Hot off the press from our latest independent lab tests, CHOICE experts have given a chilly reception to Kmart's electric heaters for the third year running.
Last year, the $59 Anko DL03L convection heater received a CHOICE Expert Rating of just 45%, making it the worst heater we've tested since 2014. This year'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 small, lightweight Kmart fan heater didn't impress our testers.
We're not a fan
In our recent electric heater reviews, we tested a Kmart Anko fan heater and a Kmart Anko digital oil heater. They're not as bad as previous Kmart models we've tested, but there are other products at comparable price tags that will give you better performance.
The Kmart Anko fan heater is a small, portable, lightweight heater that's easily to move and has comparatively good energy efficiency – plus an attractive price tag of just $29. But when you consider that you need your heater to actually increase your room temperature rather than just act as a warm doorstop, that's where the appeal of this model comes to a cool halt.
Several models from other brands cost marginally more and scored a lot better in our reviewsMatthew Steen
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 49% for heating performance and an overall CHOICE Expert Rating of 53%.
So, while it may be effective enough if you want to heat a tiny space, it's going to leave you feeling the chill in a standard-sized room.
This Kmart convection heater scored a dismal heating performance score of 46%.
The Kmart convection electric heater, $80, scored a marginally higher overall CHOICE Expert Rating (54%) than its fan heater counterpart. But it received an even more dismal heating performance score of 46%.
In fact, it failed to heat our test room up by 10°C in two hours, which is not much use to you if you're wanting to get your living room toasty warm (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).
On the plus side…
But it's not all bad news for our Kmart buy. Our testers noted that it's easy to use, with a remote control, cord storage and a timer (a feature we recommend looking for in an electric heater so you can keep energy usage and costs down – they're an expensive and generally inefficient appliance to run, after all).
But what good really is a heater that doesn't, erm, heat?
"For a product that has the lowest cost efficiency across any space heating category, you would 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."
Some like it not – Jonathan Brown from CHOICE assesses last year's Kmart Anko heaters.
Kmart not the only lukewarm performer
Three other models – ranging in price from $99 to a red-hot $459 – didn't rate higher than 50%, and many more struggled to surpass 60%.
The heat is on: testing a heater in the lab.
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 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.