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Best Small Portable Indoor Propane Heater For RV Use 2020

Are Propane Heaters Safe In Campers?

Propane heaters that are made for indoors are safe to use in campers, and smaller propane heaters can even be used in tents. All you need is to have proper ventilation and a carbon monoxide detector like this one (click to view on Amazon).

An RV should already have a built-in carbon monoxide detector that runs off the battery. If you haven’t tested yours in a while you should as it’s an important safety feature for every RV. Gas leaks are dangerous and can happen to anyone.

See Also: Best Heated Drinking Water Hose For RV, Campers + DIY Method

When using a small portable propane heater in your RV be sure to follow all the safety guidelines that come with the heater. Also, check every connection for leaks with soapy water before lighting the heater.

Always be careful especially when using the propane heaters around pets and children. Some have automatic shut-offs for when the heaters get knocked over, but you should never trust these safety features entirely.

When using propane appliances indoors, always have good ventilation so fumes can escape.

Best Indoor Propane Heater
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater
Camping Emergency Butane Heater Coherent Heat Source Survival Tools
BTU
4,000-9,000
3,800
1,600-3,000
4,400
Max Run Time Per 1 lb Propane (Low Setting)
5.5 Hours
6 Hours
14 Hours
5 hours (High Setting)
Auto Off When Knocked Over
Low Oxygen Sensor
Propane Tank Compatibility
1 lb (Can Use Larger With Adapter Purchase)
1 lb
Anything Over 1lb With Regulator
All Tanks With Regulated Hose

Best Indoor Propane Heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
BTU
4,000-9,000
Max Run Time Per 1 lb Propane (Low Setting)
5.5 Hours
Auto Off When Knocked Over
Low Oxygen Sensor
Propane Tank Compatibility
1 lb (Can Use Larger With Adapter Purchase)
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
BTU
3,800
Max Run Time Per 1 lb Propane (Low Setting)
6 Hours
Auto Off When Knocked Over
Low Oxygen Sensor
Propane Tank Compatibility
1 lb
Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater
BTU
1,600-3,000
Max Run Time Per 1 lb Propane (Low Setting)
14 Hours
Auto Off When Knocked Over
Low Oxygen Sensor
Propane Tank Compatibility
Anything Over 1lb With Regulator
Camping Emergency Butane Heater Coherent Heat Source Survival Tools
BTU
4,400
Max Run Time Per 1 lb Propane (Low Setting)
5 hours (High Setting)
Auto Off When Knocked Over
Low Oxygen Sensor
Propane Tank Compatibility
All Tanks With Regulated Hose

Note: Scroll left/right on small screens to view all products in the table.


Mr. Heater Buddy Indoor Safe Portable Propane Heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black

Check Price at Amazon

Mr. Heater is the industry leader when it comes to safe indoor propane heaters and for good reason. They have quality heaters that work and tons of safety features. I’ve used this exact heater in my own trailer on many cold days and it works great.

The Buddy can use 4,000-9,000 BTU and is made for indoor or outdoor use. It’s built to be used with a 1 lb propane tank but if you get this hose (click to view on Amazon) you can connect it to a 20 lbs propane tank.

Note that Mr. Heater prohibits the use of using accessories or attachments on their heaters that aren’t from their own company. Luckily the hose I linked to is a Mr. Heater product and is approved for the Buddy, It’s also long enough you should be able to store the propane tank outside of the RV to stay compliant with regulations.

Because you can use a small 1 lb tank or a larger propane tank this heater is very versatile. You can use it inside your RV or tent for regular heating or connect a smaller tank and take it outside with you.

Like most Mr. Heater propane heaters the Buddy has an auto shut-off that kicks in when the LP heater gets knocked over. I suggest trying it out when you first get the heater so you can understand how it works. There is also a low oxygen detector and a pilot light sensor that will shut off the heater as well.

See Also: Best Portable Electric Heated Blankets For Camping

Another thing about this propane heater is it can run properly at high elevations up to 7,000ft. A lot of other heaters won’t work well at this altitude. If you are higher than 7,000ft you may have trouble lighting the Buddy and it might not even turn on due to the low oxygen sensor.

A 1 lb tank of propane holds about a quarter of a gallon of propane. That means there are around 22,000 BTU of fuel you can burn up. If you run the Buddy on high (9,000 BTU) you will get around 2.5 hours of use. That being said when inside a tent or RV the Buddy can heat up an area fairly quickly and you may find that the low setting can even be too much.

