249 of 255 people found the following review helpful
Comments: My house is not well insulated. I have 20' ceilings downstairs, where I spend most of my evenings, and high ceilings in my upstairs office. Running the furnace during these cold winter days does little to make me feel warm and most space heaters feel too puny trying to heat such large spaces. What I needed at is known as a parabolic dish reflector heater. Despite some overly-zealous descriptions, these heaters are not space-age technology. My great-grandmother had a parabolic dish reflector heater more than 60 years ago. Due to Costco's active in-store displays every year, Presto seems to be by far the #1 model. The selling price has risen to a ridiculous 70 - 100 dollars for something that must only have about 5 bucks of materials in it. After reading many reviews (see rebuttals below), I decided this was the right choice despite several logical negatives.
Pros: It works. The night before I bought it I shivered and was cold to the bone. As soon as I set it up the two of us sitting about 7' apart in front of the TV felt a comfortable warmth. I stress the word comfortable. Neither too hot nor too cold. If either of us moved a few feet out of the "zone" we immediately noticed we were much colder. This is exactly how parabolic dish heaters work ... they focus ALL of their energy into a relatively narrow cone of heat directed at the people who need to be heated. They are NOT intended to heat entire rooms or houses. Perfect for a small group of people and/or pets sitting in front of a TV (think fireplace, the effect is very similar) or someone working at a desk. At this the Presto (and likely other similar brands) absolutely excel. What makes the Presto different from some of the other brands is that it uses a very traditional heater coil like in an old-fashioned toaster. It is exactly the same technology my great-grandmother's heater used back in the 1950's. Some other models use a halogen bulb like a desk lamp. They are blinding to look at and the bulb burns out every few months. The Presto's coils produce only a soft reddish glow.
Cons: It does not tilt up and down. I can live with it not oscillating from side to side, but the fixed angle is just plain wrong and can't be changed. fixed angle seems to defeat the idea of a focused cone of heat. I think only a 10 percent range would be far better than none at all. The next item is one that confounds almost everyone ... why put a nightlight into the base of a space heater? It simply does not make sense. You can take the bulb out, which many people say they do, but why is it there in the first place? The heater is also just a bit too lightweight. As a heater with the potential of tipping over you would think it would weigh at least as much as a table fan. Presto totally missed the boat on this, thinking for some reason that a very LOUD buzzer if the unit is tipped would be a better idea. Some people hate the buzzer. Personally I think I would rather have it annoy me than start a fire, but a better base design would also not be so bad.
Rebuttals: It seems the #1 complaint is that the Presto Heat Dish does not heat their entire room (or house). This is NOT a whole-house or whole-room heater. It is a specialized heater that is designed and intended to focus an intense amount of heat in a very pinpointed direction and the lowest possible energy use. It will also cause a rise in overall room temperature, but that is NOT the intent or design of a parabolic dish reflector heater. Used properly, this type of heater is nothing short of amazing. Why heat the WHOLE room (like my 20' ceilinged living room) when we are sitting in a small area in front of the TV? As far as the night-light, I agree Presto is totally weird in that area but if you hate it, pull the bulb out and enjoy the heat. The manufacturer states in the instructions that you can replace the bulb with a standard Christmas tree bulb. A dark blue bulb actually looks quite attractive. Another negative comment I have seen is that the unit does not have a carrying handle. Reality is that the carrying handle is the thing on the back that is labeled "carrying handle" and clearly pointed out in the instruction manual as a carrying handle. Other review errors state that it points upward at a 60 degree angle. It really points upward at about 15 degrees, about right for someone sitting in a normal chair.
Summary: It rates a fairly solid 5 despite the fact that the first one I bought had a thermostat knob that did absolutely nothing. No matter where I set it, the thing operated continuously on high. Even if I turned it off, the heater was still on non-stop on high. An obvious defect (what are the chances?). I cringe when I read reviewers that say they got a lemon and will NEVER buy anything from that manufacturer. I can't believe a major brand name is junk just because of one bad apple. Update: The unit was instantly replaced and the new one's thermostat works as it should.
