Portable propane heaters provide clean fuel paired with quiet operation. You can get propane at most gas stations and stores, making it readily available and reliable during power outages. Whether you’re driving around with a heater or want to move it between rooms, getting a portable model makes a significant difference.
The best portable propane heater is the Mr. Heater F232000 Buddy Heater. It heats rooms up to 225 ft² (20.9 m²) with up to 9,000 BTUs. This heater runs up to 3 hours before needing a refill and includes a protective cover for safety purposes. You can use it in your house, tent, or anywhere outside.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following details about the best portable propane heaters:
- The seven top choices on the market
- What you should watch for when shopping for a new portable propane heater
- How to get the best propane heater for various uses
What To Look for When Buying a Portable Propane Heater
While looking for the best portable heaters on the market, I noticed three essential features that separated the top-notch choices from the rest of the pack. It wasn’t their appearance or noise level. Both traits are important, but propane heaters are relatively quiet and look quite similar.
The three crucial features that brought the seven heaters to the top are as follows:
- BTUs (British Thermal Units) and square footage capabilities
- Overall cost-effectiveness
- How long the heater runs before it needs a refill
These traits drastically influence buyer’s decisions and positive customer feedback. It’s impossible to get a high-quality portable propane heater without recognizing how impactful they are. The good news is I’ve broken down each of them below to help you better understand why they’re so crucial.
BTUs and Square Footage
British Thermal Units are a unit of heat. More BTUs result in higher heat, while lower BTUs reduce the output. Remember, you don’t always need to reach for the highest BTU heater. In some cases, it can be detrimental and burdensome. For instance, if you have a small 250 sq. ft. (23.2 sq. m.) room and you get a 20,000 BTU heater, it’ll overheat quickly.
You should base your BTU buying decision on the square footage of the room you want to heat. Also, more BTUs typically heat up faster than low-BTU portable propane heaters. There’s a sweet spot to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck without overheating or underheating the building.
So, how are you supposed to know how many BTUs you need? Review this table for a detailed breakdown:
|BTU (Units of Heat)||Square Footage||Operational Duration|
|6,000 BTUs||200||1 Hour|
|12,000 BTUs||400||1 Hour|
|18,000 BTUs||600||1 Hour|
|24,000 BTUs||800||1 Hour|
|30,000 BTUs||100||1 Hour|
It’s important to remember the operational duration is heavily influenced by your home’s insulation, whether the doors and windows are open or closed, how many people are in the room, and many other factors. Carpets hold heat better than tiles, and skylights can affect the ambient temperature, too.
There are many variables, which is why the operational duration remains the same for all BTU and sq. ft. calculations. According to numerous sources, the BTU specified above corresponds with the square footage for a one-hour turnaround. However, your home or room might experience different reasons based on the previously mentioned conditions.
With this knowledge in mind, you can choose the best portable propane heater for your home. Square footage and BTUs are crucial, so make sure you calculate the dimensions beforehand. Most blueprints will show how many square feet are in each room, but you can multiply the Length x Width to get the square footage.
Take the equation a step further by using this calculator to factor the ceiling’s height and a few other dimensions for a perfect fit.
Cost (Maintenance, Initial Purchase, and Refills)
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice when buying a new portable heater is the price. We all love to save money, but it’s important to keep in mind most high-quality heaters cost more but last longer. Fuel efficiency is another trait worth noting. Let’s break everything down below to paint a clearer picture.
- The initial purchase price will be the highest number. You’ll likely have to spend over $50 to get a decent heater, though there are a few exceptions. For a top-of-the-line model, you’re looking at $100 or more. Keep in mind these prices fluctuate and grow over time, but they’re reliable nevertheless.
- Propane costs about $2.00 to $4.00 per gallon. Your propane heater needs to have excellent fuel efficiency to last a few hours or more. Using a large 20-gallon (75.7-liter) propane tank will keep your heater running for a long time. Some heaters come with reservoirs. According to Home Advisor, propane refill stations top at 80% capacity for safety purposes.
- Maintenance costs depend on the heater’s quality. Some of them come with warranties, which can save you tens or hundreds of dollars. If your portable heater has a high-heat rating, it can withstand countless issues and last many years without too much maintenance. Clear debris, clean the fuel tank, and inspect the internal components annually.
Run Time Duration
The run duration isn’t the same as the operational duration. When we’re referring to the operational duration, it’s how long the heater needs to run to heat the room. As you hopefully read earlier on the page, it takes about an hour for an efficient propane heater to get the job done. The run duration relates to how long a heater can operate before needing more fuel.
