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I often use Mr. Buddy for heating, and it's nice to have it in below-freezing temps.

While the heater eats propane like a mother, it works and is worth the weight in gold if you know how to use it safely.

See, Mr. Buddy, as with any other heater, presents some risks when used in a closed space. Carbon monoxide poisoning and setting yourself and your tent on fire are the greatest threats.

The good news is I've been using Mr. Buddy heaters for several seasons without an incident, and I'll walk you through how to use one safely.

Is it Safe to Use Mr. Buddy Heater In a Tent?

Yes, it's safe to use a Buddy heater inside a tent. However, there might be some potential risks regarding using a Mr. Buddy heater in a tent; therefore, there're a few things to keep in mind to stay safe.

The thing with Mr. Buddy heaters is they're marketed as "indoor safe," but when you read the fine print, you'll see that they require some precautions to use on the inside.

Some of the tips to keep in mind when using a Mr. Buddy heater inside of your tent are:

  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions
  • Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Only use the heater in a ventilated spaced
  • Keep away the heater from any flammable material
  • Never leave the heater unattended

Following these tips will ensure you enjoy a warm and safe camping experience without putting yourself or your family at risk.

How to Safely Use a Mr. Buddy Heater in a Tent

Now that we know we can use a Mr. Buddy Heater in our tent, the next big question is how to use it safely.

Ventilation is Key

You must ensure sufficient ventilation with any heater running with a pilot light. Remember, the heater light burns or consumes atmospheric oxygen to burn propane, which you also require!

So, if you don't have fresh air, you'll be deprived of atmospheric oxygen, and once it dwindles, you'll fu****ng die.

But here's the good thing with Mr. Buddy Heater. Once the atmospheric levels of oxygens fall to around 19%, the pilots shut down, and the heater won't run. The heater is designed to only burn in a rich oxygen environment.

Who wants to trust their life on some technology that may fail? Of course, it's nice to know about the feature, but you should only partially rely on it.

Therefore, it's always a good idea to keep your tent's window slightly cracked to ensure a good flow of fresh air.

I have a ventilation kit consisting of a flexible hose, which I usually attach to one of the exhaust ports on the back of the heater to exhaust the air.

Aside from the obvious risk of oxygen deprivation, the other important reason for tent ventilation is the issue with water release.

See, when air is used in combustion, there's water release. Propane also tends to generate a bit of moisture when burned.

And without a chimney or proper ventilation, all the moisture will go into your tent, thus making it wet and clammy.

It's a nitpick and might hardly be noticed if you use your heater for a short time. But if it's the primary heat source, and there's no proper ventilation, then condensation is real, and so much water is produced.

Therefore, if you must address both of these issues, you must provide sufficient ventilation to your tent. 

Open the windows and doors, and ensure the ventilation tunnels aren't blocked by snow if you're winter camping.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is Real

The lack of proper ventilation and oxygen starvation in your tent usually leads to incomplete combustion, which generates carbon monoxide.

See, your Mr. Buddy Heater needs oxygen to burn and will generate carbon monoxide as a byproduct of combustion.

The problem with carbon monoxide is that it's odorless, colorless, and, more importantly, toxic.

It's often referred to as a silent killer, and long-term inhalation and exposure to this gas can result in a slow death.

It's important to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning so that you can act quickly.

Generally, carbon monoxide poisoning starts with disorientation. After that, people tend to get sleepy and dizzy and have headaches, vomiting, and nausea.

If you notice these symptoms, you need to open up your tent, add more ventilation and let in as much fresh air as possible.

I advise you against opening the ceiling vent to let the carbon monoxide out.

Remember, carbon monoxide is heavier than air, so leaving the ceiling vent open makes it easier for the oxygen to escape due to displacement.

You need a ground-level vent to get rid of the carbon monoxide. And that's why I have a zippered window along the floor.

Of course, I mentioned that the Mr. Buddy Heaters have a low oxygen shut-off, but they're not to be solely relied on.

So it's good to tag along with some carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide poisoning is no joke. 

The other thing is to invest in higher quality CO detectors rather than the $10 stuff from Walmart.

Proper Heater Placement

It's essential to place your Mr. Buddy Heater on a level surface, so it doesn't tip over.

While the heater boasts an accidental shut-off tip-over switch, handling the heater with care makes more sense to avoid accidental fire outbreaks.

You could get one of the optional Mr. Buddy Heater stands to prop up the heater. A metal sheet pan is what I use underneath the heater. It keeps it from tipping over while protecting my tent floor.