169 of 190 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2011
I purchased the Costco version of this Presto heater and LOVE IT, but it's critically important to know what you're getting into:
Infrared radiant heat from these parabolic dish heaters does NOT heat ROOM AIR much at all! It heats primarily water, things saturated with water (like we Humans), and coincidentally many Plastics---all assuming a narrow infrared focus range peaking at 3 microns (3000nm wavelength). Even longer wavelengths (3-10 microns) are possible but less specifically-aimed at human bodies and thus put heat into nearby concrete, wood floors, people, and most other materials, including many metals.
*Directional Infrared Heat* (i.e., focused Radiant Heat from these dish heaters) is VERY EFFICIENT if your goal is to put all/most of the heater's energy into YOU and not into a large room's air (or outdoor air).
BUT, this means you have to stand IN FRONT of the heater :) Otherwise, you'll barely notice much heat at all (just the small fraction of heat that escapes via convection into the air, or the wavelength falloff range that extends sufficiently to radiantly heat concrete, wood, rocks, plastics, metals, etc.
IF you use regular forced-air heaters (often the same tungsten filaments found in cheaper radiant dish heaters, nearly all quartz heaters, and heat lamps) you'll be heating most everything via convection through the air - which means the larger the room and more objects to heat the more the heater's energy must be divided. That is, 500 watts of directional radiant heat will feel MUCH hotter to someone standing in front of the parabolic dish heater than would standing in front of a forced-air 500 watt heater due to air turbulence and molecules that don't have the opportunity to conduct by colliding into you (think of convection as touch-conduction in a fluid medium where each molecule of air/water/fluid is an individual messenger or heat carrier that drops off/transfers some heat to each thing it bumps into). However, you needn't stand in front of a forced-air heater vs a dish radiant one, but if you don't then the same watt forced-air heater will take a loooong time before you start feeling warm.
Most Metals Reflect Infrared wavelengths similar to a household mirror, which is why a parabolic dish heater's thin metal dish won't feel hot on its backside unless ran for extended lengths of time where convection and the non-100% infrared reflectivity efficiency losses have time to heat it (pure elemental gold metal reflects infrared best at around 95% and is why applied to backside of expensive quartz filament bulbs :)
The BEST filaments for radiant heating of water/humans are the pricier carbon filaments. They have near instant-on heat and generally peak closest to our target 3000nm wavelength we humans like to feel when we stand out in the sunlight warmth. I've not checked whether or not these dishes use carbon vs tungsten, but looks like decent tungsten upon casual inspection.
FYI: Old "radiant" steam heaters are a misnomer since they primarily heat the air by creating a natural heat-rise current in the air (aka: convection heating). Incidentally, this is the same reason why the gap size between double-glass insulating windows is so important since otherwise those windows become mini-convection heat-loss/heat-transfer panels in your wall :)
Try this at home: hold a piece of UNCOATED/UNPAINTED metal in front of a true parabolic dish heater with tongs/whatever such your hand doesnt heat the metal, and at same time place your bare hand at the same safe distance beside it and observe which heats up. Result: metal has barely warmed at all whereas your hand gets toasty fast and if too close even starts to get too hot feeling. If the metal is flat think of it as a mirror---you can make some of the heater's heat "turn a 90-degree corner" like using a mirror but to heat.
Plastics & Radiant Heater CAUTION: Some plastics like common polyethylenes coincidentally absorb infrared radiation optimally at 3500nm (3.5 micron wavelengths) which is near that of water's 3000nm. This means many plastics will absorb and heat as fast as you will in front of heaters like these, which weakens/ages them by fracturing polymer chains.
