Best Portable Propane Heaters for 2020
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
Whether you are camping in the cold, or looking for a portable heater to provide warmth in your garage, there is a portable propane heater that's right for you.
Below we review portable indoor propane heaters that are suitable for use inside RVs or most any other enclosed space that needs some heat.
Portable Propane Heater Reviews
Great as an RV's furnace is, there can be many times when it is more economical or just smarter to use some type of portable heater for RV's.
All but one (golf cart heater) of the portable camper heaters we review here are safe for indoor use.
This means that you can also use them in your workshop, bedroom, greenhouse, etc if you want to when you're not RVing.
Below you will find what we feel are the best options for a portable camper heater.
We include a couple of indoor propane heater reviews, a nifty compact electric heater for those of you who often have shore power, as well as a propane golf cart heater for those of you who tool around in one.
All but the golf cart heater are safe for indoor use (just follow the directions!).
If Not Used Properly, You Can Die
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS follow the manufacturer's instructions when using an indoor propane heater. Failure to do so can result in DEATH! DEATH, people. You could DIE! Used with proper ventilation, and a healthy dose of common sense, they are safe.
Best Portable Propane Heater
Camco Olympian Wave
The Camco Olympian Wave comes in three different sizes/BTU ratings and operates without an open flame. These propane radiant heaters are arguably the most efficient and safest small LP heaters on the market approved for use in RVs.
Continue Reading Camco Olympian Wave Review
The Camco Olympian Wave Heater is a safe and very effective radiant heater for your house, garage, van, or RV.
We think it is the best indoor propane heater on the market.
It is a catalytic heater. What does that mean?
Catalytic is the description for how it combusts.
Propane catalytic heaters differ from other propane heaters in that the propane is combined with oxygen to create heat on the surface of a hot platinum catalyst (a pad in the case of the Wave Heater).
Because of this, there is no flame at all once it has started to heat.
Weird, eh? But it's true.
Yes, once the pad is lit, there is no longer a flame.
That makes it a 'flameless' and therefore very safe small propane heater for use in cramped areas such as RVs.
Very nifty for a little radiant propane heater!
The catalytic heating process creates a surface temperature of no more than 720º F, which is well below the surface temperature of a propane heater with an exposed flame (upwards of 2,100º F).
The Piezo ignition switch (good for around 20,000 'sparks') makes for a quick and easy start.
There is no need to have additional heating devices to start it such as matches or grill lighters.
That's another reason it's the best indoor propane heater!
Propane catalytic heaters will work at high elevations, unlike other types of portable propane heaters.
The very popular Buddy Heater line of heaters only work reliably up to about 7,000 feet.
This makes the Olympian Wave best for high elevations over other types of portable propane heaters for RVs.
Because it is so efficient, it barely uses any oxygen and thus there is no need for an oxygen depletion sensor on these heaters.
For this reason, they work much better at elevation where the oxygen levels are naturally lower.
(THOUGH, you still need to head the manufacturer's warning and provide adequate ventilation.)
Catalyst Pad 'Poisoning'
First off, don't panic! 'Poisoning' used here doesn't mean you are going to get poisoned.
It is a term referring to the catalyst material on the heating pad becoming blocked by contaminates or being physically damaged.
As long as the catalyst material is kept intact (not physically damaged) and is able to pass gas and air freely (not blocked by contaminants), it will perform properly.
If the surface of the pad is physically damaged, perforated, or blocked, it may not function properly. This is called catalyst pad 'poisoning'.
Catalyst pad 'poisoning' can cause reduced heat output and may not allow the propane to burn properly.
Reduced heat output isn't a dangerous condition (it just means you aren't getting the rated BTU output from the heater), but incomplete propane combustion is something to be VERY concerned about.
It causes a risk of fire, explosion and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Even if you properly maintain your Wave Heater by ensuring it's covered when not in use and you don't attempt to clean the catalyst pad, it may still end up suffering from reduced heat output.
This is because trace amounts of contaminants are always present in the air and in propane gas.
These contaminants will 'add up' over years of use and eventually require catalyst pad replacement.
The Olympian catalytic heater comes in three sizes, each with a different BTU (heat) output.
Each one is designed to heat a specific sized space.
Choose the Olympian heater that's right for you according to the square footage of your RV interior space.
Here are the three sizes of Camco's Olympian Wave Heater:
- Wave 3 Heater (1,600 to 3,000 BTU - up to 130 square feet)
- Wave 6 Heater (3,200 to 6,000 BTU - up to 230 square feet)
- Wave 8 Heater (4,200 to 8,000 BTU - up to 290 square feet)
Can This Olympian Heater Be Deadly?
Listen up, this catalytic heater, like many RV space heaters, DOES run on propane.
Propane burning always consumes some oxygen.
So yes, it can become deadly IF, and ONLY IF the all of the directions on your appliance are not followed!
Proper Ventilation IS Required
Use of indoor propane heaters requires proper ventilation.
They use up oxygen (this is what happens when a flame burns) and produce carbon monoxide (a deadly gas).
