College living can often be uncomfortable, especially when temperatures drop. Students can stay warm in their dorms with a personal space heater. College dorm rooms are all about personalization within a temporary space: from the Led Zeppelin poster hung proudly over the squeaky Twin XL bed, to the Christmas lights perpetually dangling over the door frame, to the rocking gaming chair that gets way more usage than the desk chair ever does — dorm rooms are about making the best of a barebones space that’s going to be cleared out again come summertime. But before that moving out happens, college kids everywhere know that they need lots of stuff to fill up their dumpy living space and make it feel almost like home, even though they might be a hundreds of miles away from mom and dad.
Anybody who has lived in a dorm knows that the communal bathrooms aren’t the worst part (though that’s debatable on Friday nights, and strangely, Tuesdays). Nor is the guitar enthusiast who insists on playing in the dorm lounge, with apparently no sense of smell and a bad case of B.O. No, the worst part about dorm rooms is that they’re way too hot, and then all of a sudden they’re way too cold. In between is one holy weekend of temperate weather that slips past when half the campus is at-home for the weekend, enjoying the integrated climate temperature control in their childhood bedroom.
These heat fluctuations are often due to the fact that a lot of college dormitories are just plain old, built decades ago and with little renovation during that time period. In fact, a lot of colleges seem proud of the historical value of their residence hall buildings — though that comes at the expense of the shivering undergraduates studying inside. Furthermore, a lot of residence halls don’t have a central heating system, and if they do, it’s up to the whims of the staff members to decide when to turn it on. For example, Dartmouth College’s Office of Residential Life answered the heating question, “When does the heat usually get turned on in the residence halls?” by first saying “The answer isn’t a simple one.”
The best solution for a cold dorm room in the winter is a space heater. These heating appliances are portable, personal, and they’re not going to blow the circuit breaker on the whole dormitory. That’s because space heaters, or personal heaters, only use up to 1500W of power. This is important because dorms have a lot of rules about what you can and cannot bring in, and these rules vary by institution. Before smuggling a heating appliance into a dorm room, be sure to check what items are allowed into the residence hall in question. After that, it’s fairly simple to decide which space heater will work best within the existing dorm space.
NewAir manufactures three space heater models that are perfect for the dorm lifestyle, with their specifics spelled-out below.
NewAir AH-470 Micathermic Space Heater
The NewAir AH-470 Micathermic Space Heater has a heating capacity of 150 square feet. A lot of heaters use either radiant heating technology or a secondary blower to transmit heat from the internal element into the surrounding air. In contrast, the NewAir AH-470 utilizes a smaller heating element that is surrounded by a mineral called mica. The heating element warms up the mica stone, which then sends out electromagnetic rays, which begin warming up the farthest away objects in the room, which then pushes the colder air back towards the heater, which then results in a warming up of the ambient air of the room itself. The bottom line is that micathermic heaters generally are smaller, more efficient heating devices. They’re also safe, considering that mica is a mighty mineral that can withstand high temperatures, and it has electrical insulation properties that work to protect the heater against fires and other disasters.
The portability, efficiency, and safety of the NewAir AH-470 all make it an ideal choice for dorm room heating. Dorm rooms average about 12 x 19 feet, or 228 square feet of total living space. Throw in Becky or Bob or whatever the roommate’s name is, and a college student is looking at about 114 square feet of wiggle room. This heater is perfectly proportioned for such a room, with a slim, flat panel design and a heating coverage area of 150 square feet. And the front of the unit has a power cord storage notch that allows a student to tidy up and neatly store the heater when not in use.
In case of the rare (read: frequent) instance that such a student forgets to stow away their appliance, this heater comes with accident protection. If Becky or Bob or whatever their name is stumbles in and knocks it over, a tip-over safety switch will activate and automatically turn the heater off. Fire hazard averted. Similarly, this dorm heater also has overheat protection that will shut the heater off in case the temperature of the unit gets too high. In short, parents can feel safe knowing their kids are using the NewAir AH-470 within the limited space of a dorm room, and students can stay warm and amicable knowing they’re not in their roommate’s way. Plus, the heater comes with a remote control.
