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When it comes to the great outdoors, preparation is key, like in every aspect of life. But one thing we can’t anticipate or predict with absolute certainty is mother nature. That’s why in camping, tent heaters are our trusted companions.
One distinct aspect of life is unpredictability. Whether we’re indoors or outdoors, things can sometimes go wrong. However, when camping outdoors, the weather can be very unpredictable. For some, a sudden drop in temperature can be very critical to their health or even fatal. Fortunately, a range of tent heaters is available to mitigate this problem. And when it comes to choosing tent heaters, there is a wide variety of choices from electric tent heaters to gasoline-powered tent heaters. And among the choices include the best tent heaters that are currently available in the market.
However, just because a tent heater has the most optimal feature offered, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s best for you. This article will provide a useful guide on how to choose a tent heater that best fits you.
Tent heaters are devices that keep the tent warm in case of chilly nights and extreme cold conditions. They come in many shapes along with sizes that range from bulky to lightweight, like most portable tent heaters.
Even when machines have yet to be invented, keeping warm in the cold has always been a challenge. Be it from heating rocks to campfires, we’ve always devised ways to adapt and survive the extreme cold.
Thankfully, our latest technologies include tent heaters for camping. With the aid of this device, we’ll be able to stay warmer and more comfortable throughout the changing weather.
There are many manufacturers of tent heaters out there. Most if not all, come with their own sets of instructions, specifying how to use their respective products.
However, one thing is for certain, they all want to keep things safe. One of the most important operating instructions is keeping the heating source secure. While extreme cold is usually an expected hazard during camping, too much heat is also dangerous for the body and health.
Before using any device, it is important to know what risks you run, and how to mitigate any unfortunate incidents in the future. And here, we outline a few safety tips that could prevent any untoward incidents.
When using heat sources, you run the risk of fires and even carbon monoxide poisoning. Tent heaters are heat sources as well. When using your tent heaters, it’s best to use the lowest possible setting without compromising your comfort.
To avoid accidents or grave incidents from occurring in the future, here are a few safety tips when using tent heaters:
There are many types of tent heaters fit for camping. One of its main categories largely depends on the type of fuel they use. These tent heaters are classified along with the following:
It’s these types of portable tent heaters that are safe to use when camping. We’ll discuss more about each type of heater as we progress in the article. But ultimately, the safest among these two are electric heaters.
Electric tent heaters might have some drawbacks on their output and heat capability, but they are safe to use compared to gas-fueled tent heaters. They don’t need to combust, and do not produce carbon monoxide, nor consume the oxygen you have in your tent. However, they can still produce fire if combustibles are nearby, which brings us to the next point.
Combustibles are things that could catch fire easily. Leaving anything nearby a tent heater that is currently in use may result in a fire. So whether the tent heater you use is electric or gas, be sure to not keep it within the same vicinity as any paper, wood, or even your things.
When using it inside the tent, it’s best to prop it in an inflammable platform. As much as possible, keep it a good distance away from the tent walls too.
While electric tent heaters don’t need proper ventilation as we have already discussed, gas tent heaters are a different matter.
Any type of fuel that needs combustion to produce heat needs three things: oxygen, fuel, and ignition. This combustion would then produce carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide, with the latter being dangerous to breathe in.
Giving your tent heater good ventilation will mitigate this from happening. How much ventilation will depend on what portable tent heater you have.
The most important safety tip when using your camping tent heaters is: DO NOT FALL ASLEEP, at least while you’re still using it.
While it might be a tempting thought to do so with the heat on amidst such cold temperatures, it doesn’t change the fact the risk outweighs the benefits. Besides, it won’t take long for your tent heater to warm the tent up come morning.
So if you go to sleep, shut it down to avoid the risk of having the following major accidents from occurring.
There are five fire classification classes: A, B, C or E, D, and K or F. Each of them are classified to identify what fuels these types of fire, and knowing which type of fire extinguisher to use can be crucial.
CLASS B is the type of fire fueled by oil, alcohol, and gasoline, and not the oils that are used to cook in. CLASS C, or E in Australia, are fires that come from electrical equipment. These two fires are most likely to occur when using tent heaters. When these types of fire occur, DO NOT USE WATER to put them out. Instead, use dry powder, foam, or even carbon dioxide extinguishers.
If you find yourself unable to put out the fire, evacuate the perimeter immediately. If you find yourself catching on fire, the classic STOP, DROP, and ROLL should do the trick and help put out the flames. Should you find yourself with burns, here’s what you should do:
For minor burns:
For major burns:
Carbon monoxide is one of the by-products of combustion, but this only happens when your combustion happens to be incomplete. For easy identification, incomplete combustion happens when your flame appears red to light orange.