You MUST provide adequate ventilation (by cracking open one or more windows and/or overhead vents) when using an LP gas heater inside.
Camco states that the Olympian Wave requires a minimum vent area of 24 square inches.
They recommend to use two openings to the outside - one down low and one high.
Followed correctly, using this propane heater is COMPLETELY SAFE.
Propane catalytic heaters are known for their almost 100% combustion rates.
What this means is that they are very efficient at burning propane.
Why do we care?
Because the more efficient an appliance is at burning propane, the less byproduct (carbon monoxide) it puts out. (Not to mention getting more bang for your buck.)
If damaged or not working properly, this device may emit some carbon monoxide.
Working properly, it creates virtually no carbon monoxide, making it very safe to use indoors, but you STILL NEED TO VENTILATE.
Why Do I Need To Ventilate?
You need to ventilate because all propane heaters burn oxygen and produce a small quantity of deadly gas (carbon monoxide).
Therefore, if you are in an enclosed space and don't ventilate the area, you could run out of oxygen and DIE.
This heater doesn't use much oxygen at all, but you STILL must ventilate.
Yes, you could die using ANY propane burning device if you do not ventilate properly.
With some you can die from carbon monoxide poisoning, or death by lack of oxygen.
However, if they are used properly, these heaters are not going to kill you from CO or asphyxiation.
The manufacturer advises to vent, SO YOU MUST VENT. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS and FOLLOW THEM.
Be sure you HAVE a carbon monoxide detector in your RV and be SURE it's working.
Just FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURER'S DIRECTIONS!!!
Olympian Catalytic Heater Manufacturer Video
Why Olympian Heater and Not Mr. Heater Buddy?
Buddy Heaters are an extremely popular propane camping heater and the choice of many RVers.
So why would you choose an Olympian Wave Heater vs. a Buddy Heater?
Wave Heaters don't have a visible flame, unlike the Buddy Heaters, and they have a lower operating temperature at their surface.
Wave Heaters are slightly more efficient (burn less propane for a given heat output), but not enough that you'd actually notice a difference.
Also, an Olympian Heater will be more reliable at higher elevations since it doesn't have a low oxygen shut-off switch.
This is good for those who love camping in the mountains.
The Buddy Heaters are only good to about 7,000 feet elevation before they will potentially run into low oxygen issues, rendering them unusable.
Even the best propane heater will start to have issues if you go high enough. Propane heaters require oxygen to 'burn'. The higher in elevation you get, the less available oxygen there is. There is a point where ANY propane heater will stop functioning properly due to lack of sufficient oxygen.
If you never plan on camping in the mountains, sure, it's totally fine to get yourself a Buddy Heater.
Kelly loves her Mister Heater propane heater, but she has had issues with her Big Buddy after having it for almost 4 years.
It was a good run, but it is having incomplete combustion (PDF) problems on low now and is not safe to run on that setting anymore.
(Full disclosure- this is my (Kelly's) own fault for not knowing about and getting the fuel filter to use with my Buddy Heater unit when it was attached to an outside propane tank. Needed Camp Addict, LOL!)
Buddy Heaters are just not as reliable as the Wave heaters in the long term.
We know a few nomads who have had to buy a new Buddy (or something else) due to failure of their unit.
We have also known people who have had a Buddy for YEARS without issue. So this is almost not a very arguable point.
The Olympian Wave is more expensive than any Buddy Heater, but cared for properly, it will potentially cost less than having to buy multiple Buddy Heaters (if they fail during normal use after a few years).
Below is an excellent video by Bob Wells, a very well known and respected long-time nomad.
Here he talks about, and supports, the Olympian Wave Heaters.
We love his conversation about the Buddy Heaters not being as reliable as the Olympian Wave Heaters.
Still, Kelly and Marshall do love their Buddy Heaters as they still work.
Bob Wells Discusses Wave Heaters
The Olympian Wave heaters have variable heat settings, but unfortunately it doesn't have a thermostatic control that lets you set a certain temperature you wish to maintain.
Instead, this is an on or off appliance.
Caring For Your Olympian Wave Heater
Yes, these small propane heaters are very durable.
However, they have one downfall if not properly cared for.
The platinum-infused pad which is the main heating element is VERY sensitive to damage from dust and other foreign matter.
Catalytic Pad Replacement
The catalyst pad is not field replaceable.
You need to return it to the manufacturer (or an appropriate repair facility) if the pad becomes damaged or otherwise doesn't function properly.
If taken care of properly, the pad should last many years. More reason to cover it appropriately when not in use.
It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you cover it. You can use something you make at home, or just get the cover built for the Camco Olympian heaters, as shown above and further discussed below.
If not kept free from dust and other contaminants when not in use, the pad will become damaged and will discontinue working properly.
We highly recommend getting the fitted cover for your Olympian heater.
Wave Heater No-No's
Do not use a vacuum, water, or other cleaning method in an attempt to keep the catalyst pad free of dust or other contaminants. Doing so will physically damage the pad requiring replacement (you have to send it back to the manufacture). When not in use, keep it covered!
