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Is a Mr. Heater Buddy Safe in a Tent?

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Are you cold inside your tent even with a cozy sleeping bag?

You’re not the only one.

But you can easily warm up the tent with a propane heater, like Mr. Heater Buddy.

You might be wondering – is this type of heater in a tent safe?

And the answer is – yes, but there are precautionary measures you’ll need to take.

Let’s dive in to find out more.

Is a Mr. Buddy Heater Safe in a Tent?

mr heater buddy ssafe in tent

The reason why campers rave so much about Mr. Heater Buddy Heaters are that these little dudes are designed to work in small, enclosed spaces like a tent.

And the reason why is that it uses different safety features to operate safely in such conditions:

  • Mr. Heater Buddy produces carbon dioxide (CO2) in small amounts, rather than the notorious carbon monoxide (CO), which is known for its toxicity.
  • If there’s not enough oxygen inside the tent, the Buddy heater simply shuts down altogether.
  • Mr. Heater Buddy also shuts down automatically if it heats up too much. That way, it cuts down any possibility of catching anything on fire.
  • It will also turn off by itself if it’s knocked over.

The built-in safety features prevent the buildup of dangerous gasses inside your tent as well as preventing overheating and fire, both of which can cause serious health issues, and even death.

As you can see, the manufacturer goes above and beyond to make the Buddy series suitable for all those campers that need a warm tent to sleep in.

Even despite its stellar safety features, you should still be careful when using this type of heater.

Also See: The Best Tent Heater (Ranked & Reviewed)

Safety Tips For Mr. Heater Buddy

safety of mr heater buddy

Like any type of heater, the Mr. Heater Buddy also requires safe handling. Luckily, that’s not too difficult a task, especially if you follow these tips.

Provide Proper Ventilation

Gas heaters, in general, produce carbon dioxide in small amounts during combustion.

But in case there’s less oxygen in the room than required, carbon pairs with a single oxygen atom, rather than two of them.

And that, naturally, changes the structure of the chemical reaction caused by combustion.

In other words, the heater starts producing CO instead of CO2 – its more dangerous counterpart.

Now, heaters from the Buddy series do have a sensor that causes the machine to shut down in case there’s insufficient oxygen inside the enclosed space.

And that’s a great safety feature, but the problem here is – why is there less oxygen inside the tent in the first place?

And the answer lies in bad ventilation.

To keep your Mr. Heater Buddy operating as it should, you need to keep your tent adequately ventilated the entire time you’re heating it.

Now, I’m not necessarily saying you need to keep all windows and doors open at all times – but there needs to be enough airflow inside.

Depending on the model, you might have small openings at the top or the bottom, specifically designated for this situation.

Alternatively, you can install a vent kit the Buddy comes with. Basically, it includes a flexible hose that you can use to exhaust air.

Create a Solid Base

As I already mentioned, Mr. Buddy Heater has a cool safety feature – it shuts down automatically in case it’s tipped over.

This is great, as it prevents anything inside the tent from catching on fire.

But that also means you need a solid base to place your Mr. Buddy Heater on. And not just that, but it needs to be flat.

Otherwise, the sensor inside the heater might go wild thinking the heater is tipped over.

And of course, a flat surface is simply more stable.

Keep in mind that it’s also important to place the heater on a heat-resistant surface. So, placing it directly onto your tent floor is a big no.

If possible, it’s best to slightly elevate the heater from the ground.

Personally, I like placing the heater on top of the hard cooler that’s holding fruit or other non-perishable food.

But to protect the exterior of the cooler, you can use a classic baking sheet.

Mr. Heater also makes stands for the Buddy, so that’s also an option if you don’t mind spending more on that.

Inspect Burner Before Use

Before you turn your Mr. Heater Buddy on, you need to make sure there’s no dirt or any kind of particles on the heating element.

You’d be surprised how combustible dust can be, and that’s the last thing you want to find out through an example.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should remove any organic debris, including leaves and wooden sticks.

You know very well how easily these things catch on fire.

So prior to using the heater, make sure to always wipe the heating element. Only water will do – no need for soap.

Just make sure to wipe the burners with a soft cloth afterward, so that it’s completely dry before use.

Keep Away From Flammable Gear

When you’re using Mr. Heater Buddy, you don’t want any things nearby.

This is especially important for highly flammable stuff, like your synthetic sleeping bag or an air mattress.

In fact, this is yet another reason why it is good to have your heater off the ground. Because at the same time, it’s away from other stuff that can catch on fire.

This also includes your tent. For that reason, you want the heater to be at least one to two feet away from a tent wall.

