Best Propane Heaters of 2018 – A Comprehensive Guide

A propane heater is ideal for those looking for a portable heating answer that can be used both inside and outside. Equally, propane heaters are a smart choice for those who are not able to place their heating appliances near an electrical power supply. These reliable and sturdy heaters can be used in a wide range of spaces including outdoor porches, patios, and garages. They’re also a practical option heater for hunting and fishing trips.

Determining which propane heater would be best suited to your needs can be difficult in an overcrowded marketplace offering so many models. For this reason, we have compiled need to know information for buyers looking for the best propane heaters, as well as propane heater reviews that provide you with a breakdown of different types of heaters on offer, and how to choose the one that meets your requirements. ­­­

What is a Propane Heater?

A propane heater is a type of heating appliance that utilizes pressurized gas as a fuel source and is typically used in locations that aren’t well insulated – commonly including backyards, garages and other types of out-buildings. In addition, portable gas heaters are nearly always portable, making them a popular choice for occasions when an electrical power source is not available or located nearby. For this reason, propane heating is not only used in homes, but they are also commonly used on campsites, construction businesses and event planners.

There is a vast array of propane space heaters that vary in size, construction and type, as well as those designed for outdoor use which offers durable features and others with less durable but more pleasing aesthetic for indoor or home use.

Propane heaters are rated by BTUs, or British Thermal Units, to measure their heating output. The BTU value provides an approximate square footage of the area you’re heating. For example, if you were planning on heating a small space such as 100 sq. ft. (9 sq. meters), you would require around 10,000 BTUs, whereas a large campsite or out building may demand 150,000 BTUs to heat 2,500 sq. ft. (340 sq. meters).

A Guide to Propane Heaters 

When looking to buy a propane gas heater it’s essential you’re equipped with the best information to make an informed decision. To begin, it’s important to think about the size and type of space you plan on heating and with that in mind, you ought to consider the following factors:

Location: Indoor or Outdoor?

An essential question you need to ask is where you plan on using your propane heater the majority of the time? This is important since it will determine the type of heater you opt for and which models should be avoided altogether.

For instance, if you are planning on heating an outdoor yard or camping space, you will require an outdoor propane heater equipped with all the features designed for outdoor use in mind. These are different to your average propane heater as they offer a highly durable design made to withstand harsh environments and weather conditions, as well as a lack of insulation that is, of course, the nature of the outdoors. As a result, the way outdoor models give off heat is considerably different to indoor propane heaters. Typically, outdoor models are equipped with fans or blowers to ensure the heat is directed exactly where it is required instead of being lost to the environment as would be the case if the heat was allowed to radiate as normal, these features make them suitable as patio heaters.

Conversely, if you want a propane heater for indoor use, then some of the best indoor propane heaters for homes come equipped with all of the necessary safety features. For this reason, it is crucial you select a heater that has been certified for indoor use, which will be made clear by the manufacturer. Common built-in safety features include an automatic low-oxygen shut-off system and a tip-over switch. Many people also opt to use indoor units as garage heaters too, since they are safer for such enclosed spaces, even though they may still be well ventilated.

Ignition

A propane heater demands a form of ignition that ignites the gas and thus burns the propane, which, in turn, heats the desired room.

There are a variety of ignition systems fitted into propane heaters, some come equipped with an integrated ignition system. This popular system enables hassle-free operation, allowing the user to simply press a button and ignition to happen automatically.

Alternatively, there are models that don’t provide an automatic ignition, but the traditional manual ignition that requires you to ignite the propane yourself.

While the automatic ignition system is required by many due to its ease of use and obvious safety, you can find that with continuous use it can become worn out and in need of repair. This can mean that eventually, you will need to manually ignite the heater and pay for repairs. However, if the manual ignition is something you definitely want, you should consider a good quality model and check that the supplier offers a solid warranty in the event that you do require an ignition replacement or any other repairs.

Potability 

One of the major advantages of using a propane heater is that they are typically portable, meaning that they are commonly lightweight, equipped with handles and sometimes even wheels. Additionally, since propane heaters are free of cables and are free-standing, they can be placed almost anywhere, including the centre of the room or in an outside patio area.

