Unlike most traditional homes that are dependent on the central heating system, tiny houses have several options that are inexpensive, energy-efficient, and put out a lot of heat.
Propane heaters for tiny houses are one of the options you can try. What you love about propane heaters is that they’re energy-efficient, relatively cheap, and readily available.
When choosing the best heater for tiny house, you have to consider the room’s size and the amount of heat the unit produces. You also want to go for vented propane heaters for indoor use because they are safe. If you choose vent free heaters, make sure your tiny home is well ventilated.
Here are both vented and unvented propane heaters for tiny houses that will keep your warm and offer a powerful heating experience.
How Do Indoor Safe Propane Heaters Work?
Like any other type of propane heater, indoor safe propane heaters produce heat energy through the combustion of propane gas. The combustion process produces carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and many other byproducts.
Carbon monoxide is highly toxic but colorless and odorless gas. When it accumulates in a closed room, it can easily lead to fatalities.
Indoor safe propane heaters have a unique mechanism to prevent the excessive production of carbon monoxide gas.
Propane heaters used outdoors do not need this mechanism because there is enough oxygen out to ensure that carbon monoxide is turned into the less poisonous carbon dioxide.
Indoor safe propane heaters have an oxygen depletion sensor. The device can detect when carbon monoxide levels rise rapidly. A sudden rise in the amount of carbon monoxide means that the room’s oxygen is getting depleted.
When this change happens, the sensor automatically triggers the heater to shut off. This process prevents the occurrence of carbon monoxide poisoning even when you use a propane heater indoors.
Direct Vent VS. Vent Free Propane Heaters
Direct vent propane heaters comprise a glass-sealed front and a complex venting mechanism in the background. The heaters draw in oxygen for combustion from the outside environment.
When the combustion process is complete, the byproducts are similarly channeled out through the vent. The heaters are about 85% efficient.
Installing direct vent propane heaters requires careful consideration of the venting. Typically, the venting is done across walls. In some instances, the venting may be done through the roof of the house.
Ventless propane heaters do not have any venting mechanism. Unlike the direct vent propane heaters, ventless propane heaters draw oxygen from the inside of the house in which they are installed.
Also, the byproducts of the combustion process in vent-free propane heaters are released into the house’s atmosphere.
Ventless heaters are almost 100% efficient. Their installation is easy and straightforward because you do not have to worry about venting. Moreover, the installation of such heaters follows stringent standard codes to ensure that they are completely safe for indoor use.
How Much Propane Does a Tiny House Use?
A tiny house may need anywhere between 120 to 150 gallons of propane per year. Propane is usually sold in small 10-gallon tanks. The tanks can perfectly fit in any tiny house, ideally in the basement or in a specially-constructed cabinet.
For a typical tiny house, 10 gallons of propane is needed to provide warmth for a month. This consumption rate means that you will need to refill your 10-gallon tank at the end of every month.
If your rate of consumption of propane gas for heating and other functions is slightly high, then you may end up burning about 15 gallons by the end of every year. If the consumption rate remains at one 10-gallon tank per month, you will have consumed 120 gallons at the end of the year.
How Can I Make My Propane Last Longer?
The efficient use of propane gas will help you keep the heating costs within manageable levels. Here are a few tips that you can use to make your propane last long and minimize the costs of replacing it frequently.
- Switch off the heater when you are not at home. Leaving your propane heaters on when you are not at home is a big waste of fuel and not necessarily a safety hazard. Ensure that the heaters are off when you step out of the house, even for just a few hours. This practice will minimize the amount of propane that is burned when no one is at home.
- Ensure the intake and output vents and the air filter are clean. Having clean ducts and the air filter will reduce the amount of propane that is wasted due to inefficiency. Propane heaters with vents and air filters that are clogged produce a distinctive hissing sound. The sound indicates that a small percentage of the propane is not burned correctly.
- Use automatic ignition. Unlike manual ignition systems, automatic ignition ensures that no small amount of propane gas goes to waste when you put on the heater.
- Go for energy-efficient heaters. Brands of heaters have different efficiency levels. Go for energy-efficient propane heaters that score high on efficiency to ensure that you minimize the wastage of propane gas in heating the home.
Propane VS. Electric Heater for Tiny House
We can compare propane and electricity as heating alternatives for tiny houses in terms of thermal efficiency, cost, and convenience.
Thermal efficiency refers to how sufficient fuel produces heat energy. Propane is more thermally efficient than electricity because you only need to burn a small amount to produce massive heat energy levels.
Thus, propane produces more heat energy than electricity. However, it is difficult to measure the two’s performance because propane is sold in volumes while electricity is sold in currents and billed in terms of kilowatts per hour.
In terms of cost, electricity is more expensive than propane. You will have to pay for all the kilowatts that you consume every month.
The price of a kilowatt per hour is predetermined. However, buying a 10-gallon tank of propane and refilling it is affordable and much less than that of paying for electricity.
