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An oil-filled radiator is an efficient and highly versatile appliance for heating small and medium rooms. These radiators – also known as column heaters – use thermal oil to control their temperature but are powered by electricity so you never have to worry about replacing oil. If you have a central heating system that doesn’t quite live up to the task of battling a cold winter, an oil-filled radiator can make it easy and cost-effective to heat up specific areas of your home.
To help you find the best oil-filled radiator for your home, we considered a number of features of these heating systems. First, we looked at the wattage and room size ratings of each oil-filled radiator. Together, these provide information not just about whether the radiator will be big enough for the room you have in mind, but also about its efficiency. We also considered how easy each radiator is to use and whether it is simple to transport from room to room throughout the winter.
We spent tens of hours poring over technical specifications and customer reviews for the most popular oil-filled radiators on the market. The result is our picks of the seven best oil-filled space heaters for your home this winter, highlighted in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each radiator, complete with pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the right oil-filled radiator to meet your heating needs. Finally, we sum up our overall favorite oil-filled heaters on the market today.
This impressive oil-filled radiator from DeLonghi is beloved by its users for its impressive heat output and easy customization. The radiator is the only one we reviewed with six fins, but it makes up for the lost surface area with a 26-inch tall design and is rated to heat rooms up to 144 square feet. Users loved the sleek, modern design of the radiator as well as the rust-free stainless-steel construction.
One of the best uses of this radiator is for keeping your home’s pipes from freezing while you’re away during the winter. The radiator has a built-in thermostat with an anti-freeze function that allows it to turn on automatically when the temperature drops below 44 degrees. In addition, when using the heater throughout the winter, an ECO function allows it to adjust automatically to a comfortable temperature to conserve electricity.
The radiator is controlled with a series of buttons, while a small LCD screen above the buttons gives you a quick overview of temperature and power settings. Users found that this design is incredibly intuitive compared to touchscreen LCDs, yet gives more control than standard analog radiator panels. Plus, the radiator comes with a 24-hour programmable timer. The only extra thing users wished for was the ability to have the radiator turn on at a specific time of day – the timer only works for turning the radiator off.
The only area where this oil-filled heater falls short is in portability. It is the heaviest oil-filled radiator we reviewed, at over 25 pounds, so you’ll need two people to carry it safely. Otherwise, the castors are good for rolling the heater around hardwood floors, but users found that they can catch easily on carpeting.
Why did it make our list?
Anti-freeze function automatically turns heater on
Users loved this electric oil-filled radiator from NewAir, which offers simple controls and highly efficient heating. Don’t let the moderate size of this radiator fool you – it boasts enough heat to warm rooms up to 150 square feet, making it perfect for the kitchen or a large bedroom. Better yet, you can easily move it between the two thanks to the ridiculously light 17-pound construction and the well-designed rolling castors.
The radiator panel uses an LCD display to show your settings but relies on buttons to have you make changes. Unlike some other oil-filled heaters that allow you to fully customize the temperature, this radiator offers five temperature settings between 65 and 85 degrees. There are also three power settings, which vary in availability depending on the temperature setting you choose, so that you can conserve electricity when only a low level of heat is needed.
To make controlling the unit even easier, NewAir includes a remote control and a fully programmable timer that allows the unit to shut down after a preset amount of time.
Users appreciated that NewAir put a lot of consideration into designing safety features on this oil-filled radiator. It features an automatic shutoff when the radiator is tipped over, as well as a secondary shutoff if the radiator detects that it is overheating.
The price of this oil-filled radiator is also extremely attractive, although the low cost does come with some construction shortcomings. Some users found that the tip over shutoff failed on their units, while others noted that the button coverings on the remote and display panel peeled off within the first season of use. However, no users reported issues with the essential heating functions of the radiator.
Why did it make our list?
Includes remote control
Automatic safety shutoffs for tip over and overheating
What is not ideal about it?