Finally, for those curious about what differentiates this type of 'radiation' from 'nuclear radiation', remember that any lightbulb (LED, CFL, FL, Incandescent), radiant heater, all radio and TV signals, lasers, x-rays, and of course sunshine is ALL electromagnetic radiation (EM) delivered by way of photons and it is the EM wavelength (energy per photon rather than number of photons) that determines whether the radiation is 'scary'. Scary or bad EM usually means ionizing radiation like UV, x-ray, or worse) whereas non-ionizing EM includes all visible light, infrared, TV/radio, microwaves, etc. Note, however, that right at the border of deep violet visible light and UVB/UVC ultraviolet is non-ioninizing UVA/violets now thought the principle cause of the deadliest melanoma skin cancers fueled by indirect DNA damage of free radicals generated by UVA/violets EM energy and catalysts (such as, ironically, non-metals-based suntan lotion as well as other naturally-occurring compounds in our tissues). Once you get into regular visible light and longer wavelengths (radio, microwaves, etc.) most people believe to be safe as the energy per photon falls to such low levels. Nuclear radiation, on the other hand, is entirely different yet and deals with non-EM particle radiation (e.g., stray neutron bombardment) which is extra 'scary' of course and not found in our heaters or lights LOL (unless you bought a second-hand looted chernobyl-irradiated heater I suppose).
Hope that helps. :-)
108 of 122 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2007
"Point Anywhere" is very misleading. As-sold unit MUST be placed in a low spot below the "target". It is ONLY capable of heating at 60 degree angle upward. It is too light to be stable, way too easy to knock over. I think out of the box it is unsafe. I have made modifications to mine.
I see this thing in BJ's and Costco all the time, mounted up high on a shelf pointed down, and the kiosk says "Directional Heat! Point Instant Heat Anywhere You Want It!"
So you open up the box and right there in the WARNING is Do not mount on shelf. Do not point downward. Which is exactly what the Presto demo stands do in the store..? They mount the heater on a high shelf and point it down at the customers. Do you think it would be wise to put this on the floor in the store the way it MUST be used at home? You would think that was unsafe, kids would mess with it, people would inevitably trip over it or kick it over.. So the Presto demonstration display disables the safety shutoff switch and does exactly what the instructions say not to do, mounting it high, pointing it down. You'd think that might be one way of using it, since it says "Point Anywhere". False advertising?
The unit HAS to go below you pointed up. Pretty much that means it has to be on the floor. Instructions also say do not use near dogs, cats, children, curtains, furniture etc.. In other words, do not use in typical household environment. Our dog knocked it over frequently because it's just stupid-easy to knock over. Imagine a large standard 3-speed desk fan, only you can just ever so lightly bump into it and it topples over. It's featherlight, unevenly proportioned and topheavy, a trip hazard, and has no base weight AT ALL to stabilize it.
I bought this to warm my dad while he sits at his computer or watches television, intending to place it safely on a clear bureau or dresser to provide ambient heat. Best I can do now is stick it on the floor and bake the tops of his knees. As it was out of the box in our case, it was useless.
There is a large spring-loaded switch under the base, it's easily bypassed. You can do it with scotch tape. NOT RECOMMENDED, but this allows you to point it "anywhere" including a down-angle as the in-store demo clearly does. I built an angled wooden platform, put a brick inside it to add weight, and screwed the heater down. Now I can aim it where I want, and it doesn't fall over. Problem solved.
Aside from the fact you can't really aim it where you want it, it does everything else you'd expect it to. Doesn't get too hot to the touch, provides EXCELLENT heat in the target zone, and saves you a lot of money by quickly and consistently heating a particular spot rather than trying to heat an entire area. Just don't trip over it.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
My elderly relatives have owned various space heaters over the years and I was not happy with those so avoided them for my own use in the past. One blasted air like a fan which made it seem cold actually, the other went from raging hot heat, then shut off and it felt colder than it probably really was, then cycled on again, giving an uneven heat. Some are noisy. All had a foul smell and I wasn't sure if they were actually fumes of fuel or what caused those smells.
In the news, I'd heard of fires from some units and didn't want any part of that, especially with kids in the house. I also worried of a very hot unit (to the touch) with kids around the unit.
We are renting at present and do not have control of the poor heating system here (and now my youngest is 11 years old and knows enough to not touch it) so I bought this space heater a month ago. Also it's important to know that often I am usually the only cold one in the family.
