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The best portable electric car heaters can be a lifesaver in the winter. If you live in an area with four well-defined seasons, then you probably know well the frustration and discomfort of dealing with a car in the winter. Whether it’s a cold car or frosty windows, it can take a while to get comfortable—or even be able to see outside the windshield. And if you own an RV, then the colder months can make camper living a lot less appealing.
Luckily, there are many different electric heating options for cars and larger vehicles, including heaters designed for RVs, compact heaters meant to defrost your windshield, and heated massager cushions that can help you warm up in a hurry.
Our pick for the best portable electric car heater is the COMFIER Massage Seat Cushion with Heat at Amazon, which warms your back and bottom while providing optional massaging vibrations. Not sure what kind of portable electric car heater is best suited for your needs? Read Lifewire’s explanation of which heaters are best and safest for use in vehicles.
Otherwise, read on to see the best portable electric car heaters to get.
Warms and massages
Multiple massage settings
Has car + home adapters
Just vibration massage
Your car might take a while to warm up on its own, but at least you can accelerate your own comfort with the COMFIER Massage Seat Cushion with Heat, which looks to live up to its name. With three heating pads and two heat level settings, it promises to start warming you up within a minute, helping to ease the frigid feeling of getting into a half-frozen vehicle.
And that’s not all. Thanks to 10 vibrating motors dispersed throughout the back and seat of the pad, you’ll also get a nice massaging feeling while you warm up and drive. It has five programmed settings and three intensity levels, so between the heat and the massaging capabilities, it shouldn’t take long before you get comfy for your commute.
Looks like a car heater
Reports of non-functional units
Looking to fill your RV with heat and minimize your reliance on propane? Caframo Limited’s True North Space Heater provides plenty of warmth for your camper, with five heat settings to suit your needs up to a maximum wattage of 1500, plus a dual overheat protection system to avoid dangerous overheating.
Customer reviews point to a powerful blast of heat that circulates quickly through your heater and generates only noise, particularly on the lower settings. It’s still pretty compact at 9.25 x 4.4 x 4.4 inches and just over 5 pounds, with a metal and plastic look that works well in an RV and can be easily mounted to a wall or ceiling.
Strong heating power
Not for smaller cars
Ideal for RVs, passenger vans, and light-duty utility vehicles, the Zerostart 2600900 Interior Car Warmer packs a lot of heat into a small device, providing 900 Watts/120 Volt AC/3,000 BTU of power. It’ll warm up the inside of your ride while also clearing the frost from your windows, getting you both comfortable and ready to roll.
Customer reviews suggest that it’s great for getting your car toasty warm before you even step out of the house, plus it has a safety sensor that automatically shuts the heater off should it reach extremely hot temperatures.
Both car + home adapters
Heat only on the back
The FIVE S FS8812 Vibration Massage Seat Cushion is a versatile device that you can use in your car, RV, or home, with both car and wall outlet adapters included. Wherever you use it, this padded FIVE S cushion provides warmth with three heating pads (all on the back), as well as 10 vibration massagers across the back and seat.
You can just both heat and vibration at once, or either separately, and the massaging capability comes with three intensity settings, four different programs, and four separate zones that you can activate individually or in tandem.
Heats and massages
Only for car use
Just six vibration motors
SNAILAX’s Massage Car Seat Cushion is a less robust massaging option, but it’s also more affordable as well. This massage cushion, which plugs into your car’s lighter port, both heats and massages to get you warmed up and comfortable in a hurry. It has three built-in heating pads that cover the back and seat, with optional auto shut-off timers.
Meanwhile, the six vibration motors provide a massaging feeling to your upper and lower back, hips, and thighs, with five different massage mode settings and four intensity settings. With a soft polyester finish, seat straps, and an anti-slip surface on the bottom, the SNAILAX Massage Car Seat Cushion can make your next cold-weather journey a lot more pleasurable.
