8 best portable heaters to keep you warm this winter

Look for timers and remote controls to crank up the heat without ever having to emerge from your blanket (iStock/The Independent)
Look for timers and remote controls to crank up the heat without ever having to emerge from your blanket (iStock/The Independent)

We’re sorry to break it to you but colder, darker days are fast approaching.

Don’t panic, however, because we’ve come to the rescue with some brilliant portable heaters guaranteed to take the edge off the long days of winter.

Like any other device, those keen to splash huge amounts of cash can easily knock a sizeable dent into their bank balance by throwing large sums at heaters that do everything barring a quick clean of the kitchen sink.

But is it necessary? In our opinion, no.

Features we’d suggest looking out for when shopping for a portable heater include digital displays, timer functions and remote control functionality, all of which make it easier to crank up the heat without having to emerge from your blanket or bed.

How we tested

For once we were grateful for a brief respite from the summer heat. An unexpected cold snap provided the perfect opportunity to put our heaters to the test – a process that certainly took the edge off the sudden drop in temperature.

We took our testing incredibly seriously, cranking up temperatures to the max and putting the devices through their paces, whether it was by lugging them to different rooms to examine their ability to warm spaces of different sizes or timing how long they took to achieve maximum heat.

In short, it was hot, sweaty stuff. Although, on the plus side, we’re pretty certain our calorie burn was similar to that achieved by an hour in a Swedish sauna.

The best heaters for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Duux threesixty smart fan and heater: £99, Very.co.uk

  • Best for portability – Delonghi capsule hobby 2.4kw heater: £52.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for small spaces – Beldray climate cube: £19.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for bedrooms – Russell Hobbs retro 1.8kw horizontal/vertical grey fan heater: £22, Very.com

  • Best for ease of use – Dimplex MaxAir MAXAIR25B ceramic fan heater with remote control: £189.95, Airconcentre.co.uk

  • Best for instant heat – Draper Tools PTC electric space heater: £44.95, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for rustic styling – Dunelm Chimnea style flame effect heater: £100, Dunelm.com

  • Best for gadget geeks – Dyson purifier hot and cool formaldehyde: £400, Argos.co.uk

Duux threesixty smart fan and heater

Say hello to a heater that looks nothing like a heater. Which, to be clear, is a good thing. This sleek piece of kit, designed for rooms of up to 30m², has a monochrome matte exterior which ensures it won’t clash with your carpets or cushions, and it heats up incredibly quickly. Duux claims it heats up three times as fast as your average heater and it took just a couple of minutes to warm our entire living room.

We loved the design of the air outlet, which ensures an even distribution of warmth and eliminates the risk of heat-hogging dogs, cats and kids turning into trip hazards. Irrespective of where we sat, we enjoyed constant, even heat. The Duux, which has two fan speeds, three heat settings and a temperature range between 22C and 30C, can be tweaked using the control panel on the device or an app.

The grey colourway is currently unavailable, but the white version is still in stock.

Buy now £99.00, Very.co.uk

Delonghi capsule hobby 2.4kW heater

There’s a nod to retro style with this heater, thanks to its sleek design which brings to mind an old-style radio with chunky knobs on either side of the extra-wide carrying strap. We loved the smoothness of the controls, which made it ridiculously easy to alter the fan speed and temperature by two large dials. Plus, it’s another one that ticks the versatility box – during hot sticky days (remember those?), there’s the option to use the fan alone.

Buy now £52.99, Amazon.co.uk

Beldray climate cube

This compact heater is great for smaller homes – it heats up relatively quickly and can be easily stashed away when not in use. We loved the look and feel of the controls, which require the lightest of touches and but lie flat and low to minimise the risk of accidental knocks. We could quickly scroll between the two fans speeds and choose between temperatures of 25C and 35C, and once the cold winds of winter have passed, it can be used as a fan or air cooler too (you’ll need to fill a small tank at the rear in order to use the latter feature).

Buy now £19.99, Amazon.co.uk

Russell Hobbs retro 1.8kw horizontal/vertical grey fan heater

Russell Hobbs’s newest heater is on-trend, surprisingly powerful and costs less than £25. With coverage of up to 20m², it’s perfect for bedrooms and can be used vertically or horizontally – a great feature for teens’ bedrooms, where space is often at a premium. The controls – which are easily accessible, irrespective of the heater’s position – make it easy to switch between the two power settings and turn up the heat, while the built-in handle ramps up the portability.

