Canstar Blue’s 2020 portable heater ratings compares Dimplex, Rinnai, Goldair, DeLonghi, Arlec, Dyson, Target, ALDI, Kmart, Sunbeam, Kambrook, Heller and Kogan on effectiveness, functionality, reliability, quietness while operating, appearance & design, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Australia might be renowned for its sun-drenched beaches and hot summer days, but of course it does get a little chilly Down Under in the winter months, especially the further south you go. If your place isn’t fit for a fireplace, and you don’t have a reverse-cycle air conditioner to last you year-round, you can always snuggle up by a good portable heater.
If you’re looking to buy one to keep on hand for when temperatures plummet, we can help you narrow down your search. Canstar Blue has once again conducted a survey of 1,200 Aussies for feedback on the portable heater(s) they’ve purchased and used in the last three years. Respondents rated brands on important factors like their effectiveness, functionality, reliability, quietness, design, value for money and overall satisfaction. Brands which received the minimum sample size of 30 responses are compared in our latest report.
Rinnai has collected another victory to add to its three-year winning streak, but this time with Dimplex as joint winner. Both brands earned a five-star rating for reliability and overall satisfaction, plus several other categories.
Here are the best portable heaters in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2020 review:
Dimplex and Rinnai were an unbeatable duo in this year’s ratings, with each receiving five stars for overall satisfaction. Most brands rounded up the results with a solid four-star rating overall, except for Sunbeam, Kambrook, Heller and Kogan which finished on three stars overall.
It’s worth noting that Goldair was another firecracker in our latest ratings, achieving the only five-star review for value for money. Arlec and Dyson similarly got full marks for their design and appearance.
To help you identify which portable heater might be best for your needs and budget, read on to find out what each of the 13 brands in this year’s review have to offer. We’ll also look at some important factors to consider when buying one.
Dimplex is known as a brand that produces cost-effective cooling and heating solutions, and it certainly has a large range of portable heaters. It has simple column heaters that cost as little as $130. There’s also several high-end options like the Dimplex Conner Mini Suite model (pictured), which works as an electric portable heater with a flame effect for a funky alternative to a fireplace. Some Dimplex portable heaters even have built-in Bluetooth speakers!
Most portable heaters from Dimplex sit between the $150 and $700 mark, except for electric fire models which cost over $1,000. So, there are plenty of choices to suit different budgets.
Dimplex’s portable heater range includes:
Dimplex made a huge comeback since last year, moving up almost the entire leader board after achieving five-star reviews for reliability, quietness, design and overall satisfaction. It got four stars everywhere else.
Rinnai produces a range of portable electric and gas heaters that seem pretty cost-effective and offer simple yet powerful heating. The minimum you can expect is about 1000W of heating power, while some models deliver over 2000W.
Most Rinnai heaters are priced around the $900 mark, but can go up to just over $2,900 for its flued natural gas and LPG gas models.
Many contain basic caster wheels, while the gas models can be moved around a room with the hose attached to the mains. The Rinnai portable heater range also features gas fireplaces, giving you an open fire feeling without the hassle that comes with a real fireplace. Its heaters come with pretty generous warranties of three or five years.
Rinnai’s portable heater range includes:
Rinnai continues to dominate our portable heaters ratings, with the brand now in its fourth year of rating best for overall satisfaction. It similarly achieved five stars for effectiveness, reliability and functionality. Rinnai also got four stars everywhere else.
Goldair has a wide range of portable heaters on offer. These include fan, ceramic, convector, radiant, oil column, panel and even heaters with a flame effect. Some of its panel heaters are Wi-Fi enabled, so you can control them via your smartphone. These come with either 1000W, 1500W or 2000W of power to suit whatever size room you have.
Most come in a standard white finish, but you can also find some fun colours such as retro yellow or black. Its Ecosave panel heater uses convection and radiant technology to draw cold air in and radiate warm air out, which in turn is said to use less electricity. Goldair heaters are available from $19 at Big W, and reach over $500 for its radiant heater range.
Goldair’s portable heater range includes:
Goldair earned a five-star review for value for money, before ending on four stars for overall satisfaction and in the remaining categories.
DeLonghi is a home appliances specialist, mostly known for its popular range of coffee machines. Its line of portable heaters includes a wide selection of oil column heaters, sleek panel heaters and small ceramic personal heaters. A lot of them come in compact, ergonomic designs perfect for plonking in the corner of a room and carting around with you during a cold winter’s morning.
Expect features like variable power settings, room thermostats and automatic switch off systems for safety. Prices for the oil column heaters start at around $100, with a few costing near $800. For panel heaters, the most you can expect to pay is about $500, while for the small ceramic models you might pay anywhere from about $80 up to $200.
