Photo of Mr Heater Portable Buddy Heater in my living room

It can be hard to keep your home warm in the winter. Luckily, propane heaters can heat your home quickly. However, how do you safely use a propane heater inside your home?

To safely use a propane heater inside, make sure the heater will turn off if conditions become unsafe. Never put clothes or aerosol products on or near the heater. Keep the heater clean and make sure there is no dust on it before using it. Don’t put anything directly in front of a propane heater.

Using propane heaters inside is considered safe if you follow the right steps and use the right heater. Keep reading to find out what those steps are and alternatives if you don’t want to use a propane heater.

How to Safely Use a Propane Heater Indoors

Step 1: Finding the Right Propane Heater

Some propane heaters are not safe to use indoors, so the first step is to make sure you purchase a propane heater that is safe to use indoors. The ones that are safe to use indoors will have a feature that makes the heater shut off if the heater tips over or if oxygen levels get too low. Make sure you get a heater that fits the space available in your home well.

The best-known indoor-safe propane heaters are the Buddy Heaters made by Mr Heater. I have this Portable Buddy heater and it can keep a big tent or large bedroom comfortably warm while it’s on.

Check current prices at these stores, they vary a lot on these websites at different times. Right now Walmart has the best price. Some of these are affiliate links.

I like propane for heat because it makes it so I can store just 1 fuel type for backup energy. I have a generator that can run on propane, natural gas, or gasoline. This makes it easy for me to keep quite a bit of propane at the house and use it for grilling, heating, and electricity.

And I love propane because it’s a lot more stable and stores a lot longer than gasoline and it doesn’t make my shed smell like gas all the time.

Step 2: Following Safety Rules

Once you have a propane heater that is safe to use indoors, make sure you use it safely. Make sure the heater is not around any clothes, furniture, flammable, or combustible items, or near anything that could melt. Keeping these items away from the heater will decrease the chances of something catching on fire.

These heaters tend to be pretty directional. So in a tent, a buddy heater that’s sitting on the floor pointed toward the middle of the tent does just fine, even though the tent walls are meltable. But if you put it by the wall and pointed it at all toward the wall, you’d probably melt a hole in your tent.

So just keep flammable, combustable, and meltable things away from the front and sides of the heater.

Do your best to keep children and pets away from the heater as well to minimize the chances of someone getting injured.

Keep any and all aerosol fumes or sprays of any kind away from the heater. Spraying fumes near the heater could cause the fumes or spray to catch on fire.

Make sure you never leave the heater unattended. If the heater were to malfunction while nobody is around it, it could cause a house fire. If someone is near the heater when it malfunctions, you might prevent a fire.

If you ever see a flame that is not blue, turn your propane heater off immediately and call the number on the heater’s instruction manual. The plate in the heater might be orange, but the flames in an indoor-safe propane heater are only supposed to be blue. If they are a different color, the propane heater is likely malfunctioning, which is dangerous.

That’s because blue flames are hotter than orange and red flames so blue flames indicate that it’s burning hot enough for complete combustion, so you shouldn’t get much if any carbon monoxide.

Following safety regulations and being smart about your propane heater use is essential for keeping you, your family members, and your home safe.

Step 3: Keep the Heater Clean

One of the most important steps to using and owning a propane heater indoors safely is making sure you keep it well-maintained and clean at all times. To keep your propane heater clean, make sure to read the heater’s instruction manual to make sure you are doing the necessary care.

For dust, use a vacuum hose to remove any dust that is on the exterior of the heater. Use the vacuum hose to clean the grills on the heater as well. Make sure you don’t clean the propane heater when it is being used or is hot. You can also use a clean, dry cloth to get the dust off of your propane heater.

If you do not already have them, put carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home so you can be notified of any dangerous fumes leaking from the propane heater. Some smoke detectors already have this feature, so before you purchase a separate carbon monoxide detector, see if your smoke detector can detect the gas.

For temporary or emergency indoor use of your propane heater, it’s a good idea to keep a carbon monoxide detector in the room where you’re using the heater. I like this carbon monoxide detector on Amazon because it runs on batteries and tells you the level of carbon monoxide in addition to being an alarm. It’s also one of the least expensive ones I could find.

Alternatives to Propane Heaters

If using a propane heater indoors seems dangerous or scary, here are some alternatives to propane heaters. Consider getting one of the alternatives so you can keep yourself and your family members warm in the winter without having to use a propane heater!

Oil Radiator Heaters

Oil heaters are a great alternative to propane heaters. Unlike propane heaters, oil heaters do not ever let out toxic gases, which makes them a lot safer than propane heaters. They also don’t have an exposed flame, making them less likely to catch stuff on fire.

Just like any heater, there are safety precautions you need to take and things you need to do to remain safe when using an oil heater.

Oil heaters are known to be a lot safer to use indoors than some propane heaters.

White Gas Heaters

White gas heaters are a good alternative to propane heaters, but many people have found that they don’t heat large spaces very well. White gas heaters are also extremely hard to find, especially portable ones. This means that while white gas heaters are a good propane heater alternative, you’ll probably have to choose something else.

Electric Space Heaters

Space heaters are probably the most popular and safest alternative to propane heaters. Space heaters run on electricity, and it’s very easy to find portable space heaters. Space heaters also don’t create any toxic fumes. You still need to make sure there are no flammable items nearby. You also need to make sure that pets and children don’t touch the front of a space heater. But otherwise, they’re incredibly safe.

The problem with electric heaters is that they require… electricity. In a lot of emergency scenarios, electricity is something you don’t have in abundance. So while I really like electric space heaters for keeping specific areas in the house warm when it’s particularly cold, they’re not ideal when the power is out.

That said, if what you have is electric space heaters, you can certainly run a generator outside, a safe distance from the home, and power your space heater inside. Just remember to still use a carbon monoxide detector and alarm. I recently heard a story from someone whose family was saved by a dog that sensed that something was wrong. Their generator that was running outside, at least 15 feet from the house, was still generating enough carbon monoxide that the levels in their house were about 17 times normal. Had their dog not woken them up, they likely would have died in their sleep.

When you use a generator, make sure that the exhaust points away from the house and is far from any openings, even a slightly cracked open window that you’re using to run a power cable from the generator to your heater inside.

All that said, I have used many space heaters, and they have always been a safe and effective way for me and my family to stay warm during the cold winter months!

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  1. My friend wants to help his uncle live by himself during his retirement. I like your idea of having a propane heater installed within his property since they’re easy to maintain and use. I should let him know about this so they can find a propane delivery company for refills!

  2. Wow, I never knew that you could use propane heating to keep your home warm during winter. I heard that my aunt is interested in trying out living close to the countryside this year. I will talk to her about finding a propane service company as a source of her heating!

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