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How do I Choose the Best Propane Space Heater?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Before you purchase a propane space heater, it is important to consider the size of the space that needs heating. This will dictate not only the size of the propane space heater, but also the type of heater you buy. The most common type of propane space heater is the forced air heater, sometimes known as a torpedo heater. This is a good choice for garages or industrial settings, as long as those spaces are well-ventilated. A radiant heater is a good choice for open spaces such as campsites, since it is portable and lightweight.

A forced air propane space heater is often known as a torpedo heater because it features a long horizontal cylinder reminiscent of a torpedo. This type of heater has a fan that pushes heat created by a heating element out through the cylinder and into the space to be heated. These units tend to be fairly heavy and cumbersome, so once in place, they are usually not moved much. They are not a good choice for enclosed rooms without proper ventilation, and it will be important to make sure nothing flammable is in the general vicinity of the heater. Depending on the size of the torpedo propane space heater, large rooms can be heated quickly and the temperature can be maintained easily.

A propane tank for a space heater.
A propane tank for a space heater.

A radiant propane space heater does not feature any type of fan that blows air into a space. Instead, the heating element is activated, and the immediate vicinity of the heater is then consequently heated. Such propane heaters are often attached to propane tanks like the ones found on outdoor grills. The small, lightweight heater unit mounts quickly and easily, providing fast warmth in a small space. These are popular among campers who want warmth where campfires are not possible or permitted. As is the case with other types of propane heaters, these radiant heaters should only be used in well ventilated areas.

Choosing the right size heater is important for safety and cost control. Larger heaters will obviously heat up a space faster, but they may use more propane than smaller heaters that can do the same job with less gas. Large torpedo heaters should be reserved for large spaces such as two- or three-car garages or warehouses, while smaller heaters will work just fine for a smaller garage or shed. A radiant heater is a good choice for temporary heating needs in small to medium spaces.

Discussion Comments


@Animandel - I agree with @Drentel when he says that all portable space heaters can be hazardous no matter whether they are electric, propane or whatever. You just have to be cautious with them.

This being said, one reason you might not want to choose propane is because of the price of burning propane. Propane is expensive, and for this reason many people are turning away from propane heat to less expensive heating sources.

If I were you then I would consider buying a natural gas portable heater. They heat as well as the propane heaters and natural gas is currently much less expensive than propane.


@Animandel - Any type of portable space heater has the potential to be dangerous regardless of the type of energy it uses. First thing you want to consider is whether or not kids will be in the area around the heater. If the answer is yes then you need to create some type of protective barrier so young kids can't get to the heater and get burned or injured in some other way.

With any heater, you need to follow all of the guidelines provided by the manufacturer, even when they seem a bit over the top. It is better to be safe. Portable heaters do cause a large number of fires during the winter months.


When you're trying to heat a garage or some type of storage building is a propane space heater really the best choice to make? The torpedo propane heater mentioned in this article sounds like it might be scary to operate and a little dangerous.

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    • A propane tank for a space heater.
      A propane tank for a space heater.