6 Types of Portable Heaters (pros and cons)

For all of those who are thinking about buying portable space heaters choosing the type of it is a crucial question. It is essential to take into consideration the size of the room and the temperature required. Moreover, there is a number of brands on the market, but it’s important to understand what you need first – that’s why in the following article we will tell you about the types of portable heaters.

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Ceramic Space Heaters

A ceramic space heater consists of ceramic plates that are attached to metal coils. They all run on electricity, so it’s extremely easy to use them.

Ceramic Space Heaters1

The way how the ceramic space heater warms up the space is it makes the electricity pass through the coils to get the ceramic plates warmed up. The main advantage of a heater like this is its short time or warming. You will literally need a few minutes after the heater is switched on to really feel the effects. In general ceramic space, heaters are one of the market leaders.

Usually, those heaters are divided into 2 types: with a fan and without a fan.

And one of the best advantages of this type is that ceramic space heaters are usually equipped with temperature sensors that regulate the temperature thus help[ing to avoid any overheating and putting the surroundings at risk. In other words, they are extremely safe to use.

The only thing is for those who have never dealt with space heaters, the algorithm of usage of this type can be quite tricky to get used to at first.

In the first case, the fan blows air over the ceramic plates to warm up the room quicker by dispensing the heated air. In the latter case, when the heater doesn’t have a fan, the warming up of the room will take longer time, since the heat has to be released from the slowly heated ceramic panels. There are a lot of types of ceramic heater brands on the market, the most popular ones are Lasko and Vornado.


  • Small size
  • Lightweight
  • Fast to heat
  • Oscillation of the heat
  • Slower cooling (energy saving)
  • Cold if touch (no burns)
  • Easy to move around
  • Safe for kids


  • Not suitable for heating large rooms
  • In no-fan models take a long time to heat up the air
  • Can consume lots of electricity
  • Can be blocked by physical objects
  • their usage might seem complicated at the beginning

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Fan Space Heaters

This is one of the most widespread and cheapest types of space heaters. Actually, it’s really similar to the previous type, but in usage, it’s more versatile.

Fan Space Heaters1

And if the previous type uses ceramic plates to warm up the air, then fan space heaters heat up the metal coil and then transfer the heat to the air. This is also a convenient model since it’s quiet and it consumes not so much electricity in comparison to the previous model. Moreover, it’s usually lightweight and easy to move.

And in the case of fan heaters, even a small model can be enough to warm up an average-sized room in 30-60 minutes. They are more suitable for large rooms.

The main disadvantage of fan space heaters is that they can dry out the air in the room so it’s better to always have a humidifier somewhere close to you since the dry air can be harmful to the skin. However, if a fan space heater that you are using is old, it can eject smell.


  • Small in size
  • Affordable
  • Fast to heat up the room
  • Lightweight
  • Heat can be oscillated
  • Instant warm-up


  • Stops to heat up the air as soon as you switch it off
  • Still needs electricity to run
  • The capacity depends on the size
  • Often doesn’t include the thermometer for the precise temperature
  • Can be blocked by physical objects

Infrared Space Heater

If you choose to go for an infrared space heater be ready that it is a completely different type of heater than you’ve known before. It’s still powered by electricity, but it works in a different way.

Infrared Space Heater1

It warms up space by emitting electromagnetic waves into the air that heat up the physical objects that are present. This is something similar to the Sun warming up the Earth with its UV rays. And yes, it also warms up the human bodies that are around it. And just like the ceramic portable heater, it comes in two versions: with and without the fan.

Let’s make a comparison – ceramic heaters consume at least 45Watts of electricity for heating every cubic meter of area. And the infrared heaters only consume up to 25 Watts at max. If you want, you can also mount an infrared space heater onto the wall, but in this case, it won’t be easy to move around.

Not that this type of heater needs a fan at all, since it uses electromagnetic waves to heat up the space. However, even here the presence of a fan can speed up the process. And finally, this is the type of portable heater that is completely suitable for large rooms and basements. Especially, if you need a heater for your cellar, garage, or anything like that, this is an optimal choice.

Another advantage of an infrared space heater is its seemliness to the fire and thus the possibility to add coziness to the atmosphere. It could become a nice element of your room design.