Propane heaters with handles are also useful for easy transport up stairs and many levels with ease, which is one of the reasons they are so popular in the construction industry.

A heater fitted with wheels can also be useful if you intend on moving your heater on a regular basis or wish to simply store it away in a cupboard or corner. Wheels also mean you can easily move the heater without any unnecessary lifting, helping you to avoid straining your back.

Lastly, you should always check the weight of the heater to ensure it is not too cumbersome or difficult to move around. Furthermore, it’s vital to keep in mind that it will have even more weight when it is fitted with the propane cannister, which isn’t really an issue if you remember to take the fuel out when you plan on moving the heater around.

Safety Considerations

Propane heaters used pressurized propane gas that is extremely flammable, as a consequence they can be extremely dangerous if used or stored incorrectly. Additionally, if the heater was to malfunction for some reason and gas was to leak, this could lead to disaster and potential harm; as a result it’s important to opt for propane heaters with the best built-in safety features for peace of mind.

Propane fuel produces carbon monoxide; this harmful gas is odorless and can be extremely harmful, leading to fatalities if inhaled in an enclosed area. This is why it’s vital to ensure the propane heater is used as outlined by the manufacturer, for instance, if you want to use your heater indoors, then it’s important to check whether it has been certified for indoor use. Many models also come equipped with an automatic low-oxygen shut-off system, which will, of course, ensure the heater switches off in the event that oxygen levels drop too low in the area of use.

Many models also come equipped with an automatic low-oxygen shut-off system, which will, of course, ensure the heater switches off in the event that oxygen levels drop too low in the area of use.

An anti-tip over mechanism is also advisable as it will make sure that the heater doesn’t keep running if it is tipped up. This is a highly recommended feature, as not only is the heater being knocked over a potential fire hazard, but the propane has the potential to escape from the canister and result in a potential disaster.

Indoor Propane Heaters & Outdoor Propane Heaters 

If you want to heat an outside area such as a patio in your garden, then it is likely you will want to you use a propane heater since in most cases there won’t be an electrical supply outside.  Even if there was, an electrical supply outdoors isn’t always safe, so a portable solution that is free of wires like a propane heater is a sensible and safe option.

The outdoor variety of propane heaters are typically equipped with a fan or blower to increase their efficiency and ensure the heat isn’t simply radiated and lost to the environment. It is important to be aware that although they are safe if used correctly, propane heaters can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide toxicity is a major hazard to health. For this reason, it’s important to ensure outdoor propane heaters are not used in enclosed spaces.

Propane heaters for use inside properties differ from the outdoor variety as they are fitted with a range of safety features designed for homes and enclosed spaces including an oxygen depletion sensor. In order to find out if the heater is suitable for indoor use, it’s important to check with the manufacturer’s instructions, if you are unsure it’s best to contact the manufacturer and ask them directly.

If you choose an outdoor propane heater, it’s essential that you don’t use it inside your home or any enclosed space. The outdoor models tend to use gas at a quicker rate than indoor heaters, and as a result, they give off more warmth and therefore more combustion occurs resulting in more toxic exhaust fumes.

Propane Heater Safety Checklist

Once you’ve chosen your desired propane heater you are ready to hook it up to a gas cannister, switch it on and enjoy, but before you do, it’s vital you are familiar with the basic safety guidelines. Propane heaters are perfectly safe to use, as long as you use them appropriately and with safety in mind.

  • Never move the propane heater when it is switched on and being used. If you need to move it, switch it off and wait until it has cooled down in order to safely move it.
  • These heaters utilize a naked ignition and so any flammable liquids should be kept at a safe distance and not stored in the same room or space where you will be using the propane heater.
  • Ensure you provide your heater with an adequate clearance at all sides and never place any objects around or near the heater.
  • Never leave your heater unattended when it is in use, this includes when you are sleeping. Therefore, if you are starting to feel sleepy switch it off and always switch it off if you plan on leaving your home.
  • Even though many modern propane heaters are fitted with safety features, such as oxygen depletion detectors, it’s important to have adequate ventilation in enclosed spaces. Therefore, make sure you open windows, doors and air vents as required.

