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Camping Basics: How to Use Tent Heaters (Go Camping Anytime!)

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Have you ever heard of the term tent heater? Well, if you're a regular camper and go on camping trips quite often when you must be wondering what you can do about keeping yourself warm at night in your tent, don’t you! This is where we tell you about this amazing and useful camping equipment which will keep you warm inside your tent at night but you have to choose wisely.

Before getting yourself a tent heater for camping you must learn about its various types and what are the safety measures which you must follow while using it. But there is no need to worry, as here you will get to know all the information you need on this particular camping equipment right from A to Z.

Table of Content

  • What to Look for Before Buying a Tent Heater?
  • Types of Tent Heaters
  • How to Heat a Tent?
  • Safety Features of Tent Heaters 
  • How to Heat a Tent Without Using a Tent Heater?

We'll give you a guideline on how to choose the perfect tent heater for an uninterrupted outdoor camping experience in a comfortable and warm space.

What to Look for Before Buying a Tent Heater

Before buying your desired heater, you should keep in mind some key features along with their pros and cons:

  • Size

Now, a small tent heater is always chosen over a large one when it comes to space saving. Take in consideration your transport method, saving of storage space, and weight. Another aspect is that the size of the heater and its volume of heat emission should be in accordance with the area in which you are camping. A bigger area may need a bigger heater and vice-versa. Type – We have already mentioned the different types of heaters available in the market but make sure to research further and find the one best suited for your needs.

  • Energy Efficiency

Power consumption and output heat should be rational. Compare efficiency before buying a heater and check whether it is cost effective. Also look for additional features like power saving mode, timer, adjustable thermostats, etc.

  • Noise

Like any other electrical appliance, a heater is prone to making noise. Look for ones with noise filters.

  • Safety

This is the most important feature to look for in a heater since they stand a high chance of becoming a fire hazard. Look for different safety features before you finalise on one. 

  • Price

For prices within your budget, always compare before you buy.

Types of Tent Heaters

There are various types of tent heaters from which you should select the one which is most suitable for you and your family’s camping trip. With the help of this wonderful accessory for camping now you all can camp without any obstacles even in the winter seasons. 

To give you a better scope, we have classified these into the following categories:

  1. Electric Tent Heaters

  2. Propane Tent Heaters

  3. Chemical Heaters

Electric heaters are of various types depending on the features and functional mechanisms of the models. You can choose from a wide range of heaters depending on your criteria, convenience and budget. 

1Electrical Tent Heaters

This type of tent heaters is one of the most popular and highly in demand. As the name suggests and electrical tent heater offers you want during your camping nights in the tent by means of an electric heater. 
Two things you must consider while buying this category of tent heater is, firstly the safety and secondly the source of power supply. You must remember that for this kind of heater you should find the campsite which offers you EHU ( electric hook ups) and must book it in advance. 

Wondering what in God’s name is an EHU? 

Well, an electronic hook up requires the fitting of a special electronic part which may be only limited to electricity to a total of 5 amps. So for those of you who are planning to bring an extension cord from your home, Sorry guys, it is not going to work! 

If you are using an electric tent  heater for your camping trip so that your tent is warm on a winter night, then you must know the pros and cons of it.

tent heater
Electric Tent Heater (source)

 Pros

  • They are the safest of all other kinds of products you will find in the market
  • The danger of fire catching your tent is minimal as these heaters are made of ceramic which does not use any open Flames or glowing materials
  • The problem of overheating of the body of the heater is prevented as it is made of plastic coating on the outside and hence can be placed anywhere you find suitable inside your tent
  • It has an automatic safety mechanism which is built in the product which shuts off automatically when overheated. 

Cons

  • The first disadvantage of using this is that it needs an electrical power supply to operate, which is hard to find in every Campsite
  • You can use this only for small tents
  • This heater can make the air around you being dry and suffocating
  • It becomes annoying if this heater is switched off and on often when one is sleeping inside the tent.

Another catch that you must know:-

However, one small drawback of this kind of heater is that your campsite should provide electric hookups (EHU) since a regular household extension cable will not serve the need.  The reason for this appropriation is because EHUs have specific electrical fittings and are usually limited to 5 amps of electricity. 

Hence, in short, Electric Tent Heater is the simplest of its kind and are easy to use! 

Livingit Tip:
Use the correct fitting with a built in circuit breaker or RCD since there should never be any compromise on safety precautions. 

