The Best Electric Heater for the Cosiest Winter EverThe Best Electric Heater for the Cosiest Winter Ever

The Best Electric Heater

Or how to hang out in your living room this winter without moving to Darwin.
Elese Dowden
Words by 
Elese Dowden
Updated 
May 18, 2020
Elese Dowden
Words by 
Elese Dowden
Updated 
May 18, 2020

There are only two kinds of winter: pre-heater and post-heater. If your house is so cold you've found yourself getting in bed to do your emails, things are about to get much better. Sure - you could get an electric blanket, but that won't cut it when you're cooking dinner in your thermals. The best heater is safe, energy-efficient, and portable. We've got a line-up of hot products that will envy the all-male revue at your bestie's hen's do. Probably.

Heaters present a fire hazard, so safety is one of your most important considerations. When looking for a heater, check that it has a tilt switch, which turns the heat off in case it tips over. Most of the newer heaters have these, as well as thermostats, which will keep the heat at a constant rate. These options are safer and more energy-efficient. 

The best electric heater moves warm air around the room with a fan, rather than pooling heat in one place. This was reflected in consumer reviews, and as a result, all of the heaters that made our top picks have fans. We've spent hours searching the web to bring you the top electric heaters in Australia this winter. After reading hundreds of real Aussie consumer reviews, there were 4 clear winners.

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Best for most

DeLonghi Panel Heater

The DeLonghi HCX3220FTX is the Jacinda Ardern of heaters. It's consistent, straightforward, and above all, very warm. With a 7-year warranty, the DeLonghi HCX3220FTX's dual fans ensure gentle, even heat for most rooms. There are cheaper options out there, but this heater is a democratic choice that will keep everyone happy (babies included).

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DeLonghi Panel Heater
Top
Pick
Best for budget

Kmart Anko Fan Heater

At $15, the Kmart Anko Fan Heater is the cheapest heater you'll find in Australia. With two heat settings and a thermostat, it's compact yet effective, with solid safety features. This little guy might not heat the living room, but it's sure to keep you toasty in the home office.

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Kmart Anko Fan Heater
Best for gadget-lovers

Dyson Hot + Cool

If you want your living room to put Elon Musk's to shame, the Dyson Hot + Cool is your best bet. Its dual settings makes it a versatile choice, although reviewers rated the heat better than the cooling function. The Dyson Hot + Cool uses cutting-edge technology to heat your home, and bonus: it doubles as a conversation piece.

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Dyson Hot + Cool
Best for bedrooms

Goldair Ceramic Tower Heater

The Goldair GCT225 is a solid pick if you're in the market for a bit of peace and quiet. It's compact, and has an oscillating fan to make the room feel tropical quickly. It's just what the doctor ordered on a chilly Sunday morning, distributing gentle warm air, and heating in a hushed tone.

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Goldair Ceramic Tower Heater

How we picked

The hunt for Australia's best heater is serious business, so we began with the authority on home appliances. CHOICE is the country's leading consumer advocacy group. They have independently tested a lot of heaters, so we took note of their expert reckons, and headed on over to Consumer. 

Consumer is the Kiwi counterpart of CHOICE, and their expert reckons also gave us further insight into the Trans-Tasman heating situation. We could have stopped there, but expert reviews don't always reflect what consumers really think. ProductReview.com.au was our next port of call.

Anything over 3 out of 5 stars is usually a good bet, so we added the top-rated heaters to our list, and started sifting a little deeper through the info. One heater stood out above the rest, as it had been tested by both CHOICE and  Consumer. ProductReview.com.au also showed that everyday Aussies rated it highly. 

Four of the other heaters we reviewed were also independently tested by CHOICE and Consumer, but 2 impressed us with their design and safety features. Our final pick was an underdog with too many rave reviews on ProductReview.com.au to ignore. While it wasn't tested by the consumer authorities, we did test it ourselves. That secured its place on the list.

There are broadly 3 categories of electric heater: fin / oil column heaters, fan heaters, and panel / convector heaters. Fin heaters radiate heat from warm oil circulating inside each metal column. Fan heaters blow heat around the room from a heating coil source. Panel heaters work through convection, replacing cool air with warmth. 

A quick note on older heaters. If you plan to use your old heater, check it carefully. Rust can cause hotspots, and gathered dust may irritate allergies. To be sure your old heater is safe, check out product recalls and find heating safety tips.