Of course, if you want more fuel you can use the proper hose adapter to connect it to a larger propane tank or even make a quick connection inside your RV so you can run the Buddy propane heater with the RV propane tanks.

The Buddy has a fold-down handle, weighs only 9 lbs (without the propane tank attached), and is 15 inches tall, 13.4 inches wide, and 7.7 inches thick. When using inside or even outside make sure you follow the instructions and learn how much open space around it is required to use the propane heater safely.

When lighting all you need to do is follow the instructions on the turn knob located on the top left-hand side. You basically hold the knob down to get the pilot light started, wait for 30 seconds, then turn the knob to light the burner. You can then control the heat intensity with the knob.

The Mr. Heater Buddy Indoor Safe Portable Propane Heater is a fantastic choice for camping. It works great in an RV, van, tent, pop-up camper, or even a camping shelter or hunting blind. All you need to do is make sure you have some sort of ventilation (open a window) and always make sure the propane heater has a safe amount of empty space around it.

Pros

  • Automatic Shut-Off For Knock Over, Low Oxygen, & Pilot Light
  • Portable
  • Compatible With Larger Propane Tanks With Hose Adapter Accessory
  • Can Run From 4,000-9,000 BTU
  • Easy To Light
  • Can Run Regularly Up To 7,000ft Elevation
  • Good For Indoor & Outdoor Use

Cons

  • Low Setting Might Not Be Low Enough For Small Spaces & You May Need To Turn It On An Off To Stay Comfortable (Solution Is To Use Small Propane Heater Reviewed Below)

Mr. Heater Little Buddy Small Indoor Safe Propane Heater

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium

Check Price at Amazon

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is a smaller version of the Buddy reviewed above and a fantastic option for heating tents, vans, small trailers, or just keeping a room or area in your RV extra toasty. It’s a tank top propane heater, and although most other LP heaters of this kind are not indoor safe, the Little Buddy is.

It’s a small heater made to heat rooms up to 95 square feet. It has a heater head that points up at a 45-degree angle and there is a built-in plastic handle behind it you can use to carry the heater around.

The pilot light is lit using a large button on the side and there is only one heat setting that burns at 3,800 BTU. The Little Buddy propane heater can only be used with a 1 lb propane tank which means it will run for around  6 hours in total.

If you use this heater or 1 lb propane tanks often it can be annoying having to buy a new tank every time and trying to figure out how to recycle or dispose of the old one. I suggest getting a refillable 1 lb propane tank with a refill kit like the Flame King Refill Kit (click to view on Amazon). Using this kit and tank you can use a larger propane tank to refill the 1 lb one. That means you don’t need a huge supply of 1 lb propane tanks to stay warm on long camping trips and it’s way more affordable.

See Also: How Long Will An RV Battery Run The Furnace? + Calculations

Like other Mr. Heater propane heaters the Little Buddy has an auto shut-off when tipped over, it senses low oxygen levels, or the pilot light goes out. It can even work at elevations up to 7,000 feet.

If you are using this indoors or in a tent make sure there is always a carbon monoxide detector nearby just in case. Even though it’s small, this propane heater does require ventilation of at least 4 square inches for safe indoor use.

The Little Buddy is for outdoor and indoor use. When using indoors make sure there is at least 2 feet of space in front of the propane heater, 30 inches above it, and 6 inches on each side. There doesn’t need to be any space behind it which means you can place this LP gas heater against a wall.

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy Small Indoor Safe Propane Heater is a fantastic small portable propane heater you can use inside an RV, van, tent, hunting blind, or outdoors. It may be small but it still puts out a lot of heat and has all the safety features of the larger Buddy propane heaters. It’s the perfect way to keep the area you are in extra toasty instead of heating the entire RV.

Pros

  • Automatic Shut-Off For Knock Over, Low Oxygen, & Pilot Light
  • Portable
  • Easy To Light
  • Can Run Regularly Up To 7,000ft Elevation
  • Good For Indoor & Outdoor Use
  • Runs For Up To 6 Hours
  • Great For Small Spaces Like Tents Or Bathrooms

Cons

  • Only Compatible With 1lb Propane Tanks
  • Only One Heat Setting

Camco Olympian Wave 3 LP Gas Catalytic Heater

Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

Check Price at Amazon

Camco’s propane RV heaters come in few sizes ranging from 3,000-8,000 BTU. Because this article focuses on small portable heaters that don’t have to be installed in the wall to work I will be reviewing the Camco Olympian Wave 3 which is the 3,000 BTU propane RV heater.

