Best electric heaters UK 2024 – Expert tested for all budgets

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Best electric heaters UK 2024 – Expert tested for all budgets

We updated this article in February to ensure all the prices and deals are correct.

When the winter chill hits, some rooms can feel impossible to warm up. Enter electric heaters. Ideal for spaces where you don’t have traditional heating, such as attics or shed conversions, these portable radiators or fans can provide targeted warmth whenever needed – whether that’s toasting your feet in a home study or giving your bedroom a pre-sleep blast.

They do have a reputation for guzzling energy, so it’s important to know you’re buying the most efficient electric heater possible. That’s why the Good Housekeeping Institute set out to discover the truth behind their energy consumption, and to find the best electric heaters for warming small spaces quickly. These are our top-rated models at a glance but read on for our detailed reviews:

If you’re replacing an existing electric heater, there are plenty of places for you to safely recycle your old one. Find your nearest electrical recycling point, or read our guide on how to donate or dispose of your appliances and tech for extra guidance.

As everyone’s homes and electricity usage are different, this is a hard question to answer definitively. So, we turned to Joanna O’Loan, the Energy Saving Trust’s Knowledge Manager, for an expert opinion.

“Gas is a cheaper fuel than standard rate electricity, so if you have gas central heating, it will generally be cheaper to use than an electric heater,” she explains. “If you don’t want to heat the whole home, turn your radiator valves lower in the rooms you’re not heating and higher in the rooms you are.

“If you need to use an electric heater, place it in the part of the room you want to warm, a safe distance from you and any furniture. Use the heater’s thermostat and timer to avoid using more energy than you need.”

We’ve measured the energy consumption of each electric heater featured below when used on both its lowest and highest settings for an hour. You’ll find the prices in the specifications, so you can assess each model's overall affordability for you and how you plan to use it. All prices are based on the £0.29/kWh electricity cap set out by the Energy Price Guarantee at the time of testing.

Safety is paramount when it comes to using heated products. All the heaters we’ve featured below either have timers or auto cut-off features, which will turn them off if they get too hot. We’ve also highlighted whether they have handles, as this impacts their portability – many don’t, meaning you'll have to wait until they’ve cooled down before you can safely move them.

How the electric heaters are used can also impact their safety, explains Giuseppe Capanna, Product Safety Engineer at the charity Electrical Safety First. “Some simple steps people can take to use their heaters safely are to avoid powering from an extension lead, as this can overload and cause fires, and to ensure they are at least a metre away from combustible materials such as clothes,” he says.

“We would advise people to only use these devices when they are in attendance and awake. It’s important that you never leave them unattended or on overnight in case something happens. Alternatively, people could warm the room before going to bed.”

We’ve tested three different types of heaters – here are the pros and cons of each.

Similar in appearance to the radiators you’ll find in your home, these portable versions generally heat and circulate oil instead of water to generate their warmth.

They are also Giuseppe’s top pick for safety and efficiency. “Unlike fan heaters, halogen heaters and convection heaters, oil filled radiators don’t have exposed heating elements and the heat from them is less intense than the others, so they're less likely to ignite any items near-by,” he says.

“They take longer to warm up, but they also continue to give out heat after they have been switched off. They are generally more economical to run than a fan heater or a convection heater. However, the fins still get quite hot so keep children from touching the radiators while they warm.”

These heaters circulate air throughout the unit and into the surrounding space, meaning they are generally quiet and better at evenly warming an entire room. Like radiators, they can take a while to warm up.

Ideal for quick, targeted warmth, fan heaters work by blowing air over a heated element as it passes into the room – this means they can be noisy. They’re best used for short blasts, rather than extended periods of time, as the elements don’t always retain heat well (meaning they must keep reheating, using more electricity). Fans with ceramic elements are generally more efficient.

Once you’ve settled on the best type of heater for your room and needs, there are a few extra things to consider.

Size: As heaters are best used to warm smaller spaces, check the dimensions to ensure that you have room to position it safely and to store it away when it’s no longer needed.

Portability features: If the heater will remain in the same spot, you won’t need these, but if you’re likely to move it around your home, wheels and handles can prove useful.

Timers and thermostats: These give you more control over how long your heater is on for and the warmth it’s emitting. Setting a timer and thermostat also means you can use your fan more efficiently, as it will turn off once it's been on for a set period of time or when the room reaches your desired temperature – much better than guessing or leaving it on for longer than necessary!