Best for most -> DeLonghi Panel Heater

DeLonghi Panel Heater

The DeLonghi HCX3220FTX is the Jacinda Ardern of heaters. It's consistent, straightforward, and above all, very warm. With a 7-year warranty, the DeLonghi HCX3220FTX's dual fans ensure gentle, even heat for most rooms. There are cheaper options out there, but this heater is a democratic choice that will keep everyone happy (babies included).

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It's hard to find a bad word about the DeLonghi HCX3220FTX. Truly, it's the Titanic or Lord of the Rings of the Electric Heater Oscars. Consumer reviews were positive across the board, and the sleek, simple design means it will blend in with the Pinterest vibes in your living room. It ticks all the safety boxes with a Sicura System: a buzzer alarm that switches the unit off if it tilts. 

Like all of the heaters on this list, the HCX3220FTX has a thermostat. It's one of the heavier products at 7.3kg, but the carry handles make it a breeze to move. Reviewers really like that the convector / panel heater creates a warm air current, distributing a gentle warmth around your room. Its dual fans also make for very effective heating, which is why it scored best on our list. 

With a 7-year warranty, the DeLonghi HCX3220FTX should outlast your favourite pair of jeans. Consumers also commented on how quiet it was. It doesn't make beeping noises or shine light when you change the settings, so it's a good heater for baby's room. This may be a source of frustration for others, however, as it could be more difficult to see in the dark.

This heater is also good for kids' rooms because it has frost protection. In DeLonghi heaters, frost protection switches the unit on automatically if it gets colder than 5 degrees, and keeps the room from getting too soggy. One downside is the price tag, but we think it represents fair value. With features like these, it's not hard to see why the consumers and the experts agreed on this one.

Why buy the DeLonghi HCX3220FTX  

Dual fans

Quick, even heating suitable for most rooms.

No-nonsense knobs

3 straightforward heat settings.

Tilt switch

The Sicura System turns the heater off if it tips.

Carry handles

Easy to move from room to room.

Frost protection

Prevents condensation by turning on if the temperature drops below 5 degrees.

24-hour timer

Good for forgetful folks.

The not-so-good bits

Fan won't operate without heat

You can't move existing heat around the room without adding more heat.

Price

You'll probably pay upwards of $300, but there are similar DeLonghi models at a friendlier price point.

No LED

The knob-style heat settings may be harder to read than a digital display.

In summary

The DeLonghi HCX3220FTS is the all-rounder you've been looking for. Tested by CHOICE and Consumer, it boasts impressive safety features and efficient heating, with a 7-year warranty to boot. In short: it's everything you want in a heater, which is why it scored highly with consumers across the board.

Best for budget -> Kmart Anko Fan Heater

Kmart Anko Fan Heater

At $15, the Kmart Anko Fan Heater is the cheapest heater you'll find in Australia. With two heat settings and a thermostat, it's compact yet effective, with solid safety features. This little guy might not heat the living room, but it's sure to keep you toasty in the home office.

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The Kmart Anko Fan Heater surprised us. At $15, it's cheaper than a café brunch, so it's an economic way to warm up. While it wasn't reviewed by CHOICE or Consumer, real Aussies on ProductReview.com.au loved it so much we had to include it. This little heater is a great option for home offices, apartments, and other small spaces, which we can confirm from our own independent testing.

At less than 30cm squared, this heater is smaller than a baby, and much cheaper to run. It will switch off automatically if it tips, and heats up within a minute or two. There are two dials: one turns the thermostat up and down, the other gives you 2 heat settings or fan only. Like anything you spend $15 on, it won't last long, but it does have a 1-year warranty. At this price, the Kmart Anko Fan Heater should be disappointing. The fact that it isn't makes it all the more delightful. 

Winter has arrived early in Melbourne, and the Kmart heater is earning its keep. We haven't even needed the second heat setting yet. The fan creates a small air current which circulates heat, and this takes the chill out of the air. One of the downsides is that the thermostat isn't very sensitive. This lets the room temperature drop too low before the heat kicks back on, so we found ourselves having to turn the thermostat on manually every now and then. 

