Is a Mr. Buddy Heater in a Tent Safe? (Updated 2023)

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on May 2, 2024

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For cold weather camping, there are several ways you can stay warm in a tent, a good sleeping bag can make a big difference, or even battery operated heated blanket to cuddle with. But, perhaps some of the best camping gear you can have during cold weather tent camping in the Mr. Buddy Heater. Even when you don’t have electric hookups, the Buddy Heater can help get you through those cold nights.

When it comes to propane tent heaters and radiant heaters, there’s lots of skepticism about the safety of having those in an enclosed space. One of the top selling products is a Mr. Heater and we get asked all the time about putting Mr. Heater Buddy heaters in a tent. After all, safety should always be a #1 priority, so let’s talk about it and answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

Can you use a Mr. Buddy Heater in a Tent?

Yes, you can use a Mr. Buddy Heater in a tent if you follow the recommended safety precautions. That’s what it is made for. It has built in safety features, including an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over switch. This means if the oxygen content gets too low or if the unit accidentally gets knocked over, it will automatically turn itself off.

On the reverse side, there will always be a risk associated with using a heat source in a tent, especially when there’s a risk for carbon monoxide poisoning and when tents, sleeping bags, and camping gear in general seem to be so flammable. In order to safely use a portable propane tent heater, there’s a few precautions you can take to help ensure your safety. The first rule is to never assume that your equipment won’t fail, because it only takes one failure and it could mean life or death.

What is a Mr. Heater Buddy?

A Mr. Heater Buddy heater is a portable, radiant heater that runs on propane. You can either attach a 1 lb. propane cylinder or use the included flexible hose to connect it to a larger fuel source. It’s one of the few propane heaters that are safe for indoor use, so it’s excellent for use while camping, ice fishing, and working in the garage. It comes in different sizes and heating levels so you can pick the perfect size for your space.

Buddy Heater Safety Tips for Proper Use

heaters buddy heaters

Even though Mr. Buddy Heaters have built in safety mechanisms, there are some steps you should follow to give it the smallest chances of malfunctioning or tipping over. Never rely on the safety mechanisms, and you should constantly monitor it.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From a Buddy Heater

When people think of the dangers of having a propane heater, most people would think that the risk of fire is the most dangerous and prevalent, but in reality, the first thing that should come to mind is carbon monoxide poisoning. Tent heater deaths related to carbon monoxide poisoning are few and far between, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take proper precautions to minimize the risk. Even though the unit should have a working Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), you cannot rely on it working perfectly. On top of following the steps below, you should also consider using an additional carbon monoxide monitor as a back up warning.

1. Don’t Sleep With it Running

While these heaters are intended for indoor use, you should always be awake and monitoring it for malfunctions. We don’t recommend sleeping with it running because it’s just not worth the potential fire hazard.

2. Monitor Constantly

Never leave your unit running without supervision, especially when sleeping. Even when awake, you shouldn’t leave it to run without someone keeping an eye on it.

3. Use the Right Size Heater

The Big Buddy portable heater provides up to 18,000 BTUs for spaces up to 450 square feet, while the Little Buddy portable heater provides 3,800 BTUs for up to 95 square feet. You can see how a Little Buddy would be great for a tent, while their Big Buddy Heater is more ideal for a cabin or camper. This will not only save money on the amount of propane you use, but it will also help minimize risk of something bad happening.

ModelOutputShelter SizeRecommended Use
Little Buddy Heater3800 BTU95 sq. ft.3-6 person tents
Portable Buddy Heater4000 or 9000 BTU225 sq. ft.6-10 person tents
Big Buddy Heater4000, 9000, or 18000 BTU450 sq. ft.Cabin tents, 10+ person tents, or camper use
Hunting Buddy Heater6000 or 12000 BTUs300 sq. ft.Cabin tents, 10+ person tents, or camper use
A table comparing heater output and recommended use for different Buddy Heaters. This way you can use the right sized heater to stay warm for your space.

4. Provide Ventilation

Don’t just stick it in your tent, close up the doors, and leave it. You should open an upper and lower part of your tent, or at least two sides that will allow for proper ventilation and combat carbon monoxide poisoning .

5. Place it in the Right Heater Location

Your Mr. Buddy heater should always be placed several inches or feet away from other objects, especially flammable ones. Here are a few guidelines for placing your tent heater:

  1. Place it on a hard surface, such as a metal cookie sheet or wooden plank
  2. Make sure the heater sits on a flat and level surface, so it isn’t at risk of tipping
  3. Keep it lower on the ground, and not raised close to the top of your tent.
  4. Place it several inches or more away from flammable items such as the sides of your tent and sleeping gear.


Is it safe to sleep with a Buddy heater on?

While Mr. Buddy Heaters are labeled “indoor safe” and the safety mechanisms are supposed to allow you to sleep with it running, they are not guaranteed to work and it’s not worth the risk in our opinion. Instead, run the heater before bed, in the morning, and only while awake during the night.

Do Mr. Buddy heaters produce carbon monoxide?

Buddy heaters produce carbon dioxide instead of carbon monoxide. CO2 isn’t poisonous, but if there’s insufficient oxygen in the tent a Mr. Heater Buddy can product carbon monoxide. That’s why you should take the proper precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning when using them indoors just in case. This includes providing ventilation, using a working oxygen depletion sensor, not placing them near anything flammable, and monitoring them during use.

Is it safe to have a propane heater in a tent?

As long as it’s labeled “indoor safe”, portable propane heaters can be used indoors. However, they should not run while sleeping and should always have an oxygen depletion sensor and ventilation.

How much ventilation does a Mr. Buddy heater need?

A general recommendation is 1 square inch for every 1,000 BTUs. Make sure you place your heater the recommended distance from the sides of your tent and any gear around it. You should also provide ventilation by opening windows and mesh screens enough for a cross breeze to take place.

Is a Mr. Buddy Heater safe to use in a tent?

Yes, it’s safe to use a Mr. Heater Buddy in a tent as long as you follow the proper precautions. This includes monitoring it at all times, providing some ventilation for fresh air flow, and keeping it away from all flammable items like your tent walls and tent floor.

Have you used a Mr. Buddy Heater in a tent? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

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About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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We are Derek and Ashley of Know Nothing Nomads. Whether it is hiking, camping, or just generally being outside, we love it. We are so happy that you have found our little blog and hope that you stick around a while. Feel free to contact us with any questions or get in touch with us on social media!


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