Advantages of Heating with Propane 

The first major benefit of heating with propane gas is the financial aspect, as propane gas is considerably less expensive than electricity. Not only that but if you are using a water boiler to heat your home, you could turn it off and instead aim to heat a single room, helping to save even more money.

Propane is clean burning, meaning it is superior to other forms of fossil fuels and renewable energies. For instance, burning propane will not produce the toxic fumes often associated with the likes of wood, oil and coal. This makes it safer and more environmentally friendly to use, and if there was a leak, the propane gas would quickly vaporize and dissipate into the atmosphere, rather than potentially leading to a hazardous situation in your home.

Propane gas is also advantageous for heating outdoors, as it can be used where there is no electrical or gas supply and since many models are portable, is relatively easy to move to the desired location. That is precisely why they are popular for heating garages, construction sites and other outdoor buildings and spaces.

Propane Heater Maintenance & Care

An essential factor of any home or outdoor heating system is ensuring it is safe to use and therefore well maintained. Propane heating is no different to gas or electrical appliances and so ensuring you get your propane heater serviced and checked by a professional every so often is a must.

Prior to getting your heater checked out by a professional, it’s essential you switch it off and let it cool down. Even though this may seem like common sense, it’s important to remember to give your heater plenty of time to reach an appropriate temperature before any maintenance is carried out.

Next, you will want to clean your heater, ensuring any dust or grime is removed, this is quite straightforward and is best achieved using a vacuum to remove dust and residues in any nooks and crannies, and then going over the heating grills and elements with a dry rag.

Propane Vs Electric Heat 

One of the great benefits of propane is that it’s cheap and can be used to power a wide variety of home appliances including everything from cooking ranges and clothes dryers to fireplaces and pool heaters. Although it can vary depending on your location, propane remains considerably cheaper than electricity in many places.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating a home in the U.S. with a propane heating system in recent years has cost considerably less than heating with an electric appliance. Not only that, but propane heat produces more heat than electricity, with a typical propane gas resulting in heating air to about 130°F to 140°F and operates in short intervals to minimize operating costs. While an electric heater on average produces heat below body temperature (98.6°F), so the air can often feel cool to the touch.

Another key advantage of propane heaters is that it is more dependable than electricity. Propane can be stored safely in a tank, while electricity can be affected by power outages. This makes propane very reliable in comparison to electric power as it works when and where other energy sources may fail, quite literally.

Propane Heater Reviews

#1 Camco Olympian Wave-3 Gas Catalytic Heater

Established Brand 

Camco was founded in 1966 by Don Caine and since then has built a solid reputation for providing quality heating products and excellent customer service. Today, Camco boasts over 3,000 different products and multiple manufacturing facilities across the USA.

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Heat Output & Efficiency 

The Camco heater is suitable as a secondary heat source and can be used to produce enough radiant heat for up to 130 square feet of space.

The Camco propane heater is available in a variety of different sizes including small, medium and large, which means it is able to be used in various sized properties and living spaces. Each size has an increased heat output that is rated in BTU’s, starting at a maximum heat of 3,000 BTU’s and the largest heater providing a substantial heat output of up to 8,000 BTU’s. Each heater can also be adjusted, for instance from 1600 to 3000 BTU/hr allowing it to be used as a secondary heating source and modified when required. 

Safety Features 

Many people have safety concerns when it comes to propane and gas heaters, which is why it’s wise to choose a heater with a range of innovative safety features. The Camco propane heater is decked out with a safety valve to stop accidental fuel release. Ideal for times when you may have forgotten to ignite the gas but the valve is still releasing gas. 

In addition, the Camco brand ensures all their products pass extensive safety, performance and quality assurance prior to being packed and sent out to customers.

#2 Mr. Heater  Forced Air Propane Heater 

Established 1955

Enerco the owner of the Mr. Heater brand has been at the forefront of infrared combustion technology since 1955. In 1984 the Mr. Heater brand was born and has reaped the rewards from their innovative range of heating products and fantastic customer service with excellent customer reviews and a 5-star reputation.

