Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid review: small and powerful

The Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Dual Heating Hybrid Space Heater boasts a range of features in a compact form

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid
(Image credit: Dr Infrared Heater)
T3 Verdict

The Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 is a combo infrared and fan heater with a good range of features that help you save money: a thermostat, timer and remote control. It is a little expensive, for what you get though.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Plenty of heating power

  • +

    Thermostat controls

  • +

    Remote control

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No oscillation, so heat only goes in one direction

  • -

    A little noisy

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid: specs

Output power: 1500W/1200W
Controls: Thermostat (50-86F), 12-hour Timer
Other controls: Remote control

The Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid is, as the name suggests, an infrared heater with the addition of a fan to increase the heating speed. Infrared heaters can make for some of the best space heaters as they are more efficient in heating large areas than ceramic or oil-based heaters. Rather than heating an internal element to produce the heat, infrared heaters emit electromagnetic waves into the air – in a similar way to the sun or an actual fire. This means that there is no loss of energy in the process. 

Despite its size, the DR-978 is an effective heater and thanks to its fan, it is able to heat quite quickly. The downside of infrared heaters is that they can be more expensive than ceramic models with similar power, but as this model proves, the extra money is often well spent. 

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid review: price and availability

The Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid was first released in 2019 and has a list price of $129.99 in the US. However, you can often find it for sale online for under $100. This product is not available in the UK or Australia. 

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid

(Image credit: Richard Baguley)

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid review: design and build

The DR-978 is a small, cubic heater that’s designed to look like a miniature wood-burning stove. That goes even down to the dull glow from the heating element you can see through the vent in the front when it is working and the little legs that lift it an inch or so off the ground. On the front are a series of buttons and the readout of the thermostat, which can be set to between 50 and ºF. One nice touch here is that this can show the target temperature of the heater or the temperature of the room, which is useful if you aren’t completely sure how darn cold it is. 

There are three modes: Eco, High and Low. The last two are fairly obvious, setting the heater to maximum 1500 Watt power or the lower power 1000 Watt setting, both with the same fan speed. The Eco mode automatically switches between the High and Low modes, depending on how close to the target temperature the room is. There is also an automatic night mode. If the heater detects that the room is dark, it will only check the temperature every 30 minutes, and run the heater for a short while afterward. That’s a neat trick for saving power while keeping a room from getting too cold at night. It’s a bit less useful than the freeze mode of the oil radiator heaters I tested, though. 

Another unusual touch is the filter on the back of the heater that catches dust and hair being sucked in. This isn’t a pro-level HEPA filter, but it is good to see on a low-cost heater like this. The filter can also be removed and cleaned with the removal of a couple of screws. 

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid

(Image credit: Richard Baguley)

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid review: performance

The manufacturers describe the DR-978 as having an Advanced Dual Heating System, which means it uses a combination of an Infra-red emitter and a convection system. In other words, a fan blows air over the heating element. That’s all fancy talk for it being a fan heater by another name, albeit a good one. 

I found it to be a very effective heater, outputting a lot of heat and circulating it quickly in my test room, although the lack of oscillation meant that the heat wasn’t spread as widely as the tower fan heaters that can rotate. Instead, the fan directs the hot air out and down from the front of the heater, right onto your cold feet. This fan is fairly quiet, but it is definitely audible, especially around the front of the heater, with a low-frequency whooshing sound.  

The DR-978 also includes a small remote control. This only has four buttons, so it can control the temperature, set the mode (including putting the heater on standby, effectively running it off), and set the timer. You can’t see the timer temperature on the remote control itself, though: you have to look at the heater for that. 

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid

(Image credit: Richard Baguley)

Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 Hybrid review: verdict

The Dr Infrared Heater DR-978 is a pretty effective heater that does the job and includes features that make it more flexible than most. The thermostat works well, and a 12-hour timer means you aren’t likely to leave it on overnight by accident. It is a bit expensive, though. You can pick up a decent fan heater for about half the price. 

Richard Baguley has been writing about technology since the 1990s, when he left a promising career in high finance to work on Amiga Format magazine for Future. It has been downhill for him ever since, writing for publications such as PC World, Wired and Reviewed.com. He has tested gadgets as diverse as 3D printers to washing machines. For T3, he covers laptops, smartphones, and many other topics. He lives near Boston in the USA with his wife, one dog, and an indeterminate number of cats.