When I saw this I thought "space heater" it actually is a PARABOLIC electric type space heater.
PRESTO HEAT DISH PLUS throws heat only where it is directed, that's what a PARABOLIC heater does. This works best for heating one person, in my opinion. Right not it is aimed at our desk where two people are sitting about four feet apart from each other and we feel the heat more in between us (it is not reaching our left and right outside edges. Another example is it can be pointed at one person and sitting two feet away but out of the disc's direction, you can't feel the heat. It does heat objects, like the back of my desk chair and the desk.
The cons of this unit is that it sits low, it is not raised up, so it keeps your feet warmer than your hands (for example, I have a hard time getting my hands warm while using the computer keyboard but my feet and legs are very warm).
It is hard to move around, there is no handle or anything to hold onto, you have to push it by the base. It is lightweight and very tippy when you try to move it.
If you tip it while moving it, there is a loud buzz, that's a good thing.
My model does not have a night light on it, I don't need it. I don't use it while I'm sleeping.
The orange you see on the photo can only be seen when viewing from one specific angle, all the other angles will show silver when you look at it. The entire orange part in the photo is not the heated up part. It has coils inside that are hot and the dish parabolic thing helps the heat reflect out into the room. The back of the unit is very warm or a little hot but not hot enough to burn you when touching it.
Also although the general shape looks like a typical fan, this has no fan. There are no moving parts that BLOW air around. It just heats evenly and the dish reflects the heat outward into the room where the disc is pointed.
A pro is due to the design of this, it throws a lot of heat with little electricity compared to other heaters.
There is zero smell or odor of any kind (and no fumes) which is fantastic.
It is also completely silent which I love!
Again I love the even slow heat of this compared to the type that turn on and blast heat then shut off for a while and it feels cold then turn on to be too hot again.
Often I am the only cold person in the house, and I can use it to warm up while those in the same room with me are "just fine". The alternative is me over-heating the entire house just for my comfort and then having everyone else complain of being too hot. Using this is saving us money on our overall heating bill and it makes all of us happy.
I am happy with the price of this product as well.
72 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2007
I've been having this product for almost 2 years now. It was designed to direct heat to a small area. Unfortunately I did not find the HeatDish a good heater even for keeping a single person warm. If you direct it towards you, you'll be burning so much, even through your clothing, that it actually hurts. You move just a bit farther, and you'll feel very little warm sensation. What usually happens is that one side of mine is burning, while my other side is totally cold.
The heat coming out of this HeatDish is very focused to a small area. You will instantly start feeling the heat, in fact so much heat that it literally burns you. At the same time, other areas of the room will remain cold for a long time. Since the HeatDish doesn't have a fan, it absolutely doesn't help evenly distributing the heat. If you need to heat the entire room, you should be able to find a much better heater, one that oscillates (rotates the heating grille) and uses a fan.
The HeatDish is entirely silent while it's on. However, it has a fairly loud rattling noise when it turns on -- and in the low setting, it does turn on and off every 15 seconds or so. It is a bit hard to sleep hearing the heater clicking. It's very bright, too: The entire parabola dish lights up, making the room as bright as daylight. I occasionally need a heater that can keep my bedroom warm for the night, for the case the central heater goes wrong, and this is not the right equipment for that.
There's no way of setting the temperature with the HeatDish. You can adjust its power from low to high, but it has little to do with keeping a preset temperature, even approximately. In most cases it's too hot in the evening and very cold by the morning. If there's no one to occasionally adjust the temperature, it will not be very comfortable. For example, it doesn't work well for me as a night-time heater. It doesn't have a timer either.
My HeatDish went wrong after less than 2 years of very occasional use (I normally use central heating, a gas furnace). It no longer turns off, it always heats at its maximum power, so I can no longer leave it alone. You should not draw any conclusions from this -- things go wrong sometimes. When it was working, it was regulating the temperature by periodically turning the ceramic element on and off. When it's on, it is very, very hot. There was never a way to lower the actual power of the heating element.