Only five temperature settings
Some quality issues with safety functions and exterior
This large oil-filled radiator from Pelonis offers the highest square footage rating of any heater we reviewed at 162 square feet, making it the perfect choice for large bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms. In spite of that impressive heating capacity, it’s also one of the lightest radiators on the market at just 16 pounds, so you can easily move it between rooms or up and down stairs. Plus, the handle on the front of the radiator stays cool even when the radiator is on, so you can drag it between rooms on the castor wheels without waiting for it to cool down.
The radiator is similar in design to the NewAir radiator, with three power settings – including an ECO mode to conserve electricity – and five temperature options. There is also a 10-hour timer that allows the radiator to shut off when you are not using it. These settings are easy and intuitive to control with a few buttons on the panel of the heater and an LCD screen that shows you what settings are active. The heater also comes with several important safety features, including automatic shutoffs when the radiator is tipped over or when the oil inside begins to overheat.
Users were quick to point out that the thermostat inside the radiator is often faulty, causing the room to overheat past the point desired. However, this can be resolved by lowering the temperature setting and operating the heater at a lower power.
Users also noted some quality issues with some units of this oil-filled radiator. Specifically, some users found that the smell of oil never dissipated from their radiators after the first use. Other users felt that the radiator made a loud humming noise, which is unusual for oil-filled radiators.
What makes it special?
162-square foot heating area
Handle for moving radiator while hot
10-hour timer and intuitive design
Safety shutoff features
What cons did we find?
Thermostat is off, causing too much heating
Some units have issues with oil smell or humming noises
This oil-filled heater from Insignia is an extremely high-quality model, although that quality comes at a price. In contrast to most of the other heaters we reviewed, there does not seem to be any issues with quality control on individual units of this radiator. Users did not report any problems with clicking noises during heating, nor faulty thermostats that allow the radiator to overheat your home. Still, considering that this radiator costs as much as three budget-friendly oil-filled space heaters, it may not be worth the expense for people who only need a heater once in a while.
The radiator is relatively comprehensive in features, although intuitive enough to use that you won’t necessarily realize this. The temperature is fully programmable and the radiator can be adjusted between three power settings to conserve electricity. It’s rated to heat rooms up to 144 square feet and users noted that it can be operated over a carpeted floor without any safety hazards. Plus, the radiator comes with automatic safety shutoffs to protect your home in case of a tip over or overheating. A 10-hour shutoff timer is available and can be set in intervals of two hours at a time.
A minor complaint that users have about this radiator is that it beeps whenever you change the controls. This somewhat negates the fact that it makes absolutely no noise whatsoever when operating, since even turning it off while others are sleeping at night elicits a beeping noise.
Given the price, it would be nice to see a relatively comprehensive and long-lasting warranty on this oil-filled radiator. However, Insignia only offers a basic one-year warranty on par with those offered for radiators that are less than half the cost.
This programmable oil-filled radiator from Honeywell offers a wide variety of features to cater to every heating need. The radiator is middle-of-the-pack in size and is rated to heat rooms up to 144 square feet in area. While it has three power settings, users felt that the radiator tends to be either “all on” or “all off” and frequently creeps past the desired temperature setting. This isn’t a huge problem if you use the heater when at home, since it can simply be turned off, but if you leave the house with the heater on you’ll want to use the 1-12-hour auto-off timer for added control.
That said, this heater is relatively efficient. Honeywell incorporated EnergySmart technology into the heater to reduce its power demand, ultimately saving you money on your energy bill. Plus, users found that the heater works extremely quickly – some reported noticing a change in temperature in a large room within 10 minutes of turning the heater on.
The control panel is a touchscreen LCD, which some users found was unnecessarily complicated to interpret. However, once you get used to these controls, adjusting the temperature, power, and timer is relatively straightforward and you have complete control over the thermostat.
Users didn’t have any issues moving this oil-filled radiator around their homes thanks to the relatively light sub-20-pound weight and the mounted castors. However, note that there is no grab handle on the radiator, so you’ll need to wait for it to cool down before moving it.
