Propane heaters provide a cheap heating solution you can use both indoors and outdoors. They are also a great way to make sure your home has a heating system in the case of an emergency.
This kind of heaters is very popular among those who value portability. Most of them don’t need electricity to run, so you can take them with you when you’re out camping, fishing, or hunting.
You can use them to keep warm in your garage or workshop during the cold season or to provide some additional warmth to colder spaces in your home, such as attics or cellars.
The following article will show you how to choose the best propane heater for your particular needs, and how to use them safely and efficiently.
We also prepared short propane heater reviews for the best-selling models in 2017, so make sure you check them out. Maybe you’ll find the right model among them.
- Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B
- Heats: 95 sq ft
- BTUs: 3800
- Settings: 2
- Ignition: Piezo
- Safety features: Low-oxygen safety shut-off, tip-over safety shut-off
- Dimensions: 12 x 9.75
- Dyna-Glo RMC-FA60DGD
- Heats: 1350 sq ft
- BTUs: 60,000
- Settings: 2
- Ignition: continuous electronic
- Safety features: Overheat Auto-Shut-off Protection, Tip-over shutoff and back pressure switch
- Dimensions: 19.3 x 8.1 x 13.5
- Mr. Heater MH18B
- Heats: 450 sq ft
- BTUs: 18,000
- Settings: 3
- Ignition: Piezo
- Safety features: Low-oxygen safety shut-off, tip-over safety shut-off
- Dimensions: 10.25 x 15.5 x 16.5
- Dyna Glo RA18LPDG
- Heats: 600 sq ft
- BTUs: 18,000
- Settings: 3
- Ignition: Piezo
- Safety features: Oxygen Depletion Sensor, Tip-Over Safety Switch
- Dimensions: 14.8 x 15.5 x 23.4
- Mr. Heater VF30KBLUELP
- Heats: 1000 sq ft
- BTUs: 30,000
- Settings: thermostat
- Ignition: electronic
- Safety features: Oxygen depletion sensors
- Dimensions: 27.25 x 11.25 x 27
- Mr. Heater MH35LP
- Heats: 800 sq ft
- BTUs: 35,000
- Settings: 1
- Ignition: Piezo
- Safety features: tip-over safety switch and a thermoelectric safety valve
- Dimensions: 12 x 10 x 34
Top 6 Propane Heaters
Mr. Heater MH18B Portable Propane Heater
This small propane camping heater can be used for heating up to 400 square feet, so you’ll be able to use it in a large tent, but that’s not the only way to use it. You can use it with great results in workshops, storage units, or garages without an electricity connection.
The heater has several safety features which make it safe enough to use indoors, so you can use it as an emergency heater, in case the power is out. A tip-over switch turns the unit off when it leans over 30 degrees, and an oxygen sensor turns it off if the carbon monoxide level is too high.
- Portable – This unit is small, so you can take it everywhere with you. You can use it to keep your car warm, or for heating a tent. The overhead handle increases the unit’s portability and provides a safe grip when you want to move the unit.
- Great Heating Capacity – This model is capable of producing a lot of heat, which is almost surprising when you remember its small size.
- Can’t Be Used Above 3,000 Feet – Many people buy this heater for camping, but you should keep in mind that this portable propane heater won’t start unless you use it at altitudes of under 3,000 feet.
- Wasteful – This unit will consume a lot of propane if you use it for more than an hour or so. It’s better to turn the unit on, leave it on until the room is heated, turn it off until the room gets colder and repeat the process.
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Indoor Propane Heater
This is a small propane heater for indoor use, but you can use it outdoors as well. If you use it in a confined space, it can provide sufficient heat for up to 95 square feet. A one-pound propane cylinder will keep the heater running for about five and a half hours.
A low-oxygen sensor monitors the air and will turn the unit off if there is not enough oxygen in the room. The tip-over switch shuts down the unit if it leans in at an angle higher than 30 degrees.
