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Best electric radiator 2024: Keep the chills at bay with these affordable winter warmers from £24

Looking for a little extra background warmth? These electric radiators give you economical, efficient heating

Fan heaters and tower heaters are great for quickly heating up a room, while nothing beats your central heating for cost-effective warmth in every room. However, when you want to keep just one room cosy for hours at a time, nothing does it better than an electric radiator.

Modern electric radiators warm up fast, but – unlike most portable heaters – they maintain a consistent temperature over time without breaking the bank. This makes them ideal for rooms, like a small living room or bedroom, where you might want to keep the room warm enough for comfort, without the noise and the peaks and troughs of heat you tend to get with a fan, tower or convector heater.

They’re also useful for outdoor offices, conservatories or for keeping one room warm after the central heating has been turned off – though they work best in relatively small and well-insulated spaces.

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to electric radiators, with many using the same basic design. However, the liquids or heating structures used can be very different, and there are big variations in portability, efficiency and ease-of-use. That’s why we’ve not only picked the best electric radiators you can buy right now, but also put together some guidance on how to choose the right one for you.

Best electric radiator: At a glance

Best all-round electric radiatorDe’Longhi Dragon 4 TRD40920T (~£150)Check price at Argos
Best compact electric radiatoDimplex Eco Chico (~£75)Check price at Amazon
Best value electric radiatorDe’Longhi Radia S (~£90)Check price at Amazon
Best value radiator for larger spacesVonHaus 2500873 11 Fin Digital (~£85)Check price at Amazon
Best budget optionFine Elements Oil Filled Radiator (~£40)Check price at Wickes

How to choose the best electric radiator for you

Before you think about anything else, you need to think about size and output. Like all electric heaters, electric radiators are rated by their output in watts. The higher the output, the more heat the radiator can dish out and – generally speaking – the larger it will be. What’s more, the higher the output, the more expensive the radiator will be to run. This isn’t a massive issue, as all electric radiators have controls that enable you to run them at a lower level, but it obviously makes sense to match your radiator to the size of the room it’s trying to heat.

For a small room or outside office, you can probably get away with a 600W to 800W radiator. For an average-sized room or conservatory, you might want to look at 1,500W to 2,000W. If you’re heating larger rooms or a chilly conservatory, you should go to 2,000W and above.

The wattage isn’t the be-all and end-all, though, as different designs will be more or less efficient at distributing heat through the room. While radiators do radiate heat, a lot of it is spread through convection and manufacturers have found a range of different approaches to improve how well this works.

Oil-filled or oil-free?

While the radiators in a central heating system contain water heated by your boiler, electric radiators combine an electric element with a fluid that stores and spreads the heat. This is usually oil. However, some of the leading manufacturers now make oil-free radiators, which combine the electric element with other structures that hold and distribute warmth and aid convection.

The advantage of the oil-filled models is that it’s a tried and tested technology that’s proven to build up and maintain a consistent temperature – and one that’s relatively cheap to run. However, oil-free radiators are often faster to warm up and lighter and easier to carry around while still being very cost-effective. What’s more, you don’t need to worry about oil leaking from the radiator, which is still occasionally a problem with cheaper and less reliable options.

What else should you watch out for?

All electric radiators will have a thermostat and controls to set the output level and temperature. On some models, these will be simple analogue dials and switches, while others have digital controls. It’s also worth looking for some kind of timer with which you can set the radiator to turn on and off automatically.

Running costs will depend on the size of the radiator and your hourly electricity rate, and could be anywhere from 8.6p to 36p per hour based on the average UK rate of 14.4p per kWh. However, this doesn’t take into account reductions in power use from the thermostat and more efficient designs, which could cut running costs by up to 30%.

How we test electric radiators

We test electric radiators in the late autumn and winter in real-world circumstances within the home, testing over a period of at least three days. During this time, we’ll judge how easy the controls are to use, and test the ability of the thermostat to maintain a consistent level of heat. We also time how long it takes the radiator to warm one test room from cold to a comfortable 20°C, and use a passthrough power meter to check the energy consumption at full power, half power and anti-frost power settings.

READ NEXT: The best electric heaters

The best electric radiators you can buy in 2024

1. De’Longhi Dragon 4 TRD40820T: Best all-round electric radiator

Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at Argos

De’Longhi’s Dragon series radiators have an enviable reputation and this 2kW Dragon 4 feels like a radiator to rely on. It’s got more than enough output to cover most average-sized rooms and, with five heat settings, it’s versatile enough to handle low-level heating of larger spaces or scale down to heat smaller rooms as well. It also has an old-fashioned click in, click out analogue timer so you can get it running on a schedule. What’s really important, though, is that it delivers good, consistent heat at speed, partly thanks to an ingenious “chimney effect” design that pushes warm air through the vents at the top. Meanwhile, the large heating surfaces radiate plenty of heat from the sides. So what if it’s a bit noisy as it warms up and cools down? If you want to stay warm, it’s not much to put up with.

Key specs – Heat output: 2kW; Controls: Five heat settings, power level, analogue timer; Extra features: Anti-frost, overheat cut-out; Dimensions: 440 x 640 x 160mm; Weight: 15.1kg

2. Dimplex Eco Chico: Best compact electric radiator

Price when reviewed: £75 | Check price at AmazonThe Dimplex Eco Chico has more charm than your average oil-filled radiator, thanks to some cool retro styling and simple controls. With just 700W of output, it’s best suited to smaller rooms, but that and an effective thermostat make it nice and cheap to run. It’s also small and light enough for portability and easy storage; it won’t get in your way in the winter and you can stow it once the spring arrives. There’s no timer, but it warms up very quickly and delivers quite consistent heat – and it also cools down fast once you turn it off. It also has a great reputation for reliability. It’s a good bet for heating outside offices or background heat in a smaller bedroom.

