Direct vent propane heaters are some of the most common space heaters. Although slightly more expensive than their B-Vent counterparts (in general), a direct vent heater is easier to install and can even be DIY installed. The heaters are also easier to maintain compared to B-Vent heaters.
Propane heaters offer a more portable space heating option, which is a significant advantage. For people looking for a heater they can carry from one room to another, depending on present needs, a propane heater is a much better option compared to natural gas heaters which are typically permanently installed.
Propane heaters that don’t require electricity can prove a lifesaver in emergencies such as during a power outage. Such heaters can also be carried along on trips, such as when going camping or fishing.
This guide should help you pick out the right direct vent propane heater for your needs.
Direct Vent Propane Heater No Electricity Comparison Table
How Direct Vent Heaters Work
The first step is to know what you’re buying. Obviously, a propane heater is a space heater that burns propane to generate heat for home heating. But, what’s a direct vent heater, and how do these heaters work?
There are two broad categories of gas heaters; vented and unvented/vent-free. Vented heaters have a dedicated exhaust mechanism through which gaseous byproducts exit the house. The venting mechanism usually comprises a special pipe (or set of pipes).
Vent-free heaters don’t have a dedicated exhaust mechanism. Instead, the gaseous byproducts are released into the space where the heater is located.
A direct vent heater is one of the two main types of vented gas heaters, the other type being B-Vent (also known as natural vent) models.
Direct Vent vs. B-Vent Heaters
The main difference between direct vent and B-vent heaters is that whereas B-Vent heaters have only one vent pipe that directs exhaust gases out of the house, direct vent heaters use special vent systems comprising two pipes – one for exhaust and the other for drawing in outdoor air for the combustion process.
Advantages of Direct Vent Heater
- Combustion gases are vented outside: This is very important as some combustion gases such as nitrogen dioxide are a health hazard.
- No need to terminate above the roofline: B-Vent vent systems must terminate above the roofline for safety reasons. Direct vent models can vent even through the wall.
- Lower risk of indoor oxygen depletion: Since B-Vent heaters use indoor air for combustion, there’s usually a risk of oxygen depletion which can result in poisonous carbon monoxide. Direct vent models vent outside thus eliminating this risk.
- Greater efficiency: Direct vent heaters are typically more efficient and deliver more heat than B-Vent heaters, even at a low flame setting.
Things to Consider When Buying a Direct Vent Propane Heater
Aside from price, you should consider the following factors when shopping for a direct vent propane heater;
- Heating power (in BTU)
First off, you want to ensure that you’re getting enough heating power for your needs. The exact BTU value you need will be determined by several factors, including the purpose of the heater (where do you intend to use it) and the size and insulation quality of that room/space.
- Installation method
Direct vent propane heaters are mostly installed on the wall. But, others may stand on the floor. Others also vent through the wall or roof only while others support either option. Then, the difficulty of installation also varies. Make sure to keep all these factors in mind.
- Ignition mechanism
Although most direct vent propane heaters use piezoelectric ignition, others use only manual ignition where a matchbox is needed. Both options have pros and cons. Automatic pilot ignition is more convenient but wears out over time. Manual ignition, meanwhile, doesn’t wear out (remains reliable throughout) but is more archaic. If your propane heater keeps shutting off after 5 minutes, you have check the thermostat, air filters and the flame sensor.
- Ease of use and maintenance
Some direct-vent heaters are complex, thus may take time to learn how to use them. Direct vent heaters also tend to be more maintenance-intensive compared to other heaters. Taking the unit apart for cleaning, for instance, may not be easy. Ensure to choose a unit that’s easy to use and maintain.
- Aesthetic qualities
Even though looks and appearance rarely come at the top of the considerations list, they are still crucial factors. You want to choose a heater that adds something to your décor, especially if the unit will be installed in a living area. The color, finish material, controls, and lighting should be considered.
- Extra features
The best direct vent propane heaters come with a few extra features for convenience. Such features may include thermostat control, a programmable timer, multiple heat settings, remote control, and Wi-Fi connectivity. You can also find a propane heater that runs on battery if you’re going camping and you suspect power will be a problem.