The heater weighs only 5 pounds, so it’s very easy to carry and move around as you do. This makes it perfect for workshops or small garages.
- Small And Portable – This propane space heater weighs only five pounds, so even if you carry it and the one-pound propane tank in your bag, it’s still lightweight. This will make it easier for you to make it everywhere you go.
- Wide Base -The heater has a wide base, making it more stable. You will have no problems with it staying upright once you place it on an even surface.
- No Heat Adjustment – This propane heater doesn’t have heat adjustment, just an On/Off button, so you have to turn it off whenever you feel warm and on again when the temperatures drop.
- Very Sensitive Tip Sensor – Having a sensitive tip sensor is usually a good thing, but this model’s sensor is so sensitive it can be a nuisance. If you place the heater on a leveled surface but you step next to it, chances are it will stop working.
This version of the Dyna-Glo is capable of producing up to 60,000 BTUs, which is a very high heating capacity. When it’s used at his highest capacity, this model will produce sufficient heat to warm up a space of up to 1,350 square feet, which makes it a great propane heater for garage.
The heater has a sturdy steel construction, making it durable so you can use it for a long time. You can adjust the heater’s angle, so you can direct most of the heat where it’s most needed. The overhead handle helps you move the heater easily.
When you purchase this item you will also receive a 10-foot hose and a regulator, so you can install it quickly to your propane tank.
- Certified For Indoor And Outdoor Use – This propane heater is certified by the CSA as safe to use both indoors and outdoors, which is a great advantage. You can take the heater anywhere you want, on a construction site, when you’re working in the yard, or just use it to warm up your garage.
- Heats Large Surfaces – The great thing about this model is that you can use it to heat up large surfaces.
- Uses Electricity – Unlike other propane heaters, this model needs electricity to function. Its continuous ignition system will use the electricity to create constant sparks so that the heat will be constant.
- Thin Metal Canon – While this model’s construction is made out of durable steel, the canon is made out of a thin sheet of metal which will deform quickly if you bump it accidentally, so you have to be careful when you’re handling it.
Dyna Glo RA18LPDG Propane Cabinet Heater
This is a good indoor propane heater, capable of producing up to 18,000 BTU which should be enough for heating a space of up to 450 feet. The heater has three heat settings, so you can use it safely in small or large spaces, both.
The heater uses three separate burners, each of them rated at 6,000 BTU. You cannot use each of them separately, but you can choose to use only one, two, or all three at a time. Each burner uses a ceramic element that puts out a lot of radiant heat.
This heater uses a 20-pound propane gas tank, which is not included in the buying price. The tank fits perfectly in the open back of the heater, so it won’t take up additional space.
- Locking Wheels – This model has wheels for increased portability, and two of them have a locking system which will keep the heater from moving on its own, or from shifting its position when you walk next to it.
- Chrome Reflector Panel – This unit has a chrome reflector panel placed in front of it, so the high amount of heat it produces won’t be too high for your floors.
- Sensitive Oxygen Depletion Sensor – This heater has a very sensitive ODS, so it may not start all of the sudden. Check the air inlets and clean them with a vacuum or an air compressor
- Sensitive Tip-Over Sensor – This unit’s tip-over sensor is so sensitive that only walking next to it will make it stop. Make sure you place the heater on an even, hard surface if you want it to work.
Mr. Heater VF30KBLUELP Propane Heater
This is probably the most efficient propane heater in our list. It can produce up to 30,000 BTU in an hour, which will be enough to keep a space of up to 1,000 square feet warm when the temperatures drop.
The heater weighs 31 pounds and doesn’t need any electricity to run. The ignition system is powered by an AA battery, which makes the heater perfect for fishing or hunting cabins where the is no electricity around.
There are two heating settings you can choose from, so you can change the heat output from low to high. The control knob on the top acts like a thermostat, and once you choose a position you think will be enough for your home, it will keep the temperature constant according to that position.