Mount On Wall Or Keep On Floor?
You have options as to where to put your Olympian Wave.
You can purchase the optional legs and keep it on the floor, where you can point it towards where you want heated.
You can also mount your Wave Heater on the wall.
Observe Proper Clearances
Even though Wave Heaters don't have a visible flame, they still operate at temperatures high enough to ignite flammable items on fire. Camco states you must have a minimum amount of space between the heater and anything combustible. Minimum clearances for all Wave Heaters: Top - 18 inches, Front - 30 inches, Sides - 4 inches, Bottom - 4 inches.
Wall mounting options include mounting directly to the surface or recessing it into the wall (requires cutting a hole, etc).
No matter which wall mount option you choose, follow the instructions in the Wave Heater owner's manual.
One RVer wrote a blog post showing how he mounted his Olympian Catalytic Heater to the wall of his RV.
It's mounted in a way that his catalytic heater can easily be removed for storage when not in use. (Photo of his mounted Olympian Wave Heater from the blog post below.)
Note the 90º propane fitting (sold separately) for keeping kinks out of this particular hose setup.
There are optional legs one may purchase for floor use.
Follow the manufacturer's rules for mounting with regards to how far away to place it from objects.
We have also seen people mount their small propane heater (Wave) inside of a cabinet door, which they simply open while the heater is in use.
Additionally, one person has it slide in and out of a pantry-style drawer on a track.
When slid back into the pantry, it's totally out of the way.
Olympian Wave Heater Accessories
Below are accessories for your Olympian catalytic heater.
The dust cover should be considered mandatory as it's vital to keep the catalytic pad free from contaminants to ensure a long life.
Whether or not you need the other accessories will depend on how you choose to mount your Wave Heater.
Olympian Wave Heater Dust Covers
If you have an Olympian Wave Heater, you really need a dust cover.
Camco recommends you keep your Olympian heater covered whenever you aren't using it.
The catalyst pad (the part that creates the heat) must be free from contaminants or else it will suffer from catalyst pad poisoning and lose efficiency (and release unburned gas).
If keeping the Wave Heater covered when not in use is so darn important, then why doesn't Camco include a cover as standard equipment?
There are two different covers for each Wave model - one for use on wall mounted heaters and one for floor mounted heaters.
Which cover you need will depend on which mounting method you choose.
Select Size + Wall OR Floor Mount
Floor Mount Leg Stands
If you choose to use your Wave catalytic heater as a freestanding unit (on the floor), you will need these legs.
They mount to the bottom of the Olympian Wave and let you place the heater wherever your propane hose lets you.
90º Propane Fitting
The Wave Heater comes standard with a propane 'nipple' fitting that points straight out the side of the unit.
Depending on how you choose to mount your catalytic propane heater, you might find it advantageous to buy this 90º fitting to allow for easier (less stress on the propane hose) propane supply line connection.
Camco Olympian Wave Heater Features and Specs:
- Propane radiant heater
- Catalytic combustion with no open flame (once ignited)
- 99.98% efficient
- Three sizes (heat outputs) to choose from: Wave 3 rated at 1,600 to 3,000 BTU, Wave 6 rated at 3,200 to 6,000, and Wave 8 rated at 4,200 to 8,000 BTU
- Room area heated: Wave 3 - up to 130 square feet, Wave 6 - up to 230 square feet, Wave 8 - up to 290 square feet
- Use as a floor model or mount on the wall
- Surface temperature of no more than 720º F, which is considerably less than RV propane heaters with an open flame
- Heats 100-230 SF, depending on the model you get
- Piezo spark ignition rated for 20,000 starts
- No electrical/battery drain
- Wave 3 (p/n 57331) dimensions: 11 3/4" High x 10 1/4" Wide x 3 1/2 Deep, 6 pounds
- Wave 6 (p/n 57341) dimensions: 17 7/8" High x 12 13/16" Wide x 4" Deep, 12 pounds
- Wave 8 (p/n 57351) dimensions: 21 1/2" High x 15" Wide x 4" Deep, 14 pounds
- 1-year limited warranty
Runner-Up Portable Propane Heater
Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater
The Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater excels at creating a lot of heat and doing so FAST. It's a great option for boondockers who don't want to waste a ton of battery reserve by using their RV's furnace.
Continue Reading Mr. Heater Big Buddy Review
The Mr. Heater Big Buddy heater (model MH18B) is a very popular propane RV space heater and for good reason.
My Buddy Heater is portable, produces a ton of heat through convection (and radiation), and merely sips propane.
The brand easily rivals the Olympian Wave heaters as the best indoor propane heater out there.
The Big Buddy portable heater is approved for indoor use in recreational vehicles as long as there is proper ventilation.
If you are using the 1-pound propane bottles, this camp heater is completely self-contained.
There is an option to hook it up to a remote (external to your RV) propane bottle for longer run times.
With two burner tiles, the Big Buddy portable heater has three heat settings: 4,000 BTU (per hour), 9,000 BTU (per hour), and 18,000 BTU (per hour).
