The bathroom is always the coldest room in the house. Since we spend up to 416 days out of our lives in these little rooms, they should be more comfortable.
Bathroom heaters are an inexpensive and simple solution to the cold problem. Finding the best bathroom heater for your home, though, can be a bigger challenge. This article will help you decide what type and size heater you need and which model is the best for your situation.
Type of Bathroom Heaters Explained
One of the first decisions you need to make (after deciding to invest in a bathroom heater) is what type of heat you need. There are four basic types of heaters used in bathrooms. Let’s detail those options now.
Wall heaters are mounted directly on the wall or in a recess using a wall cap. These models are hardwired to the circuit, though some do have plugs for an outlet. Depending on the size and amp requirements, they can be 120 or 240 volts.
Wall heaters are fairly inexpensive but may require professional installation, adding to the overall cost. Their heat is moderate with decent airflow and can work well in higher humidity areas, like your bathroom.
Ceiling heaters are ideal for smaller bathrooms where space is a premium. They have a near-zero footprint and can be combined with the lights or fans already installed to the switches on your wall.
Because heat rises, having a heater in the ceiling is counterproductive. To overcome this drawback, many ceiling mount heaters have forced-air fans to push the warmed air towards the floor, creating the airflow current needed to keep the air circulating.
Portable heaters give off a lot of heat but take up space on the bathroom floor. This can also pose problems in smaller bathrooms where water is present or easily splashed around. The benefit, though, is that they can be stored out of the way when not in use.
Extra safety features such as timers, tip-over shut-off, and overload protection are a must for wet area use.
Radiant Floor Heating
Because heat rises, it makes sense to heat from the bottom up. Radiant floor heating is generally installed below the flooring to heat the floor directly and the air above your floor indirectly.
Radiant floor heating is among the most energy efficient methods but also requires professional installation and takes the longest to heat the room itself.
Bathroom Heaters Compared
Choosing a Quality Bathroom Heater
Bathroom Size Vs. Heat Output (BTU Ratings)
The size of your bathroom will determine the output capacity of your heater. Heaters have two output measurements, either watts or BTUs.
The two ratings are the same as far as output is concerned. One watt is equal to 3.4 BTUs, so you can find the square foot of your bathroom and, using either watts or BTUs, a heater capable of heating that space.
Heating Design & Technology
Several designs correspond to the heater types mentioned above. For example, wall units can be forced-air, baseboard, or radiant heating. Portable heaters can also be forced-air design but usually come in infrared or radiant heating styles.
There isn’t much difference as far as the heat is concerned, as all design styles will add warmth to the room. How efficient they are and if installation is a DIY or professional choice, though, will vary by style, type, and design.
Many units, especially in the 120v range, will use a standard power cord and require a power outlet. Other models are hardwired to the bathroom wiring circuits. However, you need to be careful not to overload a circuit, or you can start tripping breakers.
You also have alternative power sources such as LP gas. Propane heaters are efficient, quick to warm up, and easy to use. However, they can displace oxygen, so proper ventilation and care need to be used when operating propane heaters indoors.
Energy Efficiency & Heating Costs
Heaters draw a lot of electricity and can end up raising your electric bill. Energy efficient models are available but tend to be more expensive upfront than their less efficient rivals. Radiant heat is more efficient than forced-air, but models with thermostats and temperature controls can be adjusted to be more efficient.
The cost of running a heater will depend on the wattage draw of the heater, the cost you pay per kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity, and how many hours you run the heater. Most bathroom heaters only need to run for about 30 minutes per day, and even if you use them every day, all year long, you are looking at a total of 3 to 4 hours per week.
The national average is 13 cents per kWh (though your costs may be higher or lower). Assuming your bathroom heater has a 1000 watt draw, you are looking at a fee of about $0.52 per week. Higher watt models or running the heater longer will raise the operational costs, of course.