- Powerful Heater – This unit is capable of producing up to 30,000 BTU of heat, so it’s powerful enough to use in large spaces.
- Working Thermostat – Even though the thermostat doesn’t have a digital temperature display, it works just like it should. All you need to do is try different positions of the knob to see which one delivers the heat you want. Once you find the right position you can use it all the time to produce the same amount of heat.
- No Handles – Handles would make the heater easier to move around. As it is, the heater is hard to move around because of its bulky construction.
- Inefficient Fan – This unit’s internal fan is not very efficient, and the heat will be distributed upwards no matter if it’s working or not.
Mr. Heater MH35LP Propane Radiant Heater
This is probably the best portable propane heater in our list. It produces 35,000 BTU of heat, enough for an 800 square feet surface, and it has a folding handle and wheels so you can move it around any time you like.
The radiant heat will warm up the objects in its range directly, without warming up the air molecules surrounding them. After they accumulate enough heat, the objects will radiate the heat, warming the air.
Installing the heater is easy using the included radiator and hose, and you can connect it to a 20 lbs propane tank which should provide enough fuel for up to 12 hours of continuous use.
- Easy To Move Around – The heater’s wheels and the handle make it easy to move around the gas tank. You don’t have to pick it up at any time, so you can move it safely after it’s been used.
- Radiant Heat – This unit produces radiant heat which is a great way to keep a space without insulation warm when the temperatures drop.
- Heat Is Not Adjustable – This unit’s heat output is not adjustable, so if the temperature in the space gets too high, you need to turn the unit off. When it’s not working, the temperatures will drop pretty quickly, so you’ll need to turn the unit back on. This process can be a nuisance
- Poor Customer Service – Many people have been complaining that this unit’s manufacturer doesn’t provide adequate customer service, which is a big downside.
How Do Propane Heaters Work?
Propane is a gas manufactured especially to be stored in a tank. The special propriety of propane is that it can be stored as a liquid in tanks with variable storing capacities and it naturally converts into a gas when it exits the tank. This makes propane a great fuel for houses situated in areas with expensive electricity, or for people who are looking for a heating system for garages or workshops which aren’t connected to the electricity system.
When they are used as a primary heating source for a home, propane-fueled heaters need to be connected at all times to a fuel tank, which means that you have to spare enough space for the tank and the heater both. Another particularity is that, unlike natural gas heaters which are connected to a natural gas outlet, propane heaters are connected to tanks which need to be filled on a regular basis, so you have to make arrangements for the propane gas to be delivered to your tank by a licensed supplier.
The advantage of using propane instead of methane or natural gas is that burning propane is that you don’t need a special outlet. The fact that propane can be stored is also an advantage because you can fill your tank or tanks during the warm season when the prices are low, and save a considerable amount of money.
Every flame burning propane will produce heat, but that doesn’t mean your blowing torch will be an efficient heater. Multiple features are incorporated in the heater to direct the flame in an efficient pattern, making it a high efficiency propane furnace.
A distinct advantage propane heaters have over other types of gas burning heaters is that they don’t need any electricity to run. The only moment when electricity might be needed is the ignition, but some models use batteries to produce the sparks needed for the heater to start burning.
Choosing the Best Propane Heater – Buying Guide
If you’re thinking about buying a propane heater, you need to make sure you buy the right one for your particular needs. Different models are more efficient in different environments, so you need to buy a model which will do exactly what you want it to. Here are some of the features you should keep in mind when you decide on a model.
There is more than one way to turn the propane heater on. Some models use a manual ignition, meaning you have to ignite the heater yourself, while most models available on the market today use an automatic, integrated ignition system.
The integrated ignition system can vary between models, as well. Some models use electricity to power their ignition system, which means you need an electricity outlet nearby if you want to use them. This means you can’t use them in remote areas where electricity is not available, but there is a good reason behind this ignition method. These models use electricity to create sparks constantly, making sure that the heater is burning at all times and that propane is not leaking in the room.
