Here's how we test the latest electric heaters.
Our overall score combines test performance (how well the appliance works and how easy it is to use) with predicted reliability (how likely models from the brand are to remain free of faults) and owner satisfaction (how satisfied owners of the brand are likely to be).
We’ll only recommend appliances you’ll love to own, that work well and keep working well for a long time.
It’s no good if a product lasts for several decades if it doesn’t work well in the first place. A disappointing product will soon become unloved and unwanted. For this reason, our independent lab testing forms an important part of our overall lifetime score.
Our heaters test includes:
This is calculated on each heater’s ability to warm a room from 8°C to 13°C and from 8°C to 18°C, the evenness of the room heating and the thermostat’s performance. We test heaters in a special room fitted with 81 evenly spaced temperature sensors.
The temperature reading from the sensors enables us to create a 3D map of the effect each heater has. We look at the time the units take to heat the room, the evenness of the room’s temperature, and how well the thermostats keep the room at an even temperature.
Ease of use
For each heater, we assess using the controls, control labelling, cord storage, how easy it is to move the unit, and how easy it is to clean.
Tilt test: While all heaters passed the standard’s requirement that they don’t topple over when inclined to 15° in any direction, any portable heater can be knocked over accidentally. So we put each heater on its side with the power on to see how long it takes to turn off.
Drape test: We turned each heater up to its maximum temperature on full power and then draped a towel over it for 30 minutes. This should trip the heater’s over-temperature safety switch and turn the heater off.
It’s reasonable to expect a new appliance to remain fault-free for at least the first five years. Our predicted reliability won’t tell you whether your heater will stop working tomorrow, but it does show which brands make models that are less likely to fail.
Satisfaction is important – no appliance should be a source of buyer regret. Appliances with very satisfied owners are more likely to be well maintained. Their owners are more inclined to seek repair for faults than look for a quick replacement.
Repairability (coming soon)
Older appliances are more likely to go wrong, but common faults should be repairable. Repairs should be affordable and convenient – parts need to be easy to find at a reasonable cost, instructions should be available, and repairs shouldn’t need hours of expert labour.
We haven’t been able to assess repairability yet, but it’s important, so we’re gathering data and forming a plan so we can start including it in our lifetime scores.
It will be challenging. We’ll need to analyse product failure data in our reliability surveys, conduct hands-on inspections to evaluate how easy products are to take apart, and investigate which brands make spare parts available at a reasonable price.
Survey data 101
In our annual reliability and satisfaction survey, consumers tell us about faults that have made an appliance they own unusable or mean they’ve had to change how they use it. We also ask them how satisfied they are with the appliance. We use this data to produce our predicted reliability and owner satisfaction scores.
We use a statistical test to rate the relative performance of each brand. Compared to data we have for all products (of the same type) in the survey, we rate each brand with excellent, good, average, poor or terrible for each of reliability and satisfaction.
You can compare the rating of different brands for the same product type (for example, the reliability rating for Miele and Haier washing machines), but you can’t compare the results for different product types (for example, satisfaction of LG TVs and Samsung phones).
We analyse brands that get at least 30 responses in our survey. That means there are some brands we can’t analyse because we don’t have enough data. For those brands, we assume they have average predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.
Our data is based on responses for 1,766 electric heaters in our 2023 survey.