You may rely on a portable heater for your primary heat source, or as a top-up for central heating in chillier rooms. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a heater or its maintenance to raise the temperature effectively.
When choosing, have a think about how quickly you’ll need to feel the heat – a fan or ceramic heater is going to be more efficient in a smaller space, working quickly to take the bite off that chill.
If you have a cavernous space and you need to heat for longer periods of time, your best bet may be an oil-filled model which will maintain your chosen level of warmth and retain heat when you choose to turn it off.
All the models we tested here were easy to move from room to room and though not the most glamorous thing you’ll ever buy for your home, we’ve chosen a selection that score on the style front, too.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Mill Heat 99407 oil filled radiator 1500W: £199, AO
It may not be as bulky as some of the other oil-filled radiators we tested, but clever design means the heated fins are enclosed and the hot air rises through the top of the casing, which distributes the heat efficiently. This Norwegian radiator looks good in any setting and the vertical shape means it’s unobtrusive in small spaces. We particularly liked the settings via the Mill Heat app for remote activation.
Dyson pre hot + cool purifying fan heater: £549, John Lewis & Partners
Too chilly to sleep? If it seems like five minutes ago it was just too hot to sleep then this is the model for you. Expensive, yes, but it gets room temperature just right, all year round with both fan and heat settings. What’s more, it’ll improve the air quality thanks to its carbon filter which is great news for asthmatics and hay fever sufferers. The output is impressive in heating mode, quickly directing a jet of warm air into (or oscillating 350 degrees around) the room. In a world of ugly portables, this is beautiful to look at and can be controlled with its remote or via the Dyson app too.
Dimplex OFC2000ti oil filled radiator: £69, AO
With the look of a traditional portable radiator, this fuss-free model is perfect for cosying up a larger room that needs a long-term source of heat. The smooth castors make it easy to move around and we especially like the cable tidy for safe storage and the timer remote control, so it could be turned off when it hit the right temperature and we didn’t want to move from our sofa den.
John Lewis & Partners electric heater: £70, John Lewis & Partners
Sleek and glossy, this can sit in any room discreetly although you may find visitors mistake it for a TV thanks to its glass “screen”. This convection heater can be set to go on and off at chosen times and shows its temperature on a digital panel on its front. Our tester found it easy and light to take from room to room, although, just like a telly, she got frustrated with fingerprint marks all over it. The heat radiating from the vented back worked well in a medium-sized room.
De’Longhi slim style HCX3124FS radiator: £82.99, Amazon
This is a good-looking panel convector heater that’s perfect for occasional use in the bedroom or smaller living room. At only 7.5cm wide, there is also the option to mount it on the wall via the included brackets rather than as a stand-alone unit. It has a choice of settings from low to plus, where the highest output is supplemented by an integral fan, so it’s easy to find the perfect set up for even the coldest of days.
Beldray digital plug-in heater: £17.85, Amazon
This chunky plug-in heater is great for small areas such as the kitchen or study. Our tester plugged it in straight to the socket by his desk when working from home and stayed toasty all day, with the initial warm-up period being surprisingly quick. Using a heated ceramic element, the housing on this model stayed cool to the touch when he wanted to unplug. A great little extra to move around the house when needed.
De’Longhi dragon4 TRD4 0820T: £119.99, Amazon
We used this oil-filled radiator to heat a large living room normally kept toasty with a woodburner on chilly nights. It heated quickly and made a real difference to the ambient temperature faster than we expected. Heavier than most of the other models we tried out, the Dragon4 is a really great choice for those in need of a permanent heating solution rather than a little-used booster. De’Longhi gives a 10-year guarantee on this model, too.
Dimplex DXSTG25 studio G ceramic heater: £84.95, Amazon
This tall heater heated our testers’ large sunroom quickly on a bright, chilly morning. Looking slightly more “high end” than other boxy heaters we tested. This model, like the far more expensive Dyson, could oscillate, to distribute heat efficiently with its fan. Sadly, the lowest setting was still warm, meaning it wouldn’t be any good as a cooler in the summer months. We liked the remote control and easy-to-set timer and thought this looked far more expensive than its price tag suggested.
GoodHome 1500W Oil Free Radiator, £76, B&Q
Using less energy than an oil-filled equivalent, this 2000W dry inertia heater has a handy retractable handle and sturdy wheels, to make shifting it a cinch. Face it, a radiator is never going to be the loveliest thing to look at, but there’s something about the styling of this one that’s easier on the eye than most. It performed well in a small sitting room, heating evenly and proving easy to programme for timed toastiness.
The verdict: Portable heaters
The Dyson hot + cool is a lovely piece of kit, but there are other combinations of heater and fan that could cost less, if not compete with its sleek looks. If budget isn’t a big consideration, then it’s the perfect, hassle-free way to heat, cool and regulate air quality. That said, for the second year running the Mill Heat portable heater has really warmed our cockles. We love the looks and its remote activation, so it gets our Best Buy award once again.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.