Wattage: We’ve highlighted the energy consumption for the products on this list, but where you’re not sure about a heater’s efficiency, check its wattage. Broadly speaking, the higher the wattage, the more energy it’s going to use.

Smart connectivity: Falling firmly in the nice-to-have category, you can connect to some heaters on this list via apps. This means you can control it remotely – perfect if your home office starts getting toasty mid-Zoom.

To find the best electric heater, our GHI experts start by measuring their power consumption. They run each heater for an hour on its highest and lowest setting and calculate how much it costs for that period.

They also carry out two tests to see how effective each heater is at warming a small room. Firstly, they measure the temperature at a series of set distances away from the heater. This helps them ascertain whether it needs to be placed near you or if it can heat the whole space from afar.

Then they assess how comfortable it is to sit in a room with the heater. Our experts ensure the room is cold beforehand, then use the heater on max to see what difference it makes.

For fan heaters, our experts also measure their air strength using a device called an anemometer; the more powerful the air strength is, the more likely you are to feel its effects quickly.

Finally, they measure how loud each heater is, to ensure that it won’t prove too disruptive if it’s running in the background.

Throughout testing, they assess the heater’s overall design and ease of use, awarding it a final score that takes all the results into account. These are their best buys for a cosy winter.

With its compact design, this electric heater won’t look out of place in even the most stylish of homes. Testers found it intuitive to use and were astounded by how quiet it was, noting that you can barely hear it even on max.

It’s not the most powerful fan we tested, but this does mean its energy consumption is lower – costing 22p on its lowest setting for an hour (the least of all products tested for that power level). It still proved effective at heating our test room too and would suit a home office well.

The instruction manual wasn’t the clearest, but you don’t really need it given its simple design. As a nice bonus, it has ioniser technology, which helps neutralise nasties in the air.

Whether you want to wheel it around or mount it on a wall, this is a nifty, radiator style heater. Testers praised its quiet design and Wi-Fi compatibility, which allows you to control it via your phone, even if you’re not directly nearby. You can even set a seven-day timer. Crucially, our experts found it distributed warmth well throughout the test room, too.

It is heavy if you’re moving it around, and testers would have liked a longer plug cable. It’s also a tad fiddly to set up, but once started, it heats up in 14 minutes, so you don’t have to wait too long for warmth. Its lowest temperature setting was economical, too. It also has a setting that detects if a window is open and automatically switches off.

This heater looks stylish and performs very well. It takes nearly nine minutes to warm up, but once in action, it’s reliable, earning full marks for its effective heating.

It’s quiet in use and was a relatively low energy consumer – we spent 24p to run it for an hour on its lowest heat and 44p to run it for the same time on its highest (the cheapest on test for high power). Plus, if your room doesn’t have any existing heaters, you can mount this one on the wall for permanent warmth. Rest assured though, it’s sturdy when kept free-standing, too.

Its smart connectivity relies on a good Wi-Fi signal (which may prove troublesome if you’re far from the router), but its touch screen buttons are responsive, the timer is easy to set and the glass finish wipes clean quickly. No wonder it was our testers' top-rated panel heater.

Infrared heaters are different to all the other models on our list, as they radiate heat, rather than circulating it. This means they won’t heat a whole room in quite the same way, but if they’re positioned near you, they should make you nice and toasty. This was reinforced when we tested the Princess model; while the overall room temperature was lower than you’d find using a convection heater, it still rose after some use. And our expert found that when sat in front of it, they were suitably warm within just ten minutes, feeling the benefits even from 1.5 meters away.

Direct warmth isn’t the only advantage of infrared. As there’s no fan, the Princess heater was extremely quiet, even on its highest setting. Plus, it was the most energy efficient of all the heaters we’ve tested – and by a long way. On its highest setting it used just 14p of electricity over the course of an hour.

Its controls and digital display are all simple to use and the overall design is sleek. You can even mount it on the wall should you wish, which may be handy if you have little ones or animals running around, as while the freestanding feet are stable, it’s quite tall so could be easily knocked over. There aren’t any handles either, so only move it when cool.

Performing well on test, this radiator-lookalike is hard to fault. Our experts rated it highly for its sturdy design, complete with a neat cord storage system and a responsive control panel. Instructions are thorough, too.

It did a reliable job of heating our test room, keeping warmth levels consistently high. It was also the quietest heater we tested; on its highest setting it reached just 37.5 decibels – that’s barely louder than a whisper – so there’ll be no apologising to colleagues about your office background noise on Zoom.