This portable heater for camping uses a combination of convection heating (main source) and radiant heating to warm up a living space.
High Altitude Buddy Heater Issues
Mr. Heater says that above 7,000 in elevation the Buddy Heater (all models) may not work properly.
At these high elevations, your portable Buddy Heater may not burn as brightly as when you use it lower down.
Also, it may shut-off on its own. Lastly, it may not ignite (or reignite) at all. Why is this?
The higher up in elevation you go, the less oxygen there is. A propane camping heater requires oxygen to create heat (by burning propane).
If there is insufficient oxygen, the burners might not have the same appearance as they do at a lower elevation. Also, the oxygen depletion sensor might not allow for flame ignition at all.
Both Camp Addict Kelly and Marshall have used their Big Buddy heaters above 7,000 feet, so going above this elevation doesn't mean your heater will definitely stop working.
It greatly depends on your local atmospheric conditions, so your mileage may vary.
If high elevation RV space heater use is a concern, consider the Olympian Wave, which doesn't suffer from these same high altitude issues.
Equipped with a piezo style ignition system (doesn't require a power source to ignite the pilot flame), the Big Buddy is easy to start up.
As long as you follow the manufacturer's recommendations for use, it is a safe space heater for RV use.
There is a tip over sensor that will shut-off the heater if it is no longer upright.
Another safety feature is the oxygen depletion sensor (OPS), which will shut-off the heater if there is insufficient oxygen (one of the reasons you need proper ventilation).
This Mister Heater portable heater has attachments for two 1-pound LP bottles, one on each side.
You can use either a single 1-lb propane bottle, or use two at once. You must use two 1-lb LP bottles if using the high (18,000 BTU) heat setting.
The small 1-pound propane cylinders won't go as far as using a larger propane tank will, but they are easier to use and require no additional purchase (no hose necessary).
To get an idea how long a Buddy Heater will run on a given supply of propane, see the how long will a Buddy Heater run feature below.
1-Pound Propane Bottles
All sizes of the Mr. Heater portable propane heaters can use the small green 1-pound propane bottles pictured below. These bottles screw directly onto the Buddy Heaters.
While super convenient to use, these small propane bottles are intended to be disposable, which means you are constantly having to purchase them.
Plus, they don't last a super long time since they don't hold that much propane.
If you use your Mr. Buddy portable heater a lot, consider purchasing a hose that allows you to use an external (remote) 20-pound propane tank (refillable and will last a lot longer than using 1-pound bottles).
When using the larger propane bottle, the tank MUST be located outside of your RV.
Below are 1-pound LP bottles you can purchase from Amazon. Seriously though, just go get them from some local store like Walmart.
They are WAY cheaper at Walmart. But if you have to buy online regardless... here's the cheapest set we could find.
Online pricing is significantly more expensive (per bottle) if you buy them one at a time.
You can either use the small propane bottles, or you can purchase a hose to connect your Big Buddy heater.
You can either connect it to your LP lines in your RV (Kelly and Marshall both do this) or to connect to a supplemental LP tank OUTSIDE of your rig.
Using the hose option, you can go for days and days on one 20-pound LP tank.
Of course this depends on how cold the temperatures are at your location and if you need to run your propane RV heater day and night.
External Tank Limitation
The Big Buddy is the only one of the Buddy Heater series that has a quick disconnect fitting for external propane tanks. While you are able to use an external tank, you will need to use a hose that screws into the built-in propane regulator on these small gas heaters.
Using the small bottles will be more expensive and will require changing out of canisters much more often.
The small 1-pound bottles use the Big Buddy's built-in propane regulators (one in each propane bottle compartment).
If you opt to use one of the optional propane hoses, you may or may not be using the built-in propane regulator (more on this in the Buddy Heater Hose section below).
The Big Buddy heater can easily heat up to a 450 square foot area.
Camp Addict Kelly uses one in her 24 foot travel trailer which is about 160 square feet of interior space.
Camp Addict Marshall also uses a Big Buddy heater in his trailer that is approximately 175 square feet.
Most of the time, she leaves this LP gas heater on low, and it will keep her interior around 69-73º in temperatures ranging from just below freezing to around 40º or so.
If it's too warm, so then she just keeps a couple of windows wide open.
Proper Ventilation IS Required
Use of indoor propane heaters requires proper ventilation. They use up oxygen (this is what happens when a flame burns) and produce carbon monoxide (a deadly gas).
You MUST provide adequate ventilation (by cracking open one or more windows and/or overhead vents) when using an LP gas heater inside.
Mr. Heater states that the Big Buddy requires a minimum vent area of 18 square inches.
Even though the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater has a low oxygen shutoff sensor, you have to vent your RV somehow to provide fresh air, usually by cracking a window.
Any burning of fuel will produce a small amount of carbon monoxide (and use available oxygen), so providing ventilation is VITAL.
Don't ventilate and you could DIE. Understand? DEATH by your propane camping heater.