Modest heating power
Amazon’s AmazonBasics line delivers simple, common electronics typically at a lower price than rival brands, and that’s true with the AmazonBasics 500-Watt Ceramic Small Space Personal Mini Heater. While not packed with a lot of power, this portable electric heater is great for warming up your surroundings in a pinch.
Ideal for use in an RV, this six-inch tall heater can be placed on a table or countertop to provide warmth to any small space. It has tip-over protection to automatically shut off if knocked over, and Amazon sells it in four different colors. For occasional heating needs in your RV, it’s a very affordable device to keep handy.
360-degree swivel mount
Not much power
A frosty windshield is one of the worst parts of coming back to a half-frozen car. Even if you can tolerate the frigid feeling inside your car, you might not be able to get moving for a while until the frost clears. Luckily, that’s where the FERRYONE Portable Car Heater comes in handy. This dash-mountable heater is designed to help clear your view in a hurry.
It plugs into a 12V lighter port and rapidly defrosts your windshield with a blast of hot air. At 150W, it’s not going to provide a ton of heat to warm up the inside of your car in a hurry, but this little device should be very handy for its intended task.
Very little power
No swivel base
Here’s another option for clearing the frost off of your window in the winter. ROYADVE’s Portable Car Heater is very similar to the one above, as it plugs into a 12V lighter port and provides 150W of heat. With three openings, it disperses the warm air directly to your windshield, quickly clearing the view so that you can get going.
Like the FERRYONE heater, it also can be used in warmer weather to remove fog from your windshield. Given the maximum wattage, the overall impact to your car cabin’s temperature might be minimal, but it should excel at its stated focus.
Strong shiatsu massage
Heats while it massages
Could feel bulky in car seat
While those other massaging cushions stick with vibrating pulses to deliver relief, the Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager has heavy-duty rotating balls that rotate as they work into your muscles. All the while, the balls optionally heat up, delivering warmth and comfort. It’s perfect for a long drive in the winter, warming you up while keeping you cozy and comfy.
Zyllion’s massager is a versatile option that can be used for the upper and lower back, plus it comes with both car and home plugs for use anywhere. It’s compact and affordable—a very helpful companion for your winter aches and pains.
Massages and heats
Car and home adapters
Could be distracting for some
Here’s another shiatsu heat massaging option, albeit more targeted towards the upper back and heck. The Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager drapes around your neck, delivering relief as the heated shiatsu balls push and prod your muscles.
While a bit less versatile than the Zyllion massager, given its shape, it still delivers a lot of comfort as it both massages and heats you up in the process. Naipo includes both car and home power adapters so that you can use it anywhere, and it’s a good way to start winding down on a cold drive home—or get warmed up in a cool car in the morning.
COMFIER’s Massage Seat Cushion with Heat (view at Amazon) is our pick for the best option for most car drivers, as it can warm you up safely and with little hassle, with the added benefit of vibration-based massaging as well. However, if you drive an RV or you’re looking for a small heater to defrost your windshield, we recommend the Caframo Heater (view at Amazon). It provides up to 1500W and has overheating protection.
Sean Ludwig is a full-time gadgets writer who has amassed bylines in publications such as Gizmodo, VentureBeat, PCMag.com, and Fast Company
Andrew Hayward is a freelance writer and editor who has covered gadgets since 2006 and had his work appear across the web, magazines, and books.
Functionality - What do you need the heat for? Are you trying to keep an RV warm in the winter, warm your body with a heated cushion, or melt the frost on your windshield so that you can get going? There are heaters designed for each need.
Compatibility - Make sure your car can handle the 12V lighter port plug that many of these heaters use, otherwise you’ll need a car power inverter to plug in a traditional two-prong plug and draw power from your vehicle.
Price - Ultimately, a heater has to fit within your budget, so consider your needs and whether you want to shell out for something significant or just want something affordable. We have included a wide range of options on this list.