Heating up a tiny house isn’t the same as heating up a regular house. With most tiny houses being on trailers, you have to find ways to heat up your house that don’t always rely on being hooked up to the grid. And in most cases, the best way to heat up your tiny house is with a propane heater.
So what are the best propane heaters for tiny houses? There are many great propane heaters on the market which we’ve reviewed and listed below, but one condition that a tiny house homeowner should always look for in their propane heater is direct ventilation.
While RVs generally use any number of popular vent-free tiny houses, it is strongly recommended that tiny houses only use direct vent propane heaters.
In the guide below, we begin by explaining why direct vent (or vented) propane heaters are the best option for tiny houses, followed by a review of the top vented propane heaters for tiny houses on the market.
Part I: Heating Your Tiny House
How Can I Heat My House Cheaply?
With heating options such as a space heater, wood stoves, electric heater, solar power and more for your tiny space, which way is the cheapest and most efficient to heat your home?
To heat your tiny house cheaply, the answer is almost always with a propane heater. While the most affordable way to heat your home would be with a wood stove and chopping and preparing the wood yourself, this isn’t always the most reliable or effective means to heat your tiny home, which is why we recommend propane heating.
Propane heating is considerably cheaper and more affordable than other heat source options, such as electric heaters and gas, for a number of reasons. These include:
- Propane requires less energy to heat a home, because it is more thermal efficient than electricity. More heat is produced by burning propane, and less propane is required to reach a high level of heat than you would require from electricity or gas
- 98% of the propane that you buy is domestically-sourced. This means that propane prices stay relatively low, with no influence by taxes, international relations, or other factors that influence the price of oil
- You store propane at your own home, instead of sourcing it whenever it is needed. This means that a thrifty tiny house owner can fill their propane tanks whenever the prices are at their lowest, and use the propane only when necessary
- A space heater, solar power heater, electric heater, and other heating options a different power source may require more initial investment without the same consistent guarantee of propane
Which is Cheaper to Heat With: Propane or Kerosene?
Many new tiny house owners find themselves lost when it comes to choosing propane heaters or kerosene heaters. In the name of tiny house cost-savings, we always want to prioritize costs and affordability, which is why the question usually comes down to which is cheaper: propane or kerosene?
While kerosene used to be cheaper than propane, propane has actually now become the more affordable option, with kerosene at a US average price per gallon of $3.53 compared to propane’s $2.78 (as of September 2019).
|US Region||US Dollar Price (Per Gallon of Kerosene)||US Dollar Price (Per Gallon of Propane)|
|North Country Region||$3.30||$3.64|
|Capital District Region||$3.65||$2.68|
|Middle Hudson Region||$3.39||$2.72|
|New York Statewide Region||$3.73||$2.77|
Aside from cost, there are several other important reasons why you should choose propane over kerosene:
- Propane burns cleanly while kerosene doesn’t (kerosene will also leave an oil film on everything)
- Kerosene is extremely dangerous in enclosed living quarters, especially around electronics
- Kerosene has a strange smell that can be unpleasant in a home
This is why most tiny house owners choose propane instead of kerosene.
Can You Use Propane Heaters Indoors?
Of course, propane heaters can be used indoors. However, it is important to note that the kind of heaters you might use in an RV are not the ones we would recommend for a tiny house. Why? It’s a difference between vented and vent-free propane heaters.
Direct Vent VS Vent-Free Propane Heaters: What’s the Difference?
Most heaters recommended for RVs are actually vent-free propane heaters, which can be problematic for tiny homes. Vent-free propane heaters have no chimneys or ventilation systems, meaning the propane-combusting byproducts such as water vapor, carbon dioxide and monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide become trapped in the confined living spaces.
For RVs, most people recommend simply opening the windows or doors to counter the build-up of toxic fumes, however in tiny spaces this can be more dangerous, as tiny houses generally have thicker insulation than RVs. This enables better retention of toxic fumes in the tiny house.
While most vent-free propane heaters do have automatic low-oxygen systems that detect oxygen levels in the air, the long-term build-up of toxic fumes in a tiny home can cause long-term damage to its residents.
This is why it is highly recommended to only choose direct vent propane heaters when shopping for tiny house heaters. Vented heaters are installed with ventilation systems that exhaust the fume and vapor byproducts out of the home, keeping the inside of the home safe and livable.
In our product guide below, we’ve made sure to only include direct vent propane heaters, as these are the units you would want for your tiny home.