There are two features that influence a propane heater’s run time duration:
- Fuel tank size: Some propane heaters have a one-gallon (3.8-liter) tank, and others mount on top of a 20-gallon (75.7-liter) tank. More fuel equates to a longer run time duration, which is crucial for long-term use. It’s not too big of a deal if you’re using the heater a couple of hours per week, though.
- Fuel efficiency: The burn rate is impacted by clogs, filters, and other features. Most portable propane heaters burn at the same rate. Santa Energy shows the burn rate is changed by the BTUs. High-BTU heaters burn quicker than low-BTU heaters.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Mr. Heater F232000 Buddy Heater
- Best for Driving: Mr. Heater Cup Holder Heater
- Best for Outdoor Usage: WASAKKY Portable Patio Heater
- Best for Large Warehouses: HEXAGO 85K BTU Heater
- Best for Camping: Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater
- Best Plug-and-Play Option: XtremepowerUS Tank Top Heater
- Best Multipurpose Heater: Mr. Heater 18K BTU Space Heater
Best Overall: Mr. Heater F232000 Buddy Heater
The Mr. Heater F232000 Buddy Heater is the ultimate portable propane heater. It has a handle on top that allows you to carry it with you wherever you go. This compact model measures 7.7 x 13.4 x 15 inches (19.6 x 34 x 38.1 cm), making it easy to handle. Furthermore, it’s less than 9 lbs (4.1 kgs), one of the lightest options available.
You can choose between red or gray, then enjoy the safety cover that keeps you and your family safe from the hot grate. It heats up to 225 sq. ft. (20.9 sq. m.) in less than an hour.
It has a one-pound (0.45-kilogram) fuel tank attachment that lasts up to three hours, so you’ll have no problem maintaining the room for a long time. Top it off with a 20-pound (90.07-kilogram) tank, and enjoy several days of warmth.
Bottom Line: This heater takes the cake for almost every feature. It’s safe, there’s a warranty, it’s easy to carry, and the fuel efficiency is as good as it gets. Depending on your preferences, it ranges between 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs. The company claims it has almost 100% thermal efficiency, which is quite incredible.
|BTUs||4,000 to 9,000|
|Fuel Tank Size||1 lb (0.45 kgs)|
|Run Time||3 hours|
- Every pound of propane lasts up to three hours. The efficient rate allows you to stay warm for a long time if you get an inexpensive 20-gallon (75.7-liter) refill tank.
- It can heat most living rooms, bedrooms, garages, and more. You can also use it outside or in ventilated tents.
- The compact design makes it easy to carry wherever you go. It weighs less than nine pounds (4.08 kgs), including the one-pound (0.45-kilogram) propane tank you need to bring.
- It comes with a limited-time manufacturer’s warranty. Keep your investment protected with replacement parts and free repairs for an allotted time.
- It’s not a great choice for massive warehouses. Although you can use this portable heater for most places, it won’t do well in rooms or buildings over 1,000 sq. ft. (92.9 sq. m.).
- The one-pound (0.45-kilogram) fuel tank attachment is a bit smaller than most competitors. Some models reach up to 20 pounds (9.07 kgs), which is a significant difference.
Best for Driving: Mr. Heater Cup Holder Heater
If you enjoyed the previous brand but need something smaller, the Mr. Heater Cup Holder Heater is worth checking out. It fits in most cup holders for golf cars and cars. You could use it wherever you go for quick, efficient heating. Hook it up to a one-pound (0.45-kilogram) propane container and use it for up to 5.5 hours.
You can remove the cup holder adapter and use this heater on tables and other flat surfaces. It’s not the best for ground usage since it can tip over, but you can set it almost anywhere else. The adapter snaps on instantly, so feel free to test it out. Much like the previous Mr. Heater model, this one uses a protective cover to prevent burns and overheating.
Bottom Line: This portable propane heater is made with optimal thermal efficiency, portability, and safety in mind. There’s a handle on the back that allows you to pick it up and secure it in almost any cup holder. The top has a switch for immediate activation, and it starts heating right away.
|Fuel Tank Size||1 lb (0.45 kgs)|
|Run Time||5.5 hours|
- It comes with a portable cup holder adapter. Remove it to use it on tables or snap it back to drive around with.
- One pound (0.45 kgs) of propane lasts up to 5.5 hours. This time span is much longer than most competitors of the same size.
- There’s a wind-resistant grate that prevents the heater from falling over. It also keeps blowing heat, regardless of the outside temperature.
