Top 7 Best Portable Car Heaters Reviews & Buying Guide

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Getting up early to drive to work every morning can be strenuous and tiresome. What can be even more emotionally exhausting and frustrating is warming your car up every morning. Sometimes, it takes a while for your car to even warm itself up.

This is why portable car heaters were invented. They make your life a little bit easier by properly warming up your car quickly and efficiently so you no longer have to wait for your car heater to start working.

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Why Do I Need A Portable Car Heater?

Portable car heaters can have several helpful uses. But many people may think, “Why would I purchase a portable car heater when my car has a heater built inside of it?” This is a smart question that I also asked myself when people told me to start shopping for portable heaters for cars.

It turns out though, that there are several reasons why certain people may be searching for car heaters to use when their main car heater can’t quite finish the job.

Here are a few ways a portable car heater can make your life a little easier:

Portable Car Heater

Winters Can Be More Bearable

I dread the wintertime, especially when I need to run out to my car every morning to heat it. Even when this is done, the car can sometimes still take a while to heat up or won’t even heat up fully until the car is actually in motion. This means that the first few minutes of driving can cause you chilly agony.

Your car could also possibly have issues working at all and driving properly when it’s too cold, which can cause you to be late to events or miss them overall. With a portable car heater, you should be able to heat up your car more quickly with a car heater that is already hot and ready to emit hot air.

No Longer Worry About Your Car Heater Breaking or Getting Damaged

A huge hassle when driving during winter mornings is usually when you start your car, crank the heater, then only feel the cool air. If this happens after a while, it can usually mean the car’s heater is broken. This can be a huge inconvenience if you have work or an important event to attend as soon as possible.

By having a portable car charger handy and at the ready, you can be well prepared and can keep yourself and your car warm even when your car’s heater is on the fritz.

You can also use a portable car heater while you’re saving up for a new car heater as this can become a very pricey expense.

Defrost Your Car Quicker

Having a portable car heater that quickly warms my car up in the morning is of course, extremely helpful. But what I enjoy even more is the defrosters that are built into some of these heaters.

Sometimes when I get in my car, I have to wait an excessive amount of time for the defrost on my car to finally kick in and become warm enough to melt the frost off my car. This has made me late too many times to count. Sometimes the heater doesn’t even start until my car starts to get going, so I have to dangerously drive for a little while with some of the frost remaining on my windshield, which is not safe.

What To Look For When Buying a Car Heater

Every person is different. So is every car and its heating needs. Because of this, you need to think about the type of car you had and what exactly it needs to be heated properly. Carefully examine the below factors to look for when buying a portable car heater to determine what your best option could be.

How Large Of A Space It Can Heat

How Large Of A Space It Can Heat

Though there are a few portable car heaters that can warm up a fairly large space, some of them can only heat cars that are considered smaller. Because of this, it isn’t recommended to buy a portable car heater for a truck or larger SUV. If you’re hoping to only heat one section of the car, like the driver’s side if you’re driving alone, then this could still be a good option for you.

When it comes to how much the average talented space heater can heat, you may want to search for one that is approximately 150W. Try not to purchase one that is in ceramic units as most people have claimed ceramic to be unreliable.

How Loud The Car Heater Is

There are some car heaters that you won’t even notice operating and others than can be plain loud. To avoid this, search for car heaters that don’t emit loud noises, by testing them in the store if you’re able. If you’re looking at purchasing this heater online, be sure to read product reviews to learn how loud the noise was for others that have previously used it.

How Energy Efficient The Car Heater Is

To find the best energy-efficient product possible, it may be best for you to look at portable car heaters that have a high energy efficiency rating. You might also benefit from a machine that can be set to an energy saver mode or has fairly low wattage types. Finding a product that can be easily adjusted from hot to less warm can be helpful when it comes to saving energy.

There are also portable car heaters that contain timers built-in so the heater can slow down or reduce heat when your car heater starts to kick in. This can help you save the energy used from the portable heater.

Types of Portable Heaters For Cars

When searching for heaters, specifically 12-volt portable car heaters, you’ll normally find these available in three different types. All of these types have different pros and cons for each of them and the right one for you may be dependent on what exactly you and your car need to properly gain the best amount of heat. Below are the three different types of portable car heaters.

