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

mr. buddy heater in a tent

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Written by: Ashley Vitiello
Fact Checked by: Derek Vitiello

Updated May 29, 2023

For cold weather camping, there’s 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, 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 a Mr. Buddy Heater 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. That’s what it is made for. It has built in safety mechanisms, including an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) and tip-over automatic safety shut off. 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.

Buddy Heater Safety Tips for Proper Use

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 tent 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.

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.

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.

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
Heater output and recommended use for different Buddy Heaters

Provide Ventilation

Don’t just stick it in your tent, close up, 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 .

Place it in the Right 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 flat, 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.


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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.

Derek, Co-Founder at Know Nothing Nomads

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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