But the thing that makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is that, when inhaled by a person, it displaces the oxygen in your body, causing the body to lose consciousness and ultimately suffocate. As your tent heaters produce heat, they burn their respective fuels, and when not used responsibly, they can produce carbon monoxide as well.
This is also why, when using tent heaters, proper ventilation and knowing which tent heaters are safe to use is advised. This is also one of the reasons why we should not fall asleep when using tent heaters.
In case carbon monoxide poisoning occurs, there are some first-aid measures to do:
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas when exposed to large quantities. It’s difficult to detect as it has no taste or smell. However, there are some signs and symptoms you can look out for:
When exposed to low levels:
When exposed to high levels:
When this happens, here are a few things you can do while waiting for medical help:
As a tent heater’s purpose is solely for heating the tent, you might want to hold off on using them during summer. But any other season, like spring, autumn, and winter, you can use them.
It’s perfectly possible to make camp outdoors in late spring, and early autumn. You might be able to stand the cold nights, but for ultimate comfort, bringing a tent heater along with you is a good idea.
However, if you want to camp in the winter, packing a tent heater with you will save you from lasting damages the extreme cold may bring you.
Camping is always a wonderful experience. To be outside and enjoy mother nature to the fullest, there’s always a surprise waiting. The same could be said when camping in winter, and in the middle of the snow, where trees and plants are blanketed in white!
However, keep in mind that there are a few precautions as well. As you camp, there is a least likely chance of having any access to a power supply, especially to power up your portable tent heater. Temperatures at night around camping areas can drop as low as below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered too low for our bodies.
When this happens, your camping tent heaters become indispensable.
It’s been discussed that, as a safety precaution, tent heaters should be shut down when you go to sleep. To retain the heat given off by your tent heater, here are some things you can do in the middle of winter camping:
Hypothermia is when your body uses too much heat, including the body’s reserves, to compensate for the cold weather around you, leaving the body’s temperature on levels lower than required. When this happens, the low body temperature will begin to affect the person’s brain, rendering them unable to move, or even think clearly. What’s even more dangerous, is the person may not be even aware that they have one.
People usually at risk of hypothermia include the following:
So what can we do in case of hypothermia when the tent heater is not adequate?
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Which is why it’s important to keep tent heaters around when deciding to camp outdoors. However, accidents and mistakes may arise, making the tent heater unable to perform up to standards.
The key to stopping further damage is early diagnosis. To identify if your companion is suffering hypothermia, here is a list of common signs and symptoms, aside from excessive shivering, are:
Remember, the person suffering from hypothermia isn’t usually aware they’re having one. When you suspect they do, here is a list you can do while waiting for 911 or professional help to arrive:
Frostbites occur when the skin, along with its underlying tissues, become frozen from extreme exposure to freezing temperatures. If you chose a tent heater that isn’t fit for your campsite and use, you’re likely to fall prey to this.
Frostbite comes in three stages: (1) frostnip, (2) superficial frostbite, and (3) deep and severe frostbite.
The first stage is FROSTNIP, which is mild frostbite. You’ll begin to notice this as the area exposed would turn numb, and when warmed there’s a certain sting or even pain. But don’t worry, it won’t damage the skin permanently.
The second one is SUPERFICIAL FROSTBITE. This frostbite would appear red and would turn snow white. Should your skin begin to feel warm, it’s a warning that there is a serious skin involvement. Should you treat it at this stage, the skin surface may appear mottled or marked with different colors. A fluid-filled blister will also appear within 12 to 36 hours after rewarming.
And lastly, the DEEP FROSTBITE, which is where it not only affects the surface of the skin, but also the underlying tissues below it. The skin turns to white or even grayish blue, and there’s a numbness all over, and loss of senses, including cold, pain, and even discomfort. After rewarming, large blisters would appear within 24 to 48 hours, and the tissues eventually die and turn black and hard.
While you can treat frostnip, for the other cases, calling 911 and the nearest hospital should always be the first step. But when you’re stuck with nothing but the cold, and an inadequate tent heater, you may do the following list for the meantime. Some of the first aid you can do in hypothermia is also applicable in frostbites, but here are a few additional steps.
When thoroughly warmed and secure, let the professionals do the rest.
Tent heaters aren’t common to prepare for campers. There’s a certain set of conditions that you’ll be expecting to want to use one, like family camping trips, or winter camping. You can even use them in cars, or RVs, and of course, inside tents.
There are many varieties of camping tent heaters out there. It can be big, or portable, and even dubbed as the best by their marketers, but it comes down to the fact that you should choose the one best for your current set of needs. In this section, we outline a few guide questions you can ask yourself when choosing your best tent heater.
There are two kinds of sizes you must consider when choosing your tent heater: (1) the size of your tent, and (2) the size of your tent heater.