- It comes with a 90-degree auto-shutoff switch. Whenever the heater tips over beyond 90 degrees, it shuts off to prevent hazards.
- You can’t use this heater for most rooms. It’s fantastic for cars, golf carts, and outdoor use, though.
- The small outlet limits wide heat areas. You’ll have to wait for the whole space to heat before you feel its effects.
Best for Outdoor Usage: WASAKKY Portable Patio Heater
Do you prefer backyard parties throughout the year? Whether it’s frigid or warm outside, you can use the WASAKKY Portable Patio Heater to get the job done. It hooks up to a traditional 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) propane tank you can refill at most gas stations. Slide the tank in the hidden compartment to keep it out of sight.
This portable heater puts out a whopping 48,000 BTUs, making it a perfect choice for up to 1,500 sq. ft. (139.4 sq. m.) of heating. It’s designed for the outdoors, so make sure you ventilate the area if you intend to use it inside. Each 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) propane tank can run up to 10 hours before it needs to be topped off.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a high-BTU portable outdoor propane heater, this is your best bet. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and there’s no tank sitting around. The previously mentioned hidden fuel compartment provides aesthetics and safety features for family and pets. You can keep the party going all night with this heater.
|Fuel Tank Size||20 lbs (9.07 kgs)|
|Run Time||10 hours|
- The long run time makes it an excellent choice for many people. You don’t have to attach a new tank every couple of hours.
- There’s a massive heating area. 1,500 sq. ft. (139.4 sq. m.) is larger than many homes, making it great for indoor and outdoor use.
- You don’t have to find compatible compact fuel tanks. 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) propane tanks are standard, making them easy to locate and install.
- You can adjust the temperature and heat output with a small switch near the top. This feature allows you to control the run time and BTUs.
- It’s a bit bulkier than most options on the list. If you want something compact but effective in large spaces, try the HEXAGO Heater in the next entry.
- The heat is slightly overwhelming if you’re too close to it. It’s distributed over a 16-foot (4.9-meter) radius, but anyone sitting right next to it will feel most of it.
Best for Large Warehouses: HEXAGO 85K BTU Heater
Are you trying to heat a big workshop, garage, or warehouse? The HEXAGO 85K BTU Heater should be at the top of your list. It’s one of the only propane heaters on the market with up to 85,000 BTUs. You can use it in spaces up to 2,125 sq. ft. (197.4 sq. m.) for 8.7 hours before refilling the 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) propane tank.
The handle on top of the unit allows you to carry and position the heater however you’d like to. There’s a cone-shaped vent that shoots heat out quickly with a high-powered fan. Adjust the knob on the side of the heater to switch between 50,000 to 85,000 BTUs. Thanks to HEXAGO’s new-age additions, it’s almost twice as quiet as other brands.
Bottom Line: This heater isn’t for small rooms or sheds. If you have a big yard, host outdoor events, or own a large warehouse, the HEXAGO 85K BTU Heater is the one for you. With up to 85,000 BTUs and 2,125 sq. ft. (197.4 sq. m.) of heating, it’s an excellent find for most people.
|Fuel Tank Size||20 lbs (9.07 kgs)|
|Run Time||8.7 hours|
- This heater can run up to 8.7 hours, one of the longest operation durations on the list.
- It connects to a traditional 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) fuel canister, making it easy to refill and use whenever and wherever you want to.
- The cone shape makes it easy to angle and heat specific parts of the room or yard instantly.
- You can adjust the knob to save fuel and reduce the overall heat.
- This heater is far too big for apartments, bedrooms, and living rooms. Unless you have a great room or very high ceilings, you shouldn’t use it in your house.
- It’s a bit on the expensive side of the list due to the high heat output, thermal efficiency, and top-notch construction.
Best for Camping: Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater
Do you love camping in the great outdoors? If you’re tired of cold nights and want to bring the comfort of home on your next adventure, try the Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater. It clips onto any 16.4 or 14.1-ounce (465 or 400-gram) propane fuel canister and activates with the flip of a switch. It’s ultralightweight at only two pounds (0.9 kgs).
Those of you who prefer backpacking will love that it’s only 10.7 x 7.4 x 7.4 inches (27.2 x 18.8 x 18.8 cm). This small size allows you to pack it into your car, backpack, or carry it with you on the trail. There’s also an auto-shutoff valve that stops when the canister tips over or runs out of fuel. You’re covered with safety and 3,000 BTUs of heating power.
