The Hot and Cold of Tent Heaters

The Hot and Cold of Tent Heaters

tent heater

Camping in a tent is always an great experience, but it comes with a lot of challenges; one of many is keeping yourself warm inside your tent when it’s freezing cold outside. A cold tent demands a lot of impetus and encouragement to get out of your sleeping bag, limiting the enjoyment of starting another day of adventure. Thankfully, tent heaters have been manufactured to break these barriers. Now, you can enjoy your time camping without getting frostbites.

Types of Tent Heaters:


While selecting a tent heater, you have to pay close attention to the type of heater you want as it should fit into the tent you are residing in. There are mainly 2 types of heaters.

1) Propane tent heaters

2) Electrical tent heaters

A third heater, chemical heater, is less commonly used because it does not heat the entire tent internally rather it only heats the inside of your sleeping bag.

Tent Heaters

1) Propane Tent Heaters

Propane tent heaters are amongst the most popular and commonly used outdoor heaters available. They consume propane as their fuel, varying in sizes and shapes to best fit your need anywhere. Most propane heaters come with features such as built-in automatic safety turn off mechanism and the generation of heat without an open burning flame (catalytic propane heater). When the topic of discussion is propane heaters, Mr. Heater and Coleman are the two well-known companies of this field. Following them is a third company named Zodi, which is relatively less commonly used.

Advantages of Propane Tent Heaters

· Portable, easy to use and convenient.

· A 16.4 oz. Propane cylinder is usually sufficient for 7 hours of heating.

· Most devices are equipped with automatic safety turn off mechanism for both tip-over and low oxygen level.

DISADVANTAGES OF PROPANE TENT HEATERS

· It needs proper ventilation while operating which means letting in somewhat of the cold in your tent.

· The operating device becomes hot enough to ignite combustible materials such as nylon.

· To prevent any kind of accidents, these cannot be operated while sleeping.

· The risk of oxygen depletion is always present.

2) Electric Tent Heaters

electric tent heater

Electric tent heaters are the simplest and most recommended choice of heaters if your tent is pitched near an electrical power supply or hookup (EHU). It uses electricity as its basic source of fuel, varying in many sizes and shapes. The electric heaters are further divided into 2 types.

1) Convection Heater

This device provides heating by a process known as convection in which normal or cool air is directed towards a heated surface after which it becomes warm and is blown out. This is especially intended for a large room or space.

2) Radiant Heater

This device uses a metal such as glowing quartz or any other similar metal along with a reflector. This type of heater is designed for a comparatively smaller area.

A type of convection heater, ceramic heater, uses ceramic plates for heating and aluminum baffles to absorb the heat. A fan is attached to blow out the heated air. Amongst the manufacturers of ceramic heaters, Lasko is a reputable company. Lasko has manufactured many models containing oscillating and fixed air motion. These devices are equipped with features such as automatic safety tip over shut off the system and automatic overheat shut off.

Advantages of Electric Tent Heaters

· They are considered as the safest type of tent heaters.

· Ceramic heaters are not equipped with glowing materials or open flames so the danger of catching fire is minimized.

· Outer plastic coating around the device prevents it from overheating the body and thereby can be placed on any type of material.

· Built-in automatic safety tip over and overheat shut off mechanism.

Disadvantages of Electric Tent Heaters

· An electrical power supply is needed for operation.

· Efficient for relatively smaller areas as compared to propane heaters.

· They cause the air to be dry and stuffy.

· Constant turning on and off the fan can be really annoying especially when sleeping.

Safety Features of Tent Heaters:

I. Auto Shut-off:

This function will shut the heater off if it gets knocked over. This is an important safety feature if you plan to use it in a tent.

II. Oxygen depletion sensor:

This feature monitors oxygen levels and shuts the unit off if the oxygen drops below a safe level.

III. Push-button Pilot light:

No open flames needed to start these units; a push of a button and off it goes.

Size of Tent Heaters:

The power of tent heaters is measured in BTU’s. If you buy a unit that’s too small for the tent, it will run flat out while you are still miserably cold. To work out what size you need use this formula:

Take the square footage of your tent and multiply it by a number between 2 and 8 depending on the insulation factor.

· Well-insulated tent x 2

· Moderate conditions x 4 or 5

· A tent on a high cliff face with howling wind x 8

Example:

8x8x7 tent in moderate weather
445sq x 4=1792 BTU

Check that number against the power output of the heater. If the number on the heater is the same or above it is up for the job.

3) Chemical Heaters

Chemical heaters are not considered as true tent heaters because they only heat the inside of your sleeping bag. They contain nontoxic materials such sodium acetate and water. There are two types of chemical heaters.

