Considering a vent free propane heater? We compare the best models in the business and see which comes out on top.
Ventless heaters are small and unobtrusive, and don’t produce any smoke that will fill up the room, making them some of the best heating options.
These types of heaters are very efficient compared to traditional heating methods—in fact, most are 99.9% efficient! The oxygen that is required for fuel is taken from the air around the unit. They are designed so that nearly all the heat they produce is expelled, so the warmth is delivered to you and the space.
In addition, because these ventless heaters use propane, they can reduce the cost of your electricity bills! Propane is also one of the cleanest burning fuels, so it and the efficient heaters won’t release so many of the toxic emissions associated with most heating options.
Something to keep in mind is that ventless gas heaters can lead to asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning if the house or room itself is not vented properly. Using a dehumidifier in the room that the heater is in is also recommended because the burning propane can create a lot of moisture which can encourage the growth of mold and mildew.
Some states and countries do not allow the use of vent-free propane heaters. Make sure to check the rules and regulations before purchasing and using these.
So, if you’re searching for one of these ventless heaters for your house or office, keep reading to find our ventless propane heater reviews, and to consult our comparisons of these heaters.
The Top Models Compared
Take a look at how the top vent free propane heaters compare in the table below.
OUR TOP PICK
- Multiple safety features
- Programmable thermostat
- Heats up to 1000 square feet
- Silent operation
Mr. Heater Big Buddy
- Great value
- For indoor & outdoor
- Ideal for smaller spaces
Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU
- Heats up to 1000 square feet
- Safety features
Dyna-Glo 18,000 BTU
- Infrared technology
- Can run on batteries
- Perfect backup heater
Ventless Propane Heater Reviews
Take a look at our recommendations in more detail now as we get into the reviews.
1. Rinnai FC824P
Like most ventless heaters, Rinnai’s model is 99.9% efficient. It offers several safety measures, such as a tilt switch which automatically and immediately disables the gas supply should the heater fall over or become disconnected. The device also turns itself off if your power or its flame shuts off. To avoid asphyxiation, there is an Oxygen Depletion Sensor that will keep track of the oxygen levels in the room—if it detects that the oxygen levels are too low, it will switch off the heater.
This is the model for those with young children, because the surface of the heater remains cool, and there is an option to lock the control panel. There is also no pilot light to keep track of, but rather an electronic ignition method to keep you and your family safe. Even with these safety options, the model remains very user friendly, and is very easy to install. A gas connection is required, but does not come with the device itself. We recommend that the Rinnai is placed on a base or bolted to the floor so that the gas line does not become disconnected. Users also have the option of mounting the Rinnai on the wall.
The model will not run if the power is disconnected or is shut off. However, connecting it to a generator will keep the device running through the night. The Rinnai FC824P is one of the larger options available (3 x 10 x 20 inches) and weighs 31.8 pounds. It runs at 29W and 120V. Its minimum BTU input rating is 8,000 BTU, and its maximum is 22,000 BTU. It offers a digital display and programmable thermostat. Its size, however, means that it can heat larger areas as well. It is stated that they can heat up to 1000 square feet, but we and other customers find that it can reliably and quickly heat even larger spaces.
This model offers heating from 60 to 80 degrees in two degree increments, and two fan speeds (low and high). The color choices are limited; it currently only runs in beige. The model is made of steel. The outward appearance is very minimal, and features a simple, sleek cover with vents at the bottom.
Those living in California are cautioned against purchasing this model via Proposition 65. The warning states that this product may contain chemicals known to cause cancer and/or birth defects. However, Rinnai and its users have tested the units and are pleased to report that it produces very little carbon monoxide compared to traditional heating options.
Those living at high altitudes may not be able to operate the device. The maximum installation elevation is 2,000 feet, but users may contact technical support to use the device at higher elevations.
The warranty for the parts is valid for 3 years.
The Bottom Line: Even though this heater is pricey, in our opinion it is well worth the cost. The safety measures and cool-to-touch exterior make this model a great option! A ventless propane heater with a thermostat is a must for efficient heating and this has one of the best.
2. Mr. Heater Big Buddy
The Big Buddy from Mr. Heater looks like someone designed a heater to look like a portable radio. It isn’t the prettiest, but it is portable, sturdy, and gets the job done. It comes in grey and red, with black accents.
