If you live in a cold region, you probably won’t be able to do without a functional heater in your car. The best portable car heater defroster in your car can make a huge difference if your car’s heater doesn’t work. I personally have a broken car heater beyond repair, so I tested these products out to hopefully find a solution to my problem.
Our Top Pick
IAXSEE Car Heater 12V Portable Auto Electronic Heater
You will not be able to heat up a large vehicle with this product, but you can probably keep your windshield nice and defrosted and stay fairly warm in the process.
- Cheap and Available with Amazon price
- Provides both Heat and Air Conditioning
- Decent Build Quality
- Our Top Pick
- Why should I buy a portable car heater?
- Portable Car Heaters vs Factory Car Heaters
- Factory Car Heater Alternatives
- Factors to look for when purchasing a portable car heater
- Our Top 5 Portable Car Heater Picks
- 1. IAXSEE Car Heater 12V Portable Auto Electronic Heater Fan Fast Heating Defrost
- 2. Kisronda Car Heater Portable Defogger
- 3. Junda Car Heater Portable Defogger
- 4. Roadpro RPSL-581 12V All Season Black Heater and Fan with Swivel Base
- 5. Wagon Visor-Mounted Heater and Defroster
- Advantages and Disadvantages of 12V Portable Car Heaters
Why should I buy a portable car heater?
If your car doesn’t have a functional heater or the built-in heater is less than desirable, you might be facing these problems
- No front windshield defrost
- Uncomfortable driving for long periods of time
- Unhappy passengers
The old and conventional external devices used to heat the interior of the car have recently been ruled out by heaters that are portable. They also work as defrosters for the frozen snow on the windshield of the car.
Heater Core Problems
The most likely reason that your car’s heater isn’t working is because of the heater core. If you haven’t taken your car to a mechanic for a diagnosis on your heater issues and received a quote, we recommend that you do that. Unfortunately, this repair goes one of two ways…. You can receive a great quote because the heater core is easy to replace on your car, or you can get a terrible quote because your entire dashboard has to be disassembled to fix the heater core. I was in the second boat. My quote came out to $1600 dollars, on a $2900 car that was falling apart. Needless to say, I didn’t do the repair, so I went looking for alternatives.
Portable Car Heaters vs Factory Car Heaters
Portable Car Heater
There are some important distinctions between portable car heaters and your car’s factory car heater. Portable car heaters use cigarette lighters (12 Volt Power Supply) to power a heater similar to a hair dryer.
Factory Car Heater
The factory car heater that came on your car is acually part of the engine cooling system, which is how it can provide a lot of heat with little power. Coolant flows into the engine and takes heat off of the engine, and then it flows in front of fans which blows the heat onto you before going back into the engine.
As much as I would like to say that a portable car heater is all you will ever need to replace your car heater, these units simply don’t put out a lot of heat with the limited amount of power available from using a cigarette lighter. You can still receive decent results, but don’t expect it to be as good as your factory car heater system.
Factory Car Heater Alternatives
Here are some of our best alternatives to portable car heaters based on our use of these types of products.
Portable Car Heaters
Portable car heaters are a simple solution to a big problem. It plugs into your cigarette lighter for power. There are many cheap portable car heaters available on the market which typically have varying ranges of success. If you are looking for a simple solution that will help keep your windows defrosted in the winter, read on for our reviews on the best portable car heaters.
Electric Heated Car Blankets
Electric heated blankets are very common, and you probably have one in your home if you are in a colder climate. These blankets work by using electricity to heat up a coil of wires in the blanket, and they typically use way less power for a comparable amount of heat provided. This makes the electric heated car blankets ideal for use in your car because of the limited power supply.
Heated Seat Covers
Heated Seat Covers can come in handy even if your car heater is operational. This is a luxury feature not found on a lot of cars, especially ones that are a couple years old. A heated seat cover can provide you with plenty of warmth when your car heater does not work. These work much like the electric car blankets, in that they heat up small metal coils to provide heat.
