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Are Catalytic Heaters Safe in Tents? Tips and Guide 2023

If you are a winter camping lover, you know that staying warm at night in a tent is the first rule for a comfortable trip in winter. However you can enjoy a campfire with your friends and family outside the tent, but inside the tent, you need thermal support to maintain the indoor temperature on cold nights.

A catalytic heater is helpful to maintain the temperature of the inside of the tent, but here are questions is it safe to use the catalytic heater in a tent?

Are catalytic heaters safe in tents? Yes, it is safe to use a catalytic heater in a tent because they dont have an open flame. Catalytic heaters depend on a chemical reaction to heat a metal plate.

Are catalytic heaters safe indoors? So it is entirely safe to use inside the tent. but you should follow some precautions before the use of catalytic heaters, some of them given below

  • Dont use flammable material near the catalytic heater
  • Make proper ventilation in the tent

What is a Catalytic Heater, and How is it Used?

Catalytic heaters are different from the other types of heaters. These are the flameless heaters that produce heat as the result of a chemical reaction.

The catalytic reaction occurs in the presence of a catalyst, which is present inside the heater. The catalytic reaction occurs when natural gas, such as liquid or propane, combines with oxygen and produces carbon dioxide, water and heat. 

normal heater vs catalytic heater

Benefits of Catalytic Heaters

The following are the benefits of catalytic heaters.

1. No open flam

catalytic heaters are flameless heaters. As I discussed earlier, they defend against chemical reactions, so they are suitable to use inside a tent. They dont rely on an open fire, so there is less risk of fire hazards inside the tent. 

2. No risk of the accumulation of Carbon Monoxide

Do the catalytic heaters produce carbon monoxide? No catalytic heaters dont produce carbon monoxide. 

The collection of carbon monoxide in a closed space is always poisoning. If there is no proper ventilation, this poisonous gas leads to the death of human bodies. However, catalytic heaters also release a small amount of carbon dioxide, but you should consider some crucial factors before purchasing them.

Before purchasing a catalytic heater, check whether it is CSA 4.98 certified. Because confirmation of CSA 4.98 ensure that there is minimal emission of carbon monoxide from the heater that is safe to use. 

The 4.98 certifications were created by Canadian Standard Association (CSA), which is internationally recognized and associated with gas-powered heaters. 

According to a United States Consumer Product Safety Commission study, catalytic heaters exhibited peak carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations ranging from 68 to 125 ppm, with steady-state levels ranging between 67 and 109 ppm. Assuming a limited exposure duration of 6.5 hours at these CO concentrations, a catalytic heater is deemed safe and does not present a significant risk to adults.

You should also confirm that there is proper ventilation in the tent when the heater is used. Moreover, you should turn it off before going to sleep. 

3. Energy efficient heaters

Other heaters waste energy as they heat the surrounding air and different objects. But the catalytic heaters heat only the things which are direct to them. They are more energy efficient and reduce the cost of initial fuel consumption. 

4. Durable and long lasting

catalytic heater uses less fuel for combustion, so they are long-lasting. They can produce heat as compared to other heaters. Moreover, catalytic heaters take less amount of oxygen from the environment. 

Disadvantage of Catalytic Heaters

As I mentioned earlier, is the advantage of the catalytic heater, but there are some disadvantages.

1. Consume oxygen from the environment

as we know, catalytic heaters rely on chemical reactions to take oxygen from the environment due to chemical reactions. So you should always make a proper ventilation system before using it in a closed area or a tent; otherwise, it will lead to the risk of asphyxiating. 

What is the Difference Between a Catalytic Heater and a Blue Flame Heater?

Following is the difference between a catalytic heater and a blue flame heater. 

Flame HeatersCatalytic Heaters
CO PoisoningHigh risknot emission of CO
Fire RiskYesNo
EfficiencyLowerHighly energy efficient
Fuel pressureHigh pressure requiredWork in low pressure
Operational altitudeUp to 4000 feetUp to 9000 feet
Size (front area)Smaller for same BTU valueBigger for same BTU value
MaintenancePeriodic valve cleaningPeriodic + plate valve cleaning. Has to be covered when off to avoid dust.