The F274830 also automatically turns itself off if it falls over, if the pilot light goes out, or there is insufficient oxygen. A red control heat dial can be set to low, medium, or high. A cover is included for the device. The wire cage in front of the heating elements protects your pant legs and jackets from catching fire, but does heat up significantly. As a result, this device is not recommended for use around small or unsupervised children or animals.
This heater weighs 16.6 pounds and is fairly small at 18.8 x 17.5 x 12 inches. The BTU rating is a minimum of 4,000 and a maximum of 18,000. The heater is marketed for use in spaces of 300 square feet or less, but can easily heat larger spaces. Big Buddy can be used both indoors and outdoors.
This Mr. Heater’s model can be hooked up to two 1-pound liquid propane cylinders or a gas supply with a hose and filter. The filters will trap oils that are produced as a result of high pressure.
The fan requires an AC adapter or four D batteries (not included with the purchase of the device). Using the AC adaptor, the fan may emit a high-pitched noise, and with the batteries, the fan emits a low hum or ‘fan noise’. However, on a battery, the fan does not work very well. The fan helps to disperse the heat and keep the unit cool, but users have noted that the fan isn’t strictly necessary when using the unit for under two hours.
Set on high, the device burns approximately one pound of liquid propane per hour, half a pound per hour on medium, and a quarter of a pound per hour on low. Users can typically use the device for two hours on high with two canisters of propane. Of course, when hooked up to a large tank with a hose, the device can run for as long as it is connected.
When connected properly, the heating unit should not emit any odors apart from an initial odor upon lighting the pilot light. However, since Big Buddy operates with a pilot light, it is not recommended to leave the device running unsupervised or overnight. It is also recommended that the user turn off the propane when the device is not in use.
Users have reported that it has a very low or non-existent carbon monoxide output, but we always recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector in any indoor spaces you intend to use a vent free system to heat. The device is not intended for operation at altitudes over 7,000 feet.
The Bottom Line: Mr. Heater’s Big Buddy is lightweight and compact, making it perfect for use in small cabins, camping, garages, patios, trailers, barns, or emergency situations and shelters.
Recommended Article: Learn all about the top propane powered garage heaters in our this article.
3. Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU
Our second Mr. Heater product on our list, this Blue Propane model is approximately double the price of the previously mentioned Big Buddy, but heats much larger spaces. It maxes out at 30,000 BTU and also features a wire cage to keep dangling fabrics out of the flame. As with all other propane heaters, this blue flame option offers low to no toxic emissions and is much more energy efficient compared to other heating devices or methods.
This model is not the most attractive or modern, and it looks a little like it belongs in the 1980s. It features a very simple, black ignition knob on top, a white body and standing legs, a black wire cage, and blue flames as a heating element. It weighs 36.2 pounds and its dimensions are 11.2 x 27.2 x 27 inches. It has a thermostat and is battery-powered (battery is included!). The thermostat is in “1 -5,” with 1 being the lowest (approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit). Each following setting sets the temperature up a few degrees.
The device can be mounted on the wall and comes with the required equipment and manual for installation and mounting. The fuel hose, however, must be purchased separately. Make sure you purchase a good hose and regulator, or you risk leaks and propane fumes! This model also comes with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor, so the heater will automatically shut off if the levels of oxygen in the space are too low. It also includes a high limit safety shut-off, which senses the temperature and turns off the device when it is reaching the upper limit.
This blue flame propane heater can heat spaces up to 1,000 square feet, but has been shown to heat larger spaces as well. As always, we recommend having a carbon monoxide detector close by just in case. The amount of time it takes for the pilot light to ignite depends on how long the connecting fuel hose is—the longer the house, the longer it will take to light. Keep holding the pilot knob and try the igniter every few seconds until the pilot ignites. Once the flame ignites, continue holding the pilot knob a further 10 – 30 seconds.
The Bottom Line: The Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU Propane Blue Flame Vent-Free Heater may not be the prettiest heater available, but for its price it heats large spaces efficiently and well.