DeLonghi’s portable heater range includes:
DeLonghi achieved a solid four stars in most categories. The only exception was value for money, where it got three stars.
Australian-owned company Arlec, has everything from lighting and cooling & heating, to power boards and security products. When it comes to staying warm, it offers a variety of panel heaters, freestanding heaters, fireplace heaters as well as bathroom heating and heated towel rails. Its line of portable heaters includes a small list of ceramic, convection and micathermic heaters. These provide 2000W worth of heating, with Arlec’s panel heater range offering a much smaller 400W power output.
For a freestanding fireplace, Arlec also sells a 2000W and 1850W electric model.
The portable heaters currently available from Arlec include:
Arlec achieved a five-star review for design, and scored four stars everywhere else.
You might be more familiar with Dyson’s range of vacuum cleaners, but it also offers one portable electric heater at the time of writing ─ the Dyson Hot+Cool Fan Heater. Featuring a unique, blade-free design, the model can be used all year-round and placed either on the floor, or on a table or work desk.
Dyson’s fan heater is said to offer long-range heating, with the lack of blades and Air Multiplier technology also stated to ensure constant and even airflow throughout the room. The model is also described as easy to clean and safe to use, and automatically shuts off when tipped over. The brand additionally claims the heating elements never go beyond 200°C, making sure there’s no ‘burning smell’ that’s typically created by dust being burned by extreme heat.
The Dyson Hot+Cool Fan Heater is controlled using a remove control. It comes in a couple of designs:
Dyson rated five stars for design and four stars in most other categories, including overall satisfaction. The only exception was value for money, where it got three stars.
While not available all year around, Target does sell a few heaters in stores during the winter months. Previously, its range included an 11-fin heater, a compact ceramic heater and a radiant 3-bar heater. Expect fairly basic functionality such as different heat settings and temperature sensors.
Target’s personal heater typically retails for $15, while its radiant heater can be found for as low as $30. Its budget friendly compact heater has everything you’d expect including an adjustable thermostat, two heat settings and a power indicator light.
Target’s portable heater range includes:
Target received four-star reviews in most categories, including overall satisfaction. The two exceptions were functionality and quietness, where it got three stars.
Well known for its Special Buys, ALDI typically offers a few heaters in its middle aisles just before the ‘cold snap’ hits every year. In recent years, it has offered a 7-fin oil heater, a 2000W tower ceramic fan heater, and a convection heater. Some features offered include various heat settings, a turbo fan function, an adjustable thermostat, plus a 24-hour timer so you can set and forget about your heater.
Prices have previously started from around $28, with the most expensive ALDI heater costing $70. But you’ll have to keep an eye out for its Special Buys to see when they’re back in stores. Keep in mind that stocks are always limited, so it’s best to get in quick.
Some of the different portable heaters included in ALDI’s Special Buys include:
ALDI received four-star reviews for value for money and overall satisfaction, and three stars in the remaining categories.
You can keep warm during winter with Kmart’s budget-friendly heater range. It features oil heaters, convection heaters and electric heaters. Its oil heater is designed with 11 fins, while one of its models also has an oscillating function that can double up as a fan. Although Kmart’s portable heater line can change from time to time.
Compact models can be had for around $15 and oil column heaters for about $80. Its $29 ceramic heater (pictured) features overheat protection, safety tip-over switch, two heat settings, plus an adjustable thermostat. The full range is stated to come with a 12-month warranty.
Kmart’s portable heater range includes:
Kmart landed on four-star reviews for effectiveness, value for money and overall satisfaction. It got three stars everywhere else.
Sunbeam is an Australian home appliances brand but it seems like it has recently discontinued its line of heaters. However, you can still find its models around from a number of local retailers. Most heaters feature adjustable thermostats, which is notable given their price. Prices start at about $70 and max out at close to $140. For the larger portable kinds, there are sturdy caster wheels to help you move the heater around with you.
Its 2200W Convection Panel Heater features a slimline design with wheeled feet for maneuverability, suitable for small-size living areas. It has two heat settings, allowing variable temperature controls. Plus, its electronic thermostat is stated to detect changes in room temperature and adjust the heat output to maintain the selected heat level and it comes with a two-year replacement guarantee for peace of mind.
Sunbeam’s portable heater range includes:
Sunbeam scored a solid three stars across the board.
Kambrook produces a large range of portable electric heaters to suit most needs and household sizes. It offers a number of ceramic, fan, oil column, radiant and other alternative heating options.
