Which infrared heaters are best?

It can be difficult to stay warm in the wintertime, especially if you have inefficient insulation in your home or work in large, lofty areas. Space heaters can save you money by heating only the areas you use frequently — and few are more efficient than infrared heaters. Unlike other space heaters, which heat air and then blow it into the room, infrared heaters transfer heat through electromagnetic radiation. This method warms up objects and people within the room instead of the air.

Infrared heaters come in various shapes and sizes with differing features, and they can be for indoor or outdoor spaces. Whether you need to take the chill out of a garage, a workshop or a patio, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, there are a few things you’ll want to consider to find the right heater for your needs. If you want an infrared heater that adds ambiance to any room in your house, the Duraflame Infrared Quartz Fireplace is our top pick.

What to know before you buy an infrared heater

Interior infrared heaters

Depending on your space and needs, one infrared heater may be better for you than another. It’s important to take the time you need to find the right fit; otherwise you may not get the right features or enough warmth. Interior Infrared heaters come in three main types:

  • Fireplaces: Infrared space heaters that resemble fireplaces are dual purpose because they offer heat and decoration. They can provide heat while offering a flame effect to create ambiance. This type of heater is ideal for warming up larger family areas without detracting from the room’s decor.
  • Traditional space heaters: Depending on the model, you can usually mount indoor infrared heaters on a wall or place them on the floor of a chilly room. They typically offer less power and work best for offices and other smaller rooms.
  • Garage/shop heaters: These are intended to heat more spacious open areas, but these spaces should still be completely covered by a roof. While they’re primarily used for garages or workspaces, you can also use them as an infrared patio heater.

Exterior infrared heaters

There are a few key differences between interior infrared headers and outdoor infrared heaters. While you may be tempted to roll your indoor infrared heater outside, it’s unlikely that it’s designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Here are some things to look for in an infrared heater for an outdoor space:

  • Weather resistant: Exterior infrared heaters need to be able to withstand the elements, from rain and wind to snow and cold temperatures. Most interior infrared heaters are not designed with this in mind.
  • Mounting options: You need to be able to mount your garage or patio infrared heater safely in a number of places, like ceilings and exterior walls. Some interior space heaters have the option to mount them, but this isn’t always the case.
  • Space needs: If you’re attempting to warm up a large outdoor space, like a covered deck or patio, you may need more than one exterior infrared heater. Check the description to see how many square feet each heater covers, so you know how many infrared heaters to get for your outdoor space.

Construction

When looking for an infrared heater, check to make sure the design has solid construction and ample safety features. It should have a rugged build that won’t tip over easily, but it shouldn’t be too heavy that you can’t move it if needed. If you plan to relocate your heater around to other rooms, find an infrared space heater with wheels, so you can push it around without too much effort. Also, look for any notes about it maintaining a cool-touch exterior, especially if you have kids in your home. 

Safety

Safety is always a priority, but it’s especially important when you’re dealing with a heating element in your home or outdoor space. Make sure that you follow all safety precautions listed by the manufacturer. Check for how far away the infrared heater should be from walls or furniture and ensure it’s on a safe, level surface. Also, check that the power cord is out of the way of foot traffic, so there isn’t a chance of a tripping hazard. 

Power

A general rule of thumb to remember is that the more British thermal units (Btu) a heater lists, the more space it will be able to heat. The same rule applies to wattage. The product description typically includes how many square feet the infrared heater can warm effectively. For example, 1500 watts will heat up around 150 square feet. So, make sure to find the right size that will effectively warm your space without pulling excess energy. 

What to look for in a quality infrared heater

Wheels

Wheels (or casters) are helpful if you plan to move the heater frequently or if you have a hard time lifting heavier items. You’ll likely find these on larger heaters, too. Make sure that the wheels have locks on them, so your heater won’t roll when you need it to stay put.

Controls

Controls vary from model to model, but more high-end options will have multiple ways to adjust the temperature. They can either be manual or digital, and along with modifying the temperature, they change the intensity of heat and how long the heater is on. Temperature controls range from simple “low-medium-high” options to more specific preferences, like reaching an exact temperature.

Remote control

Remote controls can be a game changer when you want to stay snuggled under a blanket on the couch. Infrared heaters with remote controls are ideal for all kinds of situations and are extra handy if you plan on adjusting them from another room. Some controllers simply have on/off switches, while others provide you with multiple ways to adjust the heater. A few even have smartphone/Wi-Fi control options.

