Head of the pack for comfort, value and safety
Lasko space heaters are among the best value on the market, in terms of price, quality, and features. It’s no wonder I sell more of these space heaters than the next 8 brands combined.
Lasko Products is a Philadelphia-based company with over 100 years of experience making and selling home comfort products such as Lasko space heaters, fans, and humidifiers. Lasko heaters run the gamut from an $18 personal space heater designed to keep your feet warm underneath a desk, to $120 space heaters with 1,500 watts of heating power.
1,500 watts is actually not that much – about the output of a blow dryer on high, enough to boost the temperature in a large room on a cool day, or keep a small unheated room warm in winter – but it’s just about the limit for a portable space heater, because a typical breaker on your electric panel is 15 amps, and at 120 volts, that means the maximum wattage is 1,800 watts. For a more powerful electric heater you need to go for a 220 volt baseboard heater with its own dedicated circuit.
Energy efficiency of Lasko space heaters
One of the most common questions of visitors to my site is how efficient particular electric heaters are. As I explain in my main heater article, Energy efficient electric heaters, all electric heaters have exactly the same efficiency, namely, they convert 100% of the electric energy they consume, into heat output. Even the energy used to power the fan in a fan heater eventually converts to heat, because of the law of entropy. Heat sources that involve combustion, such as oil furnaces or boilers, gas furnaces, or fire places, are less than 100% efficient because the exhaust gases must be removed from the space being heated, and some of the heat escapes with the exhaust gases. But electric heaters have no exhaust gases, so nowhere else for the energy to go than into the space being heated.
So the first thing to note is that anyone trying to sell you heaters on the basis of high energy efficiency, be they Lasko space heaters or any other brand, is taking you for a ride. Every electric heater is 100% efficient at converting electricity to heat.
The catch is that electric heat is both more costly, and less efficient, than heating your home with natural gas, propane, or oil, at least in terms of the efficiency with which the fossil fuel is converted to heat. A typical natural gas or coal generating station operates at about 30-40% efficiency, and the theoretical peak isn’t much higher than that, so at least 60% of the heat involved in burning the gas or coal goes up the stack as waste heat. That compares poorly to efficiencies of 80% to 96% for natural gas furnaces. That’s why, from a cost perspective, heating with electricity is generally much more expensive than heating with natural gas or oil.
Popularity of Lasko heaters
I did a quick survey of the space heaters my website visitors have bought in the last three years. Out of 354 space heaters my visitars have purchased (through Amazon) since 2009, over 150 of them were Lasko space heaters – over 40% of the total. The next most popular brand was Optimus, at half the Lasko sales, and all the remaining brands combined were less than the Lasko space heater sales. Here’s a snapshot of sales of the various brands.
These figures are net of returns to Amazon (ie. units returned because the purchaser was not satisfied with the product); there was one product return for each of Lasko and Delonghi. One return for over 150 units sold is a pretty good indication of customer satisfaction with Lasko space heaters.
Lasko space heaters also get an above average score in product reviews, with the exception of one or two lemons in their catalog. In particular, the Lasko 6450 Full Circle Warmth Ceramic Heater is one to avoid; while it seems to work beautifully for most people when they first set it up, the heating element often fails within the first few months, or fails to come on after the heater is brought back out of storage in the autumn. If you read the product reviews for Lasko space heaters on Amazon, you will quickly discover that most of the low ratings (other than for the 6450 mentioned above) are because the heater didn’t provide enough heat, but since Lasko space heaters are exactly as efficient as all other electric space heaters, this is clearly the result of people having unrealistic expectations, for example trying to heat a whole apartment in a cold city with a single 1500 watt heater.
Four great Lasko heaters
There are literally dozens of Lasko space heaters to choose from. Amazon.com alone offers over 80 Lasko heaters. (For my fellow Canadian shoppers, Amazon.ca offers 23 Lasko heaters.) In the interests of space (and your and my time) I won’t review them all here; instead I’ll cover the four most popular Lasko space heaters, with a brief overview of the features of each.
Small Lasko space heater: The top selling of the Lasko space heaters – in fact the top selling space heater of any brand at Amazon.com – is this small space heater, which provides two levels of heating – 900 watts, and 1500 watts. This heater is just as powerful as its more expensive siblings – as I mentioned, 1500 watts is the top rating for all these 120-volt plug-in heaters because of the way most homes are wired. You’ll be surprised by its small size- at a mere 10 inches tall and 7 3/8″ wide, you can hide it behind a sheet of paper! (Not recommended, actually, since you might start a fire – but you get the point!) The manufacturer claims quiet operation, but if you’re like me and don’t like white noise when you’re trying to sleep, this may not be the fan for you, as the fan is not exactly silent. The heater tends to run for long stretches, and shut off for long stretches too, which means the manual thermostat has been designed with a fairly wide temperature range between the “kick-in” and “shut-off” phases. (You can vary the temperature range with the dial thermostat.) This means you won’t be bothered at night by frequent on/off cycles – but you may notice your room getting alternately too hot or too cold, particularly if it’s very cold outside.
The three year warranty is a good indication of the quality of manufacturing of this little gem. Although it has moving parts (the fan, which helps push the heat out into the room more effectively), it holds up to the test of time, with many owners reporting their 754200 Lasko space heaters still going strong 3 or 4 years after purchase.
Pro’s: Price – the $48 list price is a bit steep, but this unit sometimes goes on sale for $30 or less. For a space heater that lasts several years, that’s hard to beat. Quality. Heat output. Space saving.
