What do you do when you are camping and it’s cold during the night? Easy, you turn on the heater. The problem is, very few people know about how to use one during camping what’s left about choosing the most suitable device. So should you spend your free days at home, watching TV? No, you start looking for the best tent heaters for camping.
Tent heaters will ensure that you have excellent camping experience, instead of hypothermia. It may sound to you as if we are joking, but trust us, cold temperatures, especially during the night, are not something you should underestimate.
There are many products available on the market nowadays, and you need to know what to look for in a particular unit. Luckily for you, this buying guide consists of all the helpful information you need, entertaining tips, and most importantly the top 7 propane camping tent heater reviews.
Features to Look for in a Tent Heater
This is one of the mechanisms we have listed, which will prevent the start of fire from your device. How these switch works are basically, it will automatically turn off your electric heater if it tips over. This is really useful to have because you never know what could happen, we forget to do things sometimes. Better to be safe than sorry.
This will make sure you follow one of the safety tips: do not sleep with a heater on. Some manufacturers do say you can use their products overnight, but experienced campers will advise you against it. A mechanism like this will turn your unit off after a couple of hours of uninterrupted use.
This will make sure your heater doesn’t get too hot, or more so its inside system. A sensor of temperature will shut the whole thing down if it senses this. This is a fantastic life-saving feature, which both type of heaters usually has.
Always keep in mind to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to operate the device you’ve bought. This means you should also only use it in the way it is intended. If on the instructions it says you can use it outdoors only, then you use it just this way. Stay safe and ensure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
This is one of the top factors for any camping equipment, and someone who goes camping a lot will know this from experience. Staying outside sometimes in really extreme weather means that what you bring with yourself should be able to endure anything the environment throws at it. This is difficult to judge, even if you look at the specs of a model. That’s why it’s useful to read reviews from users or to get a unit from a well-known brand.
Best Tent Heaters for Camping Comparison Chart
Mr. Heater 29,000-45,000 BTU
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Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B
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Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater
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Mr. Heater F242300 MH15C BTU Cooker
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Dura Heat DH2304S Indoor Kerosene Heater
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Propane Tent Heater Reviews – Top Picks
Let’s get started with the reviews of the most reliable products you can find on the market nowadays. We have not arranged them in any specific order, and it’s up to you and nobody else, to decide which one will be the perfect fit for your needs.
1. Mr. Heater 29,000-45,000 BTU
This Mr. Heater unit is a powerful and efficient heater. It works with a refillable 20 lb bulk propane tank. But you should know that this tank can be bought separately. Suitable for large outdoor spaces and camps. Can heat to 1,000 sq ft providing a 540-degree rotatable heating angle. Because of the adjustable 360 angle degree burner head, this unit can swivel up to 180 degrees warming the space in multiple directions.
This product is simple and easy to use. The TE ignition valve will significantly simplify the ignition process. It is water-resistant and requires no electricity to work. Comes with a one-year warranty. The product is lightweight and can be placed everywhere, but it is only of outdoor usage.
This unit has three different heating settings. If set to “low,” it will provide you with 29,000 BTUs heating power per one hour. On medium, it will yield 36,000 BTUs, and on high, you get 45,000 BTU. Includes heater but to work correctly will need a 20 lb propane tank, which is sold separately. Pay close attention to the safety instructions when you want to use near a tent.
- This unit is lightweight but very powerful
- Three different working modes
- 540 degrees of heat
- Automatic shut-off switch
- It is made of high-quality stainless-steel materials
- Requires no electricity
- It is only for outdoor use, you can’t use it at home
- Doesn’t come with a propane tank
2. Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B
This is an indoor-safe small heater. You can use it to heat up tents up to 75 square feet. Keep in mind that you can not use this unit for motorized vehicles or golf carts – just camping. Features 45-degree angle and an advanced ODS system. This means that if the oxygen levels are deficient, then the heater will turn off automatically.
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B is very compact is easy to use. It has on and off buttons, and it uses a 1-pound disposable propane cylinder. There isn’t any need for you to buy an extra external power source for this heater. Because it is lightweight, it is easy to place wherever you want.
