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Electric heaters to avoid buying 

These models rated lowest in our independent lab test.

Last updated: 23 June 2021

Need to know

  • We lab-tested 55+ heaters from Dyson, DeLonghi, Arlec, Kmart Anko, Kambrook, Goldair and more
  • Experts assess key factors like heating performance, safety, ease of use, running costs, noise and more
  • Consider joining CHOICE to access full reviews and top-rated heaters

With so many heaters on the market, where do you begin? Here at CHOICE we've done the hard part for you by rigorously testing the latest electric heaters. And while some of the models we tested gave us a warm fuzzy feeling, there were plenty that left us cold. 

Here are the three worst-performing electric heaters we came across in our recent tests. The heating performance scores given below are based on how quickly the heater heats up, how evenly it distributes heat, and how consistent it keeps the room's average temperature.

As always, our testers also uncovered some very good heaters (some well under $100) so check out our full review results.

arlec peh224ha heater

1. Arlec PEH224HA

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 47%
  • Heating score: 40%
  • Price: $99

Expect a frosty reception from this unit which scores a paltry 40% for heating performance. It does come with a remote, child lock and even some Wi-Fi features, but what good is a heater that doesn't, erm, heat? 

Read the full Arlec heater review.

noirot 7358 7t

2. Noirot 7358-7T

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 48%
  • Heating score: 50%
  • Price: $459

What's worse than buying a cheap dud? Buying one that costs almost 500 bucks that still scores under 50% overall. More expensive than many of our top-scoring heaters, it rated only OK for comparative energy efficiency, has no cord storage, and our testers found that it wasn't very easy to move. 

Read the full Noirot heater review

Mistral MCAL-11T-01

3. Mistral MCAL-11T convection oil heater

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 49%
  • Heating score: 38%
  • Price: $119

While the retro look and green/cream colourway of this convection heater may appeal, it's heating capabilities also appear to be stuck a few decades back. 

Our testers gave it one of the lowest scores for heating performance because it failed to achieve a 5°C rise in temperature in our room in two hours (some of our best-performing heaters manage this in as little as seven or eight minutes). So, if you don't want to be left sitting in the cold, look elsewhere.

Read the full Mistral heater review


A 'towel drape' test while the heater is on full tests whether the heater overheats and whether it shuts down before damaging the towel or itself.

Our expert guide to buying a heater

Electric heaters aren't the most energy-efficient way to heat up your home, but they're still an effective solution to quickly take the chill out of a cold room.

"An electric heater is generally a short-term solution for those nights when it gets chilly in the spare room or the kids' room and you don't have an air conditioner or gas heater in that area of the home," says Denis Gallagher, CHOICE's digital home expert.

Here are Denis's top tips for features to look for when buying a new heater:

Look for a long cord

You want the heater reasonably close to you, particularly in a large room, and you don't want to be using an extension lead.

Try to get a timer

It's a great feature as electric heaters are the most expensive heating product to run. If you want to use an electric heater to take the chill out of the room before going to sleep, set the timer for the heater to turn off after a couple of hours, and maybe have it set to turn on again early in the morning.

Consider size and storage

You'll need to stow the heater somewhere in the summer months, so you might want to consider one of the smaller models.

Never use it to dry clothes

Don't put your clothes over an electric heater – even an oil column heater – to warm them up. It's a fire risk.