It’s also a bit tricky to clean, and it isn't the quietest heater. If the white noise doesn't help you work, you should easily tune it out. After all, you can't expect something from a tin to taste as good as something from a restaurant, and few people get UberEats every night. In short, if you want the heater equivalent of baked beans, this is the product for you. 

Why buy the Kmart Anko Fan Heater

Quiet-ish

About the volume of a small desk fan.

Tilt switch

If it tips over, it turns off.

Fan only option

You can choose from fan only, low heat, or high heat.

Cheap

Did we mention it's only $15?

The not-so-good bits

Unreliable

Reviews showed these heaters died quickly with heavy use.

Ethics

If you're not paying for it, someone else probably is.

Small

Won't heat up your lounge, but does a good job under your desk.

In summary

The Kmart Anko Fan Heater is the best $15 you'll spend this week. For real, there are hot water bottles more expensive than this heater. If you're trying to heat your entire living room, you're better off investing in something more heavy-duty. But if you need a compact, simple heater that warms fast without compromising on safety, you could do much, much worse.

Best for gadget-lovers -> Dyson Hot + Cool

Dyson Hot + Cool

If you want your living room to put Elon Musk's to shame, the Dyson Hot + Cool is your best bet. Its dual settings makes it a versatile choice, although reviewers rated the heat better than the cooling function. The Dyson Hot + Cool uses cutting-edge technology to heat your home, and bonus: it doubles as a conversation piece.

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The Dyson Hot + Cool AM09 is the latest in cutting-edge heat technology. Dyson is the king of blowing hot air around, but their marketing is backed up by innovative quality. Reviewed by CHOICE and Consumer, this product is unusual in that it heats and cools. Many consumers were ecstatic about this one, rating the heating slightly higher than the cooling function. 

The AM09's space-age features include Jet Focus technology, which means you can choose how widely you want heat distributed. It has a tilt switch, a sleep timer, and a very precise thermostat, which can be set between 0 and 37 degrees. The wide range of (10) fan settings and 2-year warranty speak to its durability and versatility. It even has a remote control, and is safer than other fan heaters with no blades or exposed elements.

The major downside is that this fancy tech comes with a price tag. But if you bought a top-notch fan and a top-notch heater, you'd spend much more. We think the price tag reflects this. It’s disappointing that the warranty isn't longer, especially given that cheaper heaters have much longer warranties. The Dyson AM09's design is also polarizing, but at least it guarantees your dinner guests something novel to disagree over.

Why buy the Dyson AM09

Energy efficient

Thermostat and diffused air flow options to heat or cool precise areas.

Easy to clean

No blades mean simple cleaning.

Safe

Turns off if it tips or overheats, with no exposed elements.

Doubles as a fan

Use it year-round to get your money's worth.

Remote control

Change the temperature from on the couch or in bed.

Precise

The perfect temperature is yours with 10 fan settings and a thermostat that goes from 0-37 degrees.

Contemporary design

A slick-looking fan that comes in either white and silver, or black and nickel.

The not-so-good bits

Contemporary design

The AM09 design isn't everyone's cup of tea.

Pricy

With great features comes a great price tag.

Warranty

A 2-year warranty is OK, but it's not ideal given the price.

No cord storage

Not a deal-breaker, but there isn't anywhere to hide the cord.

In summary

The AM09 is in a class of its own with its unique technology, design, and dual functions. While it is pricey, it's designed for the kind of consumer that always has the latest iPhone. But at the same time, this product is sure to please the whole family. It’s one of the most practical products on the list, and its impressive safety features make it the best heater for families with young children.

Best for bedrooms -> Goldair Ceramic Tower Heater

Dyson Hot + Cool

The Goldair GCT225 is a solid pick if you're in the market for a bit of peace and quiet. It's compact, and has an oscillating fan to make the room feel tropical quickly. It's just what the doctor ordered on a chilly Sunday morning, distributing gentle warm air, and heating in a hushed tone.

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If you're in the market for a bedroom heater, the Goldair GCT225 is gazing wistfully at your house. It's one of the quieter heaters on the market for under $100, and comes with a 2-year warranty. Like most of the heaters on our list, it switches off upon tipping, and has thermal cut-out protection to stop the heat if things get too hot. 