It’s also worth noting that while users did not report any issues with this radiator, Honeywell is the only manufacturer we reviewed that offers a three-year warranty on its radiator. At a highly competitive price, this additional warranty period can provide extra peace of mind that your oil-filled radiator will last for many winters.
This budget-friendly radiator from COSTWAY is the perfect choice for intermittent use in small rooms. The oil heater is rated for spaces between 54 and 65 square feet in area and is relatively compact at just 24.5 inches tall. That small size makes it perfect for use in a guest bedroom or office, or even for moving around the house with you on a particularly cold day.
The heater is adjustable between three heat settings that allow you to change the rate of heating and your electricity consumption. Users liked that the timer is adjustable between 0 and 18 hours in one-hour increments, which is more flexibility than many more expensive heaters. Plus, the thermostat is digital and controlled by a highly intuitive button and LCD display system, so you can fully customize the temperature in your room.
Like many other cost-effective oil-filled radiators, this model suffers from some quality control issues. Some users found that their heater’s thermostat failed to detect when the room had heated up, allowing the heater to overheat the room. Others felt that their units made clicking noises when heating up or produced a strong smell of oil when operating. However, customers also noted that COSTWAY provides very good customer service, in contrast to some competitors. Plus, COSTWAY offers a one-year warranty on this radiator.
The heater is relatively lightweight at just 19 pounds, making it easy to move by yourself either using the rolling castors or by lifting the unit. However, note that there is no handle on the radiator, so it will need to be given time to cool down before moving it.
This digital oil-filled radiator from DeLonghi offers the best electrical efficiency while creating comfortable conditions in small rooms. The radiator is designed to heat rooms only up to 45 square feet, so it’s important to consider where in your home this radiator would fit. Ideally, it’s designed to provide extra warmth in a guest room or small office space.
The advantage of this small design is that the oil heater is simple to move around. The heater weighs just 22 pounds and is mounted on wheels for easy rolling around hardwood floors. However, users noted that the heater can be hard to carry because there are no hollow points for your hand to grip.
Like DeLonghi’s other radiator, this unit comes with an anti-frost feature that automatically turns the radiator on when the temperature drops below 44 degrees. The thermostat is analog rather than digital, making it easy to control without any distracting bells and whistles.
Users had mixed feelings about the helpfulness of the ComforTemp function, which automatically sets the heater to keep your room between 68 and 70 degrees while minimizing electricity consumption. Some users loved that the heater could be set and forgotten about with this function, while others didn’t like that they couldn’t tell if the ComforTemp function was actually activated and working properly.
The other thing that users had mixed reviews about on this heater was noise. While some people felt that their units of this heater operated completely silently, as expected, there were numerous complaints that the heater makes loud clicking noises while heating up and cooling down. However, the heater does not make any noise when the ComforTemp function is activated and the temperature is consistent at room temperature.
Why is it special?
Ideal for small rooms up to 45 square feet
Small and lightweight
ComforTemp function allows you to set and forget
What are the flaws?
Hard to tell if ComforTemp is activated and working
Makes loud clicking noises when heating up
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve learned more about our seven favorite oil-filled radiators on the market today, how do you choose between them to find the right heater for your home? And how can you be sure that an oil-filled space heater is the right style of heating appliance to warm up your rooms? In our buying guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of oil-filled radiators as well as what features to consider when choosing a model.
Oil-filled radiators: What are their pros and cons?
Oil-filled radiators are extremely advantageous when you need to heat a small to medium sized room. That could be a room that your central heating system doesn’t reach, or one with drafts that consistently lower the temperature. Either way, an oil-filled space heater offers plenty of heat output to turn up the temperature by a handful of degrees.
Although the mention of oil in the name of oil-filled radiators makes some people worry about needing to frequently change oil, that’s not an issue at all with these heating systems. Oil-filled radiators use thermal oil for efficiency – the high burning point of this type of oil allows it to get very hot as it circulates through the heater, in turn making it more effective at heating up the air in a room within your home. This oil also doesn’t get used up in the heating process, so there’s never a need to replace it.
