Pros: * Auto-shut off, cool housing, and other safety features
* Warm even heating via Vornado technology
Cons: * No digital thermostat, so calibration required
* No built-in timer
While we still love our DeLonghi oil-filled radiator heater and now use it in our bedroom, we needed a new room heater for our 2.5 year old toddler's bedroom. As I stated in my review of the DeLonghi, I prefer using space heaters to take advantage of the excess electricity generated by the solar photovoltaic panel system on our roof. However, now that she's out of her crib and able to run around, we needed a different heater that we wouldn't worry about her knocking over or burning herself on.
While browsing the selection of heaters at my local hardware store, my attention focused on Vornado's VH2 Vortex heater. The brand was familiar as we were really impressed by the air circulator fans my father-in-law had purchased for us a few summers ago, including the Vornado Pedestal 615B Fan. Upon closer inspection, I was pleased to learn about its several safety features and decided to pay the $60 and test out its heater.
About the Heater
A small off-white heater, this Vornado VH2 has an interesting shape. It has a round front face but it's not cylindrical. Instead, its sides flare back so it's more like a three sided pyramid with rounded corners.
Its controls are on the top, which consist of a power on/off switch, a heat switch (high is 1500 watts or low at 750 watts), a fan switch (high or auto) and a dial that controls the thermostat. Technically, if you switch to low heat, high fan, and turn the thermostat all the way down, I think you can use this as a regular fan.
As I mentioned above, my key concerns were identifying a child-safe room heater. This Vornado model offers the following important safety features:
* Tip-over protection -- I loved reading about the automatic shut-off if knocked over, and was surprised to learn it works if the unit is even slightly angled (as little as 20 degrees or so)!
* Cool-touch housing -- Even after being on an entire night, the heater remains room temperature/cool. This is a vast improvement over other room heaters, which normally turn quite hot after several hours.
* From the product description: "Average exit temperature between 120°F & 130°F; exit air will not burn the skin" -- I actually was quite disappointed to feel the relative coolness of the air when I first turned it on, but give this heater some time and the room warms up very nicely. I plugged it into a timer set to turn on 45 minutes before my daughter's bedtime. The first time we used it, my husband actually complained it was TOO hot when he walked in to read our daughter a bedtime story, since I didn't know where to set the thermostat (a mere dial). More on that thermostat below.
* From the product description: "Tight grill spirals with a maximum of 1/4-inch between spirals discourage wandering fingers or fabrics" -- Little toddler fingers might still be able to squeeze in, but I make sure to place this heater at a height far above where she can reach. Still, owners with dogs/cats can rest assured that the grills are small enough that a curious nose won't get caught.
* Non-glowing heating element -- Unlike the heaters with exposed red glowing heating elements, nothing "lights" up on this model so I believe that means there's a lower risk of fire hazard. I've avoided that exposed heating element type of heater ever since I had one catch on fire in my room in college.
Other important factors that users care about include:
* Fairly quiet operation -- Vornado claims it's "whisper-quiet" but in our experience, it's much louder than the DeLonghi oil-filled radiator. My daughter's bedtime music is drowned out by the Vornado unless I turn the volume to medium. In addition, since the fan cycles on and off throughout the time it's on depending on the thermostat setting, it might disturb light sleepers. Fortunately, my daughter is a heavy sleeper and doesn't wake at all with the on-off cycles.
* Compact size -- At only 11.75" deep, 11.87" high, and 9.5" wide, this model can actually be pushed up right next to a wall. Its small footprint means this can sit on a desk or some other height out of the reach of little hands. NOTE: instructions suggest placing directly on the floor to ensure even heating (since heat rises and you want to ensure the temperature close to the ground is still comfortable). We disregarded the instructions and placed this high on a bookshelf for the past 2-3 months. The room remains very warm and comfortable at all levels, even sitting on the ground. I attribute this to Vornado's air circulation technology. See the next feature.
* Vornado technology: Per the website, "The name Vornado combines the words "VORtex" and "torNADO," referring to the company's unique air-moving technology. Vornado's exclusive Vortex Action brings the air to an active, excited state, turning entire rooms into comfort zones." -- Unlike the Holmes ceramic heater I first bought 3-4 years ago, this heater effectively warms the entire room, and not just the air directly in front of it. Like their great fans, Vornado heaters move the air in the room so that the heat doesn't just sit in one area of the room.
We love this heater for use in our daughter's room while she sleeps. I have read of others' complaints that its "slow" heating time doesn't work well for other uses, like morning bathroom heating. Thus, consider how you plan to use your room heater before you invest $60 or more on this heater. For us, the money was well worth it given the safety features and the fact that we have it on an external timer.
My one complaint is the thermostat. Since we don't move the heater from my daughter's room, I don't have to fiddle with the thermostat everyday. Still, there were certainly times when I sometimes adjusted it depending on what she wore to bed. As parents of toddlers know, they can be very independent and there were some nights she insisted on wearing a dress to bed so I would adjust the thermostat on the heater higher. However, I would invariably make it too warm or too cold and then have to wait to adjust it again. I would much prefer an electronic thermostat so I could just set it at 68 degrees and not calibrate it. Apparently, Vornado does offer a version of this heater with an electronic thermosat, but it costs $30 more. Frankly, I can deal with the manual thermostat for the cost savings.
On a lesser note, I also wish it had a built-in timer like my DeLonghi, but it works fine on the plug-in timer.
All in all, I highly recommend this heater for those who plan to use it as we do.