The GCT225 is reviewed by both CHOICE and Consumer. Given that this heater is only 2.2kg with a carry handle, it isn't hard to manoeuvre. This makes it ideal for those who are a little frail (or just sleepy). What takes the GCT225 from a good heater to a great heater is the oscillation. It moves warm air around the room, rather than heating one spot.

It's also worth mentioning that ceramic heaters are usually more cost-effective than some of their counterparts. Ceramic holds heat better than metal, so less power is required to keep the temperature constant. These heaters are safer as they don't have red-hot exposed heating elements like older styles, making the GCT225 even more ideal for the bedroom.

Unfortunately, this heater doesn't have a timer or a remote, which is one of its major downsides. You'll have to get out of bed to turn the GCT225 off. This may wind up being a positive, as it's safer and more economic to heat your room before you sleep. With 2 heat settings, this durable and compact heater punches above its price range. Better still, it isn't much louder than your fridge or dishwasher.

Why buy the Goldair GCT225 Ceramic Tower Heater

Quiet

One of the quietest heaters on our list.

Well-priced

Surprising value for such an effective heater.

Oscillating

Moves warm air around the room rather than focussing it in one place.

Durable

Consumers spoke to its longevity, and it has a 2-year warranty.

Compact and portable

Not only is the Goldair GCT225 light, but it's also small. It measures 19cm x 14cm x 45cm, and has carry handles for maneuverability.

Effective

Despite its compact size, reviewers were impressed by its ability to heat larger rooms.

The not-so-good bits

No frost watch

Won't prevent condensation.

No timer or remote

Paper, scissors, rock for who has to get out of bed and turn the heater on.

No cord storage

Nowhere to hide ugly power cords.

In summary

The Goldair GCT225 Ceramic Tower Heater is a small yet impressive heater at a great price. If you want something solely for the bedroom, or are buying your First Serious Heater, the GCT225 is a sensible choice. The ceramic feature makes it efficient, and it should be quieter than most of your other appliances.

The competition

These may not be the hottest products on our list, but they will still keep you warm depending on your heating needs.

Goldair GPCH230 Fan Heater

The Goldair GPCH230 Fan Heater sounds great. It was reviewed by both CHOICE and Consumer, is priced under $100, and has a 3-year warranty. This was the longest warranty out of all the heaters under $200. With tip over protection and thermal cut-off, it's more than up to scratch on the safety side of things. It doesn't have frost watch, or a timer, but that won't matter to everyone.

On the other hand, the Goldair GPCH230 Fan Heater sounds terrible. Consumers overwhelmingly complained about the noise that this heater made. Some even claimed they couldn't hear the TV over the heater. The price point remains attractive, however, so we've still included it in this guide. Those who aren't sensitive to sound may find that this is a great budget heater.

Choose this if…

You don't mind the noise if it means you get a grunty little heater under $100.

DeLonghi HSX3324FTS Panel Heater

The DeLonghi HSX3324FTS nearly made the list. It’s reviewed by CHOICE, and is well-priced at under $200. With similar features to the HCX3220FTS (its big brother), this heater is a very reasonable choice for households on a budget. It has nearly all of the same features as the more expensive model, including the anti-frost function, 24 hour timer, handle, and thermostat. The unassuming design also means it will fit right in. 

Customer reviews for the HSX3324FTS were the main reason we didn't include it in our favourites. Some people loved it, especially for the price, but there were more than a few skeptics. We saw that faulty heaters were replaced, only to fail again within a year or two. Given that the warranty is only 1 year, you may be better upgrading to the more robust model.

Choose this if…

You want an excellent entry-level panel heater at a budget price.

Heller PCH2400 Convector Heater

The Heller PCH2400 is a reasonably-priced convection / panel heater with basic heat settings. It doesn't include frost watch, or a timer, but it does have a tilt switch and a thermostat. The fan situation, however, is lacking. This turned out to be a real obstacle to our review, because we found no PCH2400 fans on either ProductReview.com.au or Consumer.

The long and short of it is that if consumers don't love it, we won't recommend it. The Heller PCH2400 was reviewed by CHOICE, but we couldn't find enough reliable consumer reviews to back up the experts. Given that it doesn't have a fan, it's probably a quiet heater, but we can't tell you for sure. The main benefits of the PCH2400 seem to be its simplicity and price point. 

Choose this if…

You want a quiet, no-fuss panel heater with the most basic controls.