Safety Tips When Using a Direct Vent Propane Heater
Though direct vent heaters are inherently safer than their B-Vent counterparts and even more safe compared to vent-free models, you have to consider ventless propane heater safety. The following tips and precautions should help you stay safer;
- Buy a certified heater: A great heating system will be certified by a recognized laboratory such as NTRL or standards organizations such as the CSA or UL.
- Check for safety features: Some of the safety features to prioritize include overheat protection, auto shutoff, anti-tip-over protection, cool-to-touch surfaces, and a sturdy build.
- Ensure proper installation: For some heaters, this may mean hiring a licensed HVAC professional for the installation.
- Read and understand the user manual: The manufacturer will often use the manual to tell you how to stay safe while using the heater.
- Be practical with safety: Having connection cords crisscrossing your living spaces, for instance, is a huge safety risk. Also, keep flammable items such as curtains and furniture away from the heater, and don’t let the kids or pets get close to the unit.
- Regular maintenance is vital: The air movement required to move heat in your rooms can carry dust and dirt into air vents, causing a blockage. Additionally, natural wear and tear can create unforeseen safety risks. Regular maintenance helps to mitigate such risks.
5 Best Direct Vent Propane Heater No Electricity
1. Martin Direct Vent Propane Wall Heater Furnace
- WARM, ADJUSTABLE HEAT – Keep living or work spaces heated with a direct vent wall heater with room thermostat that lets you monitor your heat dispersion.
- BUILT-IN THERMOSTAT (Low - High Dial) - 8,000 BTU
- STYLISH & CLEAN ENERGY – A sleek classic design, our direct vent gas heater produces safe, clean energy that’s economical and aesthetically pleasing.
- QUICK & EASY INSTALLATION – Connect our heater to a gas fitter and it will heat your living space effectively with low maintenance required. (The wallʼs thickness cannot be less than 4-1/2” (11.5 cm) nor can it exceed 12-5/8” (32 cm).)
- CERTIFIED QUALITY – Heavy-duty grill made with die-cast aluminum and glass ceramic window for more safety, Product is certified for use in the USA and Canada.
One thing you’ll quickly notice about direct-vent propane heaters is that they are a bit pricey, with the majority priced at over $1,000. The MDV8P is one of the few units that comes with all the superior qualities of a direct vent heater while costing under $700.
The 29-pound unit features a large, heavy-duty grill that allows for better airflow. The back of the unit remains at room temperature throughout the heating process.
A room thermostat, built into the unit, helps maintain constant temperatures despite thermal variations.
This unit is also one of the easier-to-install models. Once you connect the heater to a gas fitter, you’re ready to begin heating.
- Stylish, sleek fireplace design
- Die-cast aluminum grill
- Glass-ceramic window
- Adjustable thermostat
- Self-corrective maintenance
- Installation is not as easy as the manufacturer says
2. Rinnai EX22CTWN Direct Vent Wall Furnace
- Indoor Heater: Direct vent wall furnace has stainless steel bunsen burners, a warm air outlet with forced combustion and convection through bottom front louvers, and an enameled tray humidifier
- Smart Features: Energy efficient furnace includes an electronic spark ignition, a seven-stage modulating gas valve, timer settings, a variable speed inducer motor with pressure switch, and an electronic thermostat with a range of 60°F to 80°F
- Safe Settings: Electric heater features a child lock and self-diagnostic electronics that continually monitor functions, provide auto shutdown codes, and restart automatically when ignition or combustion fails
- Gas furnace: For homes, apartments, condominiums, and commercial settings; the heater is modular/mobile home approved
As you can see, the Rinnai EX22CTWN is one of the most powerful products on this list, with a power output of 21,000 BTU at maximum operation. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg with regards to what the EX22CTWN can do.
For one, the unit comes with one of the best warranties you’ll come across when shopping for a space heater. You get 10 years on the heat exchanger, five years on parts, and two years on labor.
Secondly, the unit implements a seven-stage modulating technology to produce precise heat levels. This way, you get the precise amount of heat you need while saving costs.
The EX22CTWN features onboard self-regulating diagnostics to ensure that your heater is operating optimally. Self-diagnosis also simplifies maintenance.