Propane is more convenient than electricity as a source heating for a small house. You can purchase, store, and use your propane gas at your convenience.
However, if you are using electricity, then you are the mercy of the utility companies. Outages in power supply will interrupt your domestic schedule and force you to use an alternative fuel source.
Propane VS. Kerosene Heater
We can compare propane to kerosene heaters in terms of propane and kerosene’s thermal efficiency, cost, safety, and convenience.
Burning one gallon of propane produces about 91,600 BTUs of energy, while a gallon of kerosene yields about 135,000 BTUs. The results show that kerosene is more thermally efficient than propane.
In terms of convenience, both propane and kerosene can be bought and stored at home. However, kerosene is known to produce potent fumes when it gets burned.
Kerosene burning heaters produce the fumes when they get lit because the air ratio to kerosene is still not correct. When the flame of kerosene heaters is lowered, kerosene fumes escape to the external environment and cause a bad smell.
Comparing kerosene with propane heaters in terms of the cost of the fuel yields exciting results. Contrary to popular belief, kerosene is more expensive than propane. This price difference means that you will spend more on keeping a kerosene burning heater than when you have a propane burning one.
Are Propane Heaters Safe for Home Use?
Vented propane heaters for cabins are safe for home use as long as you observe standard safety precautions. Primarily, choose propane heaters that have an oxygen depletion sensor installed.
The oxygen depletion sensor helps prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide within the house when all the doors and windows are closed.
When the amount of oxygen drastically reduces, the sensor automatically triggers the heater to shut off. This helps to ensure that you remain safe even when using a propane heater indoors.
The automatic shut off prevents the possibility of carbon dioxide poisoning from occurring when you use the heater in a tiny house.
It is safe to use either the direct vent or vent-free propane heaters at home. Direct vent heaters have special pipes used to either draw in oxygen from outside or channel out the byproducts of the combustion process.
Vent-free propane burning heaters have unique mechanisms for minimizing the amount of byproducts produced during the combustion process. Additionally, their installation follows very strict safety standards and procedures.
Observance of the established safety rules ensures that it is completely safe to use vent-free propane heaters at home. Either way, you can safely use any propane heater at home.
Best Propane Heaters For Tiny Houses
1. Rinnai EX08CT Direct Vent Wall Furnace
If you are looking for a small but powerful propane heater to provide warmth in your small house, it is worth considering the Rinnai EX08CT. Its several features make it one of the most appropriate heaters for such a task.
Its modulating technology complements the inbuilt convection fan to ensure even dispersion of heat across large spaces. Also, the modulating technology helps you save on heating costs because it enables the heater to operate within the appropriate temperature range.
The heater comes with excellent control features, including a programmable thermostat and an easy-to-use control panel. The one-touch buttons provide a convenient way of controlling the heating temperature. Also, you can lock the control panel to prevent kids from tampering with the heater’s operation.
The only significant drawback of using this heater is that its surface heats up after some time. It will be essential to keep the kids and even pets away from this heater if you keep have it in your house.
- The heater delivers even and efficient heating because of the modulating technology and a convection fan
- Excellent control features
- One can use the programmable thermostat to customize the performance of the heater
- The surface of the heater becomes very hot after some time
2. Martin Direct Vent Propane Wall Heater
- 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 of the hallmarks of the Martin Direct Vent Propane Wall Heater is that you can use the inbuilt thermostat to customize its performance.
The heater automatically adjusts its performance to the determined temperature regardless of changes in the ambient weather conditions. You can use this feature to maintain a cozy environment in your entire small house.
Another critical aspect of the heater relates to the way its design aids the flow of heat. The heavy-duty grill of the heater maximizes the flow of heat and overall heating performance of the device. Good heat flow ensures even warming of indoor areas according to your heating requirements.
Although this heater’s installation is relatively easy, the direct vent connection to the gas heater can only be made horizontally through the wall. This small technical detail may be of great significance to users who are keen on having the option of venting their heaters either through the wall or roof.
- You can personalize its performance using the inbuilt thermostat
- The heavy-duty grill maximizes the flow of heat for full-room heating
- Low maintenance procedures needed
- The heater is designed for horizontal venting only
3. Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater
The Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 is designed to be used for heating standard-sized RVs.
It has all the features that you would need in an RV heater, inclusive of great safety features to prevent accidental leakage of fuel when it is not required for ignition, and a rugged exterior. Additionally, the heater can be used either in stand-alone or wall-mounted.
Thanks to its design and heating capacity, it can be successfully used to heat tiny indoor spaces. With its catalytic heating method, it converts more than 99% of the fuel into heat energy, thus helping you keep your home warm efficiently.
Although the heater has a massive heating range of from 1,600 to 3,000 BTUs per hour, its actual heating capacity is limited to spaces that are not more than 100 square feet.
The heater may not be a significant source of secondary heat in any tiny house that measures more than 100 square feet.
