The 3 Best Portable Electric Car Heaters of 2020

Helping you warm up on the go

Best for Pre-Heating Your Car: Gardwen 2 in 1 Car Heater

When it comes to prepping your car for a drive in the cold, you may want to consider a compact space heater that can quickly heat up your vehicle's interior before you leave. But there are a few important notes: First, most space heaters (including this one) draw power from a regular prong plug, so you will either need to plug it in in your garage, or use a car power inverter that will allow you to use the power from the cigarette lighter. Second, it's important to always exercise caution and use common sense when heating up your car with a space heater — they are not designed for vehicles and can become a fire hazard if used incorrectly or left unsupervised.

If you're still considering a space heater for your car, this GARDWEN 2 in 1 is a relatively inexpensive and versatile unit. It also doubles as a cooling fan in the warmer months, and promises to defog your windows in a brisk five seconds when you're hitting the road in the depths of winter. It also has a rotating carrying handle so you easily transport it between your car and home, and easily pivots on its stand when installed on your dash (or wherever your park it).

Best Heated Seat Cushion: Big Ant Seat Cushion

Heated seats can help keep you warm and cozy in your car during the colder months. Unfortunately, not all vehicles have them built in. For those who still want that heated seat comfort, the Big Ant Heated Seat Cushion is a great option. Just plug the unit into a 12-volt cigarette lighter socket and then turn on the heat via the high or low switch. After that, it takes about three minutes to heat up, with a maintained temperature between 110 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This unit only comes in black, but it looks very neutral in your car and the non-slip rubber-soled backing prevents it from slipping around on your car's upholstery.

Best Electric Blanket: Trillium Worldwide Car Cozy 2

A portable electric blanket is a great way to stay warm in the car on a cold drive, and this one from Trillium Worldwide plugs into your car’s 12-volt cigarette lighter socket so you or a passenger can stay toasty wherever you go. Measuring a comfortable 42 x 58 inches, it is made from soft polyester fleece with small electric coils inside. The seven-foot fused power cord is just long enough that the blanket can be used in either the front or back seat.

The unit can be set for either 30 minutes or 45 minutes at a time, and after that it will automatically shut off. Because of safety reasons, the blanket does not get “hot,” but it does get warm. This means that it is not suitable for extreme weather conditions and should just be used as a supplemental heat source.

What to Look for in a Portable Electric Car Heater

Functionality - What is it you’re trying to warm up in your car? Whether you’re defrosting your windshield or heating your passenger seat, there's a slew of heaters for each purpose. However, note that most are not meant to serve as dedicated space heaters so consider the safety hazards before buying one.

Compatibility - It can take a lot of power to warm up a cold car, so first make sure the heater you’re buying is compatible with the standard 12-volt plug integrated into your car’s cigarette lighter. If, instead, you need a heater with a two-prong plug, purchase a car power inverter so you can still draw power from the cigarette lighter. 

Price - Many car heaters and accessories are fairly inexpensive, but it’s important to weigh the value you get from them. If they aren’t adequately warming up your car, they might not be worth the price, no matter how cheap. Fixing your vehicle’s heating system will probably cost you much more, but it may be worth it.