Con’s: Noise from fan. Very occasional reports of plastic smell, which tends to dissipate after a week or so (but in one case still smelled several months later). Wide temperature range.
Lasko Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote Control: This Lasko ceramic tower heater is the #2 space heater on Amazon.com, and for good reason. It takes very little floor space, but distributes heat very effectively, thanks to its very quiet fan and its oscillating stand, which rotates the heater so that heat can be distributed over a wide angle. Reviewers praise the silence of this heater (a big contrast to the cheaper but noisier 754200 described above), and also love its remote control, which lets you control it from across the room.
There are a few minor issues with this heater. Early buyers (2007-2010) report that the power cord gets quite warm when the heater is operating on high. Heaters draw more current than most other home electric devices, and draw it for long periods of time; that current over time causes the power cord to heat up. Lasko could have built this heater with a slightly lower gauge (ie. thicker) power cord, which would reduce electrical resistance and keep the cord temperature lower. It seems Lasko has addressed this issue as the heater now comes with a thicker, appliance grade cord. Another issue is that the temperature settings on the unit itself are fixed at 5 degree increments (65F, 70F, 75F etc.), which doesn’t give you as much control over your comfort as some people might like.
Pro’s: Quiet. Very good heat distribution. Remote control, if you are into that. Slender – so takes up very little floor space. Good product documentation (read it – there are safety issues related to all electric heaters.)
Con’s: Power cord heat issues, which seem to be addressed in recent units.
Rare reports of plastic smell during early operation. Reports of the unit not working after several months or years of use, although this can often be caused by dust buildup in the filter, which, once removed, allows the unit to operate properly again.
Lasko digital ceramic tower heater: This oscillating tower heater is similar to the one above but provides digital controls.
Like the previous heater, this one comes with a remote control, and because it has both a fan and an oscillating base, it does a great job of distributing heat throughout a room. It provides the same two heating wattages – 900 and 1500 – as the two previous Lasko space heaters. Customers rate it as very quiet, especially on its lower setting, and it is light enough to be easily moved from room to room. Be forewarned, its good heating characteristics and light weight mean your housemates will find it both tempting and easy to relocate the heater to their own bedroom!
It comes with a timer feature that lets you set it to shut off after the timer runs out. This isn’t as sophisticated as having a programmable thermostat – you’ll need to set the timer each time you want it to shut off, and you can’t set it to turn on or turn up when the timer runs out. But it means, for example, you can set it to run at night in your bedroom while you’re sleeping, and it will go off automatically in the morning after you leave.
Pro’s: Solid construction, long lasting. Quiet operation. Good heat distribution. LCD display shows actual temperature and thermostat setting. Remote control.
Con’s: The timer function may sound attractive but make sure you understand what it actually does – it is a simple count-down to shutting off. Beeps loudly each time you change a setting, which means it may not be great for a kid’s room where you turn the heater down once they’re asleep.
Lasko utility heater: The name ‘Stanley’ in this Lasko space heater is a marketing trick: people think of the Stanley brand as a good brand of shop or workroom tools, and this is a utility or workroom heater, so Lasko appears to be paying Stanley Black & Decker a trademark licensing fee to put the Stanley brand on this heater. Other than the name and its faux industrial design (it looks like something sturdy enough for a work room), it is made of pretty much the same types of materials as most other Lasko space heaters. One interesting feature is that it blows its heat slightly downward, which means the heat tends to spread out across a floor and then rise from there, so it is better at spreading heat across a wider area than other non-oscillating fan heaters that blow the air straight out or upward. (However, if you have a carpet the carpet fibers will absorb much of that heat, at least initially, which means the room will take longer to reach a comfortable temperature.
This is an analog unit – meaning it has a dial to set the thermostat instead of a digital temperature read-out. The advantage of an analog unit is it provides greater control over temperature than the digital Lasko space heaters, which are mostly stuck on 5-degree thermostat increments. The disadvantage is that you have to set the heater based on experience of what a comfortable setting is, since there is no temperature readout.
Pro’s: Very portable. Can be set on a floor or a table top in a work room or garage, and provides steady, well distributed heat. Relatively quiet. Completely variable temperature setting.
Con’s: Not great for use in carpeted rooms, as it blows the heat slightly downward – you will heat the carpet instead of the air above it. A little noisier than the tower heaters reviewed above. No temperature read-out or preset.
Overall, we’re talking quality and comfort at bargain prices
There are four things that impress me about Lasko space heaters relative to the other popular brands:
- Lasko space heaters offer the widest selection of any brand of heater sold in North America
- Overall these appear to be very reliable heaters, and many come with three year warranties, which is an indication of the faith Lasko itself has in its products
- Consumers are generally pleased with the effectiveness with which Lasko space heaters provide heat to indoor spaces. Note that when you read a customer review complaining that the heater wasn’t up to the job, it’s usually because they had unrealistic expectations about the amount of heat required to heat a given space.
- Lasko heaters are very competitively priced, both online and in retail stores.
I feel I can recommend these heaters to my readers without reservation. Although electric heating of a given space tends to use more energy overall than heating with natural gas, you can obtain significant cost savings by strategically placing electric heaters in different rooms of your home, so that you heat only the rooms you are currently using. Using Lasko space heaters to spot heat bedrooms at night, or the kitchen or living room during family time, or a home office or den during work hours, is a great way to cut your overall heating costs.