Some of its ceramic heaters are in a slimline tower shape, perfect for the corner of a room. Other than that, most Kambrook heaters feature basic designs, and simple yet powerful heating capabilities. Prices usually start from just over $50 for an upright fan heater, while the personal ceramic heaters start at around $89.95, with prices going up to $199.95.
Kambrook’s portable heater range includes:
Kambrook earned four-star ratings in most categories, such as effectiveness, but ultimately landed on three stars for overall satisfaction and the remaining categories.
Heller offers a variety of heating solutions, with its portable range coming in a number of shapes and sizes. Expect heating capacities from 1000W to 3000W, which should be plenty to keep your toes toasty. A unique line of portable heaters from Heller is its remote-controlled strip heaters coming in options of 3000W, 2400W and 1800W, depending on the size of the room you want to heat.
You can find Heller heaters from as little as $30, going up to as much as $300. Its 2000W Upright Fan Heater is equipped with two heat settings, a safety tip-over switch and overheat protection. The range includes tower heaters, ceramic heaters, radiant heaters, panel heaters, oil column heaters and low-profile heaters.
Heller’s portable heater range includes:
Heller scored a four-star review for effectiveness and three stars everywhere else.
Kogan is an online-only superstore, selling everything from clothes to mobile phones and mobile phone plans, to cheap TVs and yes – cheap portable heaters. Aside from stocking a wide variety of other brands, Kogan also has its own branded heaters. It generally produces three categories of personal heaters – column, panel and ceramic.
Most Kogan portable heaters come in an ‘off white’ design, while some are sleek black, and prices start from around $50 and go upwards of $1,000, with most under $200. Kogan’s SmarterHome 2000W Panel Heater has built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to control the heater via your smartphone. While you’re loading your online cart with a TV and a mobile phone, you may want to consider a cheap portable heater as well.
Kogan’s portable heater range includes:
Kogan scored a respectable four-star rating for both effectiveness and design, before rounding out the scores on three stars overall.
Now you have a good idea about the brands in our report, let’s review some of the things to consider before buying a portable heater. Here’s what our research found that influenced our respondents’ satisfaction with their purchase, listed in order of importance.
Can’t choose between a couple of great contenders? It’s worth keeping in mind that portable heaters don’t come with energy efficiency star ratings like you would with your refrigerator or washing machine. So, you won’t see a label instore that shows how much a particular heater will cost to run.
As with all household appliances, it’s important to consider ongoing running costs, as well as the initial upfront cost. The problem for some consumers looking to buy a new portable heater is that not all types of heaters are regulated by the government’s energy ratings scheme (Energy Rating Label). Instead, natural gas appliances including space heaters, ducted heaters and water heaters come with an industry-led Gas Energy Rating label.
We all want to stay warm during winter, but we don’t want to be left with a shock energy bill. Here’s what our respondents said when asked what they thought about being efficient during the cooler months:
Even though most portable heaters don’t come with a star rating, you can still find out how much electricity a model will use by making an estimate based on factors like:
So, what can you do to avoid an energy-sucking portable heater? Well, just like with your major appliances, you can generally expect the most efficient heaters to cost more upfront. If you buy a heater for less than $50, you should expect it to cost you plenty of cash in the long run. Be sure to consider the wattage of any heaters you’re comparing – the greater the wattage, the more power the appliance will need to use. A general rule of thumb is that, the harder an appliance is required to work to achieve its settings, the more energy it will subsequently use. Keep this in mind when choosing your temperature!
There are three main types of electric portable heaters:
We’ll give an overview of how each one works next.
Personal ceramic heaters are perhaps the most portable of the lot, with many being less than 60cm tall and providing handles to help you easily move it to wherever you need to go. Personal ceramic heaters generate heat by using a heating element of what’s called Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) ceramic. These come with self-regulating temperatures, meaning the power supply decreases when electric voltage is applied to the PTC ceramic material. This is why many find ceramic heaters to be potentially one of the more energy efficient heaters out there. Plus, the compact size means it’s one of the cheapest types, too. The trade-off with this is that generally ceramic heaters are usually better suited towards heating a single bedroom or study room, rather than an entire living room or large space. Fan heaters also fall into this category.
Panel heaters (also called ‘convection’ heaters) are typically ideal for small or well-insulated spaces. Otherwise, there’s a good chance the warm air will just escape. This type of heater works by spreading convection currents throughout the body of the appliance to warm up and circulate the air. The warm air then rises to fill any cold spots around the room. Some of the perks of panel heaters is their compact size and their ability to keep the temperature in the room consistent. A downside is that they can use quite a bit of electricity, although there are now more energy efficient alternatives appearing on the market.