Portable Heaters For Cars

Portable Radiant Heater

There are different elements of heat involved when using these machines, but overall they aren’t able to heat the entire environment revolving around them. When the portable radiant heater is working properly, it can use infrared radiation to focus it on one object specifically to grant it heat as soon as the heat emitted from the heater touches the item.

If your car doesn’t receive great insulation, this is when this particular type of heater can come in handy. You don’t want to use them in spots that are too restricting or confining as the risk of combusting can sometimes be high, so try not to use these too often or in exceedingly small cars.

Fan-Forced Heater

Fan-Forced Heater

If you’re searching for a fan to heat a large portion of your car in a fairly speedy manner, this may be one worth checking out. When the heat is let out from the portable car heater, it will begin to circulate this hot air around the room as the fan built inside of the heater keeps in blowing and moving.

This type of portable car heater  is also known to be smaller than other types of car heaters. So it will be more compact to take to different cars if you often move throughout different vehicles.

You should also be able to set it anywhere in your car without it getting in the way of any of your other objects sitting inside your car. The only drawback some people witness with this type of car heater is that the blowing of the fan emits a lot of noise. So, if you’re searching for a quieter fan that you don’t notice operating, this may not be the type of heater for you.

Convection Car Heater

If you’re searching for a heater to warm up your smaller car, this is a good option to possibly look into. These portable car heater types are oil-filed. They use a heating element that works to pull in cold air, then releases heat on top of that. The heat then moves about in the air surrounding you as it continues moving and pulling the cold air in to replace it with heat.

Heaters like this are usually known to be very safe especially for smaller, confined spaces. So if you drive a small car, this could be one to consider.

Portable Car Heater Safety Tips

As stated earlier, these car heaters can be dangerous if they remain in a closed space for too long. Here are a few different safety tips to follow to remain safe in your car with your heater.

  • If there are different materials inside of your car that can combust easily, extra cautious with these when keeping them inside of your car, including objects like paper.
  • If you do have flammable items, place your portable car heater as far away from these items as possible.
  • There should be instructions listed on the car heater’s box when you purchase it on how to properly mount it in your car. Follow these instructions as they should be fairly detailed on how to mount them in a way that is safe and keeps anything from heating up too much or getting destroyed.

Top 7 Best Portable Car Heaters

When taking all of the above into consideration, I have decided to put together my list of the top 7 best portable car heaters. Some portable car heaters can be bought from AutoZone, while others are available through online purchase. Additionally, you’ll see that some of these can also act as space heaters, which are still easy to use as a portable car heater as well.

12V Portable Car Heater or Fan

Pros:

  • This heater is actually known to be very multifunctional and can quickly clear any frost you find located on your windshield while also providing you some cooler air if you’re feeling too much heat
  • The material is very high quality as the cable is made from copper and it’s built to shoot out a lot of heated air in very large and wide spaces
  • It’s more compact and simple to move from car to car and easily installs in an efficient manner

Cons:

  • It’s smaller than most, so it doesn’t heat up wide spaces as easily as other car heaters normally can

AmazonBasics 500-Watt Ceramic Small Space Personal Mini Heater

Pros:

  • This heater is smaller and can fit perfectly in different areas of your car while still exhibiting a fairly good amount of air throughout your car space
  • It’s made for protection in case it happens to fall or tip over, so it can’t damage any of the area surrounding it
  • There are ceramic coils located inside of it that will heat the machine up quickly, so it can then heat the car up quickly as well

Cons:

  • Since this is smaller and only meant to heat up smaller areas in a car or even a room, it can’t fill up the entire space. So, you may want to point it at the object you’d like to best heat up, like your feet or hands.
  • The front grill on the heater isn’t made very safe for bare hands, so you may want to refrain from touching it as it heats up very easily and can burn or harm you

1500W Ceramic Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat

Pros:

  • This portable heater is made more as a space heater, so it is known to properly warm up surrounding space in a very quick timeframe
  • It contains a heater with three different modes to give you either high heat, low heat or you can just turn the fan on
  • There is an adjustable thermostat located on the heater so you can turn it to whatever heat you desire