It’s heavier than many we tested, and you’ll need to wait until it's cooled to move it due to the positioning of its handles, but if portability isn’t top of your must-have list, it’s a trusty warmer.

While this heater looks compact, it packs a real punch, heating up in just 38 seconds and then maintaining its heat well. The unique round shape means air is blown upwards, so wherever you place it in your room, it should still distribute heat evenly. This does mean that it can’t provide targeted warmth, so if you need a heater for cold feet, scroll on.

We found its instructions detailed and its controls intuitive, plus its accompanying app doubles as a remote. Our experts liked how it connects via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, offering added flexibility if you’re heating less connected spaces such as a garden shed.

It has a few dust traps, but it was quiet (although continues to make a noise after it’s turned off, while it cools). The small yet stable design should store away easily come summer too, making it a savvy pick for small homes.

You may recognise this as one of our top tower fan picks, and it fared well as a heater too, meaning it can keep you company year-round as the seasons change. Testers found it simple to set up and move from room to room.

Its air strength was fairly strong, but it wasn’t the cheapest to run when it came to energy consumption. It was quiet on its lowest setting, although unsurprisingly, it was more noticeable on high. Overall, it heated our test room nicely, so if it’s value for money that you’re after, we’d suggest adding this one to your cart.

Another super-quiet heater, this radiator is a large and robust home addition. Because of its size, it takes nearly 15 minutes to warm up, but once in action, it offers reliable warmth. Wheels are a handy design feature, but you’ll need to wait until it’s cooled to move it safely as it doesn’t have a handle.

The accessibility of its controls was mixed – the thermostat dial is simple to adjust, but the small off switch is hard to activate. It has good cable storage though, and three temperature settings; its lowest wasn’t too costly at 28p for one hour. On balance, if you need a bigger heater, it’s a trusty choice.

This good-looking yet affordable heater is great if you need something portable, thanks to its compact design and well-placed carry handle. It still feels sturdy despite its light 2.1kg weight, and there’s no assembly needed, so you can unbox it and warm up straight away. In fact, you’ll feel its heat within just 45 seconds of turning it on!

While it doesn’t have a timer, it does have technology to prevent overheating – it cuts off power if the heating element gets too hot. Our tester also liked how the design of its front vent allows you to vacuum away dust.

It’s not the most powerful heater, but this is to be expected for its price. Plus, it was fairly quiet and wasn’t too expensive to run on test (33p for one hour on low). Position it relatively near to you and it should do an ample job.

It has a hefty price tag, but you can turn to this versatile Dyson year-round; it heats, cools and cleanses the air in your home. Because it’s a fan heater, it’s a pro at providing directional heat, meaning you can position it in front of you to feel the benefit quickly. It also scored full marks for the distance it projects air, so even if it’s not right by you, warm air should still reach you. Its 10 speed settings and adjustable rotation gives lots of scope for customisation too.

Typical of Dyson, it’s a premium appliance that’s thoughtfully designed, so usage is effortless and intuitive (although we’d have liked a handle for moving it). It was, however, one of the noisier fans we tested, ranging between 58 and 63 decibels – that's equivalent to rain on the window, so not disruptively loud, but noticeable. It looks sleek though, and for functionalities, it can’t be beaten.

Hannah is our homes editor, specialising in reviewing the latest kitchen appliances, cleaning products, mattresses and bedding, and crafting equipment. Hannah has written about hundreds of products, from air fryers to smoothie makers to pillows, and is committed to finding the most reliable and best value for money buys.

Hannah is also interested in sustainability in the home and has completed a course with the University of the Arts London in sustainable textiles, so she can help cut through the noise on what’s green and what’s not. Hannah has an MA in Magazine Journalism and has previously worked as a freelance lifestyle and women’s sports journalist, working for Stylist, Sky Sports and more.

Hannah has also previously worked in a florist and can normally be found caring for her house plants or sewing something new for her home or wardrobe.

Blossom is our Senior Homes Tester. Passionate about finding the best home products and appliances for our readers, she has tested everything from blenders to pizza ovens. Blossom enjoys delving into the intricacies of products and refining testing protocols for hundreds of items. Innovative items like robot vacuum cleaners and wine coolers are among her favourite tests to date, and her most notable accomplishment is toasting 360 slices of bread in a determined bid to find the best toaster. In her free time, Blossom openly admits to being a music geek and indulges her creative side through crocheting, baking, singing and writing.   

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Best electric heaters UK 2024 – Expert tested for all budgets

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