Additional Key Features:
- Extremely lightweight with rolling casters for movement around dorm room
- Black, flat-panel design looks great under a study desk
- 0.5 – 18 hour auto-off timer
- LED digital display for easy-read temperature control between 41-97°F
- Max 1500 watts power, with low and high heat settings
- Requires a 120V standard 2-prong outlet
- Weighs 8.80 pounds
- ETL Certified
NewAir AH-600 Low Profile Baseboard Heater
For those students who are working with really small spaces (we know who you are and your entire closet should not be on your floor), the NewAir AH-600 1500W Baseboard Heater would probably be a better fit for heating up their dorm room. This baseboard heater sits low to the ground and will work on any stable surface at least 3 feet away from curtains, bedding, etc. Measuring 32″ x 5″ x 8.5″, it’s perfectly shaped for the area right below a dorm room window. Relying on electric heating technology, it can warm up rooms up to 150 square feet in size. Unfortunately, it does not come with a remote control, but changing the temperature is easy with the manual controls mounted on the front of the unit.
A nice added feature is that the NewAir AH-600 automatically regulates the room temperature according to 64°F, 70°F, and 75°F settings, so students don’t have to keep interrupting their studies to adjust the heat level. Since 71°F has been shown to be an ideal temperature for working, students can stay right within that range with this heater, with the result being hopefully greater productivity. The NewAir AH-600 dorm heater does have overheat protection like the micathermic appliance mentioned above, but it does not have tip-over protection. This is because the long design of the heater makes it very difficult to actually knock-over. It also features a mesh metal cover to protect the heating element from curious fingers or foreign objects. We don’t want to know what the latter might be.
Additional Key Features:
- 0.5 – 7.5 hour auto-off timer
- Low profile, ultramodern design with black matte exterior
- Low heat mode (750W continuous output) and high heat mode (1500W continuous output)
- Control panel with mode rotary knob and LED settings
- Requires a 120V standard 2-prong outlet
- Weighs 7.30 pounds
- ETL, UL, CUL Certified
Both the NewAir AH-600 Baseboard Heater, and the NewAir AH-470 Flat Panel Micathermic Space Heater would be good choices for students who attend college in cities that get especially cold in the winter, and whose dormitory walls let in every last chilly draft. However, students who are housing in slightly warmer climates, or who went for the old triple roommate set-up to save money, or who really have almost zero space to work with, will want to consider the following:
Our top pick is the NewAir AH-400 Oil Filled Underdesk Heater.
That’s because this heater utilizes only 400 watts of energy and has a coverage area of 40 square feet. It’s really intended for use in tight spaces, such as under a study desk. This is a truly flat-panel heater, and it produces radiative heat via diathermic oil, which heats up quickly and then stays warm even if the appliance is turned off. If students already have an excessive amount of electronics plugged into their room, this would be the heater to get because it utilizes so little energy and won’t trip the circuit breaker on the whole residence hall floor.
How This Heater Works:
- Electricity heats up oil stored permanently inside heater
- Oil distributes through the flat-panel tubes
- Flat-panel radiates the heat into the room
- Natural convection circulates heat around 40 square feet
- The result is immediate warmth near the heater and warmth throughout the room
Like the other models, this underdesk dorm heater has overheat protection and a tip-over switch, with the latter being especially useful when the unit is placed out of sight in the danger zone of tapping toes. And instead of a fan, it uses natural convection to circulate warm air throughout the room, which means it operates silently. Dorm inhabitants with roommates would want to consider this heater for that feature alone. Fans also tend to dry out indoor air, and since the AH-400 doesn’t utilize one, it ultimately produces an atmosphere of soft, comfortable heat.
Weighing only 6.45 pounds, and with a carrying handle and handy-dandy little feet on the bottom for balance, a college student could just about stick this portable heater in their tote bag and take it around campus to use in whatever cold space they might need warmth in: in the drafty library, at the student union, etc. This product has a simple dial thermostat control within a minimum and maximum heat range, and it automatically adjusts to maintain this desired temperature level.
Additional Key Features:
- White exterior
- Requires a 120V grounded 3-prong outlet
- Does not come with a remote control
- ETL and UL Certified
In conclusion, while all three of these NewAir dorm heaters would be effective choices for dorm rooms, we’d recommend the NewAir AH-400 Low Watt Oil Filled Underdesk Heater as the best choice, especially if students have very little space and a lot of electronics already in their room.