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.
Top 7 Oil-filled Radiators Review 2020
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.
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.
Oil-filled radiators operate virtually silently. There are no moving parts inside the radiator and no fan to make noise. These are one of the quietest options on the market for heating your home.
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.