2Propane Tent Heaters

Ask any camper about tent heater and propane would be their first choice! Now you might think why? So folks it's the impeccable safety factor that ranks it number one among the tent heaters! The fuel for these heaters is propane and the best part is that these heaters wouldn’t make a hole in your pocket.

The unique function of propane heaters is that they have automatic safety turn off feature that would ensure that heat is dissipated without the any fire mishaps!

Some of the well known brand which produces this type of camping tent heater are Mr Heater and Coleman who rules the market with their top class propane tent heaters. These two companies have created a large market for themselves in this field and another brand which is following them closely is Zodi which also a good brand worth investin in. All you have to do is make your mind where do you want propane tent heaters for your camping trips and decide the size you want by doing the small and large tent heater comparison and seeing your budget.

tent safe heater
Safe Propane Heaters (source)

Here are pros and cons of propane tent heaters.

Pros

  • Most convenient and easy to use tent heater which you can carry without any problem
  • It offers you long hours of heating. You will get 7 hours of heating from a propane cylinder of 16.4oz 
  • It has safety automatic turn off system in case of low level of oxygen and tip over

Cons

  • There is always a need of ventilation so that the residue of the fuel can leave which in turn makes the cold come inside your tent
  • There is a chance of reducing the level of oxygen in the air
  • This category of heater does not become hot enough so as to catch fire on explosive materials
  • It cannot be operated during sleeping so as to prevent accidents of any kind

If you are not on a tight budget and willing to spend a little extravagantly, a propane heater is a right option for you. These heaters are easy to use, a lot safer to the environment in comparison to electric heaters and they keep the air around you conditioned.

Pro com Heater – It is a new type of heater, which, does not use any electricity and can work on dual fuel in places where there is unavailability of any type of vent. It can be used by natural gas or by means of propane as a liquid.

3Chemical Heaters

This category of heaters are less in demand than the other two variants due to the simple fact that it just warms up the interior of the sleeping bag in which you are sleeping. This heater comprises of non toxic chemicals such as water and Sodium acetate. There are basically two categories of chemical heaters. They are:

Single use heat packs

You can used this single use heat pack once in your camping trip. HeatMax is one of the most renowned manufacturers of this category of chemical heaters which will find in the market.

Reusable heat packs 

By the name you must have understood by now that this heat pack can be used more than once. Bent Grass Concepts, one of the best producers of reusable heat packs offers 4 sizes of heat packs to the customers. 

tent heater for camping
Chemical Heaters

 Pros of Chemical Heaters

  • Easy to carry and convenient to use
  • Gives you 15 hours of heating time
  • You can use a reusable pack up to a maximum of 500 times
  • These packs can be stored up to 6 years due to its air tight packaging
  • Environment friendly in nature and non toxic

Cons of Chemical Heaters

  • Heating area is limited
  • People with sensitive skin should be careful as it might cause irritation and rashes
  • More expensive than other variants
  • You can use a single use pack for only one to two hours

How to Heat a Tent

While camping is a sure fun it can also be challenging! Unpredictable weather is one thing that you should always be prepared of. If camping in a icy cold region then it is essential to learn easy ways to heat your tent. After all a good sleep will help you easily hike the mountains 

1. Electric Fan Heater

Easy to use, cheap and handy, these heaters do a better and relatively faster job in heating up the space. They are very easy to carry because of their small size. Another pro would be since they basically generate warm air, condensation and precipitation inside the tent is reduced. Your cold mornings stay warm instead of damp and moisture-laden. 

how to heat a tent
Electric Fan Heater

Always make sure your fan heater works on the power supply provided by your campsite. Getting one with an automatic cut out is always advisable in case the tent gets too hot.  Also, keep in mind the safety of the heater. Make sure the it does not come in contact with water so you would like to set it up off the ground or cornering the sides of the tent to prevent the fabric from catching fire. If your tent has a hole then you can learn the various tips and tricks on how to repair a tent

Get yourself a warm cup of coffee, turn on some soulful music and in the company of your loved ones, enjoy the warmth and snug of your tent.

2. Electric Radiators

A luxury so to speak mostly because of their size. But as they say, you lose some to gain some. Electric radiators will give a comfort like home in the small vicinity of your tent. These are oil driven and make no sound unlike other heaters. The air inside your tent will not get stuffy and dried up and will give you an overall serene experience of warmth.

heated tent
Electric Radiators

Along with the pros, exist the cons. They types of camping tent heaters take a while to heat up. Electric Radiators lose their consumers mostly because of their weight. But once you overcome that, they are a pleasant buy. Just make sure they are within the EHU amp limit as provided by the campsite and you are good to go.