Installation Type & Mounting Options
When it comes to bathroom heaters, you can invest in a fixed model or purchase a portable unit. The choice comes down to how often you plan to use the heater and how much space you have for it.
More consistent, daily use or smaller bathrooms may do best with fixed heaters. Mounted on the wall or in the ceiling, these heaters won’t take up room and can be wired to a switch or thermostat so you can have more control over their operation.
Portable units are ideal for larger bathrooms with more floor space or homes that won’t use the heater very often. As they are less expensive and heat quicker, portable units can be a perfect temporary or infrequent option for the colder days of winter.
Other Features & Safety
One of the most often overlooked aspects of a bathroom heater is the thermostat placement. If the unit has a thermostat and you install it in the ceiling, can you reach it to turn it on or off? Many hardwired units can be wired to a switch, but this may negate the thermostat settings.
Likewise, finding a model with a remote control will allow you to control fan speed and temperature without having to get on a stool.
Almost all portable units will require a standard outlet to plug into. While you may have an outlet on your mirror light, it is better to use a dedicated outlet so you don’t overheat the unit or blow a fuse.
Hardwired models won’t have this problem, of course, but you may need to pay an HVAC tech to do the installation and wiring.
Bathrooms are known for their high humidity levels, and leaving fans and heaters on will drastically cut down on the humidity, causing it to evaporate quickly. The problem is that leaving a heater on makes it prone for you to forget about it, causing fire risks and high electric bills.
Buying a bathroom heater with a timer function will solve this problem as you can set the time and let the machine turn itself off when the timer is finished.
Tip Over Protection
If you do buy a portable unit, make sure it has a tip-over shut-off feature. The bathroom can get cramped for space, and it is easy to knock into portable heaters or knock them over. If this happens and you don’t notice, it could cause a lot of damage. The shut-off feature will prevent damage or risks of fires.
At times, the internal parts of the heater will get too hot to continue operating safely. To protect your investment and prolong the life of the motors and heating components, look for overheat protection.
This safety feature will shut the heater off when the internal temperature gets too high. The machine will come back on to previous settings when the unit cools to a lower temperature.
Understanding the warranty is a significant consideration, too. You need to know how long the warranty is useful for, of course. But you also need to understand what is covered and what is not.
It is also helpful to read over the claim process. Some warranties require proof of purchase or original packaging retention. You might have a deadline to register the product before the warranty even starts. Knowing this before you buy is a big help if you ever do need to make a claim.
Bathroom heaters aren’t overly expensive and range in prices from below $40 to over $200. Type, size, installation method and other factors such as safety features all go into the final price.
8 Best Bathroom Heaters Reviewed
1. Panasonic FV-11VH2
Best Bathroom Fan Heater
|Heater Type||Ceiling Mounted Forced Air|
|Coverage Area||95 – 145 sq ft|
|Safety Features||Thermal Fuse Protection|
When it comes to the best overall bathroom fan heater, the title goes to the Panasonic WhisperWarm. This combination vent fan and heater is powerful, quiet, and has everything you need to make your bathroom warm and cozy.
This, like most other ceiling mounted heaters, is a hardwired project that requires existing junction boxes for wiring and mounting. There should already be a junction box near your overhead light or existing vent fan. If not, you will need to add one.
Once you have the heater installed, you are all set to go. It draws 1400 watts and creates a warm bathroom in minutes. You can feel the heat from the moment you turn it on. Depending on how large your bathroom is, you can expect the temperature to be where you want it in about 3 to 5 minutes.
The 4-inch ducts draw a lot of air in and have a built-in damper to prevent drafts and outside air from coming in when not in use. The sealed motor is also designed to run smoothly at lower temperatures so it won’t wear out as fast as other models.
You can also leave the heater on when you are done in the bathroom to help remove moisture and humidity. However, there isn’t a timer function or remote, so you will need to remember to go back and turn it off.
