CONSUMER REPORTS — As we get colder, space heaters are a hot commodity these days. Of course, you’ll want one that not only heats well, but also does it safely. Consumer Reports has recommendations on the best heater, plus tips to keep your family safe when using them.
When it’s chilly, a space heater can provide a little extra warmth, but they can also be dangerous.
Statistics show space heaters are involved in one third of all home heating fires, so safety matters.
“We run a series of safety tests to identify heaters that may pose a burn risk,” said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor. “The safest space heaters shut off automatically if they become too hot or if they’re knocked over.”
And does the heater have the potential to ignite flammable fabrics? This test checks for that and assigns a POOR rating if the heater ignites cotton fabrics on its hottest setting.
Consumer Reports says choosing the right space heater for your home comes down to what you want your space heater to do.
“You need to consider if you just want to warm yourself up or are you trying to heat the entire room,” said Hope. “Our tests have found not all models do both well.”
This mannequin is equipped with four temperature sensors to record and measure how well a heater can spot heat. And in this chamber, testers assess how well a heater can warm up a standard sized room.
This Vornado scores excellent for spot heating and passes CR’s safety tests with flying colors.
If you want to heat a whole room and yourself, this Comfort Zone delivers. It earns an excellent rating in CR’s fire safety test however it is hotter to the touch compared to other models. Still, it’s a CR Best Buy at 50-dollars.
If you have kids or pets and you’re concerned about hotter surfaces, CR says this Lasko Bladeless Tower is a good alternative for one-hundred dollars. It does well at safely heating a whole room, as well as spot heating.
And a few safety tips — never use extension cords with portable space heaters, and keep your heater on the floor, at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
If you’re tempted by the lower cost of a personal sized space heaters, CR says beware. Even the best performing personal heater scored just so-so for spot heating in CR’s tests.