  • Heat isn’t blocked by objects
  • The heating process lasts even when you switch off the heater
  • Nice design
  • Include thermostat
  • Easy to move


  • In most cases those items are heavy
  • Heat is going in one direction
  • If the room is empty this type of heater is basically useless
  • More expensive than the previous models

Oil Filled Space Heaters

You’ve probably seen this one and sometimes it’s called a “radiator” heater – this nickname was obtained because this one resembles the look of the older radiator heaters.

Like all the previous heaters on our list, this one also runs on electricity. Inside its body, it has diathermic oil. This oil gets heated up and circulates through the columns (or fins). And that’s why this heater makes a funny sound when it heats up.

Oil Filled Space Heaters1

It warms up the air in the room by warming up itself. So its surface gets warmed up and it transfers the heat to the air.

And if you are tired of fans, luckily, this one comes only in a version without them. It just doesn’t make sense here – since here you got the oil circulating inside the places to warm them up. The heat can only radiate off of the unit through the process of convection.

This is probably one of the easiest heaters to move around and is quite compact to store. On the other hand, it has one significant flaw, just like all the fan heaters – it can dry out the air and sometimes it can even eject a certain light smell so you need to be in control of its work and watch it doesn’t overheat the room.


  • When switched off, keeps on warming up the room for some time
  • Energy-saving doesn’t require that much electricity and it doesn’t have to be switched on all the time.
  • Easy to move – these models always have wheels


  • Has a lower speed of warming up the room than the previous models
  • Not suitable for large rooms
  • Can get extremely hot while heating and there is a peril to burn yourself
  • Quite heavy
  • Heat can’t be oscillated

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Propane Space Heaters

For those who are tired of the heaters that end up with crazy electricity bills – this is your choice because propane space heaters don’t need electricity to run. Instead, as you probably have already guessed by their name, they use propane gas. However, be ready that those heaters will be more difficult to install and run.

On the other hand, the fact that those heaters use fuel makes them the most portable heaters on the market. No power cords, they only need liquid propane.

Propane Space Heaters1

In addition, this is the option for the coldest spaces and houses. This type of heater provides the best warming. Moreover, in total it’s notified that it is much cheaper in usage.

When it comes to their functioning, here the algorithm is similar to the infrared heaters: it emits electromagnetic waves into the air to heat up objects around it. In most cases, those items have a quite rough design which makes them an option for a patio.

And propane space heaters come in two versions: with a fan and without a fan. There is actually no crucial difference between them, however, those, that have a fan will have a more fast heating process (but the difference is not recognizable).


  • Totally portable, not restricted by a power cord
  • Cheaper in use
  • No need for electricity
  • Bring the hottest heat
  • Quite affordable


  • The process of installation might be tricky
  • Requires you to have the storage of fuel
  • Not really safe to use indoors
  • Some of those models can emit toxic chemicals, so they must be well ventilated

Panel Space Heaters

This type of heater is relatively new but it’s already gaining popularity all around the world. When you have a panel space heater it must either be mounted on a wall or sit on the floor with the included stand.

This type of heater doesn’t run on oil, but it surely has similar mechanisms – it doesn’t let the hot air radiate off of the device. They use electrical currents to create heated air.

Panel Space Heaters1

By the way, in terms of design, this type of heater is one of the best-looking ones. It will perfectly fit into the interior of almost any room and will even make it more impressively.

And at first sight, this type might seem not the most preferable one to buy, however, its main advantage is that it can warm up the room extremely fast, without making it overwhelmingly heated. Though this type needs some improvements to be done so it can compete with the other types of heaters mentioned before.

So, taking into consideration all mentioned above, this is an optimal choice for rooms where you don’t need to warm up constantly, but rather where you need to maintain a warm temperature. And because those heaters can be mounted into the wall makes they a safe choice for people with kids.


  • Nice looks
  • You get to choose whether you want to place it on the floor or mount it on the wall
  • Easy to handle
  • Totally safe


  • Don’t expect as much heat as from the other types of heaters
  • Not very portable
  • Better be used for lightly warm up the air
  • Some models come without a fan

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Which type to choose?

As you probably understood from this article, everything depends on the size of your house or room, and your budget. If you don’t mind spending some time on installation, you can go for the infrared or propane space heaters, which are also suitable for heating up large spaces.

But in most cases, people go for home-friendly ceramic or oil-filled space heaters. They are extremely easy to use and move around, and, what is more important, totally safe.

Moreover, sometimes people also point out another type of portable heater – the heaters with fans. However, we have described in detail in all the types mentioned above the presence or absence of a fan in its models and how it affects the functioning in general.

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