- Easy operation, one-touch ignition
- 7-stage modulating gas valve
- Convertible gas type (NG or LP)
- Control panel locking for safety
- Programmable thermostat
- 5-year warranty
- Most expensive on this list (at close to $2,000)
- Professional installation needed
3. US Stove AGDV12L Ashley Direct Vent 11,000 BTU Heater
- Natural gas heater safe to use anywhere, including in bathrooms and bedrooms
- Cabinet remains cool to the touch, with heat outlets in front and on top
- Includes all direct vent pipe for typical installation, as well as wall thimbles
- Heats up to 275 square feet, safety valve shut off
- Approved for use in mobile or modular homes, approved for sale in WA and CA
Another direct vent heater is priced at under $1,000, the AGDV12L from US Stove is designed for spaces up to 350 square feet. It mounts on any outside wall and doesn’t require electricity to run.
Matchless Piezoelectric ignition makes it easy to start the heater. You’ll also appreciate the automatic shutoff and thermocouple safety valve.
The AGDV12L is a slim design heater made from a durable cabinet that remains cool to touch even during operation. All the heat outlets are either at the front or top, meaning that your wall is protected from heat damage. All controls are mounted at the top of the cabinet.
The units install easily, with everything needed for the installation, including the necessary vent pipes included. This heater is mobile home approved and certified for use in higher altitudes. It’s worth noting that the Ashely Direct comes as a Natural Gas heater but supports fuel conversion.
- Attractive, slim design
- Piezoelectric ignition
- Automatic overheating shutoff
- Cool to touch cabinet
- All installation materials included
- Fairly priced
- A fuel conversion kit is needed
4. Williams Comfort Gas Wall Furnace Direct NG 14,000 BTU Heater
A compact, space-saving heater that’s easy to install, the attractive William Comfort gas wall furnace is another worthy consideration when shopping for a direct vent propane heater.
The unit doesn’t require electricity to run and utilizes matchless piezoelectric ignition for the utmost convenience. It features an automated thermostat that mounts on the cabinet or the wall.
The combustion chamber is coated in ceramic for durability. The chamber is completely sealed and doesn’t require room air to operate. The unit is finished in a timeless soft-white, scratch-resistant finish seamlessly that blends with any décor.
This heater is best suited to spaces up to 350 square feet. It is a hybrid natural gas/propane heater and comes with all the parts required for installation. The combustion chamber is backed by a 10-year warranty while the rest of the parts come with a one-year warranty.
- Matchless piezoelectric ignition
- Long life ceramic combustion chamber
- Thermostat included
- ANSI and CSA certified
- One-year warranty on parts
- Professional installation required
- Timer not included
5. Williams 22,000 BTU Direct Vent Wall Furnace Model 2203622
Finally, the Model 2203622 direct wall heater by Williams Furnace is an attractive, economical, and safe space heating solution. As with other direct vent heaters, it features a completely sealed combustion chamber that draws air from the outside of the home.
The manufacturer recommends this unit for garage heating, camping, and during emergency power outages.
The unit uses matchless piezoelectric ignition. Safety features, including automatic shutoff, ensure that you’re not exposed to unnecessary risk during ignition or use.
You can also adjust the heating levels in your home thanks to an optional, external thermostat. A blower is also available separately in case you desire stronger heat circulation.
This unit comes out of the factory set up for natural gas but allows for fuel conversion for use with liquid propane. It requires a minimum clearance of 18 inches at the top and at least 13 inches at the bottom.
- Compact, space-saving design
- Soft white powder coating
- Long-life ceramic coated combustion chamber
- Optional blower supported
- Matchless pilot ignition
- Thermostat purchased separately
- Fuel conversion required
Direct vent propane heaters are some of the best gas heaters. Aside from the fact that propane is a low-cost, clean-burning fuel, direct vent heating delivers tons of heat in your rooms at very high efficiency.
That’s without mentioning that the heaters protect you and your loved ones from hazardous exhaust gases and poisonous carbon monoxide gas. If you can get the right one for your needs, it’s an investment you’ll never regret.