For your tent heater size, you might prefer portable tent heaters compared to a bigger camping tent heater. Heavy loads when outdoors could ruin the mood for an adventure, so having luggage easy to carry around is better.
Here comes the tent size factor in choosing the best tent heater for you. If you have a small tent, choosing a portable sized tent heater would be safer as tent heaters are still fire hazards. So when in doubt, portable tent heaters are better, as they are smaller, and consume lesser fuel.
Heat output means how much heat is being produced by your tent heater. In tent heaters, or any temperature regulating equipment, you see this with a BTU or a British Thermal Unit.
The term BTU indicates how much energy is required to raise the temperature by 1 degree Fahrenheit, and a perfectly acceptable output for tent heaters is 1,000 to 5,000 BTUs.
Fortunately, many models of tent heaters are equipped with an adjustable climate setting. If you lower the heat output for your tent heater, then less electricity, or gas, would be consumed.
There are two main categories of fuel when it comes to tent heaters: (1) electric-powered tent heaters, and (2) gas-fueled tent heaters. So what’s the main difference between the two types of tent heaters? Well here it is:
Electric tent heaters are less prone to omitting the dreaded carbon monoxide when being in use. Gas fueled tent heaters on the other hand use actual fuels like propane, butane, and even kerosene, which they burn to produce much-needed heat.
There are always some electric tent heaters that can run for certain periods before their battery or electric supply eventually runs out. If you’re in a location where you can re-charge, or just hook up your tent heater, then great. If not, using gas-fueled tent heaters might be the better option.
The fuels of propane and butane are a cleaner option than kerosene. They also have few complications when used in tight and enclosed spaces.
Electric heaters are safer and portable compared to gas tent heaters, but when it comes to output, gas tent heaters have them beaten.
Some of these battery-powered tent heaters are sized very small, their heating capacity isn’t always up to par, and very limited in how much heat they can produce. So if you’re going for trips for an extended period, choosing gas tent heaters are the best option for you, as you can always refill them when they run out of fuel.
It’s also important, when you choose a tent heater, to pick the one that will hold out during the amount of time you are expecting to use it and could handle extreme conditions while we’re at it.
DO NOT CUT CORNERS especially if it’s just to reduce costs. In the long run, though it might be expensive, a well-trusted brand and good quality of tent heater material will be beneficial if you are to buy it.
While it’s important to save money, keep in mind it’s more important to save yourself and your companion’s lives.
Noise, by definition, is an unwanted sound. If you’re sensitive to sound when you’re relaxing, then perhaps an electric tent heater is not for you. Electric tent heaters are built with radiators and fans present. If you want to get an electric tent heater, pick one that would generate little to no noise at all.
Knowing where you’re going to camp is a big factor in deciding what type of tent heater you want to bring along. If the place you have chosen is equipped with a power supply that is made available to you, bringing along electric tent heaters might be the best course of action.
When choosing a camping spot during spring through fall, knowing in advance your local rules and regulations as well as the location’s topography is very important. Two important spots to camp nearby are: (1) a good water source, and (2) the camping trail. Make sure the two spots are at least 200 feet away. Also, be aware of any bugs and insects around the area.
When off winter camping, placing your campsite on snow or bare ground where there are no visible signs of plant life is much advisable. You might also consider doing so on higher ground as colder air flows downwards and hot air flows up.
As an extra precaution on winter camping spots, reading into the place’s avalanche activity should also be done.
As mentioned earlier, the two main categories of a tent heater are classified into an electric tent heater and a gas type tent heater. Further elaborating on these different categories, there are five groups of tent heaters.
Some of these tent heaters, though they exist, are not as famous as the gas tent heaters and electric tent heaters. They would be elaborated later, but for now, here are the other three types of camping tent heaters:
These halogen tent heaters can be classified too as electric. However, they differ by the way electric tent heaters produce their heat.
Halogen is a gas that is used to combine with tungsten. This combination would create a light, which emits heat. It is for this reason halogen tent heaters aren’t too advisable to use, as they could melt down your tent if placed too close to the sides.
If you are to use this type of tent heater, it’s best to hang it up at the center of your tent.
This tent heater might seem like the best option for camping. They require no electricity, no gas, and best of all, don’t give off carbon monoxide.
However, there is one small problem, tent heaters require a lot of power. And due to technology constraints, using a battery tent heater is inadequate to use for any reasonable length of time.
It’s an old-school type of a camping tent heater, and though it had worked great before, its major drawback is the ventilation.
If you want to use one though, perhaps giving it proper ventilation, where fumes could escape, should be planned.
Gas tent heaters also emit carbon monoxide and also need a well-ventilated tent to be used in. But aside from that, they could also have gas leaks.
