Can You Use A Propane Heater In A Tent – Safety Risks to Consider

It sure is nice to have a portable heater in your tent during the cooler months.

So, can you use a propane heater in a tent without any problem?

Or are you better off with a different type of heater?

If you are looking for a more efficient and safer way to heat up the interior of your tent, pay close attention. You need to weigh in the risks and benefits of using this heater. This way, you can understand better what to expect if you decide to use one.

Let us go on a deep dive on a propane heater and what it can – and cannot do. So, you can make a smarter decision on how to heat up your tent and make it cozier for you.

What Is A Propane Heater

A propane heater is a natural gas heater.

Generally, this heater helps keep the inside of your tent nice and warm.

Who would not want a cozy space when camping in the wild outdoors, right?

If you do not have a source of electricity, it can surely do an amazing job of keeping you toasty while in your tent.

But at the same time, catalytic or propane heaters can be risky.

Unless you know how to use it properly, you should not even set one up inside the tent. Otherwise, you run the risk of harming yourself and others.

It is very important that you know the basics of a propane heater before you get it all set up. Then, you can make a decision on what your best option is.

Can You Use a Propane Heater In a Tent?

A propane heater is great for keeping your tent warm and comfortable inside.

However, when you use the wrong one, it can be nothing but dangerous.

And yes, it can even be fatal.

Heaters have many uses. And different types serve their own unique purpose.

For instance, a propane heater generates a massive level of heat. Propane heaters work by utilizing a piezoelectric igniter that develops an electrical potential whenever pressure is applied, allowing the strike of a spring-loaded hammer. It generates a spark, which ignites the propane. So, whether you have a tent good for four or a big tent good for six people, using a propane heater can bring warmth, which vital to your comfort.

This is why it is perfect to use this when outdoors. It is very powerful in producing heat, which is why it is ideal to use when camping in the bitter cold.

Propane heaters are suitable for outdoor use as they burn at a very fast rate. However, incomplete combustion occurs when they burn. Which brings us to our most important point:

It produces a great amount of carbon monoxide…

And you all know what that means: It spells danger when used inside the tent.

Thus, it is not exactly the best type to use inside the tent. You need to look into a different type designed for indoor purposes.

There are reliable brands of propane heaters in the market suitable for indoor use. Indoor propane heaters are generally safe when used indoors. You can use indoor-safe propane heaters, even in big tents, to achieve the warmth you desired for comfortable camping experience. The best thing to do is to buy a heater with an automatic shut-off feature. Just make sure to turn it off when you leave the tent and never leave it unattended.

When in search of a heater for indoor use, you should look for one that burns cleaner. This way, you will not have to inhale dangerous air inside. Otherwise, it would be very toxic and harmful to your health and life.

Is There an Indoor Propane Heater?

The short answer is yes.

You can actually create a so-called “Ideal Burn” for your propane heater. This makes it safe to use indoors.

To achieve this, you need to make sure that the fuel mix ratio remains in the safe level. As a result, there will be no carbon monoxide production to it.

On the other hand, a fuel ratio that is quite off is what makes it dangerous. And you should not even be using this type of heater indoors.

First of all, you need to check the label and be sure that it is indeed for indoor use. There are also indoor-safe heaters of this type that come with extra features.

These include the “Tip-Over and Auto Shutoff.” What this means is that the heater will automatically shut off when you knock the heater off accidentally.

Some heaters may also have a kind of oxygen sensor. If the unit detects a very low level of oxygen, the sensor shuts the heater off.

But you should consider getting a separate sensor for the oxygen and carbon monoxide level. This way, you can really be sure that the reading is accurate and precise.

Tips When Buying A New Propane Heater For Your Tent

For a small-sized camping tent, buy a new propane heater with 1,000 to 5,000 British thermal units (BTUs). The BTU number pertains to the heat output of the propane unit. A higher BTU number means more heat the propane heater can produce.

For a large-sized tent, a 7000 BTUs propane works well enough. Finding a camping heater with adjustable temperature is highly recommended since it’s capable of increasing or decreasing the heat depending on your liking.

Choose a tent that’s made from a material allowing air to circulate properly. Most tent models have a built-in insect net located on the top, ensuring that the air can easily pass without allowing insects to enter.

Ways to Safely Use a Propane Heater Indoors

Propane heaters are generally safe to use. Just make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions on proper usage. Read the operating manual when you set it up, including the proper way of turning it on or off.

Let us say you have finally found the right unit to purchase.

Don’t use an outdoor-only propane heater without good ventilation because it can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. A wall propane heater is typically vent-free that you can use indoors.

It does come with an indoor-safe label and all the features mentioned above. How do you use it properly?

First, you need to shut the heater off completely before you go to sleep.

You also need to apply the same caution when you need to head out and leave your tent for hours.

Once you shut it off, you need to place it in an area that is cool enough. It should never touch anything that will catch fire easily. Keep in mind that even after turning it off, the heater will still be quite hot.

Second, think about ventilation.

Make sure that the tend has ample ventilation or a way for the air to escape. Otherwise, you run the risk of undergoing carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you can connect two tents together, it’s crucial to ensure proper ventilation for your health and safety.

A smart way to do this is by placing a reservoir of water outside your tent. Then, put a bucket on top of it, in an upside-down position. The bucket will prevent the air from escaping and the water can easily flow underneath and right on top.

This allows new air to circulate in your tent’s bottom walls.


Using a propane heater to warm the inside of your tent can be tricky.

But with the right techniques, you can nail this process – and ensure safety in your tent.

It is all a matter of choosing the right propane heater and using the right ways to make sure you will not suffer from dangerous conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning.

You can also check out this video to help you out, in addition to applying all the steps and tips we have indicated on this post.

2 thoughts on “Can You Use A Propane Heater In A Tent – Safety Risks to Consider”

  1. I believe this article is misleading. Remember the movie Apollo 13? It wasn’t the lack of oxygen that threatened the crew, it was the buildup of CO2. At 15% oxygen, you can survive but if your replace the drop in oxygen with 6% CO2 you’ll pass out (at best). While many EU companies require oxygen sensors on their heaters, the more effective solution is a CO2 alarm to warn you if CO2 levels are too high. This article explains it in more detail.

    • Hi, yes that is true, which is why I mentioned that it’s dangerous and fatal to use propane heaters. However, there are now indoor tent heaters or elements that burn cleaner for safer use indoors.


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