Portable heaters are generally suitable for heating small- to medium-sized rooms, but can struggle to heat a large area, such as a lounge room. Electric models range in size from about 1kW up to 2.4kW. They are usually either convection or radiant heaters. Some models come with safety tilt switches, which automatically turn the heater off if it gets knocked over.
If you need heat fast in a small room, portable fan heaters provide instant heat by passing air through heating elements inside the heater, delivering hot air to the room. Some portable fan heaters have thermostats, timers and multi-speed fans.
Portable radiant heaters warm the surfaces of objects they are facing and offer personal warmth. They also include bar radiators, which are more effective than fan heaters in open plan or draughty rooms. The reflectors should be kept clean for maximum efficiency as they direct radiant heat back towards you.
Panel and oil-filled column heaters sometimes offer the best of both worlds – convection and radiant heating. Portable oil-filled column heaters have oil inside their fins. When heated, the fins heat the air. These heaters take time to heat up and time to cool down, as the oil stays hot for a while after the heater is switched off. Some portable oil-filled heaters have thermostats, timers and a small fan to increase air movement.
Portable panel heaters also offer convection heating. They slowly heat the air, but unlike oil-filled heaters they are lighter. They offer radiant heat as the heat radiates off the panel's surface and are not as hot to touch. Some portable panel heaters have thermostats and timers.
No permanent installation or wiring needed if used as a plug-in heater
Easy to move from room to room
Quick solution for instant personal warmth
Affordable to buy
No portable should cost you more than 54 cents per hour to run
Comparatively high hourly running cost when compared with other electric heating options
Usually only suitable as a personal heater or for a small room