A safe tent heater can make a lot of difference between a chilly sleeping environment and an inviting space. The best heaters for tents will take the edge off on a winter’s evening without becoming too powerful and overbearing.
The following products are all small, user-friendly electric safe devices that stand out for their safety rating. You can use them with peace of mind (if they’re set up correctly) on any winter camping trip. Below these reviews, you will then find a buyer’s guide on other considerations when choosing the right heater for your tent.
For this article, fuel burning devices and catalytic heaters were not considered for review, as most of these devices can be dangerous to use inside such a small place. They can be used in a safe manner, but this requires constant supervision, thus taking away the comfort of relaxing sleep. Also, at the end of the day, keep in mind that you want to heat a space with walls made of fabric. The heat loss will be great if you don’t insulate your tent for winter (check our guide on how to do it).
Alternatively, I’ve put together a blog post with ideas on how to safely heat a tent without the use of any of these devices.
In this report you’ll learn:
- What safety features your new device needs to have
- How much should you pay for a quality tent heater
- How you can use them safely when camping
- The difference between gas and electric heaters
- How to choose the right size to work properly with your tent
- Lots more
Top ranking electric tent heaters
For this top, we had to choose from over 486 devices chosen from a reputable marketplace. And this was not an easy task to achieve. But when researching, we found that electric is leading the way with almost twice the amount of product choices of fuel burning and catalytic combined.
So, without further ado, here’s the list with the products that are worth checking out.
1. Opolar Electric Ceramic Camping Heater
The Opolar Electric Heater is a popular option with campers because of three important features. It is a compact option with a clear adjustable thermostat and it oscillates. When these elements work together in the right tent it is unbeatable for value.
Check out the price, reviews and listed safety features (Amazon link).
There is a 70-degree range of motion that should be just enough for 2 people. This also appears to be the standard for this type of heater. It should also speed up the heating time within the space to create a cozier atmosphere. The dial means that you can adjust the heat to your liking a little more. This is much more advantageous than models with a simple high or low switch as these don’t always have that more comfortable middle create.
Finally, that compact shape increases the portability of the item. However, there isn’t a carry handle on the top, so it isn’t the most comfortable item to carry to the tent. Instead, this is where all the controls are for improved access for users.
Is this tent heater right for you?
2. Honeywell 360 Degree Electric Tent Heater
If you really want to go for a compact item that will help everyone in the tent, then this Honeywell 360 degree option is a great choice. This all-around heating action is perfect for emitting heat from the center of the tent for a faster heating process.
Check the price, reviews and extra details about this device (Amazon link)
This is an alternative approach that should generate heat in a wider area without the need for moving parts. There are simple controls with the adjustable dials and safety features that turn off the device so it doesn’t overheat. A benefit of this model of the Opolar option above is that it has a wider reach and the addition of the carry handle on the top.
A downside here is that there are only 2 heat settings. This is standard for this sort of machine with a high heat and low heat option. Also, be aware that this product isn’t going to last forever. It is a cheap and cheerful solution for occasional use and there are reports of it breaking down late into the season.
Will this device work for your tent?
This is an alternative solution that might work well in larger tents. The 360-degree heat can spread through the tent to keep everyone in each corner as warm as possible. It might not have the longevity for use at home but it can work for occasional camping trips.
The manufacturer only provides us the wattage (1500w), therefore we can imagine that it won’t produce more than 6000 BTU – which, as said for the previous product, only works well with small size tents.
How safe is it?
Honeywell surely does look after the safety of the consumers, and this small tent heater is packed with safety features, like the following:
- not one, but 2 overheat protections
- a tip over switch that works at 360 degrees (definitely required for overnight sleeping in a small space, where there’s always a chance to hit it)
- the housing is thermally protected, meaning that it will never get hot, making it safe to touch it even when it’s on.
- the wirings are thermally insulated and reinforced for extra protection
3. AmazonBasics 500W Personal Heater for small tents
If you are only going to head out camping in winter a couple of times, you don’t really want to pay a lot of money for a heater. This is where the AmazonBasics range is here to help. This heater is one of the most affordable out there and very basic in its approach and design. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t help keep you warm.
Check out the latest price and reviews about this device (Amazon link).
The ceramic coils heat up fairly quickly and add a little extra warmth on a cold evening. Users are also surprised at just how much heat comes from it and how quiet it is. A neat little bonus here is that it comes in a choice of fun colors. Style isn’t important with a heater but this is the best-looking one in this guide. It is the sort of product that you could use in an office or bedroom during the winter and it would look quite nice.
The specification here is simplicity. There is no oscillation, no customizable dial, and no LCD display. It just heats up and warms the room. To be honest, this is all it needs to do. This heater does enough and covers all the important needs. It has the same tip-over protection as other models. The output isn’t the highest but it works in small spaces.