The manufacturer advises to vent, SO YOU MUST VENT. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS and FOLLOW THEM.
Also be sure you HAVE a carbon monoxide detector in your RV and be SURE it's working.
Massachusets and Canada Buyers Beware!
In Massachusetts and Canada the Buddy Heater line of portable camping heaters are certified for OUTDOOR USE ONLY.
They have different rules in these locations for certain indoor propane heaters. You can buy versions of the Buddy Heaters for these locations with the only difference being the wording in the manuals and on the boxes and warning labels.
Here are the Massachusetts and Canada versions. (You won't be able to buy/ship the regular versions to Canada or Massachusetts, you must order these special versions:)
Big Buddy (p/n F274865)
Portable Buddy (p/n F232050)
Hunting Buddy (p/n F232045)
Little Buddy (p/n F215120)
Potential Buddy Heater Issues- Incomplete Combustion
The Mr. Heater Buddy Heater should run smoothly and in total silence.
If it makes a flickering sound and a flickering 'look' when running, this could be a sign of incomplete combustion, which means that it is emitting larger levels of carbon monoxide.
Your portable Buddy Heater should have bright orange burner tiles.
It may take a few minutes after initially startup to reach this bright orange appearance, but that is the 'look' your small radiant heater should have.
If the burner tile(s) don't have this bright orange appearance, something is wrong with the combustion.
DO NOT run your Mr. Buddy Heater if the burner tile(s) are experiencing any sort of incomplete combustion!
Contact the manufacturer for further help.
Other signs to look out for that your Buddy (or any propane space heater) is not combusting properly:
In the event that any of this is happening, something is wrong and the propane gas heater should be looked at by someone who can troubleshoot the device.
Just remember, even though the Buddy propane heater has tip over protection (shutoff) and low oxygen shut-off devices, this does not mean that things cannot go wrong.
It's a heater. It gets hot and can experience operational issues.
Don't Catch Fire!
Because the Big Buddy portable heater produces a flame, it can catch things on fire.
Mr. Heater states you must have a minimum amount of space between the heater and anything combustible.
Minimum clearances (applies to all Buddy propane heater sizes): Top - 30 inches, Front - 24 inches, Sides - 6 inches.
There are opportunities to burn yourself, or your toddler could touch it in the wrong place, so be aware of your situation and where you place it and who/what can get to it.
Practice common sense and either don't get this kind of propane space heater, or keep it in a location where nothing can get to it where it can do harm.
Caution With Pets!
One evening Kelly's furry dog Trixie stood with her butt to the Buddy Heater for too long.
Her hair singed, and we don't even want to imagine what else could have happened if Kelly wasn't there to move Trixie before it may have been too late!
We do NOT recommend using RV space heaters while you are away, especially if you have pets.
The Big Buddy heater has a place to plug in a power cord. What's that for?
Well, the Mr Heater Big Buddy Heater has a blower fan at the top (It's the ONLY Buddy heater with a fan).
The fan helps circulate the hot air to maximize warmth in the room.
Yes, the Buddy heater can be used without using the fan. Neither Kelly or Marshall ever use theirs.
The fan can be run off of 4 size D batteries or from 120V power, using an optional A/C power cord.
There are also other versions of the Buddy Heater designed for smaller spaces.
If you have a smaller area you need to heat, or just want a more compact propane room heater, one of the other Buddy Heaters may do the trick for you.
Check out the other Buddy Heater sizes below.
All About The Big Buddy Heater
Big Buddy Heater Cleaning And Maintenance
Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater Features and Specs:
- Mr. Heater model number MH18B
- Propane indoor heater (not for use indoors in Massachusetts or Canada)
- Three heat settings: 4,000, 9,000 or 18,000 BTU per hour
- Can heat up to a 450 square foot area
- Indoor safe (not for use indoors in Massachusetts or Canada)
- Piezo spark mechanism to ignite pilot flame
- Automatic low-oxygen sensor shut off (ODS or oxygen depletion sensor)
- Tip over protection (will automatically shut-off)
- Fan runs on 4 D-cell batteries or AC adapter (sold separately)
- Propane Supply: One or two 1-pound propane canisters OR connects to a remote 20-pound LP tank with hose (sold separately)
- Weighs 17.1 lbs
- Dimensions (approximate): 16.5" Tall x 17" Wide x 11" Deep
- May not perform well in elevations over 7,000 feet
- 1-year limited warranty
Other Buddy Heater Size Options
The Mr. Heater brand of portable propane heaters also has other smaller sizes of the My Buddy Heater series.
Little Buddy Heater
There's the Little Buddy heater, the Portable Buddy heater, and the Hunting Buddy heater.
The Little Buddy heater (model MH4B) 'sits' right on top of a 1-pound propane bottle, making for a very compact small gas heater.
This mini propane heater has a single heat setting (3,800 BTU/hour) and is designed for spaces up to 95 square feet.
Portable Buddy Heater
The Portable Buddy heater (model MH9BX) uses a single 1-pound propane cylinder.