Column heaters use electricity to heat up the oil inside the columns (or fins), which then warms the outside of the metal column casings. Once the fins get toasty, the heat is distributed around the room via air convection and thermal radiation. Column heaters have been praised for their efficiency, since most of the energy consumed is turned into heat. Other types of heaters typically use a large portion of their energy to power a fan or motor which circulates the air around the room. Column heaters instead direct any leftover electricity, which hasn’t converted into heat, to operate different functions like timers or different heating modes. Oil column heaters are generally recommended for people who prefer to heat a space for longer periods. However, these can be a potential fire risk if any materials are placed over the heater.
Flued and unflued gas heaters essentially burn gas fuel to make heat. For safety, the law in most places across Australia require gas heaters to use LPG. There are also other government regulations on how to use this type of portable heater. But one major thing you should know is that burning gas also creates air pollutants and water vapour, in addition to heat. Flued gas heaters channel all the gas, air pollutants and water vapour from inside the room to outside via a flue (or sometimes a chimney for non-portable heaters). Meanwhile, unflued gas heaters circulate everything indoors.
Whichever type of heater you’re looking for, we hope you find this review helpful.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Picture credits: Dmitry Galaganov/Shutterstock.com, SamJonah/Shutterstock.com.
*Prices taken from respective retailers, correct as of October 2020.
Our portable heater ratings saw a number of brands perform well in different areas.
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used a portable heater (i.e. a heater that can be picked up and moved, NOT one that is permanently installed) in the last 3 years – in this case, 1,200 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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[bs_lead]They’re cheaper and more energy-efficient than air conditioners – plus can look pretty cool to boot. But which ceiling fan should you take for a spin? Canstar Blue looks at different types of ceiling fans, their features and prices, to help you make an informed decision.[/bs_lead]
Ceiling fans may seem simple, but there’s a massive range of different types to choose from. It can be pretty intimidating to try to choose when it’s not exactly intuitive to figure out what makes one ceiling fan better than another. That’s why we’ve written this guide as a starting point to choose the best ceiling fan for your home. Let’s start with the basics.
Ceiling fans are, as you’d expect, fans that are installed hanging from the ceiling. They are primarily designed for cooling, although some can also be used for keeping a room warm. We’ll explain how fans can be helpful during winter later on.
Fans don’t actually make the air cooler – they just move it. When more air moves across our skin, our sweat evaporates faster – thus cooling us more. It also helps move heat away from our skin even when not sweating. Our bodies constantly radiate heat, which transfers to the air immediately surrounding us. When that air is moved away from us and replaced with different air, our skin has less contact with hot air and thus feels cooler.
The toughest trade-off Aussies have to make every summer is the balance between suffering the heat and suffering the cost of running the air conditioning. Ceiling fans offer a compromise. Even if it’s not really hot, a ceiling fan can be a welcome addition to a stuffy room where there isn’t enough natural airflow to keep things fresh.
Ceiling fans are broadly similar in concept – the differences between them come down to particular design elements, such as:
Where you want to install the fan is also a major consideration. Fans are generally designed differently for inside and outside use. Most inside fans are not suitable for outdoor use.
Before you choose a ceiling fan, also check your ceiling height. If your ceilings are quite tall, you may need to purchase a ceiling fan extension pole to hang your fan low enough to circulate air properly. Likewise, if your ceilings are quite low it may turn out to be too dangerous to install a ceiling fan – although this is rare.
Most homes have their lights mounted on the ceiling – which is also where ceiling fans go. Unless you want to simulate the night club experience, with a strobing light effect from fan blades whirring over your light fittings, you may need to choose a ceiling fan with a light installed in its centre.
Here are a few examples of ceiling fans with lights across different price points:
It’s very basic, with a clean white exterior and four blades. The Arlec Classic is only for indoor use, has a reversible motor, and can be adapted to add a ceiling fan light. The blades are made of MDF while the motor is contained within a metal housing. It’s controlled by wiring it up to a wall plate (aka wall switch), with three fan speeds. This fan, with one of the lowest prices on the market, does the job without anything fancy.
It’s priced down the lower end but is a step up in appearance from the very cheapest models on the market. The Airfusion Airlie has three plywood blades and a clean white finish, featuring a white light in the centre. The three air speeds are controlled by wiring up a wall switch – it’s also compatible with a remote control which is sold separately. It’s suitable for indoor use only.
With four brushed aluminium blades, an energy-efficient dimmable LED light and remote control, the Futura Eco offers a higher end experience without going into the top end of the price range. It’s also reversible, so it can be used year-round in all weather conditions.