Safety: If the HeatDish is not entirely horizontal, it instantly makes an exceptionally loud alarming sound. You can not possibly tip it over without noticing it. In fact, it is nearly impossible to move this heater around while it's on without sounding its alarm.
Verdict: If you need an instant heater that makes a tiny area of the room super hot in no time, it does the job. It does a dissatisfying job at distributing the heat, even to a small area like a sofa, or automatically keeping a preset temperature.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2012
Wow_ I love this heater! I have never seen a heater warm so well or so fast. Please keep in mind this is designed to heat a person not a space. So, to heat you up and not your room! For me this is perfect! If you are the person that is usually cold and everyone else is not but this thing! Ahhh-mazing! You can heat you and not them. My hands can be so cold I can hardly type. I get up and go get this heater out of what ever room I was last in. (It is very light weight and easy to move)I plug it in and with in one minute I am so warm I have to turn it down! Please remember though, this is to heat you... Not a room! Also very quiet... Unless you tip **even slightly** It has a warning sound.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2008
The Presto HeatDish is a great radiant heater but it does have some limitations that are inherent to any radiant heater.
First, it's not meant for heating an entire room - it's meant for heating objects (people). While it WILL heat an entire room, it is inefficient at doing so. The advantage of the radiant heaters like this one is that you can feel the warmth from it instantly, and it is concentrated well over a very small area. The heater works amazingly well if you are alone in a room and aren't moving much. You can keep it on a low setting and let it heat just you far more efficiently than you could heat the entire room, and the heat is direct and intense.
The downsides to this heater are two: the biggest one is that it makes you wonder what genius engineer at Presto thought "You know what would go well with a heater? A blindingly bright night light!" The nightlight cannot be disabled or turned off - if you don't want it brightening up your entire room when used at night, you have to remove the bulb.
The argument one might make for the nightlight is that if the unit is on a high setting that the back of it glows orange and it does illuminate the room a bit falls on deaf ears. The nightlight is seriously bright and it makes no sense at all to combine a nightlight with a heater.
The second main downside of the unit is that whenever the heating element cycles it emits a strange buzzing sound while it is warming up. The buzzing sound lasts about 8-10 seconds and then stops, but if you have the unit on a low setting, you will hear it cycle very frequently (roughly every 3-5 minutes.)
The third downside is that if you have this heater on anything above "Medium", it is HOT if you are within a few feet of it. Uncomfortably hot.
Finally, overall this heater is excellent for directed heat at one person. It does also heat the room if left on for a while. Remove the bulb from the nightlight and either turn the unit off or on to a medium setting, and you'll love a HeatDish.
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2011
This is a radiant heater, designed to throw a "beam of heat". As a science teacher explained in junior high some 40 years ago, they do not heat the air or a room, but the objects in the path. If you are looking to warm a room, especially quickly, you want a forced air ceramic/quartz heater. If you want to warm yourself in an otherwise cold room, this is your baby. Sadly, almost every time I go to CostCo, I see someone returning one of these. Reading reviews of similar products on the web, it is clear that many folks have no clue about radiant heaters.
Like one of the other reviewers, I bought this at CostCo but for some friends who smoked on their patio and froze during the winter. They've both passed on now and their relatives gave it back to me. (I also have one in my shop.)
Our furnace is out at the moment and it is doubtful we can afford to fix it before winter is over. Here in Las Vegas it is currently 41 outside with an expected low tonight of 29. Last night it was 21.
I'm sitting here writing this with this heater about six feet from me and on medium. I'm comfortable (and shirtless) even though it is only in the low 60s in the house. (We have a couple of oil filled heaters.) My right side (heater side) is hot to the touch, my left side is cool. Over all though, I'm comfortable.
Where this unit excels is in my shop which is basically a walled in carport, but walled in by louvers. I.E. it's 41 in my shop. But I just aim this at my workbench from about six feet away and stay toasty while there at the bench.
