Official Test Results: Five Ways to Heat a Tent

MattJ

Adventurer
How are keeping antracite lit inside a woodstove ? You must be burning it along with wood. Even low grade bituminous in those small amounts wont keep burning without forced draft.
Yep. After three weeks of experimenting, that was my conclusion. I think it would work well with forced air, but I didn't want to cut into my new wood stove to create the air intake. The thermostat fan I use with my BBQ smoker would have been perfect. I did get the anthracite to light, and it would burn for a good hour or two, but it was impossible to get the clean, hot 12-hour burn I was hoping for without adding extra wood fuel.







 

dbhost

Member
In the field, I tested the Mr. Heater Buddy catalytic heater. What everyone says is true: it generates a LOT of heat, uses a LOT of propane, and generates moist air. Of all the things I learned in the field tests, perhaps the most important was that my Tepui annex is BIG. Lots of space, which makes it easy to move around and comfortable for three people to lounge in, but VERY hard to keep warm! The catalytic heater was great at warming that large space in hurry. I used a small USB fan to circulate the heat, so it didn't simply rise and heat the ceiling of the annex (the floor of the tent). I was using 1lb tanks, and the heater consumed them at a rate of one per 3 or 4 hours. In the future, I will plan to use a 5lb tank.

This solution is good for morning and evening warm-up sessions, but I didn't really like it as an overnight option. Even with the window flap open, a battery operated CO monitor, a low-oxygen shut-off feature and tip-over shut-off feature, I didn't want to deal with the risks of burns (or worse). Plus, even at the low setting, this heater puts out a LOT of heat. It's a cheap solution (until you add the cost of 1lb tanks), but has some shortcomings.

The shortcomings of the Buddy heaters, most notably the voracious appetite for fuel, dumping lots of moisture into the heated space, and seriously spotty reliability record including a rather dramatic plastics failure of the handle on mine that caused a smashing introduction to concrete, got me thinking, not necessarily in that order, about the Coleman Fuel heaters. Mind you they aren't exactly fuel sippers either, but I run through a LOT less fuel in my Coleman 518B than the Portable Buddy ever did on low... I always thought the Buddy heater put out too much heat for my applications anyway...
 

2000LJ

Observer
So I didn’t really see this idea but maybe there is a reason.... tell me if someone has said this already.
Has anyone considered this. Some of us have instant hot water heaters, and water pumps. What about plumbing the heat side through a heater like this.

(Cheaper versions too)

This would have to be on a recirculated circuit to reuse the water but could be heated easily to a very high temp. The pump and water heater would need to be on a timer of sorts to cycle on and off through the night. Less power and propane use heating the water.

The above heater works outstanding in a Jeep but yes this would be tricky to mount and plumb into a tent. But I thought of it for a small trailer or my flippac. The heater fan pulls 6 amps on high setting, but less on low.

Is this an awful idea?
 

WhiskeyGatherer

New member
Man... Your set up is very similar to mine. At first went with those interlocking floor tiles but soon grew tired of them unlocking from walking on them, creating a trip hazard. I eventually went with truck mat material from BedRug, the same material I use on top of my Decked unit in my Dodge Ram's bed. I called the company and they sent a 10' piece that I cut up into 3 pieces, use wide velcro to connect them. Super easy and soft/warm on the feet in the morning when down in the annex.

The heating issue I have is that I want to heat the annex (which in turn can heat the tent if I leave the tent door open) but do not want any open heat source/flame inside the annex. I did what you did with a lantern one time and all it took was one gust of desert wind to cause the wall to touch the lantern and burn a hole. Went with a LED strip for light and tried a Mr. Heater Buddy heater like yours hanging from my ladder.

Thinking I'm going to spring for the Propex HS2800 and run the heating duct into my annex. Pricey but propane vs diesel and super BTU's.

James
 

Wheelman55

New member
I’ve not seen this mentioned, forgive me if this dupes any previous comments.

Space Blankets are extremely flammable. DO NOT USE OPEN FLAME NEAR THEM.

Tents these days need to be constructed with “flame retardant” materials. The poster above mentions a hole being burned in his annex. Had this been a space blanket there could have been a fire instead.

I watched a spark hit a 10’x15’ reflective tarp...it went up in flames and was completely consumed by fire in less than 60 seconds.