The Wave 3 can stand on its own with the provided legs or be installed into the wall of an RV. Camco recommends having a professional do the installation for safety and legal code reasons.

When using as a portable propane heater the Olympian stands around 18 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and 5 inches thick, these measurements are including the legs.

The Camco Wave heaters are catalytic propane heaters which mean they are made to heat objects and not the surrounding air. This is a much more efficient way of heating and you will feel the warmth from the heater right ways as it warms up the objects in its surroundings including you.

The Wave 3 is adjustable and can use 1,600-3,000 BTU of energy. On the lowest setting, it could heat for 57 hours on just one gallon of propane which is about 4.2 lbs.

There is no safety shut off for getting tipped over or low oxygen levels so you have to be extra careful when using this propane RV heater as a free-standing heater. It can be bolted to the floor if you are worried about tipping it over and it does have a safety shut-off for accidental non-ignition fuel discharge. One upside to no low-oxygen sensor is this heater can be used at higher altitudes than the Mr. Heater propane heaters.

See Also: Best Portable Power Station/Solar Generator For Camping

Unfortunately, this propane heater needs a few extra parts if you are planning on connecting it directly to a propane tank. If your RV has a quick connect you can attach that directly to the heater but if you are using an external tank you will need a hose with a propane regulator on it.

Camco makes it easy and they sell the two parts you will need which are the Camco Elbow Connector (click to view on Amazon) and the Camco Low-Pressure Gas Regulator w/ 12 Foot Hose (click to view on Amazon). Using these parts you can connect the Olympian Wave Heaters to any size of an external propane tank.

Catalytic propane heaters are very efficient and put out very little wasted propane. That being said they still require ventilation and fresh air flow when in use. When using in an RV make sure to open a nearby window a few inches for safety and to help the LP gas heater breathe which will in turn make it run better.

The Camco Olympian Wave 3 LP Gas Catalytic Heater is an awesome propane RV heater that you can either use as a secondary free-standing space heater or install it into the wall and use it as your main heat source. It’s not going to be great for tents because it doesn’t have an auto-tip shut-off and it’s not as good for outdoor use but it’s still a good, very efficient indoor propane heater for home or RV use.

Pros

  • Automatic Shut-Off For Pilot Light
  • Easy To Light
  • Can Run In High Altitudes
  • Extremely Efficient
  • Has Extra Low Setting For Heating Small Spaces
  • Can Be Mounted In Wall
  • Multiple Size Options

Cons

  • Not Good For Outdoor Or Tent Use
  • No Auto Shut-Off If It Gets Knocked Over
  • Needs Extra Parts To Connect To Outside Propane Tank
  • Needs Extra Air Flow To Heat Properly

Tooluxe Camping Butane/LP Gas Heater

Camping Emergency Butane Heater Coherent Heat Source Survival Tools

Check Price at Amazon

The Tooluxe Camping butane or LP gas heater is slightly different than the other small portable RV heaters on this list.

The first main difference is it can run on butane using the small disposable canisters you can buy online (click to view on Amazon) or at hardware stores. This is a better option for some van or tent campers because a lot of people use stoves (click to view on Amazon) that also use the butane canisters.

If you use a butane can this heater can run for up to 5.5 hours on the lowest setting.

The good news is the portable heater can also be used with propane you just need to get a propane hose with a regulator like this one (click to view on Amazon) that is compatible with the included LP gas adaptor. Note: you may need to buy the heater before the regulated hose to get the right kind of adapter as it is an uncommon adapter included with the heater.

Now to the specifications. The Tooluxe can heat up to 4,400 BTUs which is quite a bit of heating power for this size of a propane heater. It’s adjustable which means you can get less BTU’s out of it when at the lowest setting but it isn’t listed how low the heater can be adjusted to in BTUs.

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If you run it at the highest setting you can get around 5 hours of heat per 1 lb of propane.

This is a simple camping heater that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the other heaters on this list. That means no safety features. If you are going to use this heater in your RV, tent, van, or home you need to be extra careful with it. It must be monitored at all times in case it gets tipped over and you need to have plenty of ventilation when using it. Also always have a carbon monoxide detector like this one (click to view on Amazon) nearby even when it’s not in use.

It’s small weighing only 5.5 lbs and is 12 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and 9.5 inches from front to back. It’s very portable and easy to pack up and store for emergencies. The heater part even tilts so you can direct the heat more upwards if it’s placed on the floor. There is a carry handle on top as well.