The warranty from Panasonic is quite good, too. All parts and labor have a 3-year warranty from date of purchase. The DC motor is the exception, which is covered for 6-years. You have nothing to lose here, except frozen toes in the morning.
- 3-year warranty (6-year motor)
- Nichrome wire and magnesium oxide heating elements
- Simple DIY install
- Whisper quiet operation
- Near-instant heat
- No thermostat
- No remote operation
2. OPOLAR Space Ceramic Bathroom Heater
Best Electric Space Heater for Bathrooms
|Heater Type||Portable Convection (ceramic)|
|Coverage Area||95 – 150 sq ft|
|Safety Features||Overheat protection, tip over auto shut-off, ALCI plug, IP21 waterproof rating|
With one of the best bathroom heater designs on the market, the OPOLAR space heater is not only rated for bathroom use but has enough safety features to use anywhere in the home. This is the best electric space heater for bathroom use.
There are a lot of safety features, including the ACLI plug. This is a moisture detection plug that will trip when any moisture is detected in the circuitry. It is also IP21 rated for waterproof design. This doesn’t mean it can get wet, though; it just means that condensation or humidity won’t disrupt the circuitry inside the unit.
There are also basic safety features such as tip-over auto shut-off and internal overheating protection. However, if the unit does overheat, it won’t turn back on by itself. You will need to wait for it to cool, then unplug the cord and plug it back in before it turns on.
The ceramic plates get hot quickly but can take a little while to get into the room. The convection heating means quiet operation and even heat distribution. It also features a rear casing carry handle so you can move it, even before it cools, without worry of burning or scalding.
To help heat distribution, the unit also oscillates, spreading the heat around the room evenly and efficiently. We only wish the warranty was longer.
- Multiple water safety features installed
- Simple, adjustable temperature settings
- 2 heating options (750 or 1500 watts)
- Oscillating heat distribution
- 1-year warranty
- Takes a little longer than other models to heat the room
3. Lasko CD08200
Best Plug In Heater for Bathroom
|Heater Type||Portable Forced-Air Ceramic|
|Coverage Area||0- 25 sq ft|
|Safety Features||Overheat protection, ceramic self-regulation|
If you are looking for the best compact model, then Lasko has what you need. This minuscule personal heater is ideal for small spaces and keeping you warm while you finish getting ready in the mirror.
There is no assembly or installation required. It also features a nice 6-foot cord, unlike other standard-sized models that need to be really close to an outlet. You also get overheating protection, so it won’t damage itself if it becomes too hot inside.
The case stays cool to the touch, thanks to the self-regulating ceramic plates. The quiet fan will also help push the heat out quickly, allowing the fast heating ceramic to actually start heating the space.
While it won’t heat your entire room, it is perfect for personal space warmth. You can set it on the counter, back of the toilet, or on a shelf near you while you bathe or get dressed. If you need more space heating, Lasko also makes a 1500 watt heater with the same build quality and design.
More impressive, though, is that this tiny unit comes with a 3-year warranty. The Lasko name is probably enough, but having the 36-month added insurance sure does help.
- 3-year warranty
- Plug and heat without waiting
- Quiet operation
- Simple, user-friendly controls
- Won’t heat a very large area
- Can’t direct airflow direction
4. Stiebel Eltron 074058
Best Wall Mounted Bathroom Fan Heater
|Heater Type||Electric Forced-Air|
|Coverage Area||150 sq ft|
|Safety Features||Frost protection|
Steibel Eltron has a series of the best wall mounted bathroom fan heaters, and you can select the model that suits your set up the best. The CK and CKT models have two options each, and their differences are slight but important.
First, the CK models come in 1500 and 2000 watt options. The CKT models also have 1500 and 2000 watt options but also feature a booster timer. This control allows you to have the heater run on high for a set time to rapidly heat the room. After the timer is done, the operation will return to what is set to maintain the temperature.
