We recently moved to a beautiful rental near the Santa Cruz mountains. Our apartment is a definite upgrade, but it has one major flaw – propane. All of our gas needs, from the stove to the heaters, are powered by propane. If you've never used the stuff you need to know two things: it takes a lot of it to boil a kettle of water and it's expensive. After our first bill ($100 for a little over three weeks of use) we quickly snuffed out the pilot lights in our heaters and looked for an alternative way to stay warm during the California coast's chilly months. Our propane heater was using much too much to heat up the ground floor of our house, which gets particularly chilly, so we started looking into space heaters that would be able to keep us toasty as we worked in front of our computer. Unfortunately, most space heaters are quite fugly. The majority look like they were designed during the communist era – utilitarian and, ironically, cold. Those that are nice to look at either need to be shipped from another country, are pricey, or both.
Gregory recently reviewed an inexpensive and low profile space heater we considered getting ourselves, but we also wanted to see if we could bring something into the house that not only provided warmth but looked warm. Dimplex's Mini Cube Electric Stove managed to combine two of our loves – fake fireplaces and the space age interiors of Woody Allen's film Sleeper. It's not an aesthetic for everyone, but it works for us.Similar to the electric hearths found at your local big box home improvement store, this little space heater features synthetic hot coals and trick lighting that give off a warm fire vibe. A vent at the bottom of the model pushes out hot air (there are two temperature settings – warm and warmer) at 4,674 BTUs. What does that mean? Well, technically it's supposed to be able to heat up 400 square feet. Will you be able to heat up a room with the Mini Cube? Maybe if you leave it on all day, otherwise, expect to have whatever is in its direct vicinity to get warm. Our Mini Cube sits right next to us while we work. Unfortunately, when its in the mid-40s as it is today, if we turn it off we feel the cold pretty quickly. Think of it like a heated fan rather than a heater. That said, it only costs 8 cents an hour to power. A far cry from the dollar signs that would flip past every minute we had our propane heaters on. Design-wise, we love it. It comes in red, which is huge in the world of appliances (also available in a larger white model) and it features some sweet curves. The glossy metal exterior is a nice change from the cheap plastic molds we're so used to seeing in the appliance aisles. We find the synthetic coals and flames quite realistic and cozy when curled up on the couch with a book. Oh yes, that reminds us. This guy is quite portable at 16 pounds. We move it from room to room, depending on where we feel the need for a little extra heat. It also proves useful when you want to turn on the romance during an otherwise dull Tuesday night dinner.
Pros: Fun and unique design, pumps out a decent amount of warmth while looking toasty, inexpensive.
Cons: Won't heat up an entire room.
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