Hot off the press from our latest independent lab tests, CHOICE experts have given a chilly reception to Kmart's electric heaters for the fourth year running.
In this year's test, the $59 NY2311-16M oil column heater didn't even manage to heat a small room by 10 degrees in two hours, and took almost an hour to raise the temperature by 5°C. (For reference, some heaters we test can manage a 5°C rise in as little as seven or eight minutes, which we rate as an excellent performance.)
It seems Kmart heaters are on a streak – and not a good one.
- In 2019 the Anko HD904-11 oil column heater scored equal last with a CHOICE Expert Rating of 48%, taking a whopping 57 minutes to warm a room by five degrees.
- In 2020, the $59 Anko DL03L convection heater received a CHOICE Expert Rating of just 45%, making it the worst heater we'd tested since 2014.
- 2021's tested models, a ceramic fan heater and a digital oil heater, didn't fare much better.
Some of the poorest performing electric heaters we've ever seen at CHOICE have come from KmartMatthew Steen, CHOICE director of testing and reviews
"Some of the poorest performing electric heaters we've ever seen at CHOICE have come from Kmart," says Matthew Steen, our director of testing and reviews.
"Being cheap doesn't have to mean poor performance, which we see time and again in many of our product reviews, so it's disappointing that Kmart continues to deliver inferior products in this category. Several models from other brands cost only marginally more but score a lot better."
This Kmart Anko oil column heater didn't impress our testers.
Yet another warm doorstop
This year's Kmart entrant in our electric heater reviews was an 11-fin oil column heater. While it's not as bad as previous Kmart models we've tested, there are other products with comparable price tags that will give you better performance.
The Anko NY2311-16M is a pretty standard oil column heater that's easy enough to use and has relatively low energy consumption – plus an attractive price tag of $59.
But because we assume you're looking for a heater to actually increase your room temperature rather than just a warm doorstop, this model is more likely to give you the chills than a happy glow.
Several models from other brands cost marginally more and scored a lot better in our reviewsMatthew Steen, CHOICE head of testing
So it isn't a big power suck? Low energy consumption is cold comfort when the heater doesn't even manage to heat your home – what good is a smaller power bill in spring when you're freezing in winter?
When our lab testers measured how long it takes to raise the temperature of a room by 5°C and 10°C from an ambient temperature of 8°C, they gave it a score of just 44% for heating performance and an overall CHOICE Expert Rating of 53%.
This heater may be effective enough if you want to heat a tiny space, but for a standard-sized room, it's going to leave you feeling out in the cold.
It's also sadly lacking in features, with no timer and no remote control, and our lab testers found it heavy to move around.
Always check the reviews
"For a product that has the lowest cost efficiency across any space heating category, you'd hope that the heat these electric heaters do produce gets distributed effectively," says Matthew.
"Unfortunately, this isn't the case with plenty of electric heater products on the market, so be wary of what you're buying and check our expert reviews to make sure you don't end up with a dud."
The heat is on: testing a heater in the lab.
Kmart not the only lukewarm performer
Three other models – ranging in price from $79 to a red-hot $459 – didn't rate higher than 50%, and many more struggled to surpass 60%.
The results show you can be equally ripped off, whether you're making a $50-plus or a $400-plus investment. Given how poorly these heaters performed in our independent heater tests, it's important to be cautious about the suspiciously glowing reviews you find online.
Our electric heater tests are carried out by an independent lab team, which assesses heating performance, safety, energy efficiency and ease of use.
So how should I heat my home instead?
It may come as a surprise, but a reverse-cycle air conditioner is the best heating option for most homes.
But we realise not everyone can afford that investment or get their landlord to agree to install one. This is why we test portable electric heaters – to help you find a good performer to suit your needs and budget.
Our experts also have some cheap and simple tips that can make a big difference when it comes to keeping your home warm without a heater.
Some like it not – Jonathan Brown from CHOICE assesses 2020's Kmart Anko heaters.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.