The other difference is that the 2000 watt models (both CK and CKT) are 240 volt models while the 1500 watt units are 120v. All four are hardwired and do not have a power cord. You will need to purchase a 6/4 SO cord ad install an appropriate outlet or wire directly into the bathroom electrical circuit.
The forced air heat is near-instant, and you can feel a difference in seconds. To heat the entire room, though, will take a few minutes. The wall installation needs to be close to the floor (about 6 to 8 inches up from the ground) for optimal operation. The downdraft airflow improves the heating capabilities, and any lower or higher will impede this air exchange.
The frost protection allows the unit to run in colder temperatures (down to 41 degrees) and prevents frost from developing internally, starting at 45 degrees. It also boasts a 3-year warranty, which is great to see in such a durable and sleek heater.
- 3-year warranty
- Thermostatic controls
- Central thermostat compatible
- Frost protection
- Low noise level
- Must be hardwired into home wiring
- Minimum 15A circuit required
5. Heat Storm Deluxe
Best Infrared Bathroom Heater
|Heater Type||Wall mounted infrared|
|Coverage Area||125 sq ft|
|Safety Features||Tip over auto shut-off, cool touch grille|
With a sleek, stylish design meant for modern décor and the first quartz infrared heater, you have the best of both worlds. Heat Storm brings you the Deluxe, the best infrared bathroom heater on the market.
With a cool-to-the-touch grille and simple wall mounting, you can heat your bathroom with ease and style whenever you need to. The unit is stand alone and features a tip-over auto shut off safety switch. However, it can also be mounted on the wall, and with the included bracket, you can mount directly over an outlet and hide the cord.
One of the most impressive features, though, is the low power draw you can run other items on the same circuit without tripping breakers. Not many heaters can offer that. The unit is also portable, featuring a comfortable carry handle and lightweight body.
The main problem is that it is still ill-advised to use an extension cord or power strip with this heater and the power cord is only 3-feet long. This can make it difficult to find an outlet in an area that will work with the heater, even if it is a compact design.
The 1-year warranty should be a bit longer, but once it is mounted on the wall to save your floor space, you shouldn’t have many issues with this model at all. It is durable and built of high-quality parts.
- Simple DIY installation
- Portable, stand alone or wall mounted options
- Space saving size
- Efficient, energy saving mode (500 watts)
- 1-year warranty
- 3-foot power cord
6. Broan-NuTone 157
Best Fan-Forced Ceiling Bathroom Heater
|Heater Type||Electric Fan-Forced|
|Coverage Area||120 sq ft|
|Safety Features||Overheat protection|
Fan-forced air is an efficient air delivery method, and when that air is warm, it makes for an excellent heater. The Broan-NuTone 157 ceiling heater is the best fan-forced bathroom heater you can find.
The overheat protection and permanently lubricated long-life motor give you peace of mind while warming the bathroom. It needs a 3 or 4-inch junction box (circle or hexagonal) for install and should be paired with a Broan wall switch. You can find on/off switches or timers for separate purchase. However, it will work with a standard light switch if you have nothing else.
The quiet operation won’t disturb your relaxing time, especially if you like to read or listen to music while bathing. The recessed install leaves only the grille exposed, which sticks out a modest 2 ¾ inches from the ceiling.
With a 1-year warranty, we are a little worried, but there have been no significant issues to date, and anything that has come up was handled almost immediately by NuTone. Great customer service and a reliable product are always a good sign.
- Permanently lubricated motor
- High heat output
- Recessed install with low-profile grille
- Quiet operation
- 1-year warranty
- Wall control switches sold separately
7. Broan-Nutone 163
Best Bathroom Ceiling Bulb Heater
|Heater Type||Ceiling Mounted Infrared Bulb|
|Coverage Area||170 sq ft|
|Wattage||500 (250 watts each bulb x 2)|
|Safety Features||Thermal overload protection|
The Broan-NuTone 163 is a 2-bulb infrared spot heater that is ideal for bathroom use. There are multiple models available to suit your specific needs. The 163 is a bulb system that radiates heat from the ceiling.
