Are Tent Heaters Safe for Tent Camping

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We all know the feeling – you’re on a family camping trip, lying awake in your sleeping bag in the middle of the night, shivering. You’re wearing all the layers you have and you’re still cold!

Obviously, the extra money you paid for the “warmer” sleeping bag didn’t pay off. Maybe you should have spent that money on a tent heater instead?

You might also be interested in: How to Insulate a Tent for AC

Are tent heaters safe for use in a tent?

The simple answer is yes, a tent heater that is specifically designed to be used in a tent is safe. They are safe to use in a tent or similar enclosed space. Provided you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Still, many people are concerned that tent heaters are dangerous. At first glance, it may seem unsafe to have a heat source in your flammable tent. However, this is not the case.

When it comes to tent heater safety, it all depends on which model you buy and how you use it. Let’s take a look at how these nifty devices work.

My recommended tent heater

If you are looking for a good portable heater that you can safely use in your tent, I highly recommend the Mr. Heater Big Buddy. I’ve owned my unit for a few years now and couldn’t be happier with it.

It’s small, lightweight and heats my 8 person tent with no problem. I often camp in the winter months when the mosquitoes and other bugs are not as bad.

I can honestly say that I have not been cold once while using my Big Buddy!

If you want to see more reviews and find out the price of the Mr. Heater Big Buddy, you can check it out on Amazon.

Are tent heaters safe for camping?

If you’re one of those dedicated campers who doesn’t let snow or cold weather stop you, you probably know the struggle of tossing and turning in your sleeping bag while shivering and trying to get warm.

After a quality tent and sleeping bag, a tent heater is the next best option to keep you warm at night. But are they safe to use?

Any heater you use to heat your tent carries some risk. In most cases, a poorly made or improperly operated tent heater can be dangerous, posing a fire or suffocation hazard.

Any heating source can cause a fire if it comes into contact with flammable objects. This danger is especially real with tent heaters that rely on real flames to generate heat.

Even with electric tent heaters, the amount of heat given off by the tent heater can cause a sleeping bag or flysheet to catch fire.

However, the more likely hazard with a propane heater is not fire, but suffocation. With propane-powered tent heaters, carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases are a byproduct of burning the fuel.

In an enclosed space, such as a tent, carbon monoxide concentrations can quickly become toxic and cause serious illness or death.

How do you know if a tent heater is safe?

Knowing that a tent heater can cause a fire or release toxic gases could easily put you off the idea of owning a tent heater. However, that is not our intention. Rather, it’s important to know what the dangers of a tent heater are so you can be sure you’re using it properly.

That said, choosing a safe tent heater can be difficult. Before you buy a tent heater, consider these safety tips:

1. the difference between propane and electricity

Generally, tent heaters use either propane gas or electricity to generate heat. Both types of heaters offer different advantages and disadvantages that are important to understand.

First things first, propane heaters allow you to heat your tent even if you don’t have electricity, which is an advantage in primitive campsites.

However, this versatility comes at a price, namely a higher risk of fires and toxic gases, although many modern tent heaters have a number of safety features to prevent this.

Electric heaters, on the other hand, do not emit toxic gases and have a lower risk of fire, but it can still happen. However, electric heaters usually require some sort of power connection, which could be impossible to find depending on the location of the tent.

2. buy only tent safe heaters

This safety tip is non-negotiable. Only use heaters in your tent that are specifically designed for use in a tent. This is because tent-specific heaters are designed for use in a confined space and have additional safety features to prevent disaster.

3. set up your tent heater properly

Most modern propane tent heaters and all-electric heaters don’t actually produce a flame – instead, propane heaters rely on the chemical process of a catalytic conversion to produce heat. But even these catalytic heaters and electric heaters can cause a fire.

Tent heaters can get very hot, so any flammable items in close contact with them (such as spare clothing, sleeping bags, and tents) can catch fire.

Before using the heater, set it up so that it does not come into contact with any objects during the night. Also, place it so that you or someone else cannot accidentally knock it over.

4. provide sufficient ventilation

If you choose to use a propane heater, you need to make sure that your tent is well ventilated.

In an enclosed space, the carbon monoxide and other gases released from a propane heater, or open flame can quickly reach toxic levels. This may result in serious illness or death.

Before using a propane tent heater, make sure your tent is adequately ventilated. There should always be a place where toxic gases can escape from the tent while allowing fresh air to enter.

You can contribute to good ventilation by making sure there is airflow under the flysheet and into the body of the tent. In calm weather, it may even be necessary to leave the tent’s zipper open about six inches to allow some air movement.


Ultimately, a heater designed specifically for use in a tent is safe for camping if it is operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Both electric and propane heaters carry some degree of danger, but with proper use and careful attention to details and safety protocols, you can effectively minimize the risk associated with operating a tent heater and stay warm in those cold nights.