4. Dyna-Glo 18,000 BTU
This heater is the second cheapest on our list and comes in a natural gas option as well. Rather than a flame, this model radiates heat by infrared technology, which distributes heat to the nearby warmest objects
There is an optional fan (WHF100) for better heat distribution that is sold separately. There are also base legs that can be purchased if the user prefers to mount the device to the floor rather than the wall. The hardware and instructions for mounting the device to the wall is included with the unit itself. This Dyna-Glo unit comes with a 1-year limited warranty from the manufacturer. Extended and full warranties are available from select retailers
The heater features a white surface with vents at the top, and a black wire cage over the infrared heating elements. Although it is the “medium” size for Dyna-Glo’s infrared vent free heaters, it is still fairly small and lightweight at 20.9 x 10.1 x 24 inches and 20 pounds. An interior heat reflector ensures all the generated heat is directed into the room.
Safety first! This model comes equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor that shuts down if the oxygen levels are too low, or if carbon monoxide is detected. As with all ventless heaters, the Dyna-Glo propane infrared vent free wall heater tends to produce a lot of moisture, so make sure to properly vent the space or use a dehumidifier.
As always, make sure you have a good regulator, otherwise you may risk carbon monoxide poisoning and gas leaks. Make sure you have the correct adapter as well. Some users have reported that the propane lines inside the unit are loose, so they may need to be tightened before first use. The temperature knob does not turn for 3 minutes after the pilot light has been lit. During the first few hours of use, manufacturing chemical odors may be emitted, but will dissipate quickly. The knob features high, medium, and low options.
Users must provide a minimum of a 100 pound propane cylinder due to a high vaporization rate for infrared ventless propane heaters. You must also ensure you have the proper plumbing for such a model. Due to these specifications, a professional may be required to install this unit properly.
This can be used as a wall mounted propane heater. Just make sure to leave some space between the wall and unit otherwise the air intake will be completely blocked.
The Bottom Line: At this price, if you have the proper propane cylinders and plumbing, this heater works like a dream. It’ll heat your space quickly, and have you sweating in no time.
So which is the best?
In our opinion, the best vent free propane heater is the Rinnai FC824P Heater. It’s sleek, modern, and attractive, and although it is the most expensive on our list (by far), it offers the most safety mechanisms, including an oxygen depletion sensor and a tilt-switch, making it the best option for growing families.
Little wandering fingers will meet a cool surface rather than burning their fingers in flames or on hot wire cages. This model is also the quietest of the listed models. It can be frustrating to restart it every time the power switches off but connecting the device to a generator can easily fix that problem.
The best value for your money is the Dyna-Glo Heater. The Dyna-Glo, if installed properly, quickly and easily heats large spaces for a fraction of the price. In addition, infrared heaters work great for rooms with less insulation.
Although the Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater is the cheapest option on our list and is more durable compared to Dyna-Glo’s infrared medium model, Big Buddy is not intended for continuous use and is mostly intended for use outdoors. Further, Big Buddy is not capable of heating larger spaces.
Recommended Reading: We've got an awesome guide to efficient small space heaters too. You can read it here.
If this is your first time purchasing a ventless propane heater, you may not know what kind of specifications, warranties, special features, or additional accessories you should be looking for.
Here are some tips for purchasing and maintaining a vent free propane heater.
- Ventless heaters are great for use in rooms that are not insulated very well, or during the winter months when heating your home adequately can be very costly. They are also great for camping excursions or emergency situations during power outages or interruptions etc. (make sure you have them hooked up to a generator).
- The device must have an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) which will measure the oxygen and carbon monoxide levels in the room, and automatically switch itself off when the oxygen is too low or the carbon monoxide too high.
- If the device does not have a cover, ensure it has a wire cage or grille in front of the heating elements (flame or infrared) to ensure that skin, fabric, and other materials do not get burnt.
- If the device does not come with a regular or adapter, consult the manual or instructions and ensure that you purchase the correct accessories for the model. Incorrect hoses, mounts, etc. will result in defects, damages, and/or safety hazards including asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Ensure that your state or country allows the use of ventless propane heaters. States that do not allow them include California, and areas of Connecticut and Texas. Some states will allow vent free products in pre-1980 homes (e.g. Wisconsin), or in propane homes (e.g. New Mexico). Countries that do not allow them include Canada.
- You may wish to build a base for your unit if you intend to use it in a carpeted room. This base should be made of material that does not conduct heat, such as granite.
- If you are mounting the unit to the wall, check to see if there are vents in the back of the unit. If so, fabricate or purchase something to create space between the unit and the wall, otherwise you may block the air intake or heat flow.