Part II: Best Direct Vent Propane Heaters for Tiny House: Reviews and Our Take
1) Rinnai EX08CP Wall Mounted Furnace Propane
Who Should Buy It: Families, people who want many automatic quality-of-life features
|It has different settings that allow users to set various temperatures throughout the day/night, making the entire process feel very automated||Installation can be a bit tricky, even with the installation guide, so if you’re not an expert then you might need some outside help|
|Its small size can be deceiving, because many users report that it can be just as strong and powerful as larger ones on the market|
|Family-friendly design and features, with features such as whisper-quiet, user-friendly control, and a cool-to-the-touch cabinet so you don’t have to worry about your kids or pets touching the machine|
There’s nothing worse than sitting in your tiny home and freezing through the night. With the Rinnai EX08CP Wall Mounted Direct Ventilation Furnace Liquid Propane, you have the perfect tool to fight back against any chilly tiny house, regardless of your levels of insulation.
The great thing about the Rinnai is that it is soundly energy efficient, with an AFUE rating of 83%. It reaches this efficiency without coming in at a bulky and big size; since space is a premium in any tiny house, the Rinnai EX08CP is perfect for tiny house homeowners looking for that compact heating.
Properly coated with cool-to-the-touch material, the Rinnai EX08CP is a great option for a growing family due to several family-friendly features. These include a child safety lock, a cabinet that stays cool along every inch, user-friendly and whisper-quiet (letting the entire family sleep in peace while it runs), automatic shutoff, and of course, a horizontal vented design.
|Product||Rinnai EX08CP Wall Mounted Furnace Propane|
|BTU||3000 - 8000|
|Space Size||400 square feet floor space|
|Dimensions||15” x 18.25” x 27.38”|
|Average Amazon Score||4.1|
2) US Stove AGDV12L Ashley Propane Gas Heater
Who Should Buy It: People who need power but don’t want anything overly complicated
|Simple and easy, with no extra features to overcomplicate it. Installation is simpler than most heaters due to its straightforward design||Unfortunately, the US Stove Company doesn’t have much customer support, so if you find your product lacking in any way, you might have difficulty getting an answer from the manufacturer|
|Much more affordable than most other heaters, and smaller as well. This makes it the best option for tiny house owners who don’t necessarily find themselves in colder climates, but still want a heater installed for those rare occasions when they might need a little heat||Not the ideal option for a long-term, constant heater. If you are looking for something to run every single night for months, then you might find a better heater elsewhere (or even a wood stove)|
When you’re stuck in the middle of a storm in your tiny house, the last thing you want to do is fiddle around with a dozen different controls and settings. If you’re looking for a heater that is simple, easy-to-use, and a return to the basics, then the US Stove AGDV12L Ashley Direct Propane Heater might be exactly what you need.
The AGDV12L Ashley might not have all the bells and whistles of other products, but its strengths lie in its simple design and functionality. It is known for having a smaller size and lighter weight than most other mountable heaters on the market, making it the perfect companion for tiny house owners who might not need tons of heating, but still want to equip themselves with a heating option should the need ever arise.
At 11,000 BTU, the AGDV12L surprisingly packs a hot punch. Mount it on your wall and forget about it until you find yourself freezing on a cold winter night – this small 17” x 20” heater will keep you warm, simply and with none of the frills.
|Product||US Stove AGDV12L Ashley Propane Gas Heater|
|BTU||Up to 11,000|
|Space Size||251 – 400 square feet floor space|
|Dimensions||7.6” x 17.375” x 20”|
|Average Amazon Score||3.1|
3) Martin Propane Wall Heater
Who Should Buy It: Tiny house owners who value both function and style
|If you want a heater that looks amazing, this is the product for you. With a die-cast aluminum grill, a decorative glass ceramic window to watch the internal blue flame like a wood stove, and rounded corners over a sleek design, there are few classier heaters on the market||While installation is simple, customer service can be difficult to work with. The manufacturer (Bismar) is known for being a family owned business, with some users complaining about their inactive customer support|
|This product focuses on clean energy alongside its built-in thermostat, making it extremely energy efficient that will be good on your wallet||Some users report that this unit can get a little hot when used for several hours, so keep your children or pets from touching it|
|Certified product, made to be used in the USA and Canada with the best materials available. It can heat any tiny house without any problem|
Just because you’re in a tiny house doesn’t mean every item you own needs to look simple, compact, and just basically functional. The way you style and design your tiny house is just as important as efficiently living in it, and when it comes to heaters, the Martin Propane Wall Heater Furnace is the Cadillac of vented propane heaters.
Unlike most heaters on the market, the Martin Propane Wall Heater Furnace sports a stylish and elegant fireplace design. With rounded corners, a sexy dark grey and light grey finish, and an exclusive glass ceramic window along its front surface, the Martin heater is the preferred choice for tiny house owners who value aesthetics as well as functionality.