My wife is a lizard. Very cold blooded and is always cold if the room temp is below 80. All I have to do is aim this at her on the couch and she's warm and toasty without driving me out of the room.
If you use these types of heaters as intended, they are more than enough to cook you.
The one thing I really like about these is that at full power, they only consume 1,000 watts. Our oil filled and ceramic/quartz heaters start at 900 watts on low and go up to 1,500 watts. That will run up the electric bill (about $100 a month per heater) and two of them on the same circuit will blow our circuit breakers. So using these radiant dish heaters as spot heaters do a better job for less money.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2008
I have had two Presto Heatdishes for about two years, which I bought because they were the lowest-priced small space heater available at the time. The parabolic design focuses a lot of heat in a small area rather than less heat evenly distributed through a larger area, which means aiming the dish is a critical thing.
The biggest problem, which Presto's Customer Service has no solution for (based on my one conversation with them and reading about this on consumer bulletin boards) is that there is an extremely-loud "safety" buzzer that goes off whenever the dish is bumped, moved, knocked over or "gets too hot" (in the words of the Customer Service people). None of the former is an issue except getting too hot. The thermostat or whatever other part of the circuitry that "decides" that the heater is getting too hot wears out or degrades after a few months and sets off the buzzer intermittently or continuously. Other than "cleaning the dish," Presto's Customer Service could offer no solution nor were they planning on addressing the problem. No re-wiring solutions were available and Presto does not intend to make one available.
I took the heater apart and it appears to me that there could be a way to disconnect or bypass the buzzer, but it's just a little beyond my rudimentary wiring skills. My heater works fine until the buzzer goes off, at which point I turn it off and wait until it cools down before turning it on again.
If you can live with this, it probably is a reasonably-good (if limited because of the highly-foucused heat pattern) heater. But please keep this in mind when thinking about buying one.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2008
**** Four stars--Amazon doesn't allow star revision.
Depending on your situation, this is a great product or a thoroughly deficient one. Buy it from a retailer with a reasonable return policy so you won't be stuck with it.
The product literature states that the unit doesn't actually heat a room. It generates a ray of heat that warms you if you sit in front of it. In spite of manufacturer disclaimers, an average sewing room or office becomes acceptably warm with the Presto HeatDish (if you wear a sweater). This is not a substitute for the shirt-sleeve comfort of forced-air home heating with the thermostat at 70.
In the illustration, the guy sitting at his computer has the perfect place to locate the unit. In everyday use, the Presto HeatDish may not be so practical. In the bedroom, the unit points to the bed. If you place the unit on a night stand or footstool, it points to the space above the bed. No heat for you.
The instructions note that if you point it toward a window you'll heat the outdoors. So, if you sit between the heater and a window, the energy (literally!) goes out the window when you get up.
I also bought an Optimus H-4438 14-Inch Oscillating Dish Heater with Remote Control for my office. There isn't a nice clear space on the floor across the room from my desk (as illustrated). I place the Optimus beside my chair with the dish pointing up and the oscillation on. It provides plenty of warmth. In the same position, the Presto HeatDish would just cook my chair.
The main advantage of the Presto HeatDish the ray of intense heat it produces. With the dish trained directly on you, you feel at risk of getting a sunburn. The control allows you to dial down the heat in increments. The Optimus has just two heat settings (High/Low). The remote is a nice convenience.
The Optimus also has two very limited up/down swivel settings, whereas the Presto product is fixed. The Presto has an annoying night light. The bulb is easily removed, however.
Winter in the Desert Southwest is not severe, so I can't vouch for performance in sub-zero conditions. For chilly nights in the 30s, both units are a useful alternative to heating the whole house in the morning. I don't use it to heat the bedroom through the night. I use bedding to stay warm.
Now that I'm used to this type of heater, I like it better than the fan-type. Between the Optimus and the Presto, I can't say which is better because it depends on the room. For the ideal room, I would go with the Presto HeatDish because of its intense heat ray and the ability to fine-tune the warmth.
You can save at least $15 buying these from leading mass merchandisers.