This heater is a good value for money because it is self-sufficient. What is more, because of its ODS system you don’t need to worry that you will run out of oxygen. Features a 45-degree heating angle and can work for 6 hours, without recharging.
- Features ODS system
- It is odor-free and has a 45-degree heating angle
- Easy to use, due to the on and off button
- It can work for a maximum of 5 to 6 hours
- There are no heat setting or thermostat
3. Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater
Mr. Heater MH12B is probably one of the most popular tent heaters in North America. It is a portable propane heater. Works quietly and heats up to 300sq ft. Via a convenient swivel regulator, this unit connects directly to a 1lb tank of propane. It is easy to use and start. What you need to do is merely push down the starting knob. It is small and compact. This unit features the ODS system. This is an Oxygen Depletion Sensor which will shut down automatically when the oxygen in the space is not enough.
This heater will provide you with up to 12,000 BTUs heating power per one hour. Features two heating settings low and high. It can also be powered by using a 20lb cylinder, which is not included. Finally, this heater is powerful enough to heat up to 300sq ft space. The unit features a safety switch which is a crucial addition to any camp heater.
- Two different working modes, low and high
- Works with propane gas no need for electricity
- Features automatic shut-off switch
- This unit has an ODS system. It will stop working if there is not enough oxygen in the room
- When used outdoor even the smallest wind will blow out the pilot light
4. Mr. Heater F242300 MH15C 10,000-15,000 BTU Cooker
Mr. Heater F242300 MH15C is a lightweight and very powerful tent heater. It can generate between 10,000 and 15,000 BTU power. The design makes this unit lightweight and easy to port everywhere. You can easily heat up your tent, by simply popping in the refillable tank adapter or the disposable cylinder. It comes completely united and ready to be used.
Since it is quite powerful, it has heating coverage up to 375 square feet. This unit can heat a 64 square feet ice shelter, but you need to keep in mind to not place the tank to close to the ice. If it is close to the ice, the gas will not boil off fast and might not heat it up.
To sum up, this unit might be too strong for a tent. It works with a 20lb refillable tank and heats up to 375 square feet. It features an automatic safety shut-off. Comes completely assembled except for the iron stand. You will need to buy it separately.
- 375 square feet heating coverage
- Features an automatic safety shut-off system
- Because there are no-frills design, this unit is lightweight and portable
- The metal stand needs to be bought separately
- It is not made of high-quality materials
5. Dura Heat DH2304S 23,800 BTU Indoor Kerosene Heater
The Dura Heat DH2304S heater is made of quality materials and has a solid construction. On one tank of fuel, this heater can work between 8 and 12 hours. What is more, it has a 360 heating degree radius. Suitable for larger spaces. This heater generates 23,800 BTUs of heating power. Because it is made of solid materials, it is a bit heavy. Its weight is 27.6 pounds, which can be a reason for more expansive shipping.
Due to the new no-lift heat chamber technology when you light up the heater, the startup odor is minimized. Something else, this is designed with grills protecting the hot surface areas. This powerful heater can heat a couple of tents of one night. It is an excellent choice for a backup or supplemental heat. Features a super sensitive auto-shutoff. Even if you slightly hit the base the heater will immediately shut off and that’s quite useful when camping. This heater comes with one siphon pump, 2c batteries, and 2 little screws.
- Due to the no-lift heat chamber, the startup odor is minimized
- It can work up to 12 hours on only one tank of fuel
- 360 heating degree radius
- The heater is quite big, which makes it difficult to move around
- Burns the fuel very quickly
6. Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater
Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater is a powerful and efficient product. This unit can generate over 3.000 BTUs, but you should know that this product does not have multi-stage control like some other units. But features a valve. This is allowing you for a little more checks and a possibility for fine-tuning. Its tank is a bit large around 16.7 oz. For safety reasons, an automatic shut off valve is installed.