Is this the right choice for you?
4. Wonnie 2019 Portable Fan Heater
This machine from Wonnie stands out because of the promise that it is an upgraded model for 2019. This suggests a heater with a little more power and reliability for the winter. For the most part, the look and specification are fairly generic – which explains the affordable price tag. But, there is an additional feature.
Check out the latest price and reviews about this device (Amazon link).
There are three settings on this heater instead of two. There are high and low heat settings and the addition of a fan for cool air. This adds to the functionality for different applications across the year. The heater also has a small carry handle built into the back for portability and safety features for tipping and overheating. Furthermore, there is the promise of minimal noise for those quiet nights in the countryside.
One of the downsides here could be a deal-breaker for camping. There are the same kinds of safety devices in this heater in case it tips or overheats. However, an overheating model automatically switches to the fan mode. This could come as a shock in the tent on a cold evening. This isn’t mentioned in the manual, which is also criticized for poorly-written instructions.
Will it suit your camping heating needs?
This affordable model has a lot of potential for the right user. The extra fan is great for camping throughout the year but a bit jarring in the winter. Once users get the hang of this heater it does prove its worth.
5. Sendow Portable Electric Ceramic Heater for Large Tents
The last product to mention here is one that is a little more expensive than the others in the guide. It is still an affordable option for many but not as much of a budget item. This extra cost allows for a few more features and higher power than other heaters.
Check out the latest price and reviews about this device (Amazon link).
This 1200W model has a similar oscillating motion to the first heater at 70 degrees. However, the output is stronger. The ceramic element also heats up very quickly so it doesn’t take long for the tent to reach the required temperature. The temperature options in the controls also go further. Here we see preferred temperature settings and a fan-only option. Therefore, this product has a wider appeal and potential use in the summer for additional ventilation. All temperature settings and readings are clearly visible on the LED display.
Other features remain the same. There are similar safety shut off functions and a reasonably compact design. Some users have had some issues with faults in the blower and the safety features but this does seem to be rare. Generally speaking, most find this to be reliable in the winter.
Will it work for you?
This option is recommendable for those that have a larger space to fill and are avid campers. It is probably a little too extreme for a small man tent in use once a month. But, families that camp out often could use this throughout the year.
Safe Tent Heaters Buyer’s Guide
The safe tent heaters above all provide some of the same benefits to campers over the winter. They offer enough heat in a portable product that is safe and convenient. These three features are vital when choosing the best winter camping heating system for your tent. It is important to compare products to make sure that you have a safe, effective system. Ask the following questions before you pick your heater:
1) What power source does it need – electricity or propane/gas?
2) How big is the heater?
3) Can you transport the heater easily between locations?
4) Will it offer enough heat in the coldest months?
Finding the best electric tent heater.
The first thing to consider when choosing between safe tent heaters for winter camping is the fuel source. All the products reviewed above are electric models that are safe to use within the tent itself. They have shut-off devices and sturdy designs that users can rely on.
Some campers may have become used to using a more robust system like a Coleman camping heater outside. But, these gas heaters aren’t ideal for use inside the tent. There are pros and cons to choosing an electric model over a gas/propane one. However, the pros so outweigh the cons when it comes to indoor use.
The pros of choosing electric powered tent heaters
Almost everything we made, no matter if it’s electrically powered or it works by burning fossil fuels, have some specific advantages, and here are the pro features for using an electrical device to heat a tent:
1) The lack of fumes
2) No need to carry additional fuel to the campsite
3) Much less noise generated
4) Lower costs
The cons of choosing an electric-powered tent heater
1) The accessibility of a power source
2) The chance of it working all through the night
Electric tent heaters are the safest solution because there isn’t any risk with the fuel and the fumes. Modern gas tents still require fuel and catalytic combustion reactions to produce heat. Fire is a possibility if something goes wrong. There is also the chance of knocking the heater over in the night, especially on uneven ground. While fire risks are minimal with these modern heaters, there are still chemical fumes from the fuel. You don’t want your family breathing them in for longer than needed.
An electric heater for the tent also means that you don’t have to bring propane or other fuels with you to the campsite. This can free up space for other items. Long trips in cold winter may require some heavy-duty fuel tanks. Is there space in the car for this? Are you prepared to carry the tank to the campsite? A compact electric solution could free up space for other equipment and lighten the load on the way to the campsite.
These safe tent heaters can prove to be much quieter than gas-powered options. The sound of a heater can either act as a pleasant form of white noise or a distraction from the silence of nature. Some tent heaters are noisier than others and the quietest tend to be electric. Just be aware that those with safety cut-outs can click in and out of life.
Finally, there is the benefit of the lower cost.