Buy now £22.00, Very.co.uk

Dimplex MaxAir MAXAIR25B ceramic fan heater with remote control 2,500W

With its shiny black chassis and 2,500W of power, this is the supercar of the heating world. There are three heat settings to choose from and its oscillating motion ensures that all areas are covered, irrespective of how it’s positioned. There’s also a timer, which is ridiculously easy to set and reminded us that nothing beats the thrill of stepping into a pre-heated house on a cold, damp day. The tiny remote control (which weighs about the same as a pencil) makes it easy to control from afar, and its tall, slimline design was also a hit, providing brilliant coverage – as much as we love warm feet, we loved the top-to-toe blast this heater provided.

Buy now £189.95, Airconcentre.co.uk

Draper Tools PTC electric space heater

This compact heater reminded us of the wind machines used in films to give Hollywood superstars that sexy windblown look, although that’s where the similarities end. Its cheery ruby exterior (picture a pair of cherry red Dr Martens boots and you’ll know the colour we’re talking about) offers a welcome alternative to the usual greys and blacks used for heaters, and the brilliant dial-style controls make it easy to fully customise the heat output.

One of the dials can be used to crank up the temperature by tiny increments, while the other allowed us to choose between half power or full power, and to use the heater with the fan or without. It’s easy to operate and we loved the smoothness with which the fan could be tilted back and forth. Our one gripe? The cable, which comes in at a measly 1.3m.

Buy now £44.95, Amazon.co.uk

Dunelm chimnea style flame effect heater

Love the cosiness of a fire but worried about accidentally singeing yourself, the kids or the dog? This might just be the solution. Designed to resemble a chiminea, Dunelm’s flame-effect heater is compact and lightweight but will quickly heat up small and medium rooms up to 30m². The incredibly realistic faux flames were our favourite effect but we also loved the controls, which have a wood-effect finish that coordinates with the heater’s three sturdy legs. Although we’d have liked to see more temperature specifics (the dial simply lists low and high heat) we loved the simplicity and speed with which we could crank up the temperature and the fan power. Plus, we liked the option to use the heater with or without the artificial flame.

Buy now £100.00, Dunelm.com

Dyson purifier hot and cool formaldehyde purifying fan heater

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: the name, because let’s face it – “formaldehyde” isn’t top of the list when it comes to words we look for in the name of our heater. But we were pleased to learn it refers to the heater’s ability to kill the chemical (although we suspect there’s not a huge amount of it in the average household). Formaldehyde fearmongering aside, this heater, launched in early 2021, is a great, compact appliance that quickly warms medium and large rooms (it oscillates up to 350 degrees) and is easy to use, thanks to its app, voice control and remote control functionality. The upside of the eye-watering price tag is that it cools and purifies too, and top-notch Hepa filters make it especially suitable for allergy-prone people.

Buy now £400.00, Argos.co.uk

Portable heaters FAQs

How energy efficient are portable heaters compared to central heating?

This depends on what you are trying to achieve. When it comes to heating an entire home, or anything more than one room at a time, then central heating – and gas-fired heating in particular – is the way to go.

However, if you only wish to heat one room – say you are working alone at home, so only need to warm your workspace for a short time – an eclectic heater can make most sense. Remember, these are called space heaters for a reason; they are designed to heat the specific space they are in, not an entire room or home.

As for energy efficiency, electric space heaters are considered 100 per cent efficient because they use all of the electricity they consume to produce heat. On the other hand, a gas boiler ignites the gas to heat water, from which heat then travels outwards from your radiators and into the surrounding air.

In short, central heating is best for warming an entire home, or a floor of your home, while an electric heater is best when used for short periods to heat a single room.

The verdict: Portable heaters

The Duux threesixty smart fan is a brilliant, hi-tech heater which will add a touch of class – not to mention instant warmth – to any home. Draper Tools’s PTC electric space heater is another powerful gadget that’s easy on the eye.

For extra cosiness, snuggle up under one of the best electric blankets that will keep you warm through winter