Have you ever considered using propane as a fuel source for your tiny house heating?
Tiny house propane heaters can be an afforable and effective way to heat and winterize your tiny home.
We’re here to show you how much propane you need to fuel your fireplace, the different propane heater options that are available and the pros and cons of using propane in your small space compared to tiny house electric heaters or gas heaters.
Disclaimer: Propane can be a dangerous fuel source if not managed properly. Please always seek professional advice if you decide to install and use propane in your property.
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How much propane does it take to heat a tiny house?
Tiny homes require between 4,000 to 6,000 BTUs of energy, on average, to be heated through.
To achieve this, we found that tiny house propane heaters require 1 lb of propane to produce heat for between 2 to 5.5 hours, depending on your fuel consupmtion setting.
If your tiny house has fewer windows, effective insulation and is situated in a warmer climate, you will require less energy (BTUs) to heat it through.
Your propane heater will only need to be on a low fuel consumption setting (4,000~ BTUs) and this will mean your fuel reserves will last longer.
Dickinson Marine’s Cozy Cabin Propane heater, for example, puts out a maximum of 5,000 BTUs and this will make 1 lb of propane last around 4 hours.
Their Newport Fireplace will put out between 4,000 and 5,500 BTUs, which will make 1 lb of propane last 3.9 to 5.5 hours.
For comparison, Mr Heater’s propane heater can produce 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs, which will make a 1 lb cylinder last 2.4 to 5.4 hours.
To find out how much propane your own tiny house will need, use an online calculator to tell you how many BTU’s it will take to warm your house and also consider how often you will be using your heater.
How does propane heat a tiny house?
There are a few different propane heating options you can choose for your tiny house.
For example, whether you want to set up propane lines, have a portable heater or a vented one.
These depend on whether you’re staying on or off-grid, whether you use propane for any other purpose (such as heating water or cooking), or if you want to have a portable or fixed unit.
Vented vs unvented propane heaters for tiny homes
Tiny house propane heaters can either be vented or unvented.
Vented propane heaters are usually wall-mounted and therefore not portable. However, if you do not mind a fixed heater, then having a built-in vent comes with it’s own advantages.
When you begin using an indoor propane heater, it will use oxygen in the room for combustion.
Therefore, if your heater is not vented properly and it uses up all of the oxygen in the room, it becomes a serious safety hazard.
Many unvented propane heaters now have a built-in oxygen depletion sensing monitor that will shut-off the heater if there is a low amount of oxygen in the room.
However, you can avoid this problem altogether if you install a vented heater.
These use a sealed combustion box that vents exhaust out through a pipe. It also means that you avoid moisture build-up in the air and you keep the heat indoors.
There are many other safety aspects to consider with propane heaters, such as refueling and keeping the heater upright and secure. Always seek advice from a qualified professsional if you intend to install a propane heater.
Propane lines in tiny homes
We reccomend that propane lines be installed or checked by a certified professional.
The complexity and length of propane lines in your tiny house are determined by the amount of appliances using propane.
If you’re using propane to heat your water, power your cooktop and light your fireplace then you will need a more complex propane line plan.
However, if you’re just using propane to heat your tiny home then you can one run propane line from the tank to the fireplace.
Here’s a video for you to see how one tiny house owner installs propane lines in their property.
You should install a gas leak detector and carbon monoxide alarm in your tiny house.
Make sure these alarms are tested regularly and that you test your pipes is you suspect any leaks.
What are the pros and cons of tiny house propane heaters?
Pros of using propane
Many unvented propane heaters, like the Mr Heater, are great options for tiny homes because of their compact size and portability.
Propane heaters that are approximately 15″ by 15″ (width, height) can put out up to 9,000 BTUs and heat 225 square feet.
This means you can put them in different parts of your tiny house living space and then store them away when not in use.
Tiny house propane heaters can also be linked to a thermostat, so you have ultimate control of what temperature to heat your tiny house to.
This means it’s also low maintenace. You don’t have to keep adjusting the fireplace or adding fuel, like a tiny house wood stove would require.
Some vented propane heaters come with a thermostat built-in, but you can also purchase a connector too.
Propane burns more cleanly compared to other fuel sources.
Using natural gas, for example, to heat your tiny home would release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Propane heaters, on the other hand, produces far less.
Cons of using propane
Tiny house propane heaters can be one of the more expensive options when it comes to tiny house heating.
This is mainly due to the inital set-up cost if you opt for an in-built, vented appliance.
Products like the Newport fireplace from Dickinson Marine cost around $1,500 and will then need installing.
Of course, cheaper options are available and portable, unvented heaters cost considerably less.
Propane itself is inexpensive and costs around $15-25 for a 20 lb cylinder refill.
Like with any tiny house heating option, maintenance is required to keep it working safely and efficiently.
You will have to visit stores to refill your propane cannisters from time to time, depending on how much you carry on your tiny house and how much propane you use.
Although it is not as labor intensive as assembling firewood for wood-burning stoves, you will have to manage your propane lines and cylinders.
Moisture in the air is only a potential issue with unvented tiny house propane heaters. As the combustion process produces heat for your home, without a vent, it will add moisture to the air.
Of course, the room should be ventilated and the heater should not be left unattended as it can be very dangerous if the oxygen supply runs out.