Thankfully, modern tent heaters also come in with a safety switch that automatically shuts the tent heater down which would protect you from these hazards. To this day gas heaters are still popular to use too. And here are some of the best options for tent heaters you may find in the market.
Propane is a light fuel and may come in individual canisters or large tanks even. They can also be refilled. Most propane fuel is used in portable tent heaters. Here are some propane tent heaters you might want to check out when choosing:
Mr. Heater Buddy is a portable tent heater. Its heat settings come up to 4,000 BTU and 9,000 BTU per hour, which is higher than the average expected output for a well heating tent heater. It can even heat spaces to 225 square feet, which is bigger than just a campsite.
There are many other Mr. Buddy tent heaters out there, equally as good as this one, but this model is the best tent heater for small and medium-sized tents.
This tent heater is the smallest and the most compact tent heater that’s ever been invented. It’s perfectly designed for outdoor use and can be adjusted up to 2,890 BTU, which is best for personal use.
So pay close attention when you pick this tent heater.
For this tent heater, it can heat up to 3,100 BTU and shares a similar build with Texsport, but slightly heavier than the previous propane tent heater. This makes it a perfect camping tent heater for small areas.
This tent heater is more expensive than the Mr. Buddy models, but it does offer everything you need in a tent heater. Its heat output is adjustable from 3,200 to 6,000 BTU, which is enough for 200 square feet of space.
Butane is one of the fuels used in gas heaters and is similar to propane. It is denser than propane and, unfortunately for butane fuels, its canisters are disposable and cannot be refilled. However, here is a noteworthy butane tent heater you might want to check out:
Camplux portable butane heater has a heating capability of 4,400 BTU an hour, which can reach its full heating capacity in a short time of five seconds. Just one can of the butane fuel can make this tent heater to heat your space for up to five hours.
Electric tent heaters, compared to gas tent heaters, are certainly the safer choice. It also works as a portable tent heater most of the time, but the downside is its heat capacity. Having water nearby this equipment may cause the device to malfunction, so be extra careful when using this type of tent heater.
And when you’re choosing one, make sure it has an auto shut-off timer, as it’s the most important safety feature it should have when buying electric tent heaters. However, we do have a few suggestions in mind!
This electric tent heater is deemed to be the most adjustable tent heater! It is equipped with about eleven different temperature settings with just a turn of its dial. It even has a fan option, so if it’s too hot, you can also use this to keep you cool. You also can’t get burned when touching it as it does come with a cool-touch exterior.
So if you are to choose this portable tent heater, you might want to make sure the campsite has some electricity supply you can hook it up with.
This electricity might be small, but it works excellently for small and medium-sized tents. Though compared to Lasko, this space tent heater does come with three temperature settings, and a safety precaution against overheating, and tip-over protection.
You can’t go off the grid camping with this buddy as you’ll be needing around at least three deep cycle batteries, and an inverter to convert the DC into usable AC power.
There are other ways to heat your tent without gases or electricity. All you need is the heat and some good planning.
Here are also some tips to keep the warmth inside your tent, long after you have shut down your tent heater.
Insulate your tent
Insulation acts as a buffer of sorts against temperature changes. To do that, we thicken the layer between the two different temperatures. So how do we insulate our tent properly?
But aside from insulation, you can also use old-schooled tent heating ideas other than wood-burning stoves.
Water is essential when we go camping. If you’re expecting cold temperatures around the place you want to camp in, make sure you pack extra water bottles. Here are the steps:
And viola you have hot water bottles as a tent heater! This is one of the safest ways to heat your tent but the process could last up to several hours.
Did you ever wonder how prehistoric cavemen keep themselves warm on cold nights? Well, one of the ways they did so is with heated rocks. Here’s what you should do:
These heated rocks may last you for at least an hour.
This works best for large tents, and basically, it’s just building your tent on top of your campfire remnants.
You might have noticed that despite dousing the fire out of your campfire, there is still some residual heat. This is the heat you will use to become your tent heater. The downside is you will have to set up your tent much later than usual. And doing so under the cover of the night could be a little difficult.
And there you have it! Tent heaters come in many shapes, sizes, and fuels even. It can be used in almost any type of camping but is especially important if you plan to camp during the winter season.
Despite its many benefits, you may encounter a few risks when using these tent heaters for two main reasons: (1) inadequate tent heaters, and (2) unattended tent heaters. If you don’t choose your tent heater properly, you tend to suffer the consequences.
But modern technology and some old-school tricks offer safe ways to mitigate these risks. Furthermore, each type of tent heater has some of the best safety options you can look into. Just remember not to cut costs when considering to buy one because, although it’s important to save money, your safety is even more crucial.