This heater is suitable for golf carts, duck blinds, fishing boats, etc. It has a stainless-steel burner design and features a pressure regulator. This unit can be used in a tent, but what you need to know is that there is a distinct danger of Carbon Monoxide. Therefore, proper ventilation is required in the tent. Another treat you need to consider is that this unit works on gas, which means that it is flammable. Finally, this heater comes with a base. With this base, you will have protected your heater from tipping over.
- It can heat up to 3,000 BTU.
- A base is included
- Features an automatic shut off valve system
- This unit has a stainless-steel burner
- If not appropriately used might cause a fire
7. Martin Portable Gas Catalytic Heater
This Martin portable heater can work up to 7 hours on 1lb (16.4 oz) cylinder. No batteries are required. Provides up to 3000 BTU heating power. It is designed with folding support legs for easier transporting and placing wherever you want it to be. If by any chance the flame goes out there is an automatic safety fuel shutoff. Because this unit uses clean and efficient propane, this heater is suitable for families with children. Works silently with great heating coverage.
For this heater is used advanced catalytic technology. This catalytic heating is 99.98% more efficient than the flame type heaters. It is ideal for camping. For safe use, the required distance from the radiator and other objects is around 24 inches. In conclusion, this Martin tent heater is compact and efficient. Featuring a catalytic heat technology this unit delivers a flameless heat, providing 3.000 BTUs heat power.
- Compact and efficient
- Features a catalytic heating technology, delivering flameless heat
- Works up to 7 hours on a particular lb propane bottle
- Ideal for using in a tent or camper
- Works silently
- Features foldable legs for easy transporting
- Can be tricky to light it up
Camping Tent Heater Buying Guide
A lot of us enjoy camping in the wild either with friends, family, or just our partner. However, even though it is a delightful and different experience from the busy city life, it does come with its challenges. Depending on the time you decide to go camping you might realize that it will be freezing both outside and inside your tent. This shouldn’t be something that stops you from doing what you love.
Nevertheless, we have to search for a way to heat our small area inside the tent. What will help you deal with this problem are tent heaters. They will help you enjoy your time camping no matter the season and without getting frostbites. Keep in mind that party tent heaters are different than what we will talk about today, this is a topic for another time.
Types of Tent Heaters
Now we will look at the different kinds there are. This is important to know when selecting from the best tent heaters because the one you choose should fit into the tent you have. Also be aware we want to pick from safe tent heaters for camping because when it comes to being around so many trees, things can go wrong between a heater and wood. Primarily there are two types of heaters. There is a third one, chemical heater.
Propane Tent Heaters
They are one of the most known and used outdoor heaters on the market. As the name suggests, the fuel for propane heaters is propane. Their size and shape vary depending on your needs. Usually, they have features such as a built-in mechanism for automatic safety turn off, and if you get a catalytic propane heater, it lacks open burning flame.
Electric Tent Heaters
They are simple and recommended by a lot of people for a tent close to an electrical power supply or hookup (EHU). Apparently, it uses electricity as its source of fuel, and it again has different sizes and shapes. This might make such a heater not very attractive to campers because you probably won’t have access to electricity in the wild. Most portable electric heaters are actually car heaters and we have a separate piece especially for them. There are 2 subtypes of portable car heaters.
- Convection Heater – Its name comes from its heating process named convection. This is when a standard or cool air goes into a heated surface, making it warm and then it’s blown out again. Convection heaters are designed for bigger rooms and spaces.
- Radiant Heater – This type uses a metal such as glowing quartz or other similar minerals, together with a reflector. It is designed for smaller areas. There is a ceramic convection heater, which uses ceramic plates for heating after that aluminum baffle absorbs the heat. The warm air is then blown out with a fan. Check out our radiant floor heater reviews, too.
Chemical Tent Heaters
As we mentioned they aren’t exactly considered as tent heaters, but it is part of this group. You can easily have them as a backpacking tent heater and use it when you’re walking outside. They too divide into two types, but both of them contain nontoxic materials such as sodium acetate and water.
- Single-Use – Their size varies around hand and toes warmer to packs so large they can heat a sleeping bag.
