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Splurge vs save: electric heaters

The budget heaters that ranked alongside more expensive ones in our tests.

lead electric heaters noirot 7358 8T and delonghi HSX3324FTS
Last updated: 30 June 2021

Bigger doesn't always equal better, and, when it comes to heaters, spending more doesn't always guarantee you're going to get the best products. 

We've tested more than 50 heaters here at CHOICE, ranging in price from $29 to $899. But do you have to spend big to get good performance? Not necessarily. 

Although some of the more expensive heaters topped our tests, so too did cheaper options around the $80 to $100 mark. 

Electric heaters are far from the most efficient form of heating, but they're a good way to heat small rooms such as bedrooms and home offices when the winter chill gets too much. 

They're also great for renters, or if you're not able to install or afford reverse-cycle air conditioning. Or maybe you've got to this point in winter and decided you just can't bear the cold!

They will cost you more in electricity than other forms of heating, such as reverse-cycle air conditioning – so it makes sense that you might opt for a cheaper heater to keep your overall costs low. 

Our experts have identified three cheaper heaters that performed as well as more expensive models so you can turn up the heat while still having money to burn. 

CHOICE members can access full reviews and compare all the electric heaters we've tested

filler noirot 7358 8T and delonghi HSX3324FTS

Panel heaters

There's a big price difference between these two heaters. So does spending more than three times as much money deliver the equivalent of three times better performance? That's a rhetorical question – of course it doesn't!

The more expensive Noirot heater actually delivers good heating performance and good comparative energy efficiency, but it was marked down by our expert testers for ease of use. They found it difficult to move and its lack of cord storage was a drawback. Nor does it have a fan – unlike the cheaper DeLonghi heater, which does.

Does spending more than three times as much money deliver the equivalent of three times better performance?… of course it doesn't!

The Noirot doesn't have a tilt switch either, which is an important safety feature that you'd expect to see in such an expensive heater. It also failed one of our safety tests (the cord anchorage test). 

With a heating score of 66% and only OK energy efficiency, the DeLonghi heater isn't exactly going to set your world on fire. But it passed all our safety tests and it'll leave you with $347 more in your bank account. 

Check our electric heater reviews to compare all the heaters we've tested and see how they stack up. 

filler delonghi TCH8093ER and arlec CEH253

Tower heaters

This Arlec heater outclassed the more expensive DeLonghi in almost all our tests, scoring higher for heating and ease of use. It's also cheaper to run, costing $1.15 for two hours compared with $1.39 for the DeLonghi. This means you'll save twice: once at the cash register and again on your electricity bill. 

As you'd expect for a heater that costs more than 2.5 times as much, the DeLonghi has a few more features, including frost watch, turn off/on timer, the ability to set a specific temperature, eco function and three heat settings. 

But the Arlec doesn't require any assembly, so you'll be getting warm faster – and for less money, too. 

splurge and save dragon 4 trd42400et vs heller h0ch11ft

Oil column heater

We're going to flip the script a little for this comparison. Sure, these heaters scored pretty much the same in our testing, so you might be tempted to go for the cheaper option. And normally we'd say – yep, go right ahead and save yourself $289. 

But this comparison is an example of exactly why you need to do your research before buying. Heating performance for both models was only borderline, but the thing that sets the cheaper Heller apart from the DeLonghi is that it failed our safety tests – specifically, the cord anchorage test, which is where a machine tugs on the cord to see how strongly affixed it is. (In this case, not very.)

It's also very heavy, and the model we tested was leaking oil on arrival. (This may be a one-off occurrence, but it's worth noting.) It doesn't have a fan-only option either, nor does it have a remote.

This comparison is an example of exactly why you need to do your research before buying

By comparison, the DeLonghi also only delivered borderline heating performance, and was only OK for energy efficiency. It was also very heavy, although our testers found that it's easy to move along level floors. 

So can you get the same performance for a cheaper price by buying the Heller? Yes, but we don't recommend this as a good way to go about it. Safe appliances are always important, but especially so when it comes to electric heaters, because of their potential to start a fire or cause a nasty burn. 

Make sure you check our electric heater reviews to find out how safe and how effective a heater is before you buy. 

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.