Be careful.
 

mep1811

Gentleman Adventurer
I use a small Kovea heater on a wooden board (for stability) in my RTT. I put a small fan over the heater to circulate the air. Otherwise all the heat will get trapped at the top of the tent. The tent heats up very quickly.



 

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TantoTrailers

Well-known member
Propane is expensive comparatively and not as readily available as diesel. Not to mention you will run through a lot more $ in propane in 1 night than in diesel. I have a 5kw diesel heater and I have been using the same 10L tank for over 8 nights plus various rounds of testing here and there. To be fair that’s on the lowest settings cause it’s so damn hot...

I ended up with 2 5kw heaters while hunting for the best knock off so I decided to make a random tool box heater for...whatever reason...it’s just as efficient and heats up my garage in no time.



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

mobydick 11

Active member
I use a small Kovea heater on a wooden board (for stability) in my RTT. I put a small fan over the heater to circulate the air. Otherwise all the heat will get trapped at the top of the tent. The tent heats up very quickly.



I purchased the Kovea for my spaceKap project . Did a shop test with it ,it ran 4 hrs on highest setting one can of fuel . I am hoping on a low setting I can get up to 8 hrs . How long have you been able to get yours to run on a can ? Part of the reason I chose this heater is I also purchased the all in one camp stove , this way just one fuel type . I may get the light too .They say this fuel does not put out near the moisture as propane .
 

TantoTrailers

Well-known member
I'm not sure why shore powered solutions are being mentioned here, really no challenge there at all.

Stuff that works well off grid would I assume be the topic of the thread, and yes I would also assume not involving a genset.
For the record my little tool box runs off of 12v, no shore nor generator needed, just a battery.
 

dbhost

Member
Liquid fuel ! I had a competitors model, I think from Wenzel.
Liquid fuel, Just adds to the creepy factor. Btw, I am quite sure those dont have any sort of low oxygen thermocouple valve like the LPG catalytic heaters nowdays.
You are absolutely correct, there is pretty much no safety feature set whatsoever on them other than using your head... Provide plenty of fresh air, light it OUTSIDE, and keep anything flamable away from it...

I used my 511A while sleeping solo in my Coleman SunDome 5x7 tent. I left the windows and vents mostly open, and was staying tropical warm in the tent, as in sleeping in shorts on top of the sleeping bag, with an overnight outdoor temp of 15 deg F. 5K BTU is just too much for that little tent...

The reasoning behind liquid fuel, is fuel availability. Even here in the states, I have run out of propane using the Buddy Heater in deer camp, and have not been able to source up fuel at the local gas station. The Coleman Catalytic heaters can run on unleaded gasoline, so I know I can get fuel more or less anywhere.

This way, I have a common fuel for cooking, lighting, heat, heating water, and the truck. It allows me to carry far less gear than say if I went with propane, setting up camp would require a 20lb tank, distribution tree, hoses etc...
 

mep1811

Gentleman Adventurer
I purchased the Kovea for my spaceKap project . Did a shop test with it ,it ran 4 hrs on highest setting one can of fuel . I am hoping on a low setting I can get up to 8 hrs . How long have you been able to get yours to run on a can ? Part of the reason I chose this heater is I also purchased the all in one camp stove , this way just one fuel type . I may get the light too .They say this fuel does not put out near the moisture as propane .
On my last trip, I used a can over the course of the evening. I would turn it on heat up the tent and shut it off . Sleep for a while , get up pee, turn it back on for 15 minutes, repeat a couple more times. I think the can ran the last two hours on low from 6A to 8A

At this time in my life, I'm what the heck and I'll run it as long as I want. I just bring two cans in the tent.
 

mobydick 11

Active member
On my last trip, I used a can over the course of the evening. I would turn it on heat up the tent and shut it off . Sleep for a while , get up pee, turn it back on for 15 minutes, repeat a couple more times. I think the can ran the last two hours on low from 6A to 8A

At this time in my life, I'm what the heck and I'll run it as long as I want. I just bring two cans in the tent.
I get you ,its worth 3 or 4 bucks to stay warm. I was thinking of two week long trips into the north . And wondering if this heater would still be reasonable .
 

mep1811

Gentleman Adventurer
I get you ,its worth 3 or 4 bucks to stay warm. I was thinking of two week long trips into the north . And wondering if this heater would still be reasonable .
If I were going to be out that long I'd get a much heavier bag than I have and use the heater to warm up the tent before sleep and then to warm up when I wake up.
 
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