Precautions and Safety Tips for the Best Practices of Catalytic Heater

catalytic heaters are comparatively safer than other camping heaters. Still, there are some risk factors for using them. In the following, I mentioned some safety tips for the best practices of catalytic heaters. 

1. Carefully read and follow the user manual with instructions

every device has a user manual with essential instructions for the best device usage. You should always carefully read the manufacturer instructions mentioned in the user manual. 

If you are familiar with the heater model, recheck all the information in the user manual again. Never attempt with the heater, which is not mentioned there, because you should always be careful about your electronic devices. 

2. Keep flammable material away from the heater

Flammable objects such as stoves or heaters always catch fire from other things. The tent is a small enclosed space, so always keep the combustible material away from the catalytic heater so that there should not be any flame hazard in the camp. 

3. Choose the model with extra protection feature

however, catalytic heaters are safer than other camping heaters as they dont have an open flame and no emission of carbon monoxide. Still, some models of catalytic heaters have some extra safety features. It would help if you always bought those catalytic heaters which have some additional safety features, which are given below:

A tip-over protection feature: it shuts down the heater fuel supply when the heater has enough fuel for combustion

Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS): This sensor monitors the Oxygen level in the tent. If the Oxygen level drops to a certain level, then the heater shuts down immediately and protects you from asphyxiation. 

4. Cover the heater

How do you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from a heater? Cover the heater to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from the catalytic heater. 

After using the heater, always cover the top of the catalytic heater to avoid the accumulation of dust particles on its metal plates. Suppose there is dust on metal plates that is poisonous for the heater and your environment. First of all, dust particles reduce the efficiency of the heaters, and second, dust particles release carbon monoxide from the particles, which is dangerous for the environment. 

5. Avoid getting wet

Similar to other electronic devices, it’s advisable to prevent moisture exposure. Ensure you steer clear of areas prone to dampness caused by tent leaks or excessive sweating.

6. Proper ventilation in tent

Do catalytic heaters need to be vented? Make sure there should be good ventilation in the tent. However, catalytic heaters are the safest as they dont produce carbon monoxide and rely on chemical reactions for heating. When this chemical reaction occurs, there should be little oxygen is used from the environment.

If there is no proper ventilation in the tent, the oxygen concentration level becomes low, and there is an excellent risk of hypoxia. In the following, I mentioned the symptoms associated with decreasing oxygen concentration. 

Oxygen ConcentrationSymptoms
20.9 %Normal concentration at sea level
12 – 15 %Slightly high pulse rate and disturbance in muscular coordination
10 – 14 %Emotional disturbance, difficulty breathing, extreme sense of fatigue on small movement
6 – 10 %Nervous system disruption may lead to loss of consciousness, nausea, dizziness
Less than 6Serious respiratory discomfort may lead to complete breathing disruption and cardiac failure.

7. Make sure completly shutt off before sleeping

Can you sleep with a catalytic heater? No, you cannot sleep with a catalytic heater. Ensure the heater is switched off entirely when it is not in use. Like any device that can potentially ignite fires, catalytic heaters are most safely operated under supervision.

It’s risky to doze off while the heater is active, as movement or a malfunction (such as dust accumulation on the heater surface) could lead to carbon monoxide production, posing a carbon monoxide poisoning threat. Refrain from sleeping with a heater inside your tent.

8. Monitor Carbon Monoxide symptoms

As we know, catalytic heaters dont produce carbon monoxide, but sometimes, if there are dust particles on the metal plates, there is a chance of the emission of carbon monoxide. 

How do I know if my heater is producing carbon monoxide? You should constantly monitor the symptoms if carbon monoxide is emitted from the heater. symptoms are given below

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breather
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Headache

You can also take a CO detector for tent camping or RV camping. You can buy cheap and portable CO detectors from Amazon. They are very fruitful devices in this complex situation. 

Which Catalytic Heater is Best for Tent?