Other integrated ignition systems use batteries as a power source. This means you can use these models everywhere you want, but if the batteries run out and you don’t have replacements on hand, igniting them can prove to be difficult.
Propane heaters can be very dangerous because they use an open flame for heating, making them a potential fire hazard. Propane is also highly flammable so it’s very dangerous to leak and accumulate in a confined location. Another risk is the accumulation of carbon monoxide in an enclosed space. Carbon monoxide is a by-product which results after burning propane, and it’s a toxic gas when it reaches a high concentration in the air. This is why propane heater manufacturers use safety features for their heaters.
All propane heaters have safety features, even though some have more than the others. The most common safety features are the tip-off safety and the oxygen level sensor. The tip-off sensor will turn the heater off if it leans on one side, or if it falls. This lowers the heater’s potential of becoming a fire hazard. Every indoor safe propane heater has an oxygen level sensor which will turn the unit off if the oxygen level in the room is too low because this means there is either an accumulation of carbon monoxide in the air or one of propane.
No matter how many safety feature a unit might have, you should always make sure the heater is suited for running indoors or outdoors. You will be able to find this information on the manufacturer’s website or in the instructions manual. Never run an outdoor heater indoors, as they are designed differently and they produce higher levels of carbon monoxide.
Propane heaters are efficient. They have a high heat output, and propane is cheaper than other heating fuel. Most propane heaters will provide sufficient heat for larger surfaces than electric heaters, and still cost less to run.
In fact, using an electric heater to warm up the same surface as a propane heater can cost up to four times as much, so it’s easy to consider propane heaters efficient.
The only downside of running a propane heater is that most of them don’t have thermostats and the models that do don’t use thermostats with temperature display. If you use a space heater without a thermostat there’s always the possibility of running it more than it should, lowering their efficiency.
Making sure your propane heater is sized right is essential if you want to use it efficiently. Buying a heater too small for the space you use it in will only raise the temperature a little, without actually warming up the place, while buying a heater too big can make the temperature reach uncomfortable levels.
Most propane heaters indicate how many BTU they are capable of producing, and you should use this value as a guideline to make sure it’s enough for your needs. As a general rule, you can consider that you need 24 BTU for every square foot of surface when the temperatures are low.
Even though they use the same fuel, indoor and outdoor propane heaters are designed differently. The most important difference between them is the carbon monoxide output. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas, so indoor units are specially designed to produce a very low amount of it, while outdoor units produce lots of it.
Another difference between the two types of propane heater is the ignition system. Outdoor heaters usually use a multiple spark system to make sure they are always burning and the propane is not wasted. If you try using an indoor propane space heater outdoors, it will turn off as soon as a draft or a light wind will extinguish its flame.
Portability is very important for a space heater because it gives you the possibility to move it and place it where it’s most needed. Propane heaters are portable, but most of them have limited portability because they only move around their gas tank for as long as the connecting hose allows it. Some models have special designs allowing them to carry their gas tank around. They have increased portability.
Propane heaters are usually priced accordingly to their heating output and features. Their price is usually similar to that of electric heaters.
However, propane heaters are cheaper to run. Even though propane heaters consume more propane in an hour than the amount of electricity consumed by electric heaters, such as electric wall heaters, the price difference between the two fuels is so large, it’s still cheaper to run a propane heater than an electric one.
Another cost difference between the heating systems is that indoor propane heaters have to be constantly checked by a professional, so you will constantly pay for that service.
Having a warranty is always good, and the general rule is that the longer the warranty period, the better the product. Manufacturers usually provide extended periods of warranty only when they’re positive that the product will work properly for a longer time.
Propane Gas Heater Safety Tips
Propane heaters can be safe, as long as you follow some general rules every time you use them. Here is a list of what you should do when you use a propane heater
- Never leave the heater running unattended. Propane heaters use an open flame to produce heat, so they represent a fire hazard. Always make sure you turn off the heater if you leave the room.