3. Electric Halogen

These types of heaters are a steal in terms of power consumption. For the little amount of power they use, the output of heat is commendable. They are lightweight and doubly convenient as a lantern as well.

If you fear a fire hazard, you can always hang it down a pole or a hook inside your tent. There are some halogen heaters available in the market that function on the regular 5 Amp power supply. If your heater comes with a timer, then you are in luck and controlling it becomes easy.

battery operated heated blanket
Outdoor Electric Halogen Heater (source)

4. Electric Blankets

These come as plug-ins (EHU systems) or as battery operated heat blankets in which case you need to charge them. If you are looking for some extra warmth during the crisp winter nights in your tent, this is the right option for you. Update yourself with Winter Camping 101: Do's and Don'ts to Follow

battery operated heated blanket
Electric Blankets

5. Wood Burning Stove

The evergreen old school method, if you know the tricks and techniques of how to use them, you are in for a homely fireplace experience. You don’t need to worry about what type of EHUs you will be provided with and its compatibility with your heater. The heating process is pretty fast and long lasting.

Since you are working directly with fire, the safety precautions are extremely crucial. Make sure your tent is a fire resistant one with a smoke exit. Make use of a heat resistant mat for handling or placing the hot stove. These stoves are usually heavy, but you can find handy and light versions of them in stores and also online. Install a carbon monoxide alarm for a tension free trip.

pro com heater
Woodburning Stove

 

Gas Tent Heaters

These could be an option, but look out for the risks, especially carbon monoxide emission.

battery powered tent heater
Gas Tent Heater (source)

6. Battery Operated and Battery Powered Tent Heaters

These battery powered heaters saves you the trouble of finding a suitable power supply. You can also get yourself a battery operated heated blanket so that you can be cozy and warm in your sleeping bag all night long. Just make sure they are fully charged and enjoy a hassle free camping. Also you should know about the camping essentials list that would let your spirits high during camping

Safety Features of Tent Heaters 

Now that you are familiar with the different types and wide range of heaters you can choose from, you should be well aware of the safety measures for all types of tent heaters to ensure the wellbeing of yourself and your family and friends. We have made a safety checklist for you to tick off before you set out on a delightful camping trip.

  • Place your heater on a non-flammable surface like ceramic or heat resistant mat
  • The fabric of your tent should be a fireproof one or one that can withstand heat
  • Turn off the heater before you hit the bed to avoid a condition of an extremely heated tent that may lead to catching fire
  • Make sure your heater is verified under government safety standards and is a certified safe tent heater
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms especially in sleeping areas
  • Proper ventilation inside the tent is something you should never compromise on
  • Keep the these heaters away from the reach of children
  • Investing in a fire extinguisher in case of an emergency is also advisable
  • If you follow these guidelines you will get a hot tent in no time. 

How to Heat a Tent Without Using a Tent Heater

There are a number of ways with which you can heat your tent without having to purchase a tent heater. The tips and tricks on heating a tent without this accessory are as follows:

  • By keeping a hot water bottle beside you when you sleep inside your sleeping bag.
  • Opt for some chemical packs used for heating found in the market
  • By using a tent which is made of nylon with minimum amount of mesh and when switch can be closed along with a fully covered fly
  • By choosing uninsulated over bag to keep you nice and warm in your cold winter night
  • Dress up with all winter clothes so as to keep you warm when you sleep

A majority of the people choose a tent heater as it gives them an opportunity to go on camping trips more frequently, irrespective of the fact whether it is summer or winter. Camping is an activity which you can enjoy with your family and friends and gives you a feeling closer to the nature. But we all must remember that climate plays a big factor during this outdoor activity as if the weather is not suitable then we won't be able to enjoy camping one bit. This is more so the reason why more and more people are looking forward for this camping equipment which offers warm and cozy, good night’s sleep during camping when the weather is cold.

Specially, if it is the early morning, which is the hardest part as the weather is the coldest during this time when one misses the warmth of their bed during camp trips. Due to all these reasons, these have come as a blessing in disguise for most people who loves camping but hates cold weather.

Now you don’t have to face chilled morning and sleepless nights trembling in cold and being restless anymore while camping with your family. Just get yourself a good quality tent heater and sleep peacefully amidst nature.

Have you used tent heaters? Then do share your views and experiences in the comments below! 

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