As you probably know, heat rises. And because of that, it’s always best to place the heater right underneath the highest point of your tent, to prevent the roof from melting.

This might mean you have to move some of the stuff around to position the heater in such a way.

I know it can be a hassle, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Do Not Operate While Sleeping

I know that Mr. Heater makes the Buddy line with campers in mind, so all those safety features should allow you to use the heater while you’re asleep.

But even so, I’d definitely recommend turning it off before you go to sleep.

Why? Because without you being alert, there’s always something that can go wrong.

And you can never know when any of those sensors prompting auto shutdown can fail. In this case, the stakes are too high to risk it.

My intention is not to make you scared of using a heater inside the tent. But I strongly suggest you only use it while you’re awake.

If you’re one of those people who can fall asleep instantly and in pretty much any position, then make sure to set the timer to turn off automatically after a short while.

That way, even if you fall asleep, your heater will turn off at the desired time.

And in case you need to leave the tent for a short while – be it to cook something outside, go to the bathroom, or whatever else, turn the heater off before you head out.

Sizing a Heater to Your Tent

When using a heater inside a tent, you need to make sure it’s the right size for the space it needs to heat up.

Here’s what I mean:

  • A heater that’s way too small for a certain tent will have to work twice as hard to heat up all that interior space. And still, it might not be enough to achieve the desired temperature.
  • A heater that’s too big for a specific tent, on the other hand, can actually turn into a fire hazard.

When it comes to Buddy’s line, Mr. Heater offers several sizes:

So while the Little Buddy can heat up about 95 square feet, the regular portable Buddy is suitable for keeping 225 square feet of area warmed.

Finally, Big Buddy is designed for keeping very large, party tents hot, with a coverage of 450 square feet.

Here’s a chart for better clarity:

ModelArea covered
Little Buddy® Heater95 square feet
Portable Buddy® Heater225 square feet
Hunting Buddy® Portable Heater300 square feet
Big Buddy® Portable Heater450 square feet

For camping, only the first two models are worth consideration. And between them, your choice depends on the size of your tent.

Also See: How To Stay Warm In A Tent – Practical Tips

Heating Fuel

Mr. Buddy Heaters are designed to work with propane canisters. Propane is great, as it’s super efficient and works in both low temperatures and at high altitudes.

You can find those 1-pound canisters at most outdoor and hardware stores.

But if you own a large tent, you’ll need several of these canisters to keep your tent heated. And that is neither economical nor practical.

However, if you also own a propane grill, it would make sense to get a 20-pound propane tank and use it for both cooking and heating.

To do that, you’ll need to buy an adapter hose, which is readily available at most hardware and outdoor stores.

But you also want to make sure you have enough propane to last your entire camping trip!

Is It Safe to Sleep With a Buddy Heater On?

Well… it should be. But to be frank, I’d never risk it.

Why? Because unexpected things can happen while I’m asleep. My dog could come in and tip the heater directly onto the sleeping bag.

The heater could malfunction. It could start raining through the vent directly onto the heater.

I can go on with possible scenarios. Simply, there are too many risks involved.

And to be honest, you really don’t need the heater to work all night.

Mr. Buddy Heater is powerful enough to warm up your tent while you’re still awake, and you can turn it off right before you go to sleep.


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

If you’re using a propane heater, make sure it’s safe for use indoors.

These types of heaters have some kind of safety mechanism to prevent CO poisoning. However, you also need to make sure there’s enough airflow, even when you’re using a tent-safe heater.

To be completely sure your tent is adequately ventilated, you can set up a carbon monoxide alarm, like the type you can find in homes.

In case oxygen levels inside your tent drop to a dangerous level, the alarm will warn you.

Does Buddy Heater produce carbon monoxide?

No, the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater produces carbon dioxide instead. In the event that there’s not enough oxygen inside the tent, this heater simply shuts down.

How much ventilation does a Mr. Buddy heater need?

Any propane heater requires proper ventilation. Ideally, you want to keep at least two vents open, so there’s enough airflow to keep the oxygen level high enough.

How long can you run a buddy heater indoors?

This depends on the model. Smaller models can work for 2-3 hours, while larger ones are designed for longer use.

Of course, how long it can run also depends on the amount of fuel you have at hand.

To Sum Things Up

If you’re a hot sleeper, then Mr. Heater Buddy is a great tool for achieving your desired temperature inside the tent.

This type of heater is safe for use inside the tent, as long as you’re making sure there’s enough airflow through the vents.

Furthermore, the heater needs to be placed on a solid base, without anything combustible in a vicinity of one to two feet around it.

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