The 162 uses two bulbs, which are separate purchases. There is not a fan-assisted heat distribution with this model. However, NuTone also offers the 162 model which has one bulb, and the 164, which is a 2-bulb heater that both have fan assist heat delivery.
Each bulb is 250 watts for low power draw and a total of 500 watts. However, you can use 1 bulb or two, depending on how much heat you need at the time. Most users install a single bulb during the spring, summer, and autumn months and add the second bulb for additional heat in the winter.
However you plan to use it, the 163 will deliver comfortable heat in silence at the flip of a switch. You can also connect the heater to one of the Broan switches for timer control if preferred, but like the bulbs, they are sold separately.
Installation of this unit can be done during remodeling, initial construction, or post-construction. The keyhole slots adjust up to 24-inches and can be slid vertical to match the ceiling if installed before finishing the bathroom.
Only the bulbs and decorative white cap are exposed when installed properly, giving you seamless integration into your fixture or ceiling. Like other Broan-NuTone heaters, the 163 model only has a 1-year warranty, though there have only been a few claims made from initial defects.
- Easy installation
- No thermostat needed
- Energy efficient
- Fan assisted models available
- 1-year warranty
- No fan assist heat distribution
- Bulbs not included
8. Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX
Best Portable Propane Bathroom Heater
|Heater Type||Portable Propane|
|Coverage Area||225 sq ft|
|Wattage||4000 – 9000|
|Safety Features||ODS, Overheating protection, tip-over auto shut-off, pilot light auto-shut off|
Mr. Heater’s Buddy is the best portable propane bathroom heater. It may be the best portable heater, period. This beast of a heater has all the safety features you’d expect and the output you desire.
First, we will address the elephant in the room. Propane is not advised to be used in small, confined spaces. You must ventilate the bathroom when using LP gas indoors. If you do not have proper ventilation, do not attempt to use this indoors.
With proper venting, though, the Buddy has multiple safety features. First, if the pilot light goes out, the machine will shut off. If the unit is tipped over, the heater will shut off. If the internal temperature gets too high, it will shut off until it cools down.
The thermostat adjusts from 400 to 9000 BTUs giving you a wide range of temperature settings that can be adjusted at any time. This heater features a swivel out regulator to easily attach the propane tank, and it has an easy-start Piezo ignition system.
Further, if you are tired of using disposable 1-pound propane cylinders, you can purchase a hose and valve kit to allow the heater to hook up to larger, 20 – 30 pound tanks. The 1-year warranty is a little light, but there isn’t much to complain about this model. If you need to make a claim because of a defect, it will be noticeable in the first year of use.
- Adjustable heat settings
- Multiple safety features installed
- Durable and rugged design
- Burns only 0.44 gal/hr at 4000 BTU
- 1-year warranty
- External tank kit sold separately
Other Options for Bathroom Heating
There is no doubt that portable or fixed bathroom heaters are the most optimal option for keeping your space warm. However, there are times when you can’t have a heater in the bathroom for one reason or another. How do you warm the space in these situations?
- Candles and Lights.
Both candles and non-LED light bulbs will give off heat. While adding a nice ambiance and illumination to the room, the small amount of heat they produce may be enough to take the edge off.
Towels hanging from towel racks, wall art and coverings, closed shower curtains, and other similar things can keep the heat in the room longer. Heat retention is a good way to minimize the cold.
- Floor Coverings.
Bath mats, rugs, and area throws can cover the colder floor, help heat retention, and give you something warm to walk on while you are in the bathroom.
- Running Warm Water.
A steamy shower will take the coldness out of the air for a time. It will greatly increase the humidity levels, though, so using your shower to warm the bathroom is a give and take of balance between warmth and possible humidity or moisture damage.
- Bathroom Heaters.
No matter what other options you come up with, nothing will heat your bathroom like a heater designed for the purpose. Investing in a bathroom heater of any kind is better than nothing.
