best programmable space heater

3 Best Programmable Space Heaters

We’re having a look at the 3 best programmable space heaters. I took a deep dive into programmable space heaters for you and found 3 different heaters that are a good bang for the buck. All 3 heaters differ a little bit, but I will explain everything to you.

There’s one thing all 3 best programmable space heaters have in common: They are oil-filled radiators. I chose to stick to oil-filled radiators because I am convinced that once you are looking for a programmable space heater, you want to be able to leave it running independently of you. You want to automate the heating times and the temperatures.

Since oil-filled heaters are the safest kind of heaters, they are my top personal top picks.

That being said, let’s have a look at my favorite programmable space heaters.

3 Best Programmable Space Heaters

  • Pelonis 14A (click here to view it on amazon) – My all-time favorite budget oil-filled radiator. The Pelonis 14A has a very simple built-in timer setting as well as a built-in thermostat. The best about the Pelonis oil-filled heater: Everything is kept simple. You don’t need to read the manual to understand how it works. The programming is intuitive and absolutely everyone can do it. Additionally, it does the same job as the more expensive DeLonghi heaters and provides the same safety features. It’s a perfect entry-level programmable oil heater purchase!
  • MY FAVORITE: DeLonghi TRD40615T (click here to view it on amazon) – This heater has a patented surface design (chimneys) that allows for optimized airflow and better heat distribution. The programming works through a 24-hour dial timing system which has several settable 15-minute teeth you can switch ON and OFF (if you ever used an electric wall outlet timer: That’s the same). The advantage is that you can set multiple timeslots throughout the day where the heater turns on and off. For example, you can set the heater to turn on while you’re getting ready for work, then it can pre-heat the home before you come back. You can make the heater turn on and off whenever you like. And in comparison to the Pelonis oil-filled radiator above, you only need to set the times once and it will keep the settings as long as you want.
  • DeLonghi TRD40615EBK (click here to view it on amazon) – This is another DeLonghi heater. Instead of a 24-hour dial system, it has a display with buttons to program a 24-hour timer and the thermostat. It’s a perfectly well-built heater capable to heat your room energy efficiently. If you want to pick one of the DeLonghi heaters, I would suggest you pick based on which way to program you to prefer. If you prefer a digital display with buttons, then go for this heater. But if you’re a little more the keep-it-simple-stupid kind of person (just like me), then go for the previous DeLonghi heater!
My preferred heater: The DeLonghi programmable space heater with a 24 hour dial.

Why I chose these programmable space heaters

All the 3 programmable space heaters are oil-filled radiators with high-quality features. If you want a safe, reliable, and durable heater, these models are your go-getters. Here are the 5 reasons I chose these heaters in a little more detail.

Safety

Oil-filled radiators are the safest sort of electrical space heaters. All of the models listed are ETL certified. This means they went through a standardized Underwriters Laboratory (UL) testing procedure and passed it. UL is a global leader holding over 1,500 safety standards in the US and Canada.

Aside from the formal certification, oil-filled radiators have superior safety in comparison to other types of space heaters. The oil in an oil-filled radiator distributes the heat from the electric heating element to the metal surface. This effectively enlarges the heating area and reduces the surface temperature. There are no hot red-glowing and exposed heating elements. This makes an oil-filled radiator the perfect programmable heater. You can trust it to reliably heat your room.

Durability

The oil of the oil-filled radiator distributes the heat from the heating element. This evens out the heat distribution across the space heater and lowers wear and tear. Also, oil-filled radiators don’t contain moving parts which cause friction and potential points of failure.

Oil heaters can easily last you decades.

Quality

The three heaters I picked are all of really good quality. First, the Pelonis heater is a great bang for the buck. It gets the heating job done, looks pretty, and is made of decent materials. As it is a little cheaper than the two DeLonghi heaters, there has to be a slight difference in build and material quality. However, this small difference, from my perspective, does not matter too much as long as you are not moving the heater around too much and wearing it down. Usually, an oil heater just stands there waiting to be turned on and off again. So, materials don’t matter too much. I think the Pelonis heater is of very decent quality.

The DeLonghi heaters are a little higher quality. They look a bit sturdier and the surface finish is more elaborate.

In the end, all 3 programmable heaters are really well-built products and quality is nothing to worry about.

Price

I picked all three heaters to come with different functionalities. The Pelonis heater is a cheap, but reliable worker. The DeLonghi heaters are fancier heaters with more detailed programming capabilities.

Naturally, all three heaters are priced differently. However, all of them are good deals and worth every penny.

User ratings

That the heaters are worth it becomes apparent when you check the user ratings.

“This radiator heater has helped me stay warm when my room gets unusually cold. It’s very quiet, easy to use. I can set the temperature from 65 to 85 degrees and set a time on how long it runs. The best thing is it comes with remote control, I don’t need to get up to adjust the temperature if needed.”

Buyer JC in an amazon rating

Are programmable space heaters better than non-programmable heaters?

In this article, we’re looking at the 3 best programmable space heaters. But are programmable space heaters even better than regular non-programmable space heaters?

Both programmable and non-programmable heaters fulfill the same quality and safety regulations. The only difference is the programmability. Programmable space heaters are only better if you make use of the programming functionalities.

If you are just looking for a regular space heater to turn on and off, you don’t really need to have a programmable model. Luckily, in our age of technology, the extra programming features are inexpensive to produce. Therefore getting a programmable heater over a non-programmable one does not offset the price a lot. I would estimate it is a 10% price difference.

