The Best Room Heaters for Your Money

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As summer passes and winter arrives, you may need a good supplemental heating system. Start shopping and enjoy a warm and comfortable atmosphere before "old frosty" spreads his winter chill. 

Cozying up to a portable heating unit is easy. They're inexpensive and cost only pennies to operate. There's a large variety to choose from, so they meet virtually any need too.

Using an alternative form of heating is a great way to give your central heating system a break. Plug one in and warm only one room at a time.

To help you through your shopping experience, we've rounded up some of the best portable units for your streamlined shopping pleasure. 

The Usual Suspects

Before diving into specifics, you should know which types of heating units are available. They can be easily narrowed down to four categories:

Simple right? Let's take a look at each group, so you can have a better understanding of how these heaters work, cost and effectiveness.

Oil Filled Room Heaters

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Traditionally, American homes have been using oil filled units the longest.  An enclosed heating element houses the oil. Contrary to expectation, this special type of heat transfer liquid is never burned, so it never needs replacing.

Because  it is such a low maintenance option, it's effective and economical. They're typically low in watts so the energy is low and yet it warms bedrooms and living rooms quickly and maintains overall warmth longer as the heating element takes longer to cool down. 

With regard to pricing, it varies depending on power, special features, brand, etc.

Price Range: $50 to $110.

Typical Heating Range: 40 sq. ft. to 100 sq. ft.

Pros: Generally, this kind of room heater is safe around children and pets since there are no exposed heating elements, coils, or open flames. Because there are no fans present, you enjoy extremely quiet operation.

Cons: They often look old-fashioned, resembling traditional water-filled radiators, so if you have a contemporary-styled home it may not easily blend. With no fans to circulate heat, these room heaters function better in personal spaces rather than full rooms.

Ceramic Room Heaters

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Next are ceramic heating units. These units feature ceramic plates with  aluminum baffles (a heat conducting tool) to distribute warm air throughout the room. A fan usually spreads the warmth around the room, so it can warm a widespread area rather quickly.

The heat produced is satisfying, yet the exterior stays cool to the touch. This unit is safe and effective at the same time.

Price Range: $30 to $60 on average, but deluxe state-of-the-art versions can cost as much as $100. These higher-end models offer special features and sleek designs to satisfy any contemporary designer.

Typical Heating Range: 60 sq. ft. to 150 sq. ft.

Pros: Offering the newest convection technology on the market, they're energy efficient. They're easily transported too, weighing as little as 3.5 lbs.

Cons: Because they have fans built in to help distribute heat and provide a wider area with warm air, it can increase allergy symptoms by disturbing sitting dust and animal dander. Fans can also be a little noisy.

Reflective Room Heaters

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For the patience-impaired there is a room heater that fits your lifestyle with ease: the radiant heating unit.

Also known as reflective heating or infrared heating, radiant heating systems provide instant warmth at the flip of a switch.

They don't force air like other options; instead they warm the person or objects in their path. This type of heat is similar to the sun's natural, healthy rays. It's a quick and effective source of warmth that makes you feel toasty in minutes.

Price Range: $40 to $300

Typical Heating Range: 80 sq. ft. to 1,000 sq. ft.

Pros: This unit is quiet and ideal for allergy and asthma sufferers; there isn't a fan to blow dust and dander around the room. Also, moisture levels are maintained (great if you have dry skin or nasal congestion) and very little energy is expended for high efficiency. It's stylish too, making it a great addition to any room.

Cons: The faint red glow you see is rather hot, meaning radiant room heaters are not well suited for small children or pets with a knack for getting up on tables. Also, the glow can be bothersome in bedrooms while you try to sleep.

Micathermic Room Heaters

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Lastly, we have a hybrid of radiant and convection heating technologies. If you remember back to your high school chemistry class, you might recall substances called mica and nickel alloy.

Micathermic heating units rely on these to provide exceptional mechanical and electrical strength for high temperature stability. 

Price Range: $50 to $80

Typical Heating Range: 50 sq. ft. to 150 sq. ft.

Pros: These units don't overheat easily, so they're safe and offer that peace of mind you might not feel with another type of heating system. Likewise they heat up twice as fast as ceramic or oil filled models. Heat is evenly distributed and the lack of fan-forced air circulation makes them ideal for allergy sufferers.

Cons: You won't find too many choices when it comes to color, style, or size with micathermic units. Despite the impressive stats, they're still not as widely effective as radiant heaters.

The Best Money Can Buy

Most all portable heating units are effective and economical. We've reviewed several options, reviewed them by type, cost, and effectiveness. Browse our selection and dicover even more resources. It's never too early to get ready for winter!

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