You have the option to instead use a 20-pound propane tank (located outside your RV) that requires the purchase of a propane hose.
With two heat settings (4,000 and 9,000 BTU/hour), the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy heater can heat up to 225 square feet of space.
Hunting Buddy Heater
The Hunting Buddy heater (model MH12HB) is very similar in appearance to the Portable Buddy heater, with a few key differences.
The Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy has two heat setting with a bit more output (6,000 and 12,000 BTU/hour) and has a storage compartment that can store a spare 1-lb LP cylinder (it uses a single 1-lb LP bottle at a time).
Also, the Hunting Buddy heater uses a pulse ignition system (requires a AA battery) instead of the piezo system all other portable Buddy heaters use.
The Mr. Heater Hunter Buddy can heat up to 300 square feet of space.
It has a camouflage color scheme that befits its name.
It too has the option to use an external propane tank if you purchase the optional propane hose.
Buddy Heater Propane Hoses
If you don't want to use the disposable, 1-pound propane bottles with your Buddy propane heater, you can purchase an optional Mr. Buddy Heater hose to use with a larger propane tank (up to 20-pound size).
We feature the two most popular Buddy Heater hoses below.
One is only for use with the Big Buddy Heater and features a quick disconnect fitting.
The other one can be used with any of the Buddy Heaters that accept an external propane hose (every one but the Little Buddy Heater).
Propane Tank Warning
If you are using an external propane tank, the tank must be located outside of the living space/your RV. Only the 1-pound propane tanks are allowed to be inside the space that is being heated.
Big Buddy Heater Hose With Regulator & Quick Disconnect
This Big Buddy Heater Hose (p/n F271803) has a quick connect end that connects to the quick disconnect fitting inside the right propane compartment (pictured below).
Using this hose bypasses the built-in propane pressure regulator.
The Big Buddy is the only one of the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater line that has this quick disconnect fitting. Therefore this hose is ONLY compatible with the Big Buddy.
The end of this Big Buddy Heater hose that attaches to the external propane tank has a pressure regulator built-in.
You do not need to use a fuel filter with this hose.
Hose is 12 feet in length.
Buddy Heater Series Propane Hose
The Buddy Heater Series propane hose (p/n F272704) is compatible with all Buddy Heaters that can be used with an external propane tank (which means all but the Little Buddy).
Because this Buddy Heater hose doesn't have a propane pressure regulator, it uses the built-in regulator.
On the Buddy Heater side you simply screw one end of the hose into the built-in pressure regulator.
The other end goes directly into the external propane tank.
The Big Buddy Heater has two built-in pressure regulators (one in each side propane compartment). You can use the hose on either side.
Hose is 10 feet in length.
Buddy Heater Accessories
Buddy Heater Fuel Filter
The Buddy Heater Fuel Filter is used when you are using an external propane tank (not the 1-lb propane canisters) and CERTAIN propane hoses.
It is designed to remove contaminants that can potentially harm your Buddy Heater.
These contaminates leach out of certain propane hoses when exposed to high pressure propane.
The propane hoses (part numbers F271803 and F273704) featured in this review do not require the use of a fuel filter.
Only when you are 'pushing' high pressure (non-regulated) propane through other hoses do you possibly need a fuel filter.
Good rule of thumb is if you are utilizing the Buddy Heater's built-in propane regulator (which means there is high pressure propane in the propane line) then you need a fuel filter.
(Again, not necessary if you are using the non-regulated 'Buddy Series Hose' p/n F273704.)
If you don't use a fuel filter, you will learn, like Kelly did, that your Buddy will start to have problems with incomplete combustion.
The Buddy Heater Fuel Filter needs to be replaced annually.
Buddy Heater Carry Bags
If you use your buddy heater inside your home as well as in your RV, or you don't use it much, you may want a storage bag/carry case for it.
It carries the heater plus a propane hose and two 1-pound propane canisters.
Buddy Heater carry bags come in two sizes - one for the Big Buddy portable heater and one for the Portable Buddy Heater.
Big Buddy Heater Power Adapter
The Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater has a built-in fan that can be used to help distribute the heat it produces.
The fan can run off 4 D-cell batteries or an optional AC power adapter (part number F276127) that plugs into a 110 volt outlet.
The power adapter provides 6 volts of power to the Big Buddy Heater fan.
The Big Buddy heater is the only Mr. Heater portable propane heater with a built-in fan.
Use of this fan is completely optional.
Both Camp Addict Kelly and Marshall do not use this fan when they use their Big Buddy heaters.
Best Portable Propane Heater For High Elevations
Camco Olympian Wave Heater
The Camco Olympian Wave Heater performs better at higher elevations than the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater does. If you spend a lot of time at altitude (above 7,000 feet), this is the propane RV heater you should take a hard look at.
Best Portable RV Electric Heater
There are many choices when it comes to electric RV heaters. We like the pureHeat SNUG electric heater since it won't sacrifice any floor or counter space. It's well under 1200 Watts, making it safe to use in your RV.