- Ventless gas heaters should be cleaned on a yearly basis. Remove the exterior panels of the heater with a screwdriver. Vacuum or dust the all the surfaces of the heater. Then, using a can of compressed air, clean the oxygen depletion sensor and the air intake. Use a damp cloth to wipe the exterior. Make sure all hoses are connected properly.
- When re-assembling the unit, consult the manual or instructions. If you cannot reassemble the unit or are unsure whether it is safe, do not run the unit and have a professional repair it or purchase a new unit.
- If you are unsure of how to clean or maintain your heater, and still wish to clean the unit yourself, consult a video tutorial.
- When performing maintenance or cleaning your heater, make sure to turn off the gas and heater. Allow to cool for an hour.
- You may also hire a professional service to clean the heater.
- If you are using a ventless gas heater indoors, make sure that you properly vent the space, otherwise you may find there is a build-up of mildew, mold, and/or rot due to an increased amount of humidity and moisture (25 oz of water produced per gallon of propane). You may also wish to purchase and use a dehumidifier.
- For the reasons stated above, a ventless gas heater is not recommended as the primary heating source for homes. For smaller or well ventilated spaces such as sheds, it can play the role as the only source of heat you’ll need. It is also not recommended in homes or spaces such as bathrooms that already have high levels of humidity.
- Keep in mind that all combustion processes, and therefore nearly all heating methods and units, will produce moisture. So, the production of moisture is not necessarily a con for those who know how to adequately deal with it.
- Make sure that your device operates at 99% efficiency, or higher. This guarantees 99 cents worth of heat for every dollar spent on electricity.
- Flame and infrared options are available. Flame options are the best for rooms that have some insulation, whereas infrared options are best for rooms with little to no insulation. Infrared ventless propane heaters work by heating the warmest options first.
- Make sure that the device that you are purchasing has been tested for performance and meet the safety requirements of your country or state.
- Install and maintain a carbon monoxide monitor and fire alarm if you are intending to use the heater indoors.
- Look for models with a timer that you can customize to automatically turn the appliance on or off at your desired time.
- Look for models sold with remote controls to facilitate the use of the unit.
- Do not use a portable fan to help distribute the heat if you are using a flame ventless heater, or the pilot light will be extinguished. A ceiling fan may be used, if it is not directly blowing into the heater.
- Look for models that don’t rely on electricity (i.e. battery powered) for use in emergencies or for portable use.
- If you prefer precision over temperature controls, look for models that have thermostats that display the temperature rather than in incremental settings (1 – 5, for example, or low, medium, and high).
- Purchase a warranty with your vent-free heater or look for models that come with a manufacturer’s warranty of at least 1 year.
- Do not use candles or other flame sources near a ventless heater, or the levels of oxygen may deplete quickly and dangerously.
- You can purchase facades for vent free gas heaters that look like fireplaces, or fireplaces with built in vent free gas heaters, if you are looking for a more attractive option.
- Although gas vented units are arguably the safest, this does not mean that vent free units are not safe when the proper protocol and maintenance is followed. Ventless units are also much more efficient because there is no heat escaping through the ducts or chimney.
- If you wish to heat a larger space of up to 3,000 square feet with a ventless unit, consider purchasing a ventless gas fireplace, which offers real flames with the efficiency and convenience of ventless units.
- Propane is expensive and dangerous when not treated with care.
- BTU refers to British Thermal Units, which is the necessary amount of work to raise the temperature in space by one degree Fahrenheit. So, a higher BTU for a device means that it is more effective at heating a space. Therefore: look for units with a higher BTU rating! Heating units range from 5,000 to 40,000 BTUs.
- Most ventless propane units are odorless, but it may take some time while the manufacturer’s chemicals, dust, detritus, and even paint is melted off. If you detect an odor, turn off your unit and gas immediately and look for unsealed or poor connections and/or any damage to the propane or heating units.
- Most ventless propane heaters are self-igniting, so there is no need for matches or lighters. Igniting the heaters is also easy, considering it usually only takes the push of a button or twist of a knob. If the flame doesn’t ignite right away, chances are you have to hold the button until the line fills with enough propane.
- Make sure to check the elevation of the area where you live / intend to go camping in and check the maximum elevation of the unit you are purchasing.
- Your propane fuel tank (if you use a tank instead of a canister) should never be kept indoors.
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