- Reusable – Тhey comes in different sizes. The way they heat is thanks to a liquid inside the pack which gradually crystallizes when you activate it with a metal button. This process of crystallization radiates heat because of its exothermic reaction.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Tent Heaters
Electric Tent Heaters
- Heat up the tent rather quickly.
- Can reduce condensation inside the tent
- They are known as the safest type of tent heaters. Specifically, ceramic heater, since they lack glowing materials or open flames, thus minimizing the danger of fire.
- You can place an electric tent heater on any material, thanks to its outer plastic coating. It prevents it from overheating the body.
- It has a built-in automatic safety tip over and overheats shut off the system.
- You are dependent on having an electrical power supply for it to operate.
- It works with smaller areas only.
- The air becomes dry and stuffy, because of the device.
- You have to keep turning on and off the fan, which can be irritating when you’re sleeping.
Propane Tent Heaters
- Portable and easy to use.
- For information, a 16.4 oz Propane unit can be used for 7 hours of heating.
- Most of them have an automatic safety turn off instrument for tip-over and low oxygen level.
- Requires proper ventilation while at work, meaning cold air has to come into your tent.
- You have to be careful what’s around it because when the device becomes hot enough, it can ignite combustible materials such as nylon.
- They should be stopped while you’re sleeping, preventing any accidents.
- You always have a risk of oxygen depletion.
Chemical Heat Packs
- Portable and easy to use.
- Can heat up for up to 15 hours.
- The reusable packs can be used around 500 times.
- Its shelf life is 6 years.
- It is non-toxic to human health, environmentally friendly, and non-inflammable.
- They are only suitable for heating areas as big as a sleeping tent.
- If someone has sensitive skin, they may cause irritation.
- The single-use packs are only for one time use, and that’s around 1-2 hours just.
- They are expensive.
Tent Heater Sizing
The size of your camping heater matters because if you buy a unit that is too small for your tent, you will still feel the cold. Now the power of tent heaters is measured in BTU’s. Being familiar with what a British Thermal Unit is can be quite useful. To figure out the correct size for you, you need to use the following formula.
Knowing the length x width x height of your tent multiply it by a fraction between 2 and 8, depending on the surrounding factor. However, there are other ways to calculate this, so if this one doesn’t work for you, try subtracting the outside temperature from the desired temperature inside your tent x the cubic feet of the shelter.
It is good to know how to insulate a tent for winter camping because this season brings some harsh weather, and you should know how to deal with it. This will also help you keep the accumulated warmth from the heater device inside your tent.
- For a well-insulated tent, you multiply by 2
- For moderate conditions, you use 4 or 5
- A shelter that is on a high cliff face with the howling wind you increase with 8
You use the calculated number to benchmark it against the power output of a heater you like. For the unit to be great for you, it needs to be the same as the calculated number or above.
Camping Tent Heating Safety Tips
Tent heaters can help us a lot when we decide to go back to nature and recollect ourselves, but they can also be harmful. This is why we have to be aware of those possibilities and follow particular device safety instructions. They are really individual in some aspect, but they are also some general safety tips we can give you the different types of heaters and instructions for operating tent heaters.
Safety Tips for Propane Heaters
- Do not operate these devices when you’re sleeping.
- Place the warmer on a heatproof mat.
- Pets and kids should be kept at a safe range from the unit.
- Keep any sensitive or flammable materials and objects away from the heater.
- Enough ventilation should be provided to maintain the level of oxygen and to keep carbon monoxide and dioxide from passing into harmful levels.
- When you switch off the unit do it from the tank first, this will bleed the pressure out of the line.
Safety Tips for Electric Heaters
- Even when not operating, all liquids should be kept away from the unit.
- Since this type relies on heating air, don’t block the passage of air to it.
- Just like with the propane device, make sure you keep children and pets away from it.
- Plug the unit directly into an outlet.
- When you haven’t used the device for an extended period continually turn the fan on to blow out any dirt that might have been accumulated.
- If needed, use only heavy-duty extension wires.