And the Martin heater looks this way without sacrificing any of the horsepower you need from a tiny house heater. With both an 11,000 BTU option and a 20,000 BTU option, the heater can quickly heat any tiny house without making a ruckus with its ultra-quiet design.
|Product||Martin Propane Wall Heater Furnace Built-in Thermostat|
|BTU||11,000 (or 20,000)|
|Space Size||400 square feet|
|Dimensions||7.1” x 15” x 22.7”|
|Average Amazon Score||3.7|
4) PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater – Wall Vented
Who Should Buy It: Any tiny house homeowner who wants a nice warm shower
|Light and efficient, especially when compared to 10-gallon heaters. At just 32 pounds, the RV-550 is just a fraction of the weight of other heaters for tiny houses||Due to its high strength, the heater can be quite hot after it has been running for a while. Be careful when touching it|
|With built-in protection from freeze, the RV-550 is unique amongst tankless heaters, ensuring that your storage is protected only when the outside temperatures reach freezing|
|Energy efficient, using half the amount of propane as most heaters. This is due to its high BTU output (55,000), allowing it to only function when the hot water is flowing|
If you’re in the market for a heater, then you might also be interested in a propane water heater. While we wouldn’t normally include another type of product on our review lists, we have to give a shout-out to the PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Heater (Wall Vented). There aren’t many (if any at all) propane water heaters better than the PrecisionTemp RV-550, so it’s definitely a top recommendation for all tiny house owners.
What makes the PrecisionTemp RV-550 so great? Firstly, its tankless design means the propane heater is only burning propane when the hot water is flowing, meaning homeowners can save up to 50% propane as compared to other heaters. With a single 20-pound propane tank, you can expect to heat up to 940 gallons.
The RV-550’s power is unprecedented, as it sports the most powerful heating system in the tankless water heater market, with a strength of 55,000 BTUs. Regardless of the surrounding temperature or climate, or the temperature of your water as it sits, you are guaranteed consistently hot showers for as long as you need it.
|Product||PrecisionTemp RV-550 Tankless Water Heater (Wall Vented)|
|Space Size||For showers|
|Dimensions||13.5” x 13.5” x 14.25”|
|Average Amazon Score||4.4|
5) Dickinson Newport P9000 Propane Fireplace
Who Should Buy It: For tiny house families that don’t need a heater every day, but want to be ready just in case
|This propane fireplace has a unique built-in blower system that helps to circulate the warm air throughout the tiny house||Weaker than other propane heaters, with a smaller BTU output. If you need a heavy-duty propane heater for truly cold winter nights, this might not be the product for you|
|Absolutely easy to install, with many users reporting an easy-to-understand installation guide that requires zero outside assistance. If it’s your first time with a propane heater, this might be a good choice|
|While weaker than other propane heaters, this product is highly energy efficient, consuming the least amount of fuel while producing top thermal efficiency (expect up to 140 hours of heating with a single 20lbs propane tank)|
Stylish, rustic, and functional. The rustic old-school lifestyle is a theme for most tiny house enthusiasts, and the Dickinson Newport P9000 Propane Fireplace might be the best propane heater to capture it all in a single item.
Unlike other propane heaters on our list, the Dickinson Propane Fireplace has a unique, old-fashioned fireplace design with its own stainless-steel backing plate and up to 28 inches of stainless-steel chimney. The product comes with all the fittings and pieces required to assemble it, and installation can be accomplished in less than an hour.
While definitely not the strongest propane heater on the market, the Dickinson Propane Fireplace might be the most thermal efficient. A single 20lbs propane tank can provide up to 140 hours of heat with the Dickinson Propane Fireplace, so if you want a propane heater that you can install and never think about again, this might be the heater for you.
|Product||Dickinson Marine Newport P9000 Propane Fireplace|
|BTU||3200 - 4500|
|Space Size||600 square feet|
|Dimensions||5.5” x 8.5” x 14”|
|Average Amazon Score||5.0|
6) Empire Gravity Wall Furnace
Who Should Buy It: For tiny house owners who are still designing their homes and want to incorporate a propane heater in their design
|A unique design style that makes it great for certain tiny house homeowners. This propane heater fits into surface mounts or walls, meaning you can fit it into the design plans of your tiny house||The design can make it a bit difficult for some tiny houses, especially if the house wasn’t built with this propane heater in mind|
|Highly-noted for its top fuel efficiency, since this is one of the newer propane heaters on the market and built with the latest state-of-the-art propane heating technology||Thermostat available but not sold or included with the product|
|Long-lasting, with many users claiming that they have had it for years with little to no required maintenance|
One of the best parts of designing and owning a tiny house is that you can plan for all your appliances, furniture, and other large objects in the house before making the house. This allows for more creative tiny house owners to truly maximize the space and comfort of their home, by optimizing everything from recesses in the walls to multi-functional tables and chairs.