Key specs – Heat output: 700W; Controls: Adjustable thermostat; Extra features: Frost protection, safety cut-out; Dimensions: 290 x 446 x 194mm; Weight: 5.4kg

3. De’Longhi Radia-S TRRS 0920: Best electric radiator for value

Price when reviewed: £90 | Check price at Amazon There’s something appealingly retro about the design of De’Longhi’s Radia-S series, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about the radiator’s performance; this 2kW model warms up fairly quickly and retains a consistent heat for hours, with a thermostat you can set and then forget. Even on its low settings it delivers a nice background heat, while on its highest settings it can warm a good-sized conservatory or living room without any issues. What’s more, it’s pretty quiet about doing so, with only the odd clicking noise as it heats up. Like many oil-filled models it creates a strong smell on higher settings, but this fades off over time, and the only minor issue otherwise is that there’s no built-in timer. Beyond that, it’s easy to use and cheap to run, and you won’t find anything much better for under £100.

Key specs – Heat output: 2kW; Controls: 2x heat level switches, adjustable thermostat; Extra features: Safety thermostat; Dimensions: 472 x 160 x 650mm; Weight: 12.2kg

4. VonHaus 2500873 11 Fin Digital Oil Filled Radiator: Best value radiator for larger spaces

Price when reviewed: £85 | Check price at Amazonbest electric radiator VonHaus Oil Filled radiator 11 fin

While it looks like it belongs in Darth Vader’s living room, this VonHaus electric radiator packs in a lot of features for such an affordable model. As well as a digital thermostat and 24-hour timer, both operable through the bundled remote control, it has three power settings and an Eco mode, designed to use less power while maintaining a comfortable temperature.

It’s a good inclusion, as at maximum power the VonHaus uses just over 2.5Kw, though it’s very effective at warming even bigger rooms fast. It took our test room from 17℃ to 19.5℃ within just 15 minutes, then to 20℃ within half an hour, then later did sterling service in a larger living room.

We also found it very effective at maintaining a consistent temperature over longer periods. It makes some clicking noises when first heating up, as many oil-filled radiators do, but it’s a solid, no-nonsense radiator at a bargain price, that’s capable of handling larger rooms.

Key specs – Heat output: 2.5kW; Controls: Digital thermostat, 24hr timer, on/off switch, mode/power switch; Extra features: Overheat protection, tip-over switch, eco mode; Dimensions: 460 x 240 x 625mm; Weight: 10kg

5. Russell Hobbs RH0FR3001: Best budget electric radiator for small rooms

Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Amazonbest electric radiator Russell Hobbs RH0FR3001

This Russell Hobbs electric radiator keeps things simple with just a single thermostat dial and power switch. It’s less than 40cm tall, and the output is just 650W. Put it in a good-sized living room or bedroom and it WIll struggle to make much of an impact in cold weather, taking a good half an hour in our test space to raise the temperature by 1.5°C.

Use it in a small space, though, and it’s a different story. Tucked under the desk in a well-insulated and compact outside office, it did a great job of bringing the temperature up to a comfortable 18°C and keeping it there, while the lower than normal power consumption means it won’t cost you a small fortune doing it.

Factor in the lightweight design and useful carrying handle, and it’s also a great little radiator to keep handy, just in case you need it.

Key specs – Heat output: 650W; Controls: Adjustable thermostat, on/off switch; Extra features: Overheat protection, tip-over switch; Dimensions: 255 x 135 x 380mm; Weight: 2.8kg

6. VonHaus ‎2514074 9 Fin Oil Filled Radiator: A great value option for mid-sized rooms

Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at Amazonbest electric radiator VonHaus Oil Filled radiator 11 fin (1) on a white background

While it’s not the most exciting radiator in terms of style or features, this Von Haus model does a solid job of putting out plenty of heat and then keeping the room warm. You have just two buttons for switching between its three power settings (800, 1,200 or 2,000W), plus a thermostat dial, and no fancy modes or timers.

Still, in 15 minutes it managed to heat our test room by 1.5°C, and within another 15 minutes the temperature had risen by another 1°C, taking us from chilly to fairly cosy in just half an hour.

There’s a fair bit of self-assembly in getting the casters attached to the body of the radiator, with some rather nasty and cheap-feeling wingnuts involved, but all feels good and solid once in situ.

In larger spaces you might need more power, but this is a good, affordable radiator for small to medium-sized rooms.

Key specs – Heat output: 2kW; Controls: Adjustable thermostat, 2x power settings switches; Extra features: Overheat protection, tip-over switch; Dimensions: 400 x 240 x 550mm; Weight: 7.2kg

7. Fine Elements Oil Filled Radiator: Best budget electric radiator

Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at WickesThere’s nothing stylish or fancy about this basic oil-filled radiator, but it’s cheap, well built and does the job. With a nine-fin design and 2kW of power it’s equipped to handle spaces of up to 18m², and with three heat settings and a thermostat dial, you can tune it for background heat or a proper winter warm-up. It also has an old-school manual timer. Most importantly, where other budget heaters have either a tendency to leak or a lack of safety features, this model has overheat protection and a cut-out if it tips over, while it feels solid and robust. It’s a little slower to warm up than more expensive radiators, but if you’re looking for something for occasional or emergency use, the Final Elements is a brilliant budget option.

Key specs – Heat output: 2kW; Controls: Adjustable thermostat; Extra features: Overheat protection, tip-over switch; Dimensions: 435 x 135 x 665mm; Weight: 9.5kg

Check price at Wickes