Safety Tips for Chemical Heaters
- They are pretty safe but note that they may cause irritation to some, due to sensitive skin. If you suspect that, you can do a patch test to check for sensitivity.
- If the pack has been ruptured, its contents can cause burning followed by boiling. Keep it away from sharp things to prevent this.
- Do not microwave these heat packs.
- In addition to our safety tips, there are several secrets to happy camping. The main ones are related to how to keep warm, of course.
When you follow these safety tips, you will safely use heaters in a tent.
Portable Stove Safety
Portable Stove is used more commonly when it comes to heating a large room. They also go by the name wood-burning stoves, they are used for camping. However, the only time you can use them is in a tent where you can get maximum ventilation. One such tent it the classic tipi style, other than that any type of shelter with a flue can work.
Except for that, you also need the canvas of the tent to be flame-retardant to resist the runaway sparks from the stove. These portable devices are high because they don’t need any other material other than wood. You should always follow the instruction set-up in the device’s manual exactly how it’s written and also take all safety precautions that are listed there.
Do not use a portable wood stove when everyone is asleep, it should only be used when someone is awake. Instead, during the night it is recommended to use a heater to warm up the inside of the tent. This means you should bring enough insulation to keep the warmth inside during the night. Of course, the heaters are usually equipped with safety features, like the one we mentioned earlier, but nothing is foolproof.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
We mentioned that it is essential to have a well-ventilated space when you are using a heater because it can otherwise lead to a high level of carbon monoxide. Let’s look at what this poisoning is. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel doesn’t thoroughly burn. If this is happening in an enclosed, unventilated space, the oxygen will gradually decrease and be carefully used up at some point. This leads to fuel-burning incompletely, and it starts releasing carbon monoxide. When you take a breath of this, it binds with the hemoglobin within your blood, preventing the red blood cells in you from carrying oxygen around the body. Be aware that you should be cautious of things like mold and allergies. You may want to have a look at our reviews on the best air purifiers for mold and best-selling humidifiers for allergies.
The first and most common symptom of CO poisoning is a headache. Some others that follow this are dizziness or nausea; feeling lethargic, weak; disorientated; pains in the stomach; feeling short of breath.
Pretty much the symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to food poisoning or flu; however, you shouldn’t have a temperature. It’s important to keep this mind so you can react accordingly if a situation arises. If anyone around you starts to experience any of these symptoms always get medical attention right away.
What do you do?
Except for calling for an ambulance if they are in a terrible condition, you can and should also get the affected person outside and at a distance from the tent, breathing fresh air can help them.
Something you can do to prevent all of this from happening is for instance if you have used a barbecue for lunch so you can prepare some food. Firstly, never move it inside an awning or porch, even if you believe it’s fully extinguished. Secondly, after using it outside, make sure you put it out and place it away from everyone’s tent before you go to sleep. You can also buy a carbon monoxide indicator and place it close to the people inside your tent.
We mentioned earlier as we talked about electric heaters that you need to have a sort of power supply where you’re camping, one such thing is an electric hook-ups or the so-called EHU. You will be disappointed if you aren’t already aware of this, that you can’t take an extension cable from home and plug-in a large electric radiator. EHUs actually need a specific electrical fitting, and they are usually limited to around 5amps of electricity.
When you’re using an electric hookup the correct fitting you want to find is with a built-in circuit breaker (RCD). This is clearly something you should pay attention to because accidents and fatalities do happen every year. You don’t require to be one of those people who tried to save a few pounds and used a power cord extension from home, but then something goes wrong, because of that. So let’s investigate a bit deeper and see what you need to know before going to a campsite with an EHU.
What electrical appliances can you use at a campsite?
The electric supply of a campsite is fitted with a miniature circuit breaker (MCB). You should understand how much can you plugin before the circuit breaker trips. Some campground doubles up on electric point, meaning if you overload the electrics you will trip out your neighbor’s tent together with yours.
Sometimes only the owner of the campsite can reset the electrics if they trip, and sometimes you are shown how to do it yourself. However, if it’s only done by the owner, it might not be possible between 9 pm and 9 am, and you might even be charged for the reset.
