideal for heating the whole room with an even heat. Some people may also find the amount of light given off annoying. Halogen heaters seem to be falling out of favour, with good models from major brands increasingly hard to come by.

How powerful a heater do I need?

Heaters have an output measured in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW) and generally you get out in terms of heat what you put in in terms of energy. In a smaller room, or one requiring fill-in heat on top of central heating, you may be happy with something as low as 600W, but larger or colder rooms may need a 1.2kW to 3kW model.

How much should I spend?

You can spend as little as £10 on a heater or over £400, although most come in at between £50 and £100. You’ll pay extra for stylish designs, new technology, smart controls and advanced features, but not necessarily more for actual heating power. 2kW of heat from a £20 heater won’t feel much different to 2kW of heat from a £200 heater, although its efficiency and how that heat is directed around the room can make a difference.

The more significant issue is running costs. A 2kW heater uses 2kW of electricity running at full pelt, meaning if you pay the average 27p per kilowatt/hour for electricity, it could cost you nearly 54p an hour to run. That’s at full blast, of course, and with the heat settings dialled down and an effective thermostat running, it shouldn’t be so expensive, as the heater will only kick in when the temperature drops below your setting.

To put this into perspective, with current energy prices, the average gas-fired boiler costs around £1.78 to £2.40 an hour to heat a whole house. However, with the thermostat at sensible levels and decent insulation, it shouldn’t be doing so continuously, so actual costs will be lower. An efficient electric heater makes sense when it comes to keeping one room warm for a few hours, but once you’re running multiple heaters or warming a larger space, you need to ensure that your heaters aren’t costing more than they would to run your boiler.

What are the most efficient heaters?

If you’re looking for a heater that won’t use much power and helps cut costs on energy bills, your best bet is a halogen heater, a convection heater or an oil-filled radiator, particularly if they have effective thermostat controls. The ideal is to find a heater that maintains a constant temperature without running at full tilt at all times. Fan heaters are more expensive to run but can heat up a room faster. However, if that room is poorly insulated or draughty you’ll find you’re turning on for another blast more often, driving up the running costs.

Are there any other features I should look out for?

The thermostat is the key one, as it’s crucial for keeping the room at a decent heat – not too hot, not too cold – and saving energy (and money) by turning the heater off when that level’s reached. Frost protection can be a useful feature for conservatories or utility rooms, as it means you can use the heater there and it will run at a minimal level, dishing out just enough heat to keep the temperature north of zero.

Some heaters come with a timer to switch them on just for the evening, say, while others have a temperature display or a remote control. A few heaters are even introducing Wi-Fi connectivity and smart controls, so you can activate and control your heater using an app – or even Alexa voice commands.

With a cold-air setting, the heater can act like a fan in hot weather, although the usefulness of such a feature varies. Finally, watch out for safety features such as tilt protection or a safety cut-out, which could prevent the heater overheating or causing a fire if it’s knocked over.

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