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Best propane heater

Which propane heater is best?

As winter sets in and temperatures drop, many people look for efficient ways to stay comfortable in the spaces they use the most during the warmer months. One of the most popular and cost-effective ways to keep warm year-round is to use a propane heater.

The Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy Radiant Propane Heater provides powerful, portable warmth. Rated for use both indoors and out, this model combines multiple safety options and extreme efficiency to keep you warm in the garage, while camping or anywhere else where you find yourself battling the cold.

What to know before you buy a propane heater

Propane heater types

  • Forced air propane heaters use a blower to pull air through them, warming it before blowing it back out the other end. Because these heaters push hot air in one direction, they can be pointed toward especially cold areas.
  • Convection propane heaters warm a 360-degree area around them. These heaters, usually in the shape of a cylinder, are powerful enough to warm an entire space evenly.
  • Radiant propane heaters don’t use airflow at all, but radiate warmth through an element that’s heated with the flame from burning gas. They’re ideal for camping and safely heating small, enclosed spaces.


Consider where you intend to use your propane heater to determine which model is best suited to your needs. Large, open spaces like patios and decks cause heat to dissipate quickly, meaning you’ll require a specialized heater that warms a wide area. Enclosed areas like garages, sheds or sunrooms that are shielded from wind can be heated with smaller units.

Fire safety

Whenever flammable gas is in use, the risk of fire is present. Many modern propane heaters feature safety mechanisms built in that greatly reduce the risk of fire or carbon monoxide accumulation. However, caution must still be exercised and propane heaters are not recommended for areas where pets or small children may come into contact with them.

What to look for in a quality propane heater

Safety features

Select a propane heater that includes safety features to prevent the risk of fire or burns. The following safety features are available:

  • Oxygen sensors turn the propane heater off if the oxygen in the area it’s heating drops below a certain level. This prevents the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Tip-over sensors shut the heater off if they’re knocked over in order to prevent fire.
  • Overheating protection automatically turns the heater off if the temperature of the room it’s kept in or the unit itself reach unsafe levels.


If you intend to use your propane heater for camping, ice fishing or other outdoor activities, you should select a model built for portability. Some units are as simple as a heating element that connects to a propane tank, and others are self-contained devices with handles that are specifically designed for easy relocation. Heaters that include fans or blowing mechanisms require electricity as well as propane to function and are not meant for portable use.


Gas heating options have a reputation for waste, but today’s propane heaters have reached peak efficiency. Many models run at 99% efficiency, with some approaching 100%. This means that they convert liquid propane into heat with almost no wasted fuel. Select a model that’s rated for maximum efficiency.

Propane source

Many propane heaters connect directly to a full-size propane tank. Others can be fueled with small, portable propane canisters associated with camping stoves. Some models accommodate either source, allowing you the flexibility to stay warm with whatever propane source is conveniently available. 

Heat output and size

The heat output of propane heaters is measured in British thermal units. A higher BTU rating means greater heat output. Resist the temptation to automatically assume that a higher BTU rating is the best choice. An overpowered, oversized propane heater can be both dangerous and uncomfortable in a space that would be more appropriately heated with a smaller model.

Ignition types

  • Button ignition propane heaters are easily started by pushing a button that creates a spark. The spark can be created via friction or with battery power. Those who cook using a grill will be familiar with this type of ignition and its signature clicking sound.
  • Manual ignition models require you to light the gas with a match or barbecue lighter.
  • Continuous ignition propane heaters don’t require you to ignite the flame, as they automatically spark when gas begins to flow and stop functioning once a continuous flame has been achieved.

How much you can expect to spend on a propane heater

Because propane heaters are available in so many configurations, their price can vary greatly. Very small, portable heaters can be purchased for under $80, while larger, commercial-grade units can cost $400 or more. Most users can find a propane heater to suit their needs for under $200.

Propane heater FAQ

Do propane heaters create fumes?

A. All heaters create byproducts due to burning fuel. Propane heaters designed for indoor use, however, don’t produce the smell and smoke associated with those built to be used outside. Some odor is to be expected upon ignition, regardless of the model you choose.

Do propane heaters get hot to the touch?

A. All propane heaters have at least a portion of their construction that conducts heat that could lead to a potential burn or fire hazard. Small portable models usually protect their heating elements with a grid or screen to prevent anything from coming into contact with them. Larger models made to heat bigger spaces, however, may lack some of these features and should be kept away from any potentially burned or melted items and placed in an area where you won’t come into physical contact with them.

Are propane heaters better than electric space heaters?

A. This is largely dependent on your expectations and preferences. Electric heaters are less efficient, which may accrue a higher cost of use over time than a propane heater. However, electric heaters don’t produce any fumes or require flammable fuel. Propane heaters are more portable, whereas an electric heater needs to be plugged in. Consider your intended usage to determine which option makes the most sense for you.

What’s the best propane heater to buy?

Top propane heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy Radiant Propane Heater 

What you need to know: This portable propane heater has a full range of safety features and burns at almost 100% efficiency.

What you’ll love: With all three safety feature types built in, this propane heater is great for use both indoors and outdoors. It can be used with both small propane tanks or large-capacity tanks. It has a push-button ignition.

What you should consider: This heater doesn’t include a thermostat and can get too hot for some users.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Top propane heater for the money

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy Radiant Propane Heater 

What you need to know: Tiny and powerful, this heater is excellent for campers.

What you’ll love: This heater attaches directly to the top of a 1-pound propane tank and provides 3,800 BTUs of heat. It features all three safety shut-offs and has a handle for maximum portability. 

What you should consider: This heater is either on or off, with no settings in between.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Worth checking out

PamaPic 46,000 BTU Commercial Propane Outdoor Umbrella Heater

What you need to know: This outdoor heater can make life on your deck or patio possible all year long.

What you’ll love: This heater is available in a wide range of colors to match your decor. It features wheels for easy relocating and an adjustable valve to control heat output. It has a push-button ignition and comes with a weatherproof cover.

What you should consider: Buyers have noted that this propane heater is flimsier than they would prefer.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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