The main advantage of oil-filled radiators is efficiency. The high thermal inertia of the heating oil in these radiators means that once the oil heats up to its intended temperature, it stays at that temperature for a long time. So, your heater will expend a fair bit of electricity when it is first turned on, but will use up relatively little electricity to keep your room warm for hours or days on end. On the flip side, this means that oil-filled radiators aren’t as efficient as water filled radiators or convection heaters if you just need a room heated for a few hours at a time.
Another thing to keep in mind when using oil-filled space heaters is that they lose efficiency in larger rooms. These heaters don’t use fans to blow air around, so they rely on air within the room staying within the heater’s range of effectiveness.
That said, the lack of a fan can be a big plus for oil-filled radiators because it means that they are virtually silent. There are no moving parts and no white noise like you would get from a convective heating unit. In addition, because much of the heat of the unit is contained in the oil inside, it is much harder to burn yourself on an oil-filled radiator than on a convective radiator.
Oil-filled radiators tend to be bulkier and heavier than other types of space heaters, which is both good and bad. On the one hand, they are difficult to tip over. On the other, that added weight can make it hard to frequently move an oil-filled space heater between upstairs and downstairs rooms, even though most models are mounted on wheels.
What you need to consider before you buy an oil-filled radiator
In order to get the most efficiency and heating power out of your oil-filled radiator, it’s important to match the features of your radiator to the room you want to heat. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the technical specifications and features that you need to understand when choosing an oil-filled heater.
Maximum heating power
The maximum heating power for oil-filled radiators is measured in watts and is limited to 1,500 watts for all of the radiators we reviewed. This is the amount of electrical power that the thermal oil in these radiators is capable of taking in without burning.
Note that most oil-filled radiators offer three or more power settings, so that you can conserve electricity when the room doesn’t need to be heated quite as quickly or as hot.
Area that can be heated
Most oil-filled radiators are rated based on the square footage of the room they can heat. Smaller radiators like the DeLonghi KH390715CM are rated to heat just 44 square feet, making them ideal for a small bedroom or office, while larger radiators like the PELONIS NY1507-14A are rated to heat over 160 square feet.
Keep in mind that if the room you want to heat has particularly high ceilings, it will also have more air volume and you’ll need a heater that is rated for a larger square footage. If your heater is rated for more square footage than the room you place it in, that’s not a problem – you may just need to turn down the heat to maintain a comfortable temperature.
The fins of an oil-filled radiator offer plenty of surface area for air in the room to come into contact with the heated oil and warm up. While fins aren’t the main determinant of how efficient an oil-filled heater will be or how large a room it will be rated to heat, they do play an important role.
In general, a radiator with more fins will be better at transferring heat and so will be rated to heat a room with more square footage. All of the oil-filled heaters we reviewed have six to seven fins. However, keep in mind that space ratings also depend on wattage and the amount of oil inside the radiator.
Power options and heat settings
Power options and heat settings are extremely important when deciding between two or more oil-filled radiators that offer the same heat output for a specific room. Oil-filled radiators can get quite hot, so it’s nice to have at least three power settings – like found on the COSTWAY and NewAir models – to choose from to heat your room appropriately.
More advanced power and heating options are available on programmable oil-filled radiators like the models from DeLonghi, Honeywell and Pelonis. Also consider whether you need a programmable timer on your space heater in order to make it automatically turn on and off when you are out of the house.
Power cord length
The length of the power cord is important because you want your oil-filled radiator to be flexible enough to move between rooms easily. With a power cord that’s too short, this can become problematic and you’ll need to find a heavy-duty extension cord that can handle the high wattage of the heater.
As you might imagine, safety features on oil-filled heaters are extremely important – especially if you’ll be running it when you’re not home. Safety features like automatic shutoff when the heater is tipped over – a feature found on the Insignia, NewAir, and Pelonis heaters – can be extremely important to prevent dangerous conditions from the heater being against the floor. In addition, some oil-filled radiators like the Pelonis and NewAir models also have sensors to turn the heater off in case it begins overheating in too small a room.