Before choosing the best catalytic heater, you should know your tent size. If you have a small tent size, then dont buy a catalytic heater because if the heater is close to the tent fabric, then the fire risk is associated with it. 

Which Catalytic Heater is Best for Tent?

Coleman Catalytic Heater

in the previous couple of years, Coleman produced the best catalytic heaters, which are reliable and affordable. You can buy them from Amazon or anywhere. (check the link to buy Colemen catalytic heater from Amazon).

Why did you choose Coleman Catalytic Heater?

following the features of the Coleman Catalytic Heater

⦁ The 1,500 BTU unit can operate for up to 14 hours using a single 16.4-oz. propane cylinder (propane cylinder sold separately).

⦁ Incorporates PerfecTemp Catalytic technology, ensuring secure and effective heat without an open flame. Suitable for various settings such as outdoor events, inside tents, garages, or within the household.

⦁ Designed with an easy-grip handle, facilitating effortless transportation.

⦁ Features built-in eyelets for hassle-free attachment to a range of surfaces.

⦁ The detachable base adds stability to the heater’s positioning.

Camco Catalytic Heaters

Camco is a notable producer offering a diverse selection of catalytic heaters. Notably, their Olympian Wave series stands out, boasting a crucial attribute for individuals intending to utilize it in tent settings: 

Safety shut-off valves: This feature ensures enhanced safety during operation. 

Noiseless operation: Allowing their use without disrupting the tranquil ambience of your camping excursion.

Following are the detail of the best models of Camco Olympian catalytic heaters.


Camco Olympian Wave-3

  • Heat output: 3000 BTU
  • Heating area: 100 sq. ft

Camco Olympian Wave-6

  • Heat output: 6000 BTU
  • Heating area: 200 sq. ft

Camco Olympian Wave-8

  • Heat output: 8000 BTU
  • Heating area: 290 sq. ft

If you are going to winter camping with a temperature of 40 F, carry your catalytic heater with you for a comfortable night’s sleep. 

Final Thoughts : Are Catalytic Heaters Safe in Tents?

This article has provided a clear understanding of whether using the catalytic heater in a tent is safe. While it can significantly elevate your evening warmth, it’s important to note that you must remember to keep yourself warm in winter camping, such as tent insulation. Moreover, pay attention to bringing your essential camping gear to ensure a cosy night beneath the celestial expanse.

If you’re seeking additional well-informed camping tips, we have you covered. Explore our array of how-to guides and introductory information to enhance your expertise in outdoor pursuits.

Frequently Asked Questions: Are Catalytic Heaters Safe in Tents?

Following are the frquently asked questions about are catalytic heaters safe in tents.

1. Are Coleman Catalytic Heaters Safe?

Yes, Coleman Catalytic heaters are safe to use inside the tent. Coleman is a trusted and well-known brand manufacturing camping gear since 1900. during their catalytic combustion fuel, they dont release carbon monoxide, so they are not dangerous. However, they take oxygen from the environment, so ensure proper ventilation before using it. 
In the following, there are some safety tips for using Coleman Catalytic Heater
⦁ dont use the heater near the tent fabric
⦁ keep away sleeping bags and other flammable objects from the heater
⦁ use a lighter to ignite the heater

2. How Long Will A Coleman Catalytic Heater Last?

Regarding the burning duration, for instance, a 1500 BTU heater like the Coleman CatSport will consume a 1lb propane cylinder in approximately 14 hours.

3. Do Coleman Catalytic heaters produce Carbon

Coleman Catalytic Heaters produce a minimal amount of Carbon Monoxide. You should read the user manual before using it. Moreover, always cover the top of the heater after using it because the uncovered top accumulates dust particles that are the reason for the emission of Carbon Monoxide. 

4. Can a catalytic heater start a fire?

Catalytic heaters are non-flammable heaters that produce heat from chemical reactions. However, it can fire if you put a flammable material near it. 

5. How do you start a catalytic heater?

It’s necessary to preheat the catalytic plate. This preheating can be achieved using an electric filament or igniting a flame through piezoelectric activation. Each manufacturer employs a distinct approach to catalytic plate preheating, typically characterized by simplicity.