If you have the money for it, we recommend you use all three of these products to help keep you warm in the harsh winters. The combination of the three should be a pretty good replacement for the factory heating system.
Factors to look for when purchasing a portable car heater
Quality is super important when looking to purchase one of these products. That is because these products generally have a lot of quality control issues because they are sold very cheap. There are also very few technical specifications that come along with these products, which makes it hard to compare them objectively.
You should read the reviews to make sure that the product you are buying will be effective. Like we mentioned earlier, there are very few technical specifications, so you need to rely on the reviews and return policies.
These devices can save you quite a bit of money if you are careful with the selection process. You need to be sure to consider the price of alternatives to fixing your heating system and the purchase of these devices. You might be better off repairing your heating system if you can afford it.
Our Top 5 Portable Car Heater Picks
Best Overall Product
This is one of the best portable heater/defrosters you can come across. I went through a lot of product pages to find this one, and it seems from our research that it’s one of the best in this category.
I’m surprised that more people haven’t ordered it yet. The product is cheap but also is available on Amazon Prime with free returns. Usually, the order gets shipped in two to three days if you order it from Amazon.
It has a 180 degrees rotary holder, which means it can freely adjust in every single dimension and help her find the target easily. This product works great against the fog, and it prevents frost from piling up on the windshield. This product is also ideal for you if you camp out a lot, or travel a lot.
You will not be able to heat up a large vehicle with this product, but you can probably keep your windshield nice and defrosted and stay fairly warm in the process.
The main function of this product is to defrost the frost that’s covering the entire screen, so don’t be surprised to find out that it is not heating your whole car very effectively. You just have to remember that limited power wattage can do that to any product no matter how unbelievable it appears.
This product also serves as a mini fan/air conditioner, which is a nice feature to find if your heat and ac are malfunctioning. This product is a decent fix for the problems you are likely to face without heat.
It is essentially a 12V Defroster, Demister or whatever you want to call it. If you’re having trouble installing it, we recommend that you get an anti-skid map and adjust it on the matt while attaching the matt to the car’s dash with a double-sided adhesive type.
- Cheap and available with Amazon Prime
- Provides both heat and air conditioning
- Decent build quality
- Very compact
- Has good reviews
- Doesn’t have a great heating radius
- It has to be manually detached and attached from the port when the car is turned on and off
IAXSEE Portable Car Heater
None of these products will provide a perfect user experience. You will have better luck working with this portable car heater than the other ones.
This is also a 12V product. Do you have a car glass fog problem? This product aims to solve this problem. It can be very helpful in winters when you cannot switch the AC on. This also comes with a 180% rotary holder, which lets makes free adjustment possible.
This product is the most purchased and reviewed unit on Amazon. It can be adjusted to heat and cool your car interior. This product will be beneficial in both the Winter and the Summer because of this feature.
Driving with a frosted windshield can be dangerous, so we recommend that you use a product similar to this one to help defrost your windshield while driving.
You will often notice that the company design is mimicked by other people. This product has a large number of positive reviews.
If it keeps moving around the dashboard while driving, you need to install an anti-skid mat to avoid it from slipping.
There’s a slight disadvantage of using these though; you cannot have them on and running while you’re on a long drive because the socket ends up getting hot and the heater will stop functioning. You will have to leave it unplugged for a couple minutes and plug it back in for results.
It is a 6A which can be used in 10A fuse outlet, but for the sake of better performance, you should use it in a 5A outlet. It’s safe to use this fuse because you will not end up burning the heater and melting the device.
Kisronda Car Heater Portable Defogger
This Kisronda Product is okay. None of these products are perfect, but this one does a decent job.
This product is a very good execution of the portable car heater. These products are very hard to create because of the limited amount of power available for the device.
Junda has acheived a very fast electrical heating element for this product, and deliver a better quality than the other options available on Amazon.