Continue Reading PureHeat SNUG RV Electric Heater Review
Many Electric Heaters Will Suffice
There are a 'zillion' RV electric heaters out there.
Most of them probably do a pretty good job, so this category was pretty tough to choose a winner.
In reality, there are plenty of regular electric heaters that will work fine in your RV.
Why The pureHeat SNUG Heater?
Still, we did some research and found the pureHeat Snug that we think is one of the best electric heater for RVs.
This compact little RV space heater is unique in that it can be plugged directly into your wall outlet, effectively keeping it off of the floor or counter.
Also, it can be used like a regular heater with a power cord if you don't have an outlet that would work.
This is great as RVs aren't known for their enormous sizes and storage capacities.
You don't have to sacrifice floor space or counter space to use this little gem!
We also picked this one because it is only a 1000-watt heater.
If you have already read our guide, you know that it can be dangerous to use a heater in an RV that uses over 1200 watts of power.
This heater also has a Safe-t-touch housing and heater grill, so it is never hot enough to burn you, your kids, or your pet in such a small space.
The pureHeat SNUG has 1000W maximum PTC (Positive Thermal Coefficient) heating element.
It provides more heat than most heaters of this size, and is purported to be more efficient while eliminating the possibility of getting burned.
This portable electric heater will shut off after a pre-programmed time so you don't have to worry about forgetting to turn it off when you leave.
The pureHeat SNUG heater also won't hog outlet space as it provides two additional receptacles on the sides.
To avoid outlet overload, do not plug in and use anything that pulls a lot of amps, such as another space heater.
The auxiliary plugs on the side of the SNUG are rated at 5 amps combined.
Only for use with three-prong outlets and cannot be used with GFCI outlets, horizontal outlets, or outdated, worn outlets.
But I Can't I Use Just About Any Electric Heater?
Sure! Just keep it under 1200 watts, and remember that you probably don't have much floor space or counter space, so get something that isn't very large.
Again, please only buy an RV electric heater that is rated at 1200W or under.
We think that this RV electric heater would work very well for most rig types.
If it's not for you, check out the other (1200 watt and under) electric heaters on Amazon or in your local store.
If you go Amazon, don't forget to check the website "Fakespot" to see if the reviews are legit or if they are fake.
There were a TON of reviewed items for sale on Amazon, ranked very highly, that got 'F' scores on Fakespot.
pureHeat SNUG RV Electric Heater Features and Specs:
- Infrared RV electric heater
- Can plug directly into wall outlet (taking up no floor space) or can be used freestanding with included cord
- Heat output: 3500 BTU from a 1000-watt heating element
- Can heat up to a 650 square foot area
- Safe-to-Touch housing and heater grill
- Adjustable from 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Automatic shut-off timer
- Low and high fan speeds
- 2 auxiliary side power outlets (5 amps maximum)
- Dimensions: 14" High x 4.75" Wide x 5" Deep, weighs 3.3 pounds
- 1-Year limited warranty (limited lifetime warranty on heating element)
Best Portable Propane Golf Cart Heater
Mr. Heater Golf Cart Heater
Why be cold in the golf cart you use to get around the RV park or the golf course? This heater is affordable, and will run for up to 5.5 hours on a single 1-pound propane bottle.
Continue Reading Mr. Heater Golf Cart Heater Review
Stay Cozy In Your Golf Cart!
This is a great little propane space heater to keep you warm in your golf cart.
Because it's radiant heat, even if you don't have a covered interior, it can keep you warm when pointed at you.
Radiant heat works very much like sunlight. You need to be 'in' the rays in order to feel the majority of the heat.
However, for best performance, it's better to have a canopy cover for your golf cart.
The Mr. Heater Golf Cart Heater has a piezo ignition button (doesn't use electricity) and is equipped with a wind resistant screen over the burner so it won't blow out in a breeze.
A one-pound propane bottle screws directly onto this propane heater.
Run time on a full 1-lb LP bottle is approximately 5.5 hours.
This heater is not for indoor use as the tip over switch (because golf carts go up and over hills frequently) is set to 90 degrees and will only shut off if a total tip over event happens.
In a home, the heater could tip over and land on something, say, at a 45-degree angle. At that angle, it wouldn't shut off.
In such a case, it could land leaning against something flammable and could start a fire.
Therefore this portable propane heater is not for use indoors.
Don't Catch Fire!
Because this portable propane heater produces a flame, it can catch things on fire.
Mr. Heater states you must have a minimum amount of space between the heater and anything combustible.
Minimum clearances: Top - 24 inches, Front - 18 inches, Sides - 6 inches.
The Mr. Heater Golf Cart Heater comes with a cup holder adapter that will work with most cup holders.
You simply set the heater in an available cup holder and aim it in the direction you want the heat to go.
Golf Cart Enclosure
Putting an enclosure over your golf cart will keep the wind out AND your heat in from your Buddy Heater.
Consider getting one for your comfort on those extra cold days.