Bottom Line: This portable heater is the definition of tiny but mighty. It produces enough heat for 75 sq. ft. (7 sq. m.) for three hours before you have to replace the fuel tank. You can use it for tents. You can attach it to most camping stove canisters, too.
|Fuel Tank Size||16.4 oz (465 g)|
|Run Time||3 hours|
- This canister is lightweight and compact enough for backpacking or car camping.
- You can heat a ventilated tent, camper trailer, or car. Make sure the windows are cracked, though.
- It’s compatible with most fuel canisters. Attach it to any 14.1 or 16.4-ounce (400 or 465-gram) propane tank.
- You can adjust the heat output with a small switch at the connection point between the canister and the heater.
- It’s not big enough to heat living rooms or outdoor patios.
- This heater burns through a one-pound (0.45-kilogram) propane canister in three hours.
Best Plug-and-Play Option: XtremepowerUS Tank Top Heater
The XtremepowerUS Tank Top Heater is perhaps the easiest portable propane heater to use. You don’t need additional tools or owner’s manuals to understand the basics. All you have to do is attach it to a 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) propane tank and turn it on. You can use the same 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) containers as you do with barbecues, RVs, and so on.
The dual-head design maximizes heat output, forcing 30,000 BTUs throughout the area. It’s an excellent choice for outdoor use, though it makes a great garage or warehouse heater. Unlike most other portable heaters, this one uses rust-proof metal to keep your heater lasting for many years to come.
Bottom Line: The XtremepowerUS Tank Top Heater might not be the best-looking model, but it gets straight to the point. Anyone who wants a simple plug-and-play propane heater will appreciate its design. It only weighs 4.8 pounds (2.2 kgs), and you can adjust the heating direction instantly.
|Fuel Tank Size||20 lbs (9.07 kgs)|
|Run Time||14 hours|
- It’s perfect for camping, backyard parties, and big buildings. You can heat up to 750 sq. ft. (70 sq. m.).
- You can hook it up to any 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) propane fuel canister with the provided attachment adapters. It takes less than ten seconds to mount this heater.
- There are two heads to heat twice as fast as many competing heaters. Adjust them to the perfect angle for optimal heating whenever you want it.
- Despite the incredibly high output, this heater can last up to 14 hours before it needs to be refilled. That’s quite impressive compared to any other heater on the list.
- The metal heads get very hot quickly. Keep children and pets away or use a protective cover. You could also position it higher to prevent injuries.
- It’s not the most visually appealing heater, but that doesn’t matter to many users. This downside is based on personal preference. Some users prefer the simplicity of this portable heater.
Best Multipurpose Heater: Mr. Heater 18K BTU Space Heater
Last but not least is the Mr. Heater 18K BTU Space Heater. That’s right! This company has three portable propane heaters on the list. It’s hard to find anything better than high thermal efficiency, safety features, excellent warranties, and portability. All of those perks and more are found in this heater.
You’ll also enjoy the ability to mount this heater on the wall. It comes with installation equipment, taking the time and stress out of the project. You can use it on the wall, floor, or a table. It’s a great choice for indoor and outdoor use, so bring it with you whenever it’s too cold to handle.
Bottom Line: The Mr. Heater 18K BTU Space Heater is a long-lasting model that puts out 18,000 BTU for 16 hours. Keep up to 500 sq. ft. (46.5 sq. m.) warm until you need to refill the 20-pound (9.07-kilogram) tank. Feel free to mount it on the wall or place it on the floor for directional heat output.
|Fuel Tank Size||20 lbs (9.07 kgs)|
|Run Time||16 hours|
- It works great wherever you put it. The weather-resistant materials make it quite durable.
- You can use it for up to 16 hours, which is several times longer than many models.
- The high heat output is adjustable. Use the small switch on the top-right of the heater.
- There’s an automatic low-oxygen shutoff switch that turns the unit off if there’s not enough ventilation in the room.
- It’s mostly made out of plastic, which can scratch and chip from rough usage.
- This heater isn’t compact, so it’s slightly less portable than similar models on the list.
There’s no doubt that the Mr. Heater F232000 Buddy Heater tops the charts. With an excellent fuel efficiency rating and numerous safety features, it’s difficult to find anything better. However, you could check out the following heaters for various reasons:
- If you want to heat your car, get the Mr. Heater Cup Holder Heater.
- Campers should grab the Texsport Portable Heater.
- Those who own a warehouse need the HEXAGO 85K BTU Heater.
- The XtremepowerUS Tank Top Heater is the easiest to use.
- You can mount the Mr. Heater 18K BTU Space Heater wherever you’d like to.