How to Size a Heater for a Bathroom for Efficiency
Figuring out the right sized heater for your bathroom isn’t difficult, but there are many things to consider. You need to know the square foot measurement of the room at a minimum.
It would also help know the cubic feet, understand heat loss, how well your bathroom is insulated, and how effective exhaust fans are in the space.
To measure the square foot of your bathroom, simply multiply the length of the room by the width. To get cubic feet, you can multiply the square feet by the height of the bathroom.
With this measurement, you can find the heater that will work best in your space. The average and accepted rule is that a heater needs 10 watts per square foot for proper heating. If you need to use BTUs instead of watts, you can multiply your wattage by 3.4 (1 watt = 3.4 BTUs), and the results will be how you need them.
As an example, let’s assume we have a bathroom that is 10 feet long and 8 feet wide. The room is 80 square feet (8 x 10). We can take this measurement and multiply it by 10 for the watts needed and get 800.
At a minimum now, we need an 800-watt heater to heat the bathroom effectively. However, if there is poor insulation, a window, or the door stays open, we need to factor these into the equation. We can also use accepted ranges based on square foot averages by multiplying the minimum wattage by 1.5 (or you can round up to 2 if you have higher ceilings or drafts in the bathroom).
Doing so would give us a range of 800 to 1200 (800 x 1.5) watts or 2720 to 4080 BTUs. Any heater in this range will heat your bathroom nicely.
Setting Up Heaters in Bathrooms
Installing or setting up your bathroom heater isn’t difficult in most cases. And portable heaters are the easiest.
Once you have the heater plugged in, you will know how much room you have to work with (based on cord length). You want the heater to be on a flat level surface, and this usually means the ground.
Keep it away from the tub or sink and away from places where it can be knocked over, such as in front of the door.
For installed units, the wall mounts are simple enough. They come with brackets that get mounted to the wall, and the heater is then mounted to the bracket. You need to ensure it is located away from a water source and away from linens, towels, and paper products that may catch fire.
For ceiling mount heaters, it is best to use the current overhear light location. If your new heater has a light with it, there will be a mounting adapter that uses the junction box currently in place. Those without lights can still use the same power wires as your current light by splicing the heater wires in with the lighting wires and wire caps.
You may need to cut a hole for recessed heaters and ensure you use the included wall cap to protect the wall interior from heat exposure. If you are unsure about any of the steps, consult an electrician or HVAC specialist.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
Is it safe to run heaters in bathrooms?
It is perfectly normal and safe to run a heater in a bathroom as long as you practice safe usage and pay attention to what you are doing. Keep the heater away from water sources, and keep all flammable materials away from the heating elements.
Is it ok to use a halogen heater in the bathroom?
Halogen heaters are also ok to use in a bathroom as long as you observe safe practices and ensure there is some shielding on the outlets, plug, and motor to protect the halogen elements from humidity exposure.
How much does it cost to run a bathroom ceiling heater per year? A wall mounted heater?
The cost will depend on the wattage of the heater, not the type. The more wattage needed to operate the heater, the more it will cost. You also need to factor in the cost per kWh for electricity and the number of hours you run the heater continuously. On average, though, a heater with a 1000 watt draw run for 4 hours per day, year-round, will cost about $175 in electric bills per calendar year.
Where is the best place to buy bathroom heaters?
You can find bathroom heaters at any brick and mortar home improvement store such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, or even Walmart. However, the best selection, lowest pricing, and best customer service will come from online retail giants Amazon and Sylvane. These two retailers have more options and availability than what a brick and mortar shop can hold in stock.
This article gave you all the information you need to make an informed decision based on your specific needs. However, if you are still unsure which way to go after reading, check out the top pick one more time.
The Panasonic FV-11VH2 is a quiet operating heater with high output, energy efficiency, and simple DIY install. With this model you can have near-instant heat in your cold bathroom at any time.
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