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 insulated tent or a wool camping blanket will help, but a tent heater is a easy way to warm your tent during the winter months.
Best Large Tent Heater:
DeWalt Propane Heater
The DeWalt cordless propane radiant heater is an evolution of the Mr. Heater Buddy. Its shares similar looks and even parts as the Mr. Buddy but has added some more features. The basics are the same, a dual propane tank system that pumps out up to 12000 BTU for up to 7 hrs. Safety features included a tip-over switch and an oxygen depletion shut-off system. A AA battery is used to light the heater so no matches or lighter are needed.
However, at the back of the heater, you can attach one of DeWalt's 20V batteries to power a LED lightbar build into the handle and also power 3 USB ports for charging devices. A built-in fan can also be operated to project the heat further and help to circulate the heated air. With all these features it is pretty much the perfect camping heater.
10.5 x 15.75 x 14 inches
Mr.Heater Big Buddy
Mr.Heater has been a major manufacturer of tent heaters and they make quality portable heaters.
The Big Buddy is the largest heater in their range and is designed for large family tents.
The Big Buddy uses dual 16.4oz propane tanks that are built into the design to make it compact. the regulators swing out for easy removal and can even be connected to larger propane tanks if needed.
The Big Buddy has 3 power settings, 4000BTU, 9000BTU, and 18000BTU. On the low setting expect around 12 hours of use and about 3 hours on the high setting.
Its safety features include pilot light extinguish shut-off, low oxygen sensor, and tip-over shut-off.
The Big Buddy weighs 15 pounds and is 17”x10”17.5.
For our full review on the MR.Heater Big Buddy go here.
Best Small Tent Heater:
Mr.Heater Little Buddy
Once again Mr.heater makes the list of best small tent heaters in the form of the Little Buddy. This small tent heaters screws into a 16oz propane bottle and are angled at 45deg for maximum efficiency. The unit pumps out 3800BTU which is more than enough to heat a small to medium size tent.
It's only got one setting and you can expect about 5.5hours of run time on a single propane canister.
The little Buddy has the same safety features as its more expensive and bigger brothers, namely, the pilot light extinguish shut-off, low oxygen shut-off, and the accidental tilt shut off.
The little buddy weighs6.2 pounds and its dimensions are 12”x10.5”x10.5’
For our full review on the Mr.Heater Little Buddy go here.
Best Electric Tent Heater:
Honeywell 360 Surround Heater
The Honeywell 360 Degree surround heater is a great little heater that does not cost an arm and a leg and it is one of the best sellers on Amazon.
This electric heater is a 1500W unit (around 6000BTU), so it's more than enough to heat a small tent. It radiates heat at 360 deg, so place it in the middle of the tent and everyone will feel the heat. Its got 2 power settings and unfortunately, it needs a power source for the heater to work
As far as safety goes the heater has got 2 overheat protection, a tip-over shut-off, and the housing and wires are thermally protected. It also comes with a 3-year warranty.
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.
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 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
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
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.
· Single use packs are sufficient for 1-2 hours only
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.