Timer

If the heater has a timer, you can set it to automatically turn on or shut off at a certain time. This is a handy feature if you wish to warm up a room with your infrared heater just before you return home from work. It’s also ideal if you want it to turn off after a few hours, like when it gets warmer during the middle of the day. 

Thermostat

Sometimes finding that “perfect” temperature can be a bit of a struggle. With a thermostat, you can set the heater to maintain a specific temperature everyone can enjoy. This feature helps ensure your room stays cozy without it overheating. It’s equally important if you want to keep pets warm while you’re away from home.

How much you can expect to spend on an infrared heater

Infrared heaters vary in price depending on their size, power, design and special features. They start at around $100, but they can reach up to $200 or more. The lower end of the price spectrum offers more basic functions and rarely has temperature controls. Higher-priced units tend to have more power and various special features, such as Wi-Fi compatibility.

Best infrared heater FAQ

What kind of safety features do infrared heaters have?

A. These vary by model, but some of the most common infrared heater safety features include protection against overheating and accidental tip-overs. Others have cool-touch exteriors, too. Look for an infrared space heater that has an automatic shut-off feature, so you don’t create any potential danger if you forget to turn it off.

Do infrared heaters use a lot of electricity?

A. It depends on the model and size of the heater. If you choose a smaller heater that’s just for warming up one room, you likely won’t notice a difference in your energy bill. However, if you leave a large infrared heater on for hours at a time, you may see a jump. Some infrared heaters use alternative energy sources, such as natural gas or propane, but these are much less common.

Are there any disadvantages to infrared space heaters?

A. The main disadvantage of infrared heaters is they get very hot, so you can accidentally burn yourself on them. Also, since they heat objects instead of air, you may notice cold pockets in your room from time to time. However, they are less expensive to run compared to other space heaters and won’t dry out the air, which is beneficial for respiratory health.

What’s the best infrared heater to buy?

Top infrared heater

Best Duraflame Infrared Quartz Fireplace

Duraflame Infrared Quartz Fireplace

Our take: This powerful infrared heater brings plenty of warmth to any space, while the digital thermometer keeps the temperature steady. And the realistic flames are perfect for boosting ambiance in a living room, office or bedroom.

What we like: It has 5,200 Btu, which can heat up to 1,000 square feet. The infrared quartz heats up the space without drying out the air, which is ideal for respiratory health. It comes in a variety of colors, so it can go with your existing decor. The attractive design stays cool to the touch, even when it’s in use. Plus, it has overheat protection, so it’s sure to maintain a good temperature.

What we dislike: The remote capabilities are limited. Some users felt it was a little noisy. Also, you’ll need to open the door to adjust the temperature.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top infrared heater for the money

Best LIFE SMART Infrared Heater with 6 Heating Elements

LIFE SMART Infrared Heater with 6 Heating Elements

Our take: This infrared heating system only uses up to 1,500 watts, so you can stay warm without using up too much energy. The Dual-Timer settings warm up a room up to 12 hours before you come home or will shut off after 12 hours of use. It also comes with a remote that offers Digital Thermostat and Eco Setting.

What we like: It has six quartz infrared elements, which heats your room more effectively. The EZ Glide wheels make it easy to move around, so it’s perfect for moving around to whatever room needs warmth. And if you need to keep an eye on energy usage, you can use the Eco Setting to keep a small area at 68 degrees by only using 500 watts. It also features tip-over and overheat protection.

What we dislike: Some users felt the performance was a bit sub-par, even with the lower price point. A few had units that stopped working after a period, but the company was quick to send a replacement.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Heat Storm WiFi Infrared Heater

Heat Storm Wi-Fi Infrared Heater

Our take: If you’re looking for an infrared heater that blends in with the room, this is a great option. You can mount this thin-profile heater on the wall for a stylish, space-saving option. And you can control it from anywhere just by using your smartphone.

What we like: Being able to control this infrared heater with your smartphone brings it to another level of convenience. Plus, the 1500 watts of power make it extremely effective at heating whatever room it’s in. The wall mount is ideal for saving space, and it’s great for homes that have children since the exterior does not heat up. And if you put it over an outlet, you can get rid of dangling cords by hiding them up inside the heater.

What we dislike: Some people had issues with their heater staying connected to the Wi-Fi. Others reported the heater didn’t work right out of the box and had to contact the company to get a replacement.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Rich Gray writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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