A lot of campsites only provide a supply of 10A, and in Europe, it can go down to only 5A. This means that the quantity differs on the campgrounds, so make sure to look into it before going.
To learn how not to overload the system, you need to have some knowledge of Ohms law and also take into account any voltage drop with long lengths of cable. The required formula is Power (in Watts) = Voltage x current (Amps).
It sounds worse than it is, but you don’t need to be a mathematical physics genius to go camping and to figure things out. Here we have a small diagram for orientation.
Site amps; Calculation; How much power
16A; 230V x 16A; 3.65kW
10A; 230V x 10A; 2.3kW
5A; 230V x 5A; 1.15 kW
It also depends a lot on your appliances, because they draw different amounts of energy. For instance, a domestic kettle needs a lot of power, but you can get a camping kettle that needs a low watt of electricity.
Another thing you can consider is not running devices at the same time. When you are using, for example, this same kettle, you can meanwhile turn off the heater. So make sure you check your own devices and their power consumption.
Let’s take a look at what you can plug in for a campsite with a 10 Amp supply, meaning you have around 2.3 kW. You can run a low watt camping or travel kettle (approximately 750 Watts) and a low watt toaster (900 Watts). However, if you also plug a low 600W Hairdryer, you would be really close to tipping the electric system.
As we mentioned it differs on the appliances, so the kettle and the toaster can each be using 1000W. That doesn’t allow you to use anything else while these two devices are on. If we looked at the 5A supply campsite, you would only have 1.15 kW available to use. This will only allow you to use the 1000W toaster that would be the only unit in use before it tipping. Of course, if you are a campsite with a lot more Amps of electric supply, you would be able to use a lot more things simultaneously.
All you need to do to keep track of this is adding all the Watts of the appliances you want to use at the same time. When you get the summed number, it should stay below the amount of Watts on the campsite’s electric hookup.
Now we are going to meet you with a few questions that are asked frequently.
- Q: What is a tent heater?
A: A tent heater is a unit that heats up thanks to a small fuel or electricity, and you can safely put them inside of your tent so you can create a warm temperature. They are used for different activities such as camping, hunting, fishing, and others, where such a device is needed. Some people use them inside their house in one room, because it’s cold and that makes it difficult to fall asleep.
- Q: Can the tent heaters be noisy?
A: You definitely have a small amount of noise when it’s turned on, but they are relatively quiet.
- Q: Is it safe to use a gas tent heater?
A: They are used in a tent if they are designed with the idea of being needed in small spaces. You just need to read and follow the directions in the manual and make sure that the heater has a safety mechanism such as auto shut-off. If you do all of this everything should be fine.
- Q: How do I calculate how much propane my heater uses?
A: Use the already known heat output of your heater, it is in Btu/h. Divide that by 21591, which is one pound of propane in Btu.
If you want to calculate the gallons of propane used per hour, take usage in pounds and divide by 4.24, which is pounds of propane per gallon.
For a total load, you need to number of heater x pounds or gallons per hour.
- Q: Why are chemical tent heaters designed for emergency use only?
A: They should be used only in an emergency because they aren’t capable of producing the same amount of BTUs that gas or an electric space heater device is able to deliver. Plus taking into account they are designed for emergencies, it is essential to use them only for what they are made for and not rely on them for regular use.
As this is the end of our buying guide you now realize that finding the best tent heaters, amongst so many other products, is not that easy as you would imagine. There are many factors you should learn and many units that you can choose from. However, with our tips, information, and the top 7 propane tent heater reviews, you will surely find what you need.
If you think that this buying guide was enlightening and helpful, make sure that you show it to all your friends and family! And, if you believe that we have missed something in our piece or you just want to share something with our crew, leave us a comment or send us an email.
We have many other articles devoted to finding the most reliable unit for your needs, so go check them out as well. Thanks for reading, and as always- stay put!
If you enjoy camping in the summer as well as in the winter, check out our tent air conditioners for camping reviews, too!