While it’s always a good idea to keep children and pets away from oil-filled radiators, these types of heaters are less prone to causing burns to the touch than other types of space heaters.
Dimensions, weight, and portability
One of the advantages to using a space heater in your home is that it is portable enough to move from room to room. However, oil-filled radiators can be somewhat bulky and heavy compared to other types of radiators, so it’s important to look at dimensions and weight to ensure you’ll be able to move your heater around.
In addition, all of the oil-filled radiators we reviewed are mounted on castors for easy movement on hard floors. Beware, though, that these castors can have much more difficulty rolling across carpeted rooms.
An oil-filled radiator can be a big expense, so it’s important to know that it will last for years to come. Most manufacturers provide warranties that can provide peace of mind with your purchase as well as ensure the quality of your heater. These warranties are typically one year long, although Honeywell provides a three-year warranty on their oil-filled radiator.
Ease of use
Another important difference between otherwise similar oil-filled radiators is how easy they are to use. Some heaters, like the Insignia, Pelonis, and NewAir radiators, offer LED panels that allow you to control the functions of the radiator. The Insignia heater even comes with a remote control so you can change the temperature from another room.
Programmable functions like a timer and controllable thermostat are nice features to have that can make it much easier to dial in the proper temperature on your heater.
How much do oil-filled heaters usually cost?
Oil-filled radiators are generally under $100, with budget-friendly heating units like the COSTWAY heater costing as little as $60. However, there are some more expensive oil-filled heaters – the Insignia heater, for example, costs over $200.
While oil-filled radiators are generally safe, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when using one. The first and most important thing is to recognize that extension cords and space heaters don’t mix well. You should always avoid extension cords if you can – and if you can’t, be sure to use a cord that is 12-gauge or thicker.
If anything on your oil heater ever breaks or malfunctions, it’s important to have a professional repair it rather than try to do it yourself. While you might be prepared to fix the unit and can even get it working again, there is no guarantee that important safety mechanisms are still working to keep the radiator from overheating and burning the thermal oil inside.
Finally, make sure that your heater is in a safe place. While some heaters have automatic shutoffs for when they tip over, your heater should always be placed on level ground and should be at least a foot away from any walls. Keep in mind that curtains and upholstery should also be kept a safe distance away from the heater.
Oil heaters are designed to be highly efficient if you’re using them around the clock. Most of the electricity they use comes when you first turn the heater on and it begins to heat up the oil inside. With that in mind, oil-filled radiators will use up some electricity and the bump in your energy bill may be noticeable, but the cost should not be particularly high. If your electricity costs vary throughout the day, you can even lower costs by turning the heater on when electricity prices are lowest.
Oil-filled radiators typically do not come with a fan as they are designed to work best in small to medium-sized rooms. The advantage to not having a fan is that oil-filled heaters operate silently, in contrast to most convective space heaters.
Manufacturers generally advise not to use oil-filled radiators in the bathroom because it presents a safety hazard. Bathrooms tend to be damp, with poor air circulation, and that dampness can cause electrical problems for your heater. If you do use it in the bathroom, it is best to keep a vent on to remove moist air.
Using extension cords with any space heater is not advised because of the high wattage these heaters draw. Extension cords present a serious fire hazard. That said, if you must use an extension cord, it is extremely important to use one that is 12-gauge or thicker.
Our three overall favorite oil-filled radiators on the market today are the DeLonghi TRD40615E, the NewAir AH-450, and the Pelonis NY1507-14A. All three of these radiators are offered at budget-friendly prices, include three power settings, and include safety shutoffs to protect your home in the case of overheating or a tip over. The Pelonis heating radiator offers an impressive area of coverage, providing enough heat for rooms up to 162 square feet in area. On the other hand, the NewAir heater is lightweight enough to move anywhere in the house and comes with a remote control to allow easy temperature adjustments. We feel that the DeLonghi heater is the best oil-filled radiator overall because of its 24-hour programmable timer and the inclusion of an anti-freeze function that provides peace of mind when you leave the house for a mid-winter vacation.