A portable indoor heater is a great all-round solution, whether you’re preparing to heat your home during an apocalyptic winter, you live in a beautiful but draughty old house that errs on the chilly side, or you’re that chronically cold person who wears fluffy socks and a scarf year round (we feel you).
If you have a large house that needs a lot of power to heat, using an electric indoor heater instead of switching on the central heating can reflect well in your energy bills, saving you money at the end of the month. This is because it just heats a particular space, not the whole building, keeping running costs very low. It also offers you control: no more arguing over the number on the thermostat if your partner runs hot and you run cold.
Prefer an appliance to keep you cool instead? Fair enough: take a look at our best fan guide for top tower fans, desk fans and bedroom fans.
What to consider when buying an indoor heater
When it comes to finding the best heater for your needs, there are three main types to consider:
Oil-filled heaters are cheap to run, but can take a while to heat, and tend to be heavy and unwieldy, although models on wheels are easily mobile.
Portable fan heaters are light and mobile, and heat up a room quickly, but can be noisy.
Convector heaters also heat up quickly, but tend to be quieter and less intrusive while they’re running, making them good for bedrooms.
Use these tips to pick the right indoor heater:
- Take note of how long each heater takes to heat up, the noise it makes when on, and if it's cheap to run.
- Note the weight of the heater, especially if it isn't on wheels.
- Power: the higher the wattage, the more powerful the machine and the hotter it will be; however, it's worth noting that heaters with a higher wattage will use more power.
This futuristic-looking machine isn’t just a heater – it’s portable, powerful, incredibly quiet, and cools as well as heats; your own personal climate control. Using that famous Dyson technology, the Air Multiplier creates a constant silent airflow, so aside from keeping you comfortable, you won’t even know it’s there. The intelligent thermostat switches off once your room has reached the desired temperature and knows when to switch itself on again with no intervention. Plus, it looks amazing. A really marvellous machine, if you can afford the price tag.
The only oil-filled heater on our list, this De’Longhi model makes the grade for its compact size and ability to stay warmer for longer. It’s small enough to store out of the way when not needed, and heats up much more quickly than most oil radiators, perfect for warming up box rooms and conservatories. When it does run, it’s cheap as chips, and unlike many of its competitors, it has a handy timer and is light and easy to move around. For small spaces, for example a home office, it’s a real winner.
Okay, so it doesn’t have the streamlined good looks of the Dyson, but for everyone who can’t justify spending £400 on a heater, this is definitely the next best thing. Like the much pricier Dyson, it can both heat and cool air, and once you configure the exact temperature you want on the easy-to-use backlit LED screen, it regulates itself to maintain it. It’s also small and light enough to pop on a table, and just perfect for chilly office workers to use at their desks.
This tower heater comes with a remote control, so if you have mobility issues, or just have trouble getting out of bed on wintry mornings, simply switch this baby on for a few minutes before emerging into a nice toasty room. Its tall and slender shape saves on space, so it can happily live almost anywhere, even in small flats, and it heats up even larger rooms quickly with a swivel function for dispersing heat. Not quite as cheap to run as the De’Longhi oil heater, but a great, equally compact alternative with some nice added extras.
Silentnight’s portable fan heater warms or cools depending on your mood, controlled by its integrated thermostat for precise comfort. Its two warm-air settings can heat up a mid-sized room in around five minutes, so it’s ideal for quickly warming up boudoirs for bedtime or before shedding your cosy pyjamas in the morning. Plus, its 90º oscillation means nobody’s left out, no matter what side of the bed you’re on. An affordable heater for small bedrooms.
If you’re not a fan of the classic white heater, this low-key, subtly stylish heater is a great alternative that’ll fit perfectly into any modern home. The black tempered glass finish is impossibly sleek – it looks a little like an enormous iPad – and its flat slimline design makes it perfect for wall mounting, saving on precious floor space. Despite its high-end good looks, it’s a little cheaper than the Dimplex tower heater, so if you’re after a space-efficient heater that also looks good, you have two excellent choices.
This VonHaus tower heater shares some obvious similarities with Dimplex’s model: it’s tall and slim, and comes with a handy remote control for from-bed heating, but its sheer versatility and lower price give it the slight edge. As well as two heat settings, it boasts a fan-only function for cooling rooms on hot days, and its 70º oscillation heats evenly and across a wide field.
Cheap and cheerful is the name of the game when it comes to this affordable heater from Dunelm Mill, but even for the very low price, it’s really rather good. It won’t win any prizes for beautiful design, but it heats rooms quickly with its impressive 2000W of power, is easily portable from room to room with its integral carry handles, and gets up to temperature much faster than an oil heater. Great for occasional use, and for bringing out when the boiler goes.
Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.