This reduction in costs is clear from both the initial price tag of the heater and the running costs. There are lots of low-prices space heaters that work well as tent heaters in winter. Even those at the lowest end of the scale have a decent specification. Propane heaters tend to be pricier and there is the added cost of buying all those tanks of fuel.
If you want to stay out in the wilderness in the depths of winter and are confident with fuels, a propane heater may be more practical. This isn’t necessarily going to be the safest option for an indoor tent heater. But, the additional benefits of the reliable fuel supply and the strength of the heat may be a deal-breaker. Electric powered tent heaters won’t suit everyone. Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to compare gas tent heaters vs electric tent heaters when browsing for your next purchase.
Before choosing an in-tent electric heater, consider your power supply. The main drawback of choosing an electric model is the accessibility of power. It all depends on the campsite and the other equipment that you have with you.
Electricity points on dedicated campsites.
This is more common on RV sites and popular camping grounds than the more rustic areas. If you like to camp in the middle of nowhere then an outlet is out of the question. If there is an outlet, make sure that you have a secure extension cord running into a flap in your tent and prepare for power outages in bad weather.
An alternative here is to hook the heater up to your own battery pack or generator.
You could do so with a solar-powered system or maybe even the car battery with the right inverter. Solar systems are ideal if you have a reliable panel and inverter. It is a clean, simple energy source that requires compact, quiet equipment. The problem here is that strong solar energy is more difficult to come by in winter and you will need a battery pack to power the heater once the sun goes down. This will add to the overall costs and the take up some precious space in the car.
Additional safety features to consider when choosing your new safe tent heater for winter.
Automatic shut-off systems are essential to these tent heaters. These systems provide peace of mind for campers during the night. They cut the power to the heater in various situations such as overheating, tipping over and prolonged use. Therefore, there is no safety risk if you fall asleep with it running or knock it over getting into the tent.
The size of the product is important when choosing the best tent heater for winter.
You need to find the middle ground here. On the one hand, you need a product that is big enough to heat the whole tent and keep everyone safe and warm. On the other, the heater needs to be compact enough that it doesn’t get in everyone’s way. Look at the dimensions of the heater in the specification. Get an idea of what this means in relation to the size of your tent and the space in the back of the car. Also, remember that those oscillating movements may compensate for a smaller size and help to fill the tent with heat.
How many BTUs do you need to heat the tent?
If you decide to work with a propane model instead of an electric one, you will find that the specification talks about the BTU. This is a unit of heat generated to fill the space. Ideally, you need to understand the space you have as well as the capabilities of the heater. The best way to do this is to multiply the length, width, and height of your tent to find the cubic feet. You then need to take away the external, environmental temperature from the temperature you want inside of your tent. Then use the following formula: cubic feet x temperature increase x 0.133. This should give the optimal BTU rating. Alternatively, you can use an online calculator to be sure.
Check the temperature settings and the output of the heater before you buy.
Some heaters can heat up pretty fast and are effective for small spaces, but don’t have the power or heat setting for high temperatures or large tents. Some of the products above have temperature dials to help you determine the appropriate heat setting. Customizable options like this can make a big difference in creating a comfortable living space. Those with additional cooling fans give the heater greater functionality throughout the year.
Is the product portable?
A larger size often means a heavier weight and a lot of inconvenience carrying it to the campsite. Gas-powered options can be bulkier but tend to have handles and some consideration for the user. There are some designers to add these additional features to electric heaters to make things easier for users. However, as you can see with the products above, this isn’t always the case. Some are lighter due to the materials in the casing.
Finding the indoor tent heater that is best for you.
There is a lot to consider when choosing the best tent heater for your winter camping trip. If you decide that a safer electric model works for you, you then need to look at the safety features and settings. Above all else, the heater must be powerful and convenient enough for your personal needs. If it doesn’t suit the tent or the size of your family, it will only be a disappointment. A propane option may be more practical in your circumstances. However, you need to make sure that it is a secure, safe model and never leave it unattended.
Questions that most people are asking about an electric tent heater
It’s common for people to have doubts about using devices that can potentially cause damage. We’ll do our best to answer some of these questions, with safety being the first priority.
Is an electric heater safe to use inside a tent?
Although they are fitted with many safety features, at the end of the day, any electrical device can cause a fire if it’s not being used as instructed by the manufacturer. Many of these heaters are not designed for tent heating, but for spaces like a small bedroom. Unfortunately, we don’t have specific products for tents, so when using these devices inside a tent, you’ll need to pay extra attention.
Are electrical heaters safer than gas variants?
Let’s be honest: if you fail to set them up properly, both can be dangerous. But the electric variants have a unique feature: there are no harmful byproducts; they don’t burn any fuel, therefore there’s no need to worry about CO2 intoxication.
Whatever you need, work to your budget and compare different options to find the solution that works for you. You may find yourself surprised at how many designs and features there are in even the most basic of safe tent heaters for winter.