1. Single Use Heat Packs

HeatMax is one of the well-known manufacturers of single-use heat packs ranging in size from hand and toes warmer to packs large enough to heat sleeping bags

Chemical camping heater
2. Reusable Heat Packs

Bent Grass Concepts is one of the manufacturers of reusable heat packs ranging in 4 different sizes. The heating process is activated with a metal button after which the liquid inside the pack gradually crystallizes. The process of crystallization is an exothermic reaction which means that it radiates heat.

Advantages of Chemical Heaters

· Portable, easy to use and convenient.

· Provides real heat up to 15 hours.

· Reusable packs can be used 500 times.

· Shelf life is of 6 years due to air tight packing

· Nontoxic to human health, environment-friendly and non-inflammable.

Disadvantages of Chemical Heaters

· Confined to a limited area only therefore not intended for heating tents or larger areas.

· May cause irritation to people with sensitive skin.

· Single use heat packs can be used only once per pack.

· Expensive

· Single use packs are sufficient for 1-2 hours only

Small Tent Heater Comparison:

Mr Heater Little Buddy Tent Heater

Mr.Heater

Light Buddy

Coleman SportCat tent heater

Coleman

SportCat

Coleman SportCat tent Heater

Coleman

SportCat Instastart

Coleman BlackCat tent heater

Coleman

BlackCat

Coleman BlackCat tent heater

Coleman BlackCat

Instastart

Max Heating Area

100 sq.ft 

40 sq.ft

40 sq.ft

80 sq.ft

80 sq.ft

MSRP

$73.97

$48.99

$54.99

$79.99

$84.99

Min BTU

N/A

N/A

N/A

1500 BTU

1500 BTU

Max BTU

3800 BTU

1500 BTU

1500 BTU

3000 BTU

3000 BTU

Lenth

12"

7.5"

7.5"

9.4"

9.4"

Width

10.5"

6.25"

6.25"

9.0"

9.0"

Height

10.5"

6.25"

6.25"

9.1"

9.1"

Weight

6.2 lbs

2 lbs 11oz

2 lbs 11oz

4 lbs

4 lbs

Low Power

N/A

N/A

N/A

14 hrs

14 hrs

High Power

5.5 hrs

14 hrs

14 hrs

7 hrs

7 hrs

Catalytic (Flameless)

Adjustable Power

Pushbutton Ignition

Auto SafetyShut-off

Safety Measures for All Types of Tent Heaters

Although all tent heaters can be harmful to human health in one way or another, they have become a necessity so following the particular device’s safety instructions is the only option you have.

1. Safety Measures For Propane Heaters

· Never operate these devices while sleeping

· Keep children and pets at a safe distance from the device.

· Keep any inflammable or such sensitive materials or objects away from the device.

· Always provide adequate ventilation to keep the levels of oxygen maintained and keep carbon monoxide and dioxide from exceeding harmful levels.

​-When you switch it off do it first at the tank to bleed pressure out of the line.

-Place the heater on a heat proof mat

2. Safety Measure For Electric Heaters

· Don’t look to save that extra dollar, buy a unit that has an automatic over shutoff mechanism.

· All liquids should be kept away from the device even when the device is not operating.

· As the motion of the air is a key principle, never block the passage of air by any means possible.

· Keep children and pets at a safe distance from the device.

· Continually turn the fan on when not in use for a long period of time to blow out any dust that may have accumulated.

· Plug directly into an outlet.

· When needed, use heavy duty extension wires only.

3. Safety Measures For Chemical Heaters

· While these packs require little safety measures, they may cause irritation to some people due to sensitive skin so a patch test can be done at first to check for sensitivity.

· Contents of the pack might cause burning subsequent to boiling if the pack has been ruptured so keep it safe from sharp objects.

· Chemical heat packs must never be microwaved.

Large Tent Heater Comparison:

Mr.Heater Portable Buddy Tent Heater

Mr.Heater

Portable Buddy

Mr.Heater Big Buddy tent heater

Mr.Heater

Bigg Buddy

tent heater

Mr.Heater

MH35LP

tent heater

Mr.Heater

MH125LP

Zodi Hot Vent Tent Heater

Zodi

Hot Vent

Max Heating Area

200 sq.ft

400 sq.ft

800 sq.ft

3000 sq.ft

700 sq.ft

MSRP

$140.44

$214.88

$219.41

$354.42

Cell 2 / 6

Min BTU

4000 BTU

4000 BTU

Variable

Variable

Variable

Max BTU

9000 BTU

18 000 BTU

35 000 BTU

125 000 BTU

20 000 BTU

Dimensions

9x14x14.5

17x10x17.5

12x10x34

16.1x16.1x35

TBA

Weight

9 lbs 6 oz

15 lbs

23 lbs 11oz

40 lbs

19 lbs

Tent Recommended

16.4 oz disposable butane compatable

Bulk Propane (LP) Cylinders compatable

Adjustable Power

Pushbutton Ignition

Auto SafetyShut-off (tip-over and Pilot Light)

Auto SafetyShut-off (low oxygen)

Built-in Blower

 
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