With the Empire Gravity Wall Furnace, you can easily add your propane heater to your design plans. The Empire Gravity Wall Furnace was designed with pre-planning in mind. Unlike other propane heaters, the Gravity Wall Furnace is tall, thin, and sleek, and can be fitted neatly into a recess into the wall.
With proper planning and preparation, you can have a propane heater that blends in with the rest of your wall, taking up zero additional living space from your tiny house.
This propane heater looks great and works even better. With a baked enamel finish, a tall nearly 6-foot design, and a unibody grill construction, the Gravity Wall Furnace pumps out 25,000 BTUs in whisper-quiet settings. And with a 10-year warranty, you can’t go wrong!
|Product||Empire Gravity Wall Furnace|
|BTU||25,000 (also has 35,000 and 50,000 models)|
|Space Size||Best for 400 square feet|
|Dimensions||6.5” x 16.5” x 68.4”|
|Average Amazon Score||5|
7) Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy (VENT-FREE)
Who Should Buy It: Any tiny house homeowner who wants a companion, portable heater for outdoor heating
Note: This propane heater is vent-free.
If you’re interested in the possibility of purchasing a vent-free propane heater, and if you understand the differences between a vented and vent-free propane heater, then you might consider the Mr. Heater Little Buddy.
While vent-free propane heaters can be dangerous in tiny houses, the Mr. Heater Little Buddy is small enough and has a low-oxygen shut-off pilot system that you and your family would be relatively safe even if the worst went wrong. Make sure to routinely check that this system is completely functional.
So what’s great about the Little Buddy? Mr. Heater is one of the biggest brands of propane heaters in the US, and the Little Buddy is its smallest and most affordable option, and also the safest (vent-free option) for tiny houses.
With a highly-portable, fan-like design, the Little Buddy can be brought with you outside the tiny house when necessary, so if you ever intend to camp outside while traveling with your tiny home, this might be your best heating friend. This unit can easily heat distances of up to 95 square feet, allowing any tiny house campers to turn a cold winter night into a warm, crispy evening, without a single campfire.
But remember: we do not recommend vent-free propane heaters as long-term solutions for warming your tiny house. We recommend a Mr. Heater Little Buddy as your portable, smaller heater companion for outdoor or short-term needs.
|Product||Mr. Heater F215100 Little Buddy|
|BTU||4000 – 9000|
|AFUE Rating||Rating unavailable|
|Space Size||Up to 95 square feet|
|Dimensions||11” x 11” x 11”|
|Average Amazon Score||4.0|
How Can I Heat My Room Without a Heater?
While we do strongly advise that any tiny home should be equipped with a propane heater, we understand that some tiny homeowners might want to try heating and cooling their tiny homes in other ways. Aside from the classic wood stoves, here are a few ways you can increase the insulation and warmth of your tiny house:
- Transparent Curtains: Use transparent curtains (shower curtains will work just fine) over your sunlit windows. This will allow maximum sunlight to stream into the house while providing an extra layer of insulation from the chill air outside. If you do not have transparent curtains, a layer of transparent plastic sheets taped to the windows should also work.
- Door Seals: Some doors have frames that are too big for the door, leaving a few gaps of space in the sides, the top, and the bottom. These are prime areas for cold air to blow in if left unsealed; check them if you feel a draft. Use some weather stripping to seal these gaps off; for extra warmth, stuff a blanket or rug at the foot of your door.
- Carpeted Floors: One thing most tiny house homeowners don’t think about is the benefit of carpeting to keep a house warm. A carpeted floor is more resistant to the natural heat loss that easily occurs through the floor. Wood and tiles are also colder to the skin, so walking on a carpeted floor would naturally feel warmer. With wood stoves, your carpet can feel crispy all day.
Wrapping It Up: Which Tiny House Propane Heater Is Right for You?
Choosing the heater to heat your tiny house depends on your lifestyle, your preferences, and of course, what you think is the best for your family. While all the direct vent propane heaters listed above should work fine for a tiny house, remember that it ultimately depends on what you think will fit and work best to heat your tiny house easily.
Your tiny house, your lifestyle. Tiny spaces require precise planning, so choose your heating and cooling options with care.
Have you found a propane heater that fits your tiny house?
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.