Mr. Heater Golf Cart Heater Features and Specs:
- Radiant heater (for outdoor use only)
- Mr. Heater model number MH4GC
- Wind resistant protective screen for burner
- 4000 BTU's per hour of heat output
- For use with a 1-lb propane cylinder (up to 5.5 hours of use per tank)
- Safety tip-over switch (90 degree)
- Piezo ignition button
- ODS (oxygen depletion sensor) low oxygen shut-off system
- No electricity required
- Dimensions: 12" Long x 9.75" Wide, weighs 6 pounds
- 1-year limited warranty
Portable Propane Heater Purchase Considerations
In addition to what you can learn by reading our Indoor Propane Heater Guide, below are a few things to consider when it comes time to purchase your portable propane heater.
How Long Will A Buddy Heater Run?
Do you want to know how long a Big Buddy Heater will run on a 20-lb tank? Or how long a Little Buddy Heater will run on a 1-pound propane canister?
Or for that matter, you may wonder long any of the Buddy Heaters will run on a given supply of propane before you have to worry about your fingers and toes becoming numb.
How long a Buddy Heater will run depends on two things - supply (of propane) and demand (how long you have it on).
Can we get a 'duh!'?
Oh, you wanted specifics? Not satisfied with that really vague answer? Read on...
The below chart is based on data published in the various Buddy Heater owner's manuals and the Mr. Heater website.
Don't take these run times as gospel. They are only an approximate range.
If your Mr. Heater Big Buddy run time doesn't match the times listed below, then that's just how life goes.
It will pay to have way more fuel on hand than you think will be necessary, if you are in deadly cold temperatures.
In other words, your mileage may (and most likely will) vary.
The Cold Air Effect
Run times can be significantly reduced in temperatures below 20º F.
(In other words, you are using an external tank that is in below 20ºF temperature air.
(This won't apply if the outside temps are below 20º but your 1-lb propane cylinder is inside in relative warmth.)
The reduced run time at low temperatures has to do with LP gas properties when the gas is cooled below a certain point.
Buddy Heater Model
Big Buddy (MH18B)
One 1-lb Cylinder
1.5 to 6 hours
Two 1-lb Cylinders
3 to 12 hours
25 to 110 hours
Portable Buddy (MH9BX)
2.4 to 5.4 hours
48 to 110 hours
Hunting Buddy (MH12HB)
1.5 to 3.5 hours
36 to 72 hours
Little Buddy (MH4B)
* Depends on heat setting. If there are multiple heat settings for a particular Buddy Heater model, then the run time will be expressed in a range with the shortest time being the highest heat setting and the longest time being the lowest heat setting.
How Many BTU's Do I Need?
Below is a way to quickly approximate the amount of BTU's (heater heat output) you will need for your space.
You can use this with the manufacturers recommended maximum square footage to figure out what size heater you should purchase.
Warning- Math! Ha ha.
You can calculate the amount of BTUs required by using the following method:
- Measure the space’s dimension to determine cubic feet: Length x Width x Height = Cubic Feet
- Subtract the outside temperature from the desired inside temp to determine the temperature increase (either in Fahrenheit or Celsius).
- Calculate the approximate BTU requirements using either the Fahrenheit or Celsius formula below:
Fahrenheit Calculation: Cubic Feet x Temperature Increase (in Fahrenheit) x .133 = Required BTUs
Celsius Calculation: Cubic Feet x Temperature Increase (in Celsius) x .2394 = Required BTUs
Again, this is just an estimate.
Construction quality of the area you are trying to heat will play a large factor in how many BTUs you need.
A cheaply built RV with zero insulation will require a larger heater than a quality rig actually built for cold weather.
Refill 1-Pound Propane Cylinders Legally
The Buddy Heater line of portable propane heaters can run off the small (normally green in color) 1-pound propane bottles.
You know, the kind that are a few bucks at the local store and you toss when you're done. Because they cannot be refilled. Yep, they normally are not supposed to be refilled and then traveled with.
Yes, we know people do it all the time. People do a lot of stuff all the time that isn't 'right'. **Insert eye-roll here**
Fear not! There is actually a legal way to safety refill 1-lb propane cylinders.
The Flame King 1-lb Refillable Cylinder Refill Kit comes with a stand, a refill adapter, and a single refillable 1-lb propane bottle (you can purchase additional ones).
If you want to save money in the long run by not purchasing relatively expensive disposable 1-pound propane cylinders, consider the Flame King refill kit.
Legally Refill 1-Pound Propane Bottles
Most RVs come with some type of pre-installed heating system.
Even so, one may need a supplemental heater to use either in place of the installed system or to use as a supplement during certain called for situations.
Having a secondary heating method can mean the difference between life and death.
We highly recommend having a supplemental portable propane heater of some kind to have on hand while camping in or living in an RV.
It's always prudent to make sure you are safe and cozy when camping. Having a supplemental heating system for your RV is a no-brainer for safety and comfort!
Get out there and Camp On!
Kelly Beasley is co-founder of Camp Addict and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since May 2015, Kelly's playful writing style helps make learning about the sometimes dull subject of RV products a bit more interesting.
Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing since April 2014, Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle.