Are Catalytic Heaters Safe in Tents?

Do you want to get rid of cold weather and miserable freezing experiences? Do bring a tent heater for your next winter camping trip. But, is it safe to use a tent heater? Most people are afraid to bring catalytic heaters mainly because of tent fires and carbon monoxide emissions. With these major concerns, are catalytic heaters safe in tents?

By following the few safety tips, you can use a camping heater to warm yourself in cold weather camping.

Catalytic heaters are the safest option with CSA 4.98 certification and are risk-free. The place of the heater in a tent can affect the safety hazard by lowering fire risk, carbon monoxide, and burning.

Make sure you pick the right catalytic heater, as most of them are not designed to use indoors. The tent heaters are specially designed for camping purposes.

Today I will discuss in detail are catalytic heaters safe in tents, how to minimize fire hazards, and how catalytic heaters work.

Using Catalytic Heaters Safely in Tents

Catalytic Heaters Safely in Tents
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The catalytic heaters come with sight safety risks. As we all know, tent heaters emit heat and can release some carbon monoxide if there is no proper ventilation.

Tent heaters use propane gas, also known as a flameless heater. Instead, a chemical reaction occurs between the platinum-surfaced heating element and propane.

There are two types of portable propane heaters;

1.   Vented Catalytic Heater – They are specially designed for outdoor heating

2.   Ventless Catalytic Heater – These are specially designed indoors and can be used safely in a tent.

You must click on the right portable gas heater; it would lead to a big disaster. Never use a vented heater in a tent as it may produce carbon monoxide – it eventually leads to the death of a person if there is no proper ventilation.

The catalytic heater must have safety features. These three catalytic heaters are safe to use in a tent, Big Buddy heaters, Buddy heaters, and Mr. Buddy heater.

Here is a quick safety feature list you will find catalytic heaters. It will give you a clear idea of why other propane heaters can be dangerous to use while camping.

Are you ready to explore the necessary features for preventing fire hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning, and burns?

Ventless Efficient Burner

All catalytic heaters produce carbon monoxide, but some produce less carbon monoxide and are better than others. Catalytic heaters use an efficient heat source that burns almost completely, releasing less carbon monoxide into the environment. Combine this with the tents being well-ventilated and equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is very low.

Carbon Monoxide Sensor

Catalytic heaters are equipped with carbon monoxide sensors, so they automatically shut off when you reach unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide. I recommend turning off the catalytic heater before bed and carrying a portable co detector just in case.

Safety Guard

As catalytic heaters produce moisture so, you should place a metal screen over the heating element to protect your gear from the heating element in a small tent.

Tip-Over Protection

The portable heater lights up automatically when you turn it on. I have run my portable heater several times and have never had a problem inside the tent. It goes out automatically, and the safety guard contains the fire on the tent floor. I only use a catalytic heater on the grill; I don’t know if it’s needed.

Oxygen Depletion Sensors

As tents are not airtight, you don’t need to worry about oxygen depletion. But it has an oxygen depletion sensor if used in an enclosed space like a car camping or camp van.

No Risk of Overheating

There are three heat settings to control the heat from the heater. Low settings run for 5+ hours, medium for 3+ hours, and high for 2+ hours. I recommend using a medium or high setting if you’re in a tent, as low doesn’t let in much heat.

What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptom?

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptom
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Even if you are careful about preventive measures, things can go wrong. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms can be flu-like, so if you suddenly feel like you’ve hit something after lying down, it might be time to turn off the catalytic heater and get out of the tent.

The early carbon monoxide poisoning symptom includes dizziness, headache, and loss of judgment. Sometimes, you might feel weakness, nausea, vomiting, and chest pain.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should first turn off the tent heater and get out in fresh air. You can use a warm sleeping bag instead of Coleman catalytic heater.

Do You Need Ventilation When Using a Catalytic Heater?

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The answer is a simple YES. The catalytic heaters are gas-powered and produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a hazardous gas. If you inhale it for a long, it might cause serious health issues and even death (if inhaled for long). Since camping tents have compact space, you need ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Here are some ventilation tips you need to consider while using a camping heater in a tent.


Tents are small and have limited space, causing potential risks in using propane heaters. Catalytic heaters produce more heat than electric heaters. So it would be best to ensure the tent had a ventilation system. As I said, catalytic heaters produce more heat than electric heaters doesn’t mean you should bring an electric heater with you.

One of the best ways to keep the tent well-ventilated is to open the tent windows.

Energy Consumption

The catalytic heaters consume a lot of energy, which is also important in why you need your camping tent ventilated. If there is no proper ventilation, there are chances of oxygen depletion. So, if you’re using a catalytic heater, ensure a constant supply of fresh air.

Never Leave the Catalytic Camping Heater on While Sleeping!

Leaving a catalytic heater on overnight could be very risky. It is still dangerous even if you have purchased a buddy heater with safety features.

Instead, use a sleeping bag to warm yourself on cozy nights.

Buy an AutomaticTtip-over Catalytic Heater!

The most catalytic heater comes with an automatic tip-over or an automatic shut-off feature. It will safely turn off the catalytic heaters automatically once you tip over. Most catalytic heaters come with a carbon monoxide detector that will let you detect the unsafe level of carbon monoxide.

Can You Sleep with a Catalytic Heater?

Sleep with a Catalytic Heater
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It is possible to keep the catalytic heater on while you enjoy a warm sleep. But, I suggest turning off the portable heaters while sleeping instead of using a sleeping bag. If flammable materials hit the heater’s tips, it would cause major damage.

However, if you want to sleep with a catalytic heater, here are some safety precautions you should take care of;

  1. Proper ventilation
  2. A CO detector
  3. Check for gas leaks
  4. The tip-over feature

Catalytic Heater Alternatives to Keep You Warm While Sleeping

Worried about catalytic heater safety risks or not cold enough to buy a portable heater for your tent? In this case, many other heating elements are used in the tent. Most of these methods are safe and will still help you warm up. Here are some of the most popular heating systems used in tents while camping:

1. Heating Pad or Blanket

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Bring an electric blanket or heating pad, especially if you are camping in cold weather. They will keep you warm, but ensure you use them with safety measures. Avoid using a sleeping pad if it’s raining as it is clear from its name it has electric power, and you may get a shock.

2. Hand Warmers

A hand warmer is an air-assisted device that helps warm small body parts. Their Hand warmers are safe because there aren’t many safety hazards.

Hand warmers are portable enough to fit in your pocket. Ideally, put hand warmers in your sleeping bag, especially around your feet. This will keep you warm while sleeping.

3. Hot Water Bottles

Hot water bottles are the simplest and easiest way of keeping your body warm. All you need is hot water in the bottle and enjoy the warmth.

You can also put the hot water bottle in your sleeping bag to keep your body warm while you enjoy sleeping.

4. Tent Rug

Many people don’t realize this, but part of what makes a tent so cool is the floor. When sleeping in a tent, you can easily feel the ground’s cold, even in a sleeping bag.

You can add a tent rug to the bottom of your tent to increase insulation. This extra insulation keeps your tent warm. In other words, it can make you more comfortable because you’re not sleeping near the ground.

Wrap Up!

A catalytic heater comes with some risk factors, which means you can’t use them while camping in the cold. You can use tent heaters with the right precautions, measures like proper ventilation, co detector, tip-over protection, and safety guard.

So if you struggle to warm up, take a catalytic heater with you on your next trip! Just be sure always to be careful.

About Antonio

I’m Antonio, a passionate traveler, and outdoor lover who’s running this website. I started this site to share my passion for camping, traveling, and bikepacking.