- Make sure you turn off the heater before you go to sleep. Never leave a propane heater running if you feel sleepy.
- Always respect the regular maintenance checks deadlines and have a professional look at the heater. He will make sure that there are no gas leaks, and that the heater is running safely.
- Keep the heater away from flammable objects. The heater uses a real flame, and they get really hot, so the fire hazard it presents is higher than that of other heaters. Maintain a distance of at least 3 or 5 feet of clear space around the heater, depending on its heating capacity.
- Make sure the propane storage tank is placed in a dry and cool area. Don’t place the tank on uneven surfaces.
- Always make sure there are no unattended children or pets around the heater when it’s working. Propane heaters get really hot, and touching them can lead to serious injuries. Educate your children that the heater is not a toy and that they should stay away from it.
- Always check the propane heater’s instruction manual if you want to use it inside your home. If the manufacturer doesn’t clearly specify that the heater can be used indoors, you need to look for another model.
- Always check the instructions manual before you use the propane heater for the first time, even if you used other propane heaters before.
- Never try to repair or make modifications to the propane heater by yourself. Even though the changes or the repair seem insignificant, they might lead to accidents, so always call a professional.
Is Propane Heating Safe?
Propane heating is safe, as long as you respect some general directions. The danger using propane heaters doesn’t come from the propane itself, but from the carbon monoxide produced, a by-product of burning the fuel. Unlike propane which has a strong odor making it easy to detect, carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas, which makes it undetectable unless you use some gadgets specially designed for that at the same time.
Carbon monoxide competes with oxygen for the binding sites present on the hemoglobin molecules in your blood, and when it accumulates in a confined area it can be lethal.
However, some modern propane heaters can be used in confined spaces. Every manufacturer will state if their models can or cannot be used indoors. The models designed for outdoor use burn differently, and they produce a large quantity of carbon monoxide, so they should never be used indoors.
The best rated propane heaters designed for indoor use produce a very low amount of carbon monoxide, so they don’t endanger your life. They also have a special safety feature which measures the oxygen levels in the air and turn the heater off if it detects high levels of carbon monoxide. However, you should always respect the maintenance checks, so a professional can assess the heater, making sure the carbon monoxide it produces stays at a minimum level.
Propane Heaters Benefits
Using a propane space heater has many advantages. Here is a list of the main advantages of using propane heaters.
- Economic Heating – Propane is cheaper than electricity, so you can use propane heaters to lower your heating bills.
- Primary Heating – Top propane heaters can be used as a primary heating source. Using propane heaters instead of forced air fans can be cheaper since they don’t need ducts to work properly, so installing them is easier. This type of heaters don’t use electricity, so they are cheaper to run than electrical heaters.
- Supplemental Heating – Propane heaters are a great source of supplemental heat. Instead of relying on electric space heaters you can use propane heaters. Most often they are cheaper to run and spread warmth over a larger surface.
- Outdoor Heating – Propane heaters are a great way to make sure you spend more time outside, even if temperatures drop. They can be used to spread heat across your patio or backyard.
- Portable Heating – Most propane heaters are portable, and you can use them when you’re going camping, or when you work around the house. All you need to do is make sure they stay connected to the gas tank and you’re all set.
- Odorless Heating – Unlike other burning fuels, propane is a clear gas. It does not have an odor when it burns, so you can use it at family gatherings or parties.
- Fuel Stores – Propane is less flammable than other fuels, so it’s safer to store over long periods of time. This is actually a great way to save money because you can stock up on gas in the warm season when the prices are low, and use it when the temperatures drop.
- Safety Features – All propane heaters have safety features which allow them to be used safely either inside or outside the home. Indoor models have a feature which will monitor the oxygen levels in the air and turn the unit off if they get too low. Outdoor units have a special spark system which will keep the flame burning despite slightly windy conditions.