- Massive heating range capacity of 1,600 to 3,000 BTUs/hr that can cater for all heating requirements
- Silent operation because the heater does not have fans nor blowers
- It has a safety shutoff valve that prevents accidental leakage of fuel
- It can either be mounted on the wall or used as a stand-alone heater
- It cannot adequately heat spaces that are larger than 100 square feet
4. Mr. Heater MH18CH Radiant Cabinet LP Heater
- Hi-med-low regulator
- Automatic low oxygen shutoff system
- No electricity needed
- CSA certified. Outdoor use only. Run time (hours at maximum BTU) is 24 Hours and run time (hours at minimum BTU)is 72 Hours
- Heats up to 450 square feet
The Mr. Heater MH18CH may be the ideal choice if you are looking for a versatile propane heater with the ability to warm relatively large spaces.
When running on the low mode and with a full tank, this heater can provide warmth in your tiny house for72 hours. If you adjust its heating performance to the maximum mode, expect an uninterrupted heat supply for up to 24 hours.
It is safe to use the Mr. Heater MH18CH indoors because it is CSA certified. Additionally, it has some great safety features, including the low oxygen shut off system, which prevents the accumulation of carbon monoxide gas.
The Mr. Heater MH18CH quickly falls when knocked because the wheels do not provide enough level of stability. Given that the heater is used in stand-alone mode, this is a critical issue to consider. You will have to keep the heater of the way to prevent the occurrence of accidents.
- It can sufficiently heat spaces that measure up to 450 square feet
- The automatic low oxygen shutoff feature prevents the production of carbon monoxide
- Long runtimes of between 24 and 72 hours
- The heater can easily get toppled because the wheels do not provide sufficient stability
5. Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy Portable Propane Radiant Heater
- 4,000- to 9,000-BTU radiant heater for spaces up to 225 square feet. Approved for indoor/outdoor use; clean-burning; nearly 100-percent efficient
- When operating the heater at altitudes over 7,000 FT above sea level the heater may shut off.
- Auto shut-off if tipped over, if pilot light goes out, or if detects low oxygen levels. Fuel Consumption/Burn Rate (Gal/Hr) at 4000 BTU = 0.044 Gal/Hr, at 9000 BTU = 0.099 Gal/Hr
- Fold-down handle; swivel-out regulator; connects to propane tank (not included); Run Time (Hrs at Max BTU): 3 Hours
- THE USE OF UN-AUTHORIZED ACCESSORIES/ATTACHMENTS WITH THIS HEATER ARE EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED, MAY CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY, AND WILL VOID THE WARRANTY.
The Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy is specially designed for ease of portability. Its compact design and a small footprint perfectly complement the fold-down handle to make it easy for you to move the heater around your space if there is a need for doing it.
When standing on the ground, the heater is relatively stable because of its slightly broad base. Therefore, it quickly gets tipped over when knocked by passersby or objects.
This heater has great inbuilt features that function correctly to prevent the occurrence of accidents. If the oxygen levels fall drastically, the heater automatically shuts down to contain highly toxic carbon monoxide gas production.
Also, the heater automatically shuts down when it accidentally gets tipped over. This feature prevents fire accidents from occurring as a result of leaked fuel.
However, there are some problems with MR Buddy Heater that you have to be aware of so you can know how to fix them when the heater eventually fails.
- Quite portable because of the fold-down handle
- Built-in safety features, including auto shut off if the heater gets tipped over or the oxygen levels, fall drastically
- Highly durable because the body is made of high-quality steel and plastic
- The swivel-out regulator that connects to the propane tank is sold separately
6. US Stove AGDV12L Ashley Direct Vent 11,000 BTU Propane Gas 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
The US Stove AGDV12L has excellent control features, including a built-in thermostat and one-dial controls for your convenience.
You can use the thermostat to program the heater’s performance based on the heating requirements of your house. The one dial controls are great for helping you change the performance of the heater promptly.
With a heating capacity suitable for 275 square feet and perfectly-positioned heating outlets, this heater can be a great source of secondary heat in your home. The positioning of the outlets ensures the maximum flow of heat across the entire room.
This heater is designed to be mounted on any wall for direct venting. Sadly, this process may be too complicated for anyone who is not experienced to handle it successfully. You may have to incur the additional costs of getting a certified technician’s help to do it for you.
- The positioning of heat outlets on the front and top maximizes the flow
- The cabinet of the heater remains cool to the touch
- Great heating capacity suitable for spaces that measure up to 275 square feet
- Installation on walls is demanding and sophisticated
Propane heaters for tiny houses are great, but you have to make sure you take precautions when it comes to safety. Propane heaters can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, so you want to make sure you protect your indoor air quality and that the house is properly ventilated.
You can also try other options like electric, natural gas, or kerosene heaters. Having more than one option can help during those days when one type of heater isn’t doing its job, so you don’t have to get stuck without heat for long periods.