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How to pick the best indoor heater for your freezing home this winter

No central heating? No problem

Photograph: Alpha-Female via Flickr
When temperatures drop in Shanghai, they really drop – we've already seen the coldest early-January day in Shanghai since 2005 this month. While those days are almost behind us for another year, we're still looking ahead at a few weeks of cold and damp winter days.

If you're done with your AC working overtime to pump some warm air into that icebox you call home, there are hundreds of alternative options for indoor heaters out there to make your room extra cosy. Whether you're after something to tuck away under your desk to keep your towels warm or heat up your entire flat, here's what to look for (copy the Chinese characters in the brackets to find the right type of heaters online).

To heat up a small space, like the area under a desk, you'll want something small that can heat quickly for which radiant heaters usually do the trick – these are good for providing instant heat in concentrated areas. They're also generally portable and less expensive than many of their counterparts.

For bedrooms and offices that you want to maintain steady temperatures throughout, an oil heater might be a good choice. Though they take around ten to 20 minutes to reach the desired temperature, the warmth stays as long as the heater is on and for a while as the oil cools down after.

Another good shout for warming up larger spaces evenly, convector heaters use convection to move heated air around without noisy fans. They heat up and cool down a lot quicker than their oil counterparts, and are quieter than most fan heaters.

If you’re looking for a heater to transform your chilly bathroom into a sauna, opt for a waterproof wall heater (浴室壁防水暖风机). Many of them come with a towel hanger, so you won’t be drying your body with that cold and wet towel when you get out of the shower.

For heating larger spaces, say the living room, you might want to look for a bigger and more powerful unit like a baseboard heater. The downside is they can be fairly energy-intensive, but this type of heater will warm the room from floor to ceiling and effectively offset cold drafts.

There's nothing like crawling into a toasty bed – especially through a damp Shanghai winter. For maximum comfort, electric blankets can add an extra layer of cosiness. Just switch it on a bit before you go to bed to get things warm and turn it off before you fall asleep.


Extras to look out for
After narrowing down the type of heater to suit your needs, the next thing to look into is how powerful you want it. Generally speaking, a 1,100-watt heater is expected to warm rooms up to 10sqm max. An easy sum to also help you figure out what power you'll need for the size of the room is to subtract two zeros from the wattage, so 1,500 watts ≈ 15sqm.

Other factors to take into account are noise levels, power consumption and safety designs such as tip-over protection and overheat protection – especially important if you have kids or pets running around at home.

6 indoor heaters in all shapes and sizes

So much choice, so little time? Here are some of the top-sellers on Tmall and JD.com

De’Longhi Capsule

De’Longhi Capsule

This ceramic fan-assisted heater is super light (1.3kg), powerful (1,800W) and portable. As for extras: one function will shut off the heater and sound an alarm if it tips over and another automatically warms up the heater if temperatures drop below freezing. 

Find it on tmall.com (519RMB).

Midea Ceramic Tower Heater

Midea Ceramic Tower Heater

One you can use all year round, this tower heater also has a cooling function for summer months. It warms up quickly and its fan blade is designed to keep noise to a minimum. Plus, its temperature gauge makes sure your room is within two degrees of a set temperature. 

Find it on jd.com (899RMB).

Midea Wall Heater

Midea Wall Heater

Marketed as a bit of a wonder heater for direct heat (said to be made of waterproof and fireproof materials), this multi-functional unit is designed for use anywhere in the house, including the bathroom where it's arguably most useful – just hang the thing on a towel rail and begin reaping the benefits of instant hot air. 

Find it on tmall.com (229RMB). 

Singfun Oil Radiator

Singfun Oil Radiator

The honeycomb shape of this oil radiator is meant to help release heat more evenly than traditional rectangular ones, it has a humidifier to help beat winter dryness and it claims to heat up spaces as big as 30sqm. 

Find it on tmall.com (849RMB).

Noirot Convector

Noirot Convector

Made in France, the Noirot convector is extremely quiet and waterproof (so you can wheel it into the bathroom). Though a bit expensive, you won’t get that dryness you’d often get from AC. 
Find it on tmall.com (3,100RMB). 

Westinghouse Baseboard Heater

Westinghouse Baseboard Heater

Really upping the cosy vibes, this baseboard heater has an LED screen displaying flickering flames while it quietly heats up the living room (and other larger areas). Not feeling the faux-fire look today? You can turn off the display whenever you want. 

Find it on tmall.com (1,599RMB).

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