This chrome fan is on the high-tech end of things, with four clear acrylic retractable blades, dimmable LED lights with colour control, and reversible rotation. The remote control can be used to change between three speed settings, adjust light brightness, and switch between three different colour temperatures (3000K Warm White, 4000K Cool White and 5000K Daylight). The Fanaway Evo1 is certainly an impressive ceiling fan.
Ceiling fans differ mostly in construction and design. There are a huge number of brands available on the Australian market – let’s explore a few of the more prominent names in ceiling fans. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Inclusion here does not represent any particular endorsement of the brand.
Offering both conventional and unique designs in fans with and without lights, Mercator offers something for more modern homes. You can make your fan look ultra-modern by choosing one of its matte black finished models, or match your warm wooden interior with modern takes on the old-fashioned natural wood bladed fans.
Most popular for its more affordable fan offerings, Arlec produces ceiling fans across the full extent of the market from the super cheap up through the high-end, in white and silver finishes. They even offer fans with six blades.
Offering both classic and unusual designs, Martec and its second brand Four Seasons bring some more artistic influences into their ceiling fan designs. If you’re not into the rounded oyster light usually found on ceiling fans, some models have completely flat or otherwise differently-shaped ceiling fan lights, which can help you match your new fan with the rest of your electrical fittings.
If you’re looking for something really unique, even a statement piece for your ceiling, Hunter has some truly 'different' designs. Blades with unusual shapes and connections are common in the Hunter range, with styles to match all different kinds of interior designs, from rustic to industrial.
Not to be confused with just Hunter, Hunter Pacific is said to produce award-winning original designs for more high-end home cooling solutions. It also offers a number of DC fan models, for those keen to invest in something quieter and more efficient.
The manufacturing company of Beacon Lighting, Lucci Air produces multiple ceiling fan product lines under various names. It produces one of the larger ranges of models to choose from, including DC fans, as well as fans with pull-cord controls.
Produced by Australian online lighting retailer Brilliant Lighting, this ceiling fan brand covers a spectrum of cheap to designer fans, in white, silver, black and wood exterior finishes. There aren’t quite as many models to choose from as other major brands, but it covers a wide spectrum of styles for all kinds of homes.
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Most mainstream ceiling fans in Australia use AC motors, however there are an increasing number of DC motor ceiling fans entering the market. DC fans work by converting the AC current from mains electricity into DC power before sending it into the motor. DC fans generally use less energy than AC fans – up to 70% less, in fact – and are usually very quiet. DC motors tend to be more compact, which allows for a slimmer design, and may have more speed options.
However, DC ceiling fans are usually more expensive than their AC counterparts. While they do use less electricity, AC ceiling fans use very little energy to begin with so the long term savings may not be worth the larger initial cost. They’re also usually only remote-controlled – very few can be wired up to a wall switch.
We’ve already written a breakdown of average costs to run a ceiling fan and how to choose the cheapest to run, but how about the cost of buying one in the first place? The price range is absolutely massive, ranging from as little as $40 to more than $1,000. The more expensive ceiling fans tend to be designer types, so if you’re just looking for something that does the job well and looks nice you don’t need to worry about spending a fortune. For a standard ceiling fan, you’ll most likely be looking at about $100 to $300 per fan.
The other cost that can be easy to forget is installation. Ceiling fans aren’t something you can just install yourself if you’re not a qualified electrician, as it involves some significant electrical work. Installation costs can often exceed the cost of buying the actual fan, so bear that in mind if you’re on a tight budget. As with any renovation work, it’s worth calling around to find a competitive quote.
Many lighting, hardware and electrical stores sell ceiling fans, as well as a number of dedicated fan and cooling retailers. There are also quite a few big online stores to shop from. However, regardless of where you end up buying your new fan, it’s a good idea to suss it out in person first. Ideally, you can see, hear and feel what it’s like in action. Once you’ve picked a fan, it may save you some money if you can find a better deal online. It makes it easy to shop around when many physical stores also offer online shopping.
Here are some of the major retailers of ceiling fans:
Many retailers are standalone stores, or small chains found only in certain parts of the country. Don’t necessarily rule out your local retailer just because their name isn’t nationally known.
There are definite pros and cons to weigh up when deciding whether or not to install ceiling fans, or even when deciding where you should use ceiling fans and where you should look for another cooling method, such as an air conditioner. We’ve written a more in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of ceiling fans vs air conditioners, but here are the main points to consider:
The best answer to the ceiling fan vs air conditioner question is probably to have both. That way, you can save the air conditioner for only really unbearably hot weather.
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