Propane Heaters Maintenance
It’s very important to do regular maintenance on your propane space heater and to have it checked periodically by a licensed professional. Ensuring professional service will keep the unit running at optimal levels without producing threatening levels of carbon monoxide.
If you want to do some maintenance work on your space heater, make sure it’s turned off and allow it enough time to cool. Even if the heater seems cool at the surface, it can still be warm under the metal grille, so take the time for all its components to cool down.
Now that the heater and all its components are cool, the first thing you can do is to vacuum it. If your vacuum cleaner has a high suction power, run it on its lowest level. All you need to do is vacuum the dust or debris that may have accumulated on the heater’s grill, or around it.
If your propane heater’s grill is very tight and the vacuum cleaner cannot get all the dust out, you can use a slim painting brush to displace the dust, and then try using the vacuum again to clear it. You can also use the brush on the heater’s section where the flame is produced, and on the ignition.
Every propane heater has a cover panel which is screwed shut. You can remove the panel by unscrewing it and taking it off. Keep in mind that you will have to screw the panel back, so be careful not to lose the screws. Once you take the plate cover off, you can use a cloth to wipe the dust from inside the covered compartment. You can also use the vacuum cleaner for this, but at its lowest power setting again. If you removed all the dust you could reach, place the cover back on and screw it shut.
Propane vs Electric Heaters – Which Is Better?
Both propane and electric heaters have pros and cons. The following section addresses the pros and cons of each heating systems
One of the advantages of using propane heating is that it’s cheap. Using propane instead of electricity to heat your whole house could lower your heating bills by up to 50%, so it’s much cheaper.
Another advantage is buying large amounts of propane when the weather is still warm. This is another way of further lowering your bills. Propane is less dangerous than other heating fuels, and storing it for long periods of time is not dangerous.
Propane heaters can be used everywhere, as long as they’re connected to a propane tank. This means you’ll be able to move the heaters as you like, taking them with you in your car, truck, or in your trailer. You can also use them for heating a tent when you go hiking, which is a great way to make your outdoor experiences more comfortable. However, you should keep in mind that most propane heaters won’t work at altitudes higher than 3000 feet. If you want to use a heater at higher altitudes, make sure you check online or in the instructions manual to see if you can.
Propane heaters are capable of producing a lot of heat. A propane heater will produce more heat than an electrical heater of the same size.
One of the downsides of using a propane heater is the toxic by-product it produces, carbon monoxide. Even though indoor models produce a low amount of the gas, and they have safety features which will turn the unit off if the gas accumulates in a confined space, you still have to have the heater periodically evaluated by a professional. This means you’ll have to pay a fee every once in a while if you want to use the heater safely.
Another downside, and maybe the biggest one, is the propane tank. Besides the surface you need to place the heater, you will also need enough space to place the tank. This can be a major inconvenience in small apartments or houses.
The advantage of using an electric heater is that electricity is always at hand, and you don’t need to stock on it. Most electric heaters are also portable, so you’ll be able to move them around the house. They don’t have any by-products, and they are environmentally friendly. They produce less heat than propane models, but they can be placed anywhere and they don’t need a tank.
Propane heaters offer a cost effective way to stay warm in the cold season, either if you decide on spending it indoors or out. They are usually small, portable, and very powerful, so they will keep you warm even on the coldest days.
A thing you should always keep in mind when you decide on buying a propane space heater is that no matter how many safety feature it has, the greatest safety feature, and the first one you should put to use is your brain. This heating system uses a live flame to produce the heat, so even the best propane heater is a greater fire hazard than other types of heaters, so make sure you always respect the safety instructions provided in the buying guide and by the manufacturer if you want to operate it safely.
Our propane heater reviews focused on the best-selling models in 2017, but more are available on the market.
If you decided propane heating is not for you, check out the other buying guides on our website. We’re confident you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for eventually.