Safety is always a concern when it comes to tent camping.
After all, you are in the wilderness surrounded by the elements, wildlife, and unknown terrain.
However, sometimes those threats can be right in our own tent, with a major one being your tent heater.
With that in mind, the Mr. Buddy heater is one of the most popular camping heaters on the market. But is it safe to use a buddy heater in a tent?
Let’s explore whether you should use the Mr. Buddy Heater in a tent. Plus, we’ll cover some important safety tips if you do decide to use one.
Can You Use a Mr. Buddy Heater in a Tent?
When properly used, a portable Mr. Heater Buddy Tent Heater is perfect for keeping your tent or enclosed shelter warm in cold weather. The integrated safety features like the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over shut-off make this one of the safest heaters you can use in a tent.
Related: Best Tent Heaters for Camping
With that said, when heating your tent with any type of heater, there are some potential risks involved. Even with the built-in safety features of the Buddy heater, if one of them were to fail, you run the risk of not only damaging your tent but being potentially injured… or worse, death.
We can, however, minimize those risks with a few important safety tips.
Important Buddy Heater Safety Tips
When it comes to safety, I don’t like to cut any corners. And having used a Buddy Heater in a tent for several years, I’ve come up with a list of tips to help improve their safety and minimize any potential risks.
Protect Yourself From Carbon Monoxide
When you think of the potential risks of using a tent heater, you might immediately think of the fire risk, which might be the case with an electric tent heater. But, with propane-powered tent heaters, carbon monoxide poisoning is likely your biggest threat.
And while tent heater deaths due to carbon monoxide aren’t common, they do happen:
- Couple found in tent in Greenfield died of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Four dead in tent in suspected carbon monoxide poisoning
- Heater in Tent Fatal to 3 Va. Boy Scout Leaders
So, you need to take CO poisoning seriously.
Buddy Heaters do have a built-in oxygen depletion sensor that basically senses when oxygen levels are low and will shut the unit off. This is a great feature and should be standard on any propane heater designed for indoor use.
However, I don’t recommend placing your life in the hands of this one safety feature, as it could fail at any time. And it only takes one failure…
So, it’s better to have a backup carbon monoxide alarm in your tent. Maybe even several if you run a propane-powered heater in your tent often. A simple battery-powered CO detector that you’d find in a house will work and help give you peace of mind when cold weather camping with a gas heater in your tent.
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Proper ventilation, or airflow, is critical again to minimize carbon monoxide build-up in your tent and allow fresh air to circulate.
If possible, open a vent at the bottom of your tent and one at the top. This could be a cracked door for the bottom vent and a partially unzipped window at the top (if your tent doesn’t have mesh vents built-in).
The top vent not only keeps air moving but also prevents moisture and condensation from accumulating inside your camping tent.
Proper Heater Footing
Buddy Heaters feature an accidental tip-over shut-off that will, just like it sounds, shut the heater off in case of the unit tipping over to help prevent a fire.
But, remember, we don’t like to place our safety in the hands of a feature that could become defective at any point in time.
So, it’s important to place your buddy heater off the tent floor and on a solid flat surface that is fire-resistant, for example, a metal cookie sheet or on top of a hard cooler.
Heater Location Is Key
Just as important as making sure your heater has proper footing is making sure it’s in a safe location in your tent, not near any flammable sources.
Your sleeping bag, air bed, camping gear, even your tent walls could potentially go up in flames if your portable heater gets dangerously close to them.
Also, remember heat rises, so be sure your heater is placed underneath the highest point of your tent so the rising heat doesn’t melt the tent roof.
Depending on the size of your tent, make sure there is at least 1-2 feet of clearance, if not more, around your tent heater.
Use the Right Sized Heater
Mr. Heater’s “Buddy Series” of portable propane heaters come in various sizes, so it’s important to find the model that is appropriately sized for your camping tent. This will help save on fuel costs and minimize any potential safety risks.
You can use this chart to determine which Mr. Buddy propane heater model is right for your tent.
Buddy Heater Comparison Chart
|Model||Output||Shelter Size||Recommended Use|
|Little Buddy Heater||3800 BTU||95 sq. ft.||Good for regular-sized tents|
|Portable Buddy Heater||4000 or 9000 BTU||225 sq. ft.||Good for large tents|
|Big Buddy Heater||4000, 9000, or 18000 BTU||450 sq. ft.||Good for cabin or camper use|
|Hunting Buddy Heater||6000 or 12000 BTUs||300 sq. ft.||Good for cabin or camper use|
Is It Safe to Sleep With a Buddy Heater On?
You can use a Buddy Heater to heat your tent while you sleep, but I don’t recommend it. Even with the built-in safety features – oxygen depletion sensor and accidental tip-over switch – it still only takes one of those features to fail one time for serious injury or death to occur.
Can I Use My Buddy Heater in My Camper?
If used properly, you can safely use your Buddy Heater in your RV or camper. You still need to apply the extra safety tips mentioned above and never leave your space heater unattended or on while you sleep.