Perhaps summer didn't live up to expectations, with sun-baked days few and far between and floods appearing more often than we'd like - but there's no doubt that autumn has arrived.
Right now, you may just be digging out your jumpers from storage but it won't be long before you're waking up to an icy bedroom or getting chilly while working at your desk. If buying a portable heater is on your to-do list, it's a good idea to get onto it now. When the first cold snap comes, prices will rise.
There are several types of heater available, including fan, ceramic, halogen and oil filled. If you’re not sure which sort would be best for your situation, have a look at our guide outlining the different types and their advantages and disadvantages.
Before you buy a portable heater, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is safety. Never cover your portable heater or use it to dry clothes.
Second, be aware of cost. A portable heater can save you from needlessly cranking up the central heating but if you run a plug-in heater all day, it'll consume a lot of power. A portable fan heater running for 24 hours continuously on a standard electricity tariff could cost you up to £7 per day.
If you want to heat up your home with more control over individual radiators, check out our guide on the best smart radiator valves. And if you’re ready to take the leap and buy a whole smart home heating system, read our round-up of the best smart thermostats available.
The best portable heaters
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool - Best all-rounder
- Pros: 3-in-1 appliance|Powerful|Air quality info
- Cons: Pricey
First things first: obviously, the Pure Hot + Cool is extremely expensive when compared to most heaters, but it's genuinely packed with great tech. It's a heater, an air purifier and a cooling fan in one appliance.
Not only that, but the Pure Hot + Cool is very good at all of these things. So, you're not only getting a three-in-one appliance, you're getting the best of all worlds.
It's a device that will be useful all year round, so there's no need to move it to the loft and then drag it out again, depending on the time of year.
The Pure Hot+Cool is filled with features, including an LCD screen that can give you real-time information about your air quality, as well as basics such as temperature and fan speed.
You can set it on diffuse mode if you don't want air blasting out of the front, and make use of the night mode for quiet operation.
There's a useful remote control and you can choose to control the device from your phone using an app - even when you're not at home.
To find out more, read our hands-on review.
MeacoHeat MotionMove Eye 2.0kW - With motion detection
- Pros: Quiet|Cooling option|Power-saving motion detection
- Cons: Cooling fan power is overly gentle
The MotionMove Eye is a ceramic heater with a motion detection feature. Even on high output, it’s extremely quiet. Yes, it’s still creating some background noise, but it won’t drown out the dialogue when you’re watching TV and it’s powerful enough to heat a whole room.
It’s a small tower heater, just under 40cm high and 16cm x 18cm wide. It’s simply and understatedly designed and it comes in black, white and red, so it should fit in to any colour scheme (although if you go for the red model, you’ll lose the understated quality in favour of an appliance that blends into your room as subtly as a mini post box).
It has three heat outputs: low, high and fan only, which means you can use it to cool the air in summer – a nice extra, meaning you can get year-round use of the device. Still, the fan is gentle. It won’t be enough to cool an entire room on a very hot day but it’ll make a difference to the comfort of a person sitting nearby.
You can choose to have the MotionMove in a fixed mode or oscillating to warm a wider area.
Once you’ve set the heat output, you can choose a setting between low, medium and high. The heater will stop when the surrounding area reaches that temperature and come on again when it cools.
If you switch on motion detection, the heater will come on and stay on as long as it senses movement within a metre’s range. It works well, although you have to make sure that the space between you and the heater is kept clear. If you’re sitting completely still, you might have to wave every now and then to keep it going.
This means that you won't waste power heating the room if you leave for for a while.
There’s a smaller version of the heater that you could use on a desk or table. It doesn’t oscillate but the heating can be set on a timer. It’s currently available from Amazon for £39.99.
De'Longhi Capsule Ceramic Fan Heater - Most stylish heater
- Pros: Stylish|Compact|Capable
- Cons: Noisy
The Capsule isn't the cheapest small heater you'll find on the market but there's much to like in its compact form.
For one thing, it looks good. That's an important factor in an appliance that will spend its life on show in your home or office. The cute grid stylings, mixture of metal and ceramic, and its modern, curved edges set it apart from many heaters that are built for service but not for display. This is a piece of tech that'll fit into your home and quickly become part of the furniture.
The Capsule feels built to last, and is a great size. Weighing around 1.3kg, and 192 x 137 x 270mm in size, it's perfectly portable. Critically, it's equally at home on the floor or on your desk, which isn't true of all 'compact' heaters. And, although it's not the most powerful heater available, its 1,800 watt output pumps out plenty of heat, and quickly.
So what's not to like? Noise. The Capsule is compact in all respects except for its audio footprint. After a while, you'll tune out its sound but if you're hoping for a silent heater, this is not it.
Attractive, compact and capable of pumping out heat, we like the Capsule a lot. We just wish it could be a little quieter.
Dimplex M2GTS Ceramic Heater - Best ceramic heater
- Pros: Powerful|Timer|LCD screen
- Cons: Won't suit every interior
The Dimplex M2GTS might be relatively expensive for its size, but this ceramic heater packs a punch.
If you need a compact heater with genuine power, the M2GTS will suit. It's less than a foot tall but can kick out 2kW of power, making it perfect for placing under a desk or in another small space. Its black and red design is stylish, plus it has a useful handle at the back for moving it around.
Spending a little more on a heater like this means you get a bunch of handy additional features.
The M2GTS has three power settings. We really like the small LCD screen that shows the temperature you can set. It goes from a 5°C frost protection all the way up to 30°C and the display changes colour as you go.
You also get optional oscillation, as well as a 12-hour timer.
Dimplex EvoRad 2kW Oil Free Radiator - Quietest heater
- Pros: Silent|Fast|Timer
- Cons: Fiddly settings|Flimsy castors
The headline feature of the EvoRad 2kW is that it’s completely oil-free, which allows it to heat up much more quickly than a standard radiator: it'll begin to warm a room up to 25m2 within minutes of being turned on. It’s not quite as fast as a fan heater, but we think it creates a more comfortable heat and, most importantly, it’s completely silent.
It has an LCD monitor that allows you to set the ideal room temperature (anything from 5-30°C), and using a built-in thermostat, it’ll turn itself on and off when required to save energy.
There's also access to a runback timer and a delayed start option, although these are a little fiddly to activate and we’d have preferred dedicated buttons on the radiator for ease of use.
The lack of oil means that it’s fairly light for a radiator as well – not that you’ll need to carry it from room-to-room, thanks to the addition of inbuilt castors. These are a little flimsy, however, so don’t apply too much force when moving it around.
How we test our heaters
Rather than performing a series of tests in lab-style conditions, we take the heaters home and try them out. We keep products for several weeks and use all of their functions in as many situations as we can think of, so we can give you an honest evaluation of how well they'll work in your life.