Programmable space heaters are good primary heat sources

Personally, I have a non-programmable space heater and I am perfectly fine with it. It suits my needs. However, the heater is not my primary source of heat.

If you get a space heater as a primary heat source, then the programming capabilities (timer and thermostat) are a big advantage. You can make the heater automatically turn on and off and enforce energy efficiency as well as warm temperatures in your home. You can tailor the heating exactly to your needs.

Therefore, my suggestion is: If you look for a heater as a primary heat source, then you should get a programmable space heater. Programmable space heaters are great primary heat sources when you want to use the pre-heating and auto-turn off functionalities without you manually having to take care.

Also, if you are just someone who likes technology and you like being able to program something and you prefer more functionality over less, then a programmable heater is for you.

But if you just need a supplementary heat source, and you don’t have any special requirements, then a non-programmable space heater is good for you. I mean, who needs programmability if you don’t use it?

Programmable heaters save you money

Another aspect that makes programmable space heaters absolutely worth it is that they automatically turn off whenever you need them. If you put in a little thought to when you need the space heater to heat and when not to, you can save significant money on your electricity bill.

The best thing: Once a programmable space heater is programmed, you can stop thinking about it and just leave it running. You do the thinking once. And the space heater will turn on and off at your specified times forever. At least until you unplug it.

What can be programmed

On most programmable space heaters, two parameters can be controlled. 

The first programmable variable is the temperature of the heater. The temperature is controlled using a thermostat. It’s usually kept very simple. On the front panel of the space heater, you set a target temperature. And then the heater heats your room until it senses that the target temperature is reached. Then, the heater automatically turns off until it notices that the room temperature drops below the target temperature.

This is called two-point control and is the simplest form of control. It gets the job done. If you have a very advanced space heater, it might also have more advanced controls where the power consumption is controlled in order to approach the target temperature asymptotically. But that is another story of itself.

The second variable you can program is the times at which the heater is turned on. For simple heaters, you can only set an expiration timer until automatic shut off. The time can be anything from 10 minutes up to several hours, depending on the space heater.

For more complex heaters you set time slots in which the heater is turned on. This way you can have several heating periods throughout the day, as you require.

The downside, as far as I know, is that you can’t program different temperatures at different times. But this may be too complicated and unnecessary for everyday use. For that, I think you would need a home automation system. But you don’t need varying temperatures anyways. Just set a temperature you are comfortable at.

How to program a space heater for safety

Usually, to reduce the risk of fire hazards, it makes sense to turn the heater on for limited timespans only instead of having it turned on continuously.

Most commonly, people turn off their programmable oil heater at the night. For example, 1h after you fall asleep. And then, 30 minutes before you wake up in the morning, the heater can automatically turn back on.

This way, while you sleep, your heater is not actively producing heat. But before you wake up, it is already pre-heated. This makes it impossible for the heater to overheat while you are asleep. And also it will save you up to 8 hours of power on your energy bill.

Which space heaters are programmable

Usually, oil-filled heaters are programmable. But there are also some infrared heaters that are programmable.

From my perspective, the difference between programmable oil and infrared heaters is that oil heaters take more time to heat up and cool down. Through a timer, you have better control over these “delayed” heating times. Infrared heaters, on the other hand, heat up and cool down as soon as you flick the power switch. There’s oftentimes not really a need to program them.

Which space heaters are not programmable

Aside from the rather few programmable space heaters, most heaters are not programmable.

This includes common electric heaters such as infrared heaters, but also oil heaters, and propane heaters.

Non-programmable heaters are always a good choice when they are not your primary heat source and you want to be able to program heating periods.

Oftentimes, non-programmable space heaters are sufficient. Especially when you just use them for supplement heat.

Non-programmable space heaters can even be sufficient as primary heat sources. You just need to be patient enough for the room to heat up. This is oftentimes the case in cabins in the woods. There, you don’t have easy access to electricity, so it makes sense to use propane heaters that work independently of electricity and are therefore not programmable. But in a cabin, it doesn’t matter. Usually, you can wait until your cabin heats up

How to tell programmable and non-programmable space heaters apart

It’s pretty simple to tell programmable and non-programmable space heaters apart. The most straightforward difference is the timer on the front panel of the space heater. Is there a timer dial or a timer button (with a clock face on it)? If yes, that’s an obvious sign that the heater you’re looking at is programmable.

If you are still not sure if the heater you’re looking at is programmable, check the product description. Just look it up online. Or even simpler: Turn it on and see if you can program anything. Or get the user manual from the original packaging.

Another difference is that non-programmable space heaters are usually (but not always) cheaper than programmable space heaters.

If you are still not sure then go the safe route and assume that the heaters you are looking at are not programmable. And look for a model that is. Have a look again at the 3 best programmable space heaters list at the top of this article

Conclusion

My favorite programmable space heaters are DeLonghi and Pelonis oil-filled radiators. The reason is that they are safe to set up durable. Oil-filled heaters don’t wear down quickly and last you a long time. Also, they are the safest sort of programmable space heaters. That’s why I intentionally did not include infrared or plain electric heaters in the list.

Usually, you want a programmable space heater to run in your absence. In this case, I would only trust oil-filled radiators.

About the Author

Daniel Hirsch

Daniel is an electrical engineer, blogger, and author. He studied electrical engineering and information technology and decided to blog about heaters after working in the temperature sensing industry.