Important features to consider

Finding the best electric heater for your household may seem overwhelming, but these features should help you decide what you want in a heater.

Safety

When it comes to heating, safety is number one. All of the heaters on our list have thermostats and tilt switches. This means they turn off when the temperature gets to a certain point, or when they’re tipped over. Take care not to drape clothes or other materials over a heater, and check for rust spots and dust build-up after storing.

Simplicity

Heaters come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy them with LED displays, dials, and even smart heaters with voice control. As a general rule, the more features, the more fiddly the settings. Cheaper models had fewer features and simpler buttons. The simplest settings we found were on the single-dial Heller PCH2400.

Energy efficiency

One of the hardest parts of picking a heater is choosing a style. Ceramic holds heat better than metal, and insulation adds to the heat retention. Heaters with fans are usually more effective than those without, as they move the air around the room so it doesn't sit in one place. Some also give you control over where you want the heat, which means less wasted power. 

Noise level

Consumers hated loud heaters. Noise was one of the factors that many people commented on first, and it was a total deal-breaker for some. A fan may make your heater more efficient, but it will probably make it louder, too. 

Size

Electric heaters are usually smaller than gas heaters and heat pumps. Size wasn't always a reflection of how much heat a unit could produce. The Goldair GCT225, for example, is less than half a metre high, and probably thinner than War and Peace.

What you get if you spend more

It’s difficult to compare the cheapest (Kmart Anko Fan Heater) and most expensive (Dyson AM09 Hot + Cool) models on our list. They're almost different products entirely. The pricier heaters had more features, but not all of those features were ground-breaking enough to warrant the price jump. 

Design

The Dyson AM09 stands out for its design. A lot of thought has gone into this product, and it shows. Consumers who bought the DeLonghi models in our selection were usually pleased with the clean, simple style of their heaters. If you want something that either stands out or blends in, you will need to spend upwards of $100. Otherwise, you're likely to get a heater that prioritises function over style.

Technology

Some of the more expensive heaters on our list justified their price with technology. This doesn't necessarily mean NASA-level features, but it does mean greater energy efficiency. Some heaters are better insulated, so the unit doesn't have to work so hard. Others, like the Goldair heater, use ceramic to improve heat retention.

Timer

A timer is useful. It's safer than a plug-in timer, and means you don't have to wake up to chilly tiles. You also don't have to get out of bed to turn the heater off at night, which will probably save an argument or seven. Most of the heaters in the higher price range had timers.

Anti-frost function

Few of the smaller heaters had an anti-frost function. This was mostly reserved for panel heaters, which is a reflection of the warm, dry heat they tend to produce. Frost prevention combats condensation, so it's something to consider if your home can get damp.

Quality

Above all, the more expensive heaters seemed to last longer. This is the stark difference between the DeLonghi Panel Heater HCX3220FTS, and its brother, the HSX3324FTS. On paper, they have similar features, so it is hard to see why you'd fork out double for the same product. In practice, consumers had more trouble with the cheaper model. We've said it once, and we'll say it again: you get what you pay for.

The bottom line

A good heater is the difference between six months of shivering and six months of snuggling. Without one, you're probably going to have a bad time.

Most people will be more than happy with the DeLonghi HCX3220FTS Panel Heater. It isn't the cheapest heater on the list, but has a 7-year warranty. So, it may be more cost-effective than buying a new one every 2-3 years. It offers gentle, consistent heat, boasting dual fans which blow other heaters out of the water.

Great things come in small packages, especially if your courier dropped off a Kmart Anko Fan Heater. Surprisingly, this little unit compares to heaters four times the price, although it might not last as long. This little Kmart heater is cheap at only $15, and will leave you feeling very cheerful indeed.

You'll get more than you bargained for with the Dyson AM09 Hot + Cool. And we don't just mean your dad teasing you about your weird new heater. For starters, its impressive safety features make it suitable for nearly any household. It warms, it cools, and whether you love it or hate it, it's an impressive piece of design.

We also rated the Goldair GCT225 Ceramic Tower Heater. With no exposed elements, and tip-over protection, it's an especially good choice for a bedroom. This ceramic heater retains warmth better than its metal-based counterparts, and the oscillating fan creates a gentle, quiet warmth. What more could you want from a heater? Well, a remote or a timer, perhaps, but at this price, you won't miss them.

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