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The Mr. Heater F271380 Forced Air Propane Heater was selected for our list due to its reputation and customer approval rating.

This little powerhouse is a simple, well-designed heater that puts out an enormous amount of adjustable heat.

Outdoor Heating 

The design of this heater is both practical and functional, making it ideal for outdoor use. The lightweight design and carry handle means it can be easily moved around construction sites, camp sites and out buildings such as garages. Consider outdoor workers who have to work during the winter months, this heater is portable allowing you to stay comfortable and warm on the job. It will heat up larger spaces reasonably fast and maintain a comfortable temperature whilst being cheap to run.

Heat Output & Efficiency 

For such a small model the Mr. Heater packs a powerful 30-60,000 BTU/HR, capable of heating up to 1500 square feet. The forced air feature is particularity effective since it ensures that you can have instant heat and a constant heat stream. It also comes accompanied by a 10-foot hose and a regulator allowing you to easily hook up your propane cylinder safely in a range of environments. 

#3 Mr. Heater Buddy Indoor-Safe Propane Heater

The Buddy is another popular and top-rated propane heater by Mr. Heater only this model is also suitable for indoor use, ideal for enclosed outbuildings such as garages. Fitted with a large heating capacity, fold-down handle, and an easy to use control, the buddy is the perfect portable radiant heating solution.

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Safety Features 

The buddy is equipped with a range of innovative safety mechanisms making it perfectly safe for indoor use (although it can also be used outdoors quite easily). This includes an oxygen shutoff that ensures the heater turns off if oxygen depletion drops to an unsafe level, as well as an accidental tip-over safety shut-off, ensuring that if any small children or pets knock it over by mistake that it turns off. These features offer peace of mind and are often not seen in cheaper alternatives.

User Interface 

Many propane heaters only allow a simple on or off mechanism with a single heat output, but the buddy offers the ability to adjust the output and therefore modulate the temperature of your surroundings. You can choose from low, medium and high-temperature settings. This enables you to save energy when you don’t need as much heat, or you can turn up the heat when you’re feeling the chill.

#4 Dyna Glo Propane Cabinet Heater

The Dyna Glo makes a great complementary heater for a poorly insulated room. Set high, it would heat a 500 sq. ft. room pretty fast, you can then reduce the heat output to maintain the temperature.

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Heat Output & Efficiency 

The Dyna has three burners each capable of generating 6,000 BTUs. Each burner can either be on or off, which is controlled by the gas valve on top of the unit. The settings include: low (with just the central burner operating), medium (left and center) and high (with all the burners running). Each burner is made from a ceramic material that is capable of producing a good amount of heat in the form of infrared heat rays. In addition, the burners themselves will warm the surrounding air too, producing a good level of warmth. Radiant heat is particularly good in cold weather, especially when you’ve been out in the elements.

Safety Features 

One of the major selling points of the Dyna is the number of built-in safety features it has. For instance, the metal reflector that extends in front of the burners, which prevent the heater itself from overheating.

A second safety feature is a tip over or “bump sensor” located inside the top of the cabinet next to the gas control. If you knock the heater quite abruptly while it is operating it will immediately shut off. In addition, there’s also another sensor in the propane regulator that attaches to your propane tank.

Portable Design 

The Dyna is equipped with wheels that make it easy to transport the heater around your property or outside, and the front wheels are fitted with brakes that prevent it from moving if the surface its on isn’t level.

 

Final Words 

To secure a reliable and value for money heating system, propane heaters offer a valuable solution for both inside and outdoor heating. No matter what your requirements may be, for instance, heating a single room in your home, or a patio in your garden, there is a wide range of indoor propane heaters as well as outdoor propane heaters to meet your needs. 

Bear in mind that when heating with propane, you need to be aware of all the necessary and basic safety protocols to ensure hazard-free use. In addition, it is always advisable to ensure you are familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines to ensure you are using the heating appliance appropriately.

We hope this guide has provided you with the necessary information and has aided you in selecting the best propane heater for your situation and circumstances.