Cons:

  • Some of the material used to make this material isn’t very sturdy or durable, so some have found that it doesn’t hold up very well when exhibiting hot air
  • There are times that a lot of heat will come out of this product, but then it will stop emitting this hot air after a while. It may need to be turned off and on a few times

Mr. Heater MH4GC Golf Cart Heater

Pros:

  • While this heater is made specifically for golf carts, it also works well in a car. Especially if it’s being pointed at one object to cool, like your feet or hands
  • This portable car heater is battery operated and has a long life as it can run over 5 hours without needing to be recharged
  • It contains a handle that makes it easy to mount and also easy to carry around and transport to new locations you desire

Cons:

  • The heater takes a little while to build up so you may find yourself waiting for this machine to eventually emit any warmth
  • There are times that certain bumps in the road may cause this object to shut off or not work as efficiently

Lasko Model 100 MyHeat Personal Space Heater

Pros:

  • This heater contains both a heater and fan in order to cool the surrounding area down if it ends up feeling too hot
  • There is built-in protection inside of the heater in case it starts to overheat. Once it begins overheating, it will either cool itself down or shut itself off
  • The power usage of this product is lower than most others so you save energy by using this car heater

Cons:

  • This heater can sometimes become easily clogged, so special cleaning products may be needed in order to properly empty out any dirtiness in the machine
  • The heat that comes out of this heater doesn’t circulate well throughout a room so it won’t be able to heat up the entire area around you

30,000 BTU High Output 12 Volt Auxiliary Heater

Pros: 

  • This multifunctional heater can work perfectly in different vehicles such as cars, buses, RVs, trucks and more
  • In case you’re unsure how exactly to use this heater, it comes with specific instructions to help you install and operate it.
  • The blowers located on the heater work at a very high speed and at a high volume as well

Cons: 

  • Since it can work in vehicles larger than the average car, the size of this heater is rather bulkier than most heaters
  • It takes a little longer than most heaters to really kick in and start working since it is larger

Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable RV Propane Heater

Pros: 

  • This heater is known to be impressive both indoors and outdoors as it’s very easy to transport and travel with
  • If it tips over, it will automatically shut off to keep it from harming others
  • It contains different heat levels including low, medium and high heat

Cons: 

  • It will shut off automatically if it’s traveling to higher altitude areas located in places like the mountains
  • This heater is a propane heating machine, so it isn’t an automatic heater like the others. If you purchase this one, you may need to be extra cautious when using it to make sure it doesn’t cause any fire hazards.

FAQs

How expensive are portable car heaters? 

It all depends on what type of portable car heater you purchase. If you are wanting a larger heater to warm up larger spaces or larger vehicles, invest in a more expensive heater. If you want one that is smaller and more portable, it may be cheaper than the others. Overall, they aren’t incredibly expensive and known to be worth it.

How safe are portable car heaters? 

They usually vary. Some of them can’t be trapped in confined spaces for too long. There are a lot of portable car heaters that contain safety features like shutting off if they overheat or if they tip over. Be sure to follow the safety tips above and be cautious of your portable car heater at all times.

How long does it take to heat my car up? 

Portable car chargers can vary when it comes to how long it takes to warm the car up. Allow approximately 10 to 20 minutes of the car heater to turn off before the heat kicks in and warms up a majority of the space in your car.

Does it need to have a defroster? 

A defroster is of course a helpful feature to include in your portable car heater, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. It could be an added bonus for you to have with your portable heater if you’re in a rush and need your windshield defrosted as soon as possible. You may need to pay a little extra if you desire the defrost feature.

Conclusion

When it comes to finding a portable car heater that is perfect for you, there are several factors you need to keep in mind. You want to find a heater that will not only warm you up properly but will warm the area around you and contains safety features to help keep you safe while still warm and comfortable.

This is why the 12V portable car heater is the best product to keep you feeling safe with its defrost feature and by circulating heat throughout the air, making your drives to work early in the morning much more bearable.

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About Author

Joanna Church is a clever and ambitious woman who has finished her studies at Southern Methodist University. She now works part-time at Gadgets Living as a content writer and marketing strategist

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