Even though the Tooluxe Camping Butane/LP Gas Heater is not as safe as other kinds of indoor propane heaters I wanted to include it in my list because of it’s ability to run on butane cans and its great portability and heating features. It’s more old school than Mr. Heater and Camco propane heaters but it still works so long as you give it plenty of space, only use it when you are nearby and have good ventilation.

Pros

  • Easy To Light
  • Can Run In High Altitudes
  • Adjustable Heat Settings
  • Small & Portable
  • Tiltable Head
  • Can Run On Butane Or Propane
  • Can Be Used Indoors Or Outdoors

Cons

  • No Auto Shut-Off Features
  • Needs Extra Parts To Connect To Outside Propane Tank
  • Needs Extra Air Flow To Heat Properly
  • Needs More Open Space For Safety
  • Not As Safe As Other Propane Heaters On List

My Choice For Best Indoor Propane RV Heater

Mr. Heater Buddy Indoor Safe Portable Propane Heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black

Check Price at Amazon

Mr. Heater knows what it’s doing when it comes to the safest and best propane heaters for indoor, camping, and RV use. They make many different styles of heaters but their Buddy version is the best for overall.

I like that it can easily connect to all kinds of propane tanks from 1lb to larger ones. It’s a good size for small or large indoor spaces or staying warm when spending time outdoors. It’s portable, easy to pack away, and can be used in tents.

See Also: RV Life Hack: How To Check How Much Propane You Have Left

The safety features are unmatched by any other product and it even has the auto shut-off for accidental tip-overs which is one of the most important features for a propane RV heater. The low oxygen feature is nice as well even though it can make using the Buddy in super high altitudes over 7,000 feet more difficult.

I’ve used this heater on cold mornings in my own 32-foot travel trailer and it’s done very well heating everything. If you are going to be camping in cold weather for a few weeks and don’t have the ability to refill propane tank that are empty from running the main furnace portable propane heaters like these can be nice because they can keep your trailer warm by slowly heating all day while not using any electricity and less propane.


Frequently Asked Questions

How many BTU is a gallon of propane?

One gallon os propane is 91,502 BTU’s of energy.

How many pounds is a gallon of propane?

One gallon of propane weighs 4.2 lbs.

How many BTU’s are in a 1 lb propane tank?

There is about 21,000 BTU’s in a 1 lb propane tank.

Is it safe to leave a propane heater on at night?

Propane heaters are generally safe but like any small space heater, they have their risks. I wouldn’t recommend leaving one on at night but the end decision is up to you and how safely positioned the propane heater is. If you have pets or children you should never leave the heater on unattended or at night.

If you do plan of using the portable propane heater for overnight heating use it plenty during the day first so you know there are no faults and you are sure the heater runs well.

Are portable propane heaters ok to use indoors?

A portable propane heater is only safe to use indoors if it is made for indoor use, and you should always have some sort of ventilation whenever using any propane appliance inside.

Heaters that go on the top of propane heaters (tank top heaters) are generally never safe to use indoors unless specifically made for indoor use.

Be sure to follow all of the safety instructions for your specific portable propane heater and always have a carbon monoxide detector like this one (click to view on Amazon) nearby at all times.

What is the smallest propane heater?

The Little Buddy by Mr. Heater (click to view on Amazon) is one of the smallest portable propane heaters on the market today. You can read more information about it at the beginning of this article.

Do you need ventilation when using an indoor propane heater?

Yes, you always need to have ventilation when using any indoor propane product like a propane heater. Because of the emissions, they introduce a carbon monoxide risk if not properly vented. That is why you should always have a carbon monoxide detector like this one (click to view on Amazon) nearby at all times.

When using a propane heater an RV or tent you can usually achieve proper ventilation by partially opening a window. Because RVs have a lot of propane appliances it’s recommended to always have at least one window cracked to allow some ventilation. Also, always make sure your carbon monoxide sensor is in working condition.

Can you use propane heaters indoors?

If the propane heater is made for indoor use then it is safe to use indoors so long as you have a carbon monoxide sensor and proper ventilation.

Can a propane heater be used in a tent, hunting blind, or camping shelter?

Yes, if the propane heater is rated for indoor use, has enough open space to run safely, and is used carefully it can be used inside a tent, hunting blind, or camping shelter. Just make sure you always leave a window open enough for proper ventilation and have a carbon monoxide detector like this one (click to view on Amazon) nearby at all times.

Have any more questions about portable propane heaters for indoor or RV use? Leave a comment below.

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