If you have a broken HVAC system, you can relate to freezing your ass off while driving around town, and this product might help reduce that unfortunate situation.
As with the other items on this list, this item is very easy to install since it simply plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter socket.
This product is ideal to carry around and use in multiple locations in your car, such as the trunk while tailgating. This product is one of the only good high-quality heaters that you might find in this market.
The automobile demister makes sure that you get rid of fog on the wind as soon as possible. The size is about 17 x 14 x 4cms, and its cable’s length is 142cm.
It has three air outlets that expel warm air so that you can warm up your car as quickly as possible. The wider opening of this unit compared to other units allows the heater to heat up larger portions of a windshield or cabin space.
The power cable is very safe to use because it is well insulated. This will help prevent accidental fires from cord damage. This product does not damage the battery either.
Verified customers on Amazon have rated this as one of the best portable car heaters you can find.
- Well Regarded
- Portable for Movement Between Multiple Cars
- Good Build Quality
- Doesn’t provide a lot of heat
- Has to be plugged and unplugged when car is on/off
Junda Car Heater Portable Defogger
This product is a good middle-of-the-line product for the price. You won’t get great results from it, but out of the other items on the market, you will get better results from this heater.
This heater is somewhat pricey to buy, but you’ll still need to invest less compared to the money you’ll spend on fixing the broken HVAC. The stock of this product is currently limited, and you should get your hands on it so that it doesn’t run out. The product is not shipped worldwide.
The swivel base is adjustable, so you don’t have to worry about that. It draws a current of about 15A, and the power rating is 180 Watts if you are looking to connect it to an external battery. The power cord is 10-gauge and approximately 6 feet long. This allows the heater to be installed in more locations in your car, which is a good feature because these heaters don’t heat up large spaces well. Point and target them.
The product’s dimensions are 12.6 x 7.9 x 4 inches, and it weighs as much as one pound. It is only shipped in the US. Verified purchasers state that this product works better than any other portable heater and as good as an original service bay heater.
RoadPro RPSL-581 12V All Season Black Heater and Fan with Swivel Base
This is one of the better all season portable heaters you can buy in this product category. We liked this product out of the group.
This product does not have good reviews… but at this pricepoint and in this product market, it’s hard to find products that do. This item doesn’t ship to all the regions in the world. All you have to do to feel warm is plug it into your 12V cigarette lighter socket and pretty much sit right against it. This is a product you should buy only if it’s your last resort.
The unique mountable design of this product lets you mount it on a visor and therefore defrost and demist the windshield in a very specific area.
The item weighs as much as 13.6 ounces, and its dimensions are as much as 19 x 8 x 6.5. The only limitation, however, is that it is only shipped in the US and not outside it. The sellers respond to all the queries and the warranty for parts is provided in case of any damage or defect. It is a heater, but it works best as a demister and defroster. You should give it a try if you are looking to get that fog off your windows.
Wagon Visor-Mounted Heater and Defroster
This product is very mountable, so it gets a high score for features. The build quality is also nicer than some of the other products on this list, and there is some weight to it. Buy this product if you want a visor-mounted heater.
Advantages and Disadvantages of 12V Portable Car Heaters
Portable car heaters have four main advantages that will entice you to buy one. They are:
- Easy Installation
These portable car heaters are portable, and therefore they can be used in multiple scenarios without being a nuisance.
Are you going on vacation? You can pack it in your suitcase, and you can use it in a rented car for a little extra heat!
Do you have more than one car? You do not need to install a separate heater in each one since this one can be moved between each car you own. You only need to buy one good heater instead of multiple.
Are you into car camping? If so, you can use one of these heaters to help keep you toasty warm out on your travels. Because these heaters are designed to work on weaker power supply, you will be able to run these off of a weaker battery. You can bring a battery with you camping, and then you can stay nice and toasty in the tent.
