Can you use a propane heater in car

Can you use a propane heater in car? Actually yes, you can. BUT you need to follow carefully this instruction to place it properly. You’ll agree with us that…

…during the coldest days of the year, your car heater does not serve you like you expected to it. Using your vehicle heater might be annoying because it is too small and is not enough for all the space in your vehicle.

Plus, if you are a travel person and often sleep in your vehicle, you need to leave the engine running for the heater. For that reason, some people are using a portable propane heater in their car.

To be honest:

Propane heaters are fantastic!!!

They are portable, stable, quiet, and can produce a lot of heat for your car. You can leave them running while you are sleeping without having to turn on the car’s engine. And the best thing about a propane heater is that they are much cheaper in both short term and long term, compared to other space heaters.


…many people think that it is a crazy idea to use a fuel-burning heater in your car because of the risks of fire hazards and health problems. Every year, a lot of accidents happen due to these heaters. They can be so dangerous if you use them without supervising or when you place them improperly.

Here are the problems that a propane heater (or heater in general) can cause you when you use them in your car improperly:

Fire hazard

Fire hazard

Image source: OpenClipArt

It is evident that:

Using a heater can pose serious threats of starting a fire, especially when your car is automotive and has narrow space.

According to the safety instructions, you need to place the heater at least one meter far away from other objects.

Since doing this is almost impossible in your car, you need to pay attention to the position of your heater:

  • It should be stable and attached to the inside of the windshield.
  • There should be no objects in front of your heater because it may block the flow of heat. If the materials of objects are fabric and flammable, it may be overheated, thus causes a fire in your car.
  • Your heater should use convection heating instead of radiant heat.

It means that the warm air will be distributed evenly all over your vehicle. Unlike convection heat, a radiant heater is dangerous because it focuses on heating people and objects in front of it instead of heating the atmosphere.

So if you are sitting or sleeping in front of your heater for a long time, you may find that it is hard to breath and your skin may be dried out. Plus, people sleeping in the back seat will not be able to feel warm if you are only using a radiant heater.

Your propane heater also needs to have its safety features as the minimum requirement:

  • It should not have an open flame
  • It will automatically shut down when the temperature is too high or if there is too much Carbon monoxide in your car.
  • More importantly, if it’s facing a lot of shocks and sudden movements, it should stop working while raising an alarm.
  • It needs to be able to stand still in your car (there are some models that are designed for using in a car).

Also, you can take advantage of the car’s heating system. It shall have a tube for air circulation. You can remove your car’s heater and attach the hose to your propane heater. Therefore, you would not need to keep your windows opened while leaving your heater running.

Poison and pollutants

As your propane heater needs to burn fuel, toxic gasses and combustion will be released from the burning process. Without proper air ventilation system, those gasses can quickly fill up your car. So that, avoid running your heater in a high capacity with the windows closed or without a ventilation system.

The most hazardous gas is Carbon monoxide (CO) which will be released along with the heat. You might have known that Carbon monoxide causes more deaths than all other toxic gases combine. Long exposure to CO can cause permanent brain damage and memories loss. You will feel stuffy, nausea, and headache if you sit in a room with a high level of CO.

Symptoms of being poisoned by carbon monoxide

Image source: Phils Chimney Sweep

Some people even install a CO detector in their home if they have a heater.

So, again, do not keep the space closed or use your heater if it is vent-free. It is not really necessary to install a CO detector in your car so you need to be able to control your heater.

Besides, CO2 or NO2 are also hazardous to inhale and can make you pass out; eventually, die in your car.

Constant heating can dry the air near your heater while making water to accumulate on the ceiling of your car. In the long term, it can damage your car and increase moisture problem.

To ease this effect of a propane heater you need to:

  • Leave the window partially open if you intend to sleep or rest in your car for a long time.
  • Regularly clean and maintenance your heater to keep it free from dust. Dust can obstruct the heater and cause health problem.
  • Your heater is for supplemental heating only. It means that you should not run your heater for too long, especially when your car is small. There is no need to turn it on in advance or leave it running all night. You can use the timer, thus it provides you enough heat for your comfort. Some of the heaters can pause if the car’s temperature meets what is being displayed on the thermostat.
  • Buy a small heater will low wattage only if you intend to use it for your car. A large heater can take up a lot of space and release more pollutants.

In conclusion, propane heaters are high and then you can use them in your car. You just need to be mindful and follow the safety instructions.

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