Can you use a propane heater indoors?

Can you use a propane heater indoors

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Propane heaters are a common heating solution as they offer plenty of benefits over the electrical ones, the big question a lot of people ask however is can you use a propane heater indoors?

Can you use a propane heater indoors?

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You cannot use just any propane heater indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

However, there are some propane heaters that are specifically built to be used indoors.

It is important to ensure have the correct kind of propane heater before you use one indoors.

You also must ensure you have followed the instructions of the heater before use to ensure your safety.

Read on to find out more about using propane heaters indoors or check out our guide to the best indoor propane heaters.


Some benefits of a propane heater besides their low cost include energy efficiency, low pollution, and portability.

It is common for people to search for propane forced air heaters for their garage.

However, you have to be careful about how you use a propane heater, especially indoors.

If a propane heater malfunctions, or are used incorrectly, you will be exposed to a higher amount of a dangerous gas called carbon monoxide, which can cause temporary as well as long-term effects on health.

Malfunctions of such devices happen for one of the three reasons: either the appliance is old and thus unable to operate properly, it is not maintained as it should be or it is being misused.

Either way, if a propane heater starts producing more carbon monoxide gas than it should, it is mandatory that you turn it off and inspect the unit to find the source of the problem.

Before we continue let us first remind you that this article is just a guide and you should always consult the user manual of a product you have bought or consult an expert as to whether you can use a device indoors.

Can you use a propane heater indoors?

can you use a propane heater indoors?

That depends.

It is important to know what your heater is rated for.

Some propane heaters are marked outdoors-only, meaning they should never be used in indoor areas.

Using an outdoor-only propane heater in your home will cause a great danger of CO poisoning as the amount of gas will increase.

If a device is marked as an indoor propane heater it can be used indoors only if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions properly.

Make sure to never mix indoor and outdoor use propane heaters, as that can increase the risk of possible problems.

What is so dangerous about CO gas is that it is colorless and has no odor.

Meaning, most of the time people are not even aware they are exposed to higher amounts of gas.

To improve your awareness of the issue, you should know the basic symptoms of CO poisoning, which include dizziness, sudden and strong headache, and nausea.

If you think you have one of these symptoms while the heater is running, turn it off and get some fresh air outside.

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According to the Camp Safe organization, here are a few safety measures that you must know when using a propane heater:

  • Make sure to always read the instructions prior to using the device. No matter how much experience you have with propane heaters, instructions and ways of use vary from product to product. Therefore, not all propane heaters are the same. Make sure you are completely familiar with how your appliance works and what kind of maintenance it needs.
  • Outdoor heaters are strictly for outdoor use only. That means you cannot bring them inside rooms, tents, campers, garages or any other type of closed space. Doing so will significantly increase the risk of CO poisoning and major consequences for health.
  • If you are using an indoor propane heater, place it near a window or an air vent to prevent the gas from building up. To ensure safety, the space in which you are going to be using a propane heater must be well ventilated.
  • Never leave a propane heater unattended while sleeping.

Moreover, according to the Border States organization, when using a propane heater indoors, the size of the appliance must be appropriate for the area it is heating.

To measure this, firstly measure the volume of space in the room in cubic feet.

Then multiply the number by 2 or 4.

Whether you are going to multiply it by 2 or 4 depends on how well the area is ventilated.

With this calculation, you will determine how many British Thermal Units the device should be putting out in that specific room.

For safety reasons, a propane heater should never be kept on wooden surfaces.

It is best to keep it level on a concrete surface and away from any flammable materials such as chemicals, clothes, curtains, etc.

Propane tanks with a capacity of over 100 pounds of propane MUST NEVER BE USED INDOORS. This rule goes without any exceptions. Even the propane heaters marked as indoor heating appliances should only be used if the place is well ventilated.

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The National Fire Protection Association states that the cylinder tanks of stoves and ovens must never be placed inside your home.

Always place cylinder tanks outside for the sake of safety for you and your family.

In fact, NFPA claims that no propane gas cylinder larger than one pound should ever be placed indoors.

Propane Heater Safety regulations in the United States

To confirm the above-mentioned safety advice regarding the use of propane heaters indoors, below are the official propane safety regulations by the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration of the United States.

Regulation 1926.154(a)(2)

When heaters are used in confined spaces, special care shall be taken to provide sufficient ventilation in order to ensure proper combustion, maintain the health and safety of workmen, and limit temperature rise in the area.

Regulation 1926.154(b)(3)

Heaters not suitable for use on wood floors shall not be set directly upon them or other combustible materials. When such heaters are used, they shall rest on suitable heat insulating material or at least 1-inch concrete, or equivalent. The insulating material shall extend beyond the heater 2 feet or more in all directions.

Regulation 1926.154(b)(4)

Heaters used in the vicinity of combustible tarpaulins, canvas, or similar coverings shall be located at least 10 feet from the coverings. The coverings shall be securely fastened to prevent ignition or upsetting of the heater due to wind action on the covering or other material.

Regulation 1926.154(e)(1)

Flammable liquid-fired heaters shall be equipped with a primary safety control to stop the flow of fuel in the event of flame failure. Barometric or gravity oil feed shall not be considered a primary safety control.

FAQs about the dangers of propane heaters

What’s the difference between an indoor and outdoor propane heater?

The main difference between indoor and outdoor propane heaters lies in their design and safety features. Indoor propane heaters are specifically engineered for safe operation indoors and are equipped with additional safety measures such as oxygen depletion sensors and tip-over switches to prevent accidents.

Indoor propane heaters also produce less carbon monoxide emissions to ensure the air quality in enclosed spaces.

Outdoor propane heaters, on the other hand, are designed for open spaces and do not require the same level of safety features. They often generate more heat output and are built to withstand outdoor conditions, making them suitable for patio or outdoor use.

Do propane heaters produce carbon monoxide?

Yes, propane heaters can produce carbon monoxide (CO) as a byproduct of the combustion process. Propane heaters burn propane fuel to generate heat, and incomplete combustion can result in the release of carbon monoxide gas.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and potentially dangerous gas that can be harmful or even fatal if inhaled in high concentrations. Therefore, it is essential to ensure proper ventilation when using propane heaters, especially in enclosed spaces, and to follow manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide buildup.

Additionally, it is crucial to have working carbon monoxide detectors in areas where propane heaters are used to provide an additional layer of safety.

Are propane heaters bad for your health?

Propane heaters can potentially be bad for your health if not used properly. When propane is burned, it produces carbon monoxide (CO), which is a toxic gas. Inhaling high levels of carbon monoxide can lead to symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and in severe cases, it can be life-threatening.

To minimize the health risks associated with indoor propane heaters, it is crucial to ensure proper ventilation in the area where the heater is used. Adequate airflow helps to dissipate carbon monoxide and maintain air quality. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation, including proper placement, regular maintenance, and using the heater in well-ventilated areas.

Additionally, it is recommended to have functioning carbon monoxide detectors installed in areas where propane heaters are used to provide an early warning in case of a potential carbon monoxide leak.

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