Cheap Fix for Your Car Heater
Fixing your car heater would likely cost you a large amount of money. You can partially fix this issue by spending on a much more cost effective portable heater. It does the job okay and saves you from going into debt to fix your car. Like I mentioned above, my repair bill for this issue was going to be $1600, but one of these portable car heaters is typically below $30. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?
Safer than other options
Nobody wants a heater exploding in the middle of a journey. You need to be sure to pick a safe option when choosing a heating alternative to your car’s factory heating system.Some people recommend using propane heaters to help solve this issue because propane heaters can output much more heat than an electrical car heater. DO NOT DO THIS. Your car is an enclosed space that can not be ventilated well enough to make using a propane heater safe. You can get carbon monoxide poisoning from a propane heater.
Many people also recommend using a residential space heater in their vehicle. DO NOT DO THIS. Almost all of these space heaters are very careful to caution not to have flamable material within 6 feet of the front of the heater. In a car, something is almost always 6 feet from the front of the heater. Therefore, these are NOT SAFE ALTERNATIVES. Someone I knew in college burned down their dorm room with a space heater they knocked over with a pillow while sleeping. These are not things to play with.
Portable car heaters are mostly designed to consume energy from the car’s electrical system through a cigarette lighter. It is very easy to install the devices on the dash, or even underneath it as long as there is a clear path for the power cord to connect to a cigarette lighter 12 Volt port.
Overall, they’re a great invention which helps a lot in the time of need and serve their purpose good enough.
Here’s the time to discuss something that is awful about these heaters and we might well discuss how we deal with it.There are two main disadvantages to these portable car heaters:
- Power Supply
These defrosters and heaters that are portable are typically plugged into the cigarette lighter socket. This makes super easy installation, but not necessary the best for the effectiveness of the heater. These are 12V heaters and defrosters, and the outlets are fused with a mere 15A or even less, you cannot expect the heater to help you get rid of the cold that easily.
If you are looking for a heater to defrost your windshield, you will need to consider how large your windshield is and if you can find other alternatives. Defrosters need heat to function, and due to the power supply constraints of these heaters, it is likely that they will not have an deal amount of defrosting capability.
You should be sure to get a good quality item when picking out these devices. It is important to ensure that you will not be freezing. These products have a lot of quality control issues, so pick one of the items on this list or do thorough research.TipTo defrost a windshield, you need the fog to be absorbed. However, humid air doesn’t help with that because generally, dry air can absorb more moisture than wet air to dehumidify. That’s when the broken HVAC comes in if your AC is still working air conditioning can release dry hair and cause the air to soak in more water to reduce the humidity.
To defrost a windshield, you need the fog to be absorbed. However, humid air doesn’t help with that because generally, dry air can absorb more moisture than wet air to dehumidify. That’s when the broken HVAC comes in if your AC is still working air conditioning can release dry hair and cause the air to soak in more water to reduce the humidity.
With all that being said, if you’re looking for a long-term fix I would still recommend that you should get your HVAC fixed. If you travel a lot and go for long drives, you ought to rely on portable heaters solely to defrost and demist the windshield or to keep it as a backup plan. Even if your HVAC system works just fine, it doesn’t hurt to have a product like this one stocked in case of an emergency. I hope the review has proved helpful and you know what you must look for in an excellent portable heater.
Are Portable Car Heaters Safe?
Portable Car Heaters are safe for use in your car because they are designed to be used on your dashboard. These heaters are not as powerful as residential space heaters. Residential space heaters are not safe for your car.
Do Cigarette Lighter Car Heaters Work?
Cigarette Lighter Car Heaters do work for defrosting a windshield or keeping a small area warm. They are not recommended for larger cars. Although they do provide heat, they will not be as powerful as your car’s factory heating system.
Why is my car blowing cold air when the heat is on?
This is likely happening because your heater core has blockage. This blockage doesn’t allow coolant to flow through the heater core, and will cause you to feel cold air when you have the heat on. It is best to get your heater core replaced as soon as possible to keep your engine from overheating.