You could place it on a fire rug or a rectangular milk crate, so it doesn't tip. And if it does, it won't melt the bottom of your tent.

Consider your Heater Location

Camp tent organization is another important consideration when using a Mr. Buddy Heater.

I had many cases of the camp heater being put too close to the tent's fabric, which often resulted in minor fire accidents.

Therefore, it's important that your heater has plenty of space, at least two feet of space, and shouldn't be close to the tent's fabrics. When the Buddy Heater touches the tent's fabric, it leads to melting and burning.

Also, you must ensure the heater is away from any flammable material, such as gasoline or propane. If your heater uses propane, the tank should be positioned outside.

I also like placing my Buddy Heater in the tallest part of my tent. So that the heat coming from the heater has room to dissipate before it gets to the tent, and I don't run the risk of melting the materials. And using the propane heaters helps keep the tent's fabric from soot.

Use the Right-Sized Mr. Buddy Heater

When selecting the size and type of your Mr. Buddy Heater, you must ensure it's correctly sized for your space.

A heater that's too small works harder to heat your tent, while an oversized heater may pose a potential fire hazard.

Understand that by size, I don't mean the physical size but rather the amount of heat output measured using BTU.

BTU, or the British Thermal Unit, is a unit used to measure heat output from a tent heater. The BTU measurements help you determine how much space you need to heat.

For example, picking a tent with a lower BTU is advisable if you're heating a one-person tent. Conversely, if you're heating a larger tent, choose a heater with a larger BTU rating; picking a tent with a lower BTU is advisable if you're heating a one-person tent.

An easy way to calculate the size of the heater you need is to consider your tent's BTU rating. Generally, most camp tents are assigned an insulation rating.

And so it's easy to calculate your tent's BTU requirements by multiplying your pace (cubic feet) by the insulation rating.

For example, suppose your tent has an insulation rating of 8 and has a total of 200 cubic feet of space. 

In that case, you'll need a 1,600 BTU-rated heater or maximum insulation and heat retention.

Below is a rough guide on three of the popular Buddy heaters and the size of the tent they can heat:


BTU (Min-max per hour)

Heating Area

4,000- 9,000 BTU

225 sq. ft. (small room)

4,000- 18,000 BTU

450 sq. ft. (two-car garage)

3,800 BTU

95 sq. ft. (smaller tent/shanty)

Shut Off the Heater When Sleeping

I've used a heater in the past and can tell you must not leave them overnight. It's tempting to do so, especially when it's cold, but not advisable.

The problem depends on the type of heater and size of your tent; they can heat so much to ridiculous levels.

Secondly, you don't want to leave it running while you're asleep because you don't want anything that produces heat running while you are asleep.

I mean, many things could go wrong when you leave your Mr. Buddy Heater running, including potential fire hazards.

There's also the risk of health hazards if there's insufficient ventilation.

Mr. Buddy Heater is great for taking the edge off in the morning and nighttime.

I usually keep it within arm's reach… turn it on before bed and before I get some shut-eye. It warms the tent nicely, at which point I shut it off.

And every once in a while, especially on really cold nights or upon waking up, I reach one arm out and turn it back on so it's warm when I get out of bed.

Never Leave the Heater Unattended

Finally, you must always leave your Mr. Buddy Heater supervised.

As important as it is to shut the heater while heading to sleep, you should equally shut it off when leaving the tent or heading away from the camp for any length of time.


Can you leave Mr. Buddy Heater on overnight?

It's not advisable to leave your Mr. Buddy Heater overnight. It carries the risk of a fire threat and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do Buddy heaters generate CO?

Buddy Heaters can produce carbon monoxide gas. It's a colorless, odorless gas that is fatal to human beings.

Do Buddy heaters produce any smell?

They only give a slight odor, especially when you light the heater. After that, you shouldn't smell.

How hot do Buddy heaters get?

A standard Mr. Buddy Heater can generate between 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs per hour and is hot enough to power over 200 square feet.

Are buddy heaters safe inside a Recreational Vehicle?

Yes, buddy heaters are safe inside an RV, provided you follow the safety guidelines for using one.

Read also: Best Car Camping Heaters That Are Safe to Use

Wrap Up

Well, that's everything you need to know about camping safely with a Mr. Buddy Heater.

Mr. Buddy Heater isn't only great for campers, RVers, and backpackers.

When using these heaters, the most important thing to